“ While technical knowledge is useful, critical thinking skills prove to be far more essential. I am constantly required to think outside the box to come up with simple yet creative solutions. ”
- Chia Jieru, Manager, Group Planning and Strategic Projects
Certainly one who relishes challenges, Jieru has applied her engineering skills in large projects such as the Passenger-to-Freighter Conversion at ST Engineering’s Aerospace sector. Today, as a Programme Manager she is taking up the challenge to help the Group enter and expand into a new business area - the HealthTech industry.
Q: Tell us more about your current role.
I am part of the newly formed team, New Enterprises and Ventures, which is tasked to help ST Engineering develop a new business in the HealthTech field. The aim is to build a globally competitive HealthTech business that serves the changing healthcare needs of Singaporeans and abroad.
Q: What was it like to work in ST Engineering's Aerospace sector?
My previous role as a Senior Engineer was an engaging and rewarding experience. It required me to generate practical solutions to real-life problems. While technical knowledge is useful, critical thinking skills prove to be far more essential. I am constantly required to think outside the box to come up with simple yet creative solutions.
Problems are usually multi-faceted so we need to work together as a team to solve them. When faced with complex issues, I was always able to count on my colleagues and supervisors, who were most willing to share their experiences and collectively think of solutions. We have a close-knit work culture and I found it a privilege to work with such a group of warm and fun-loving people!
Q: What is the most interesting project you have worked on?
Definitely the Airbus A330 Passenger-To-Freighter Conversion project! The amount of engineering effort required on this project was immense and challenging, but I have also learnt a lot from this experience. From cutting a huge hole in the aircraft fuselage for the installation of a new cargo door, to reinforcing the aircraft structure for heavier cargo loads, to modification of onboard avionics and aircraft systems, precise calculations and meticulous considerations need to be made. On top of all these, we had to ensure all safety requirements were met and based on the most cost effective option.
Together with a group of mechanical system engineers, we were responsible for modifying the aircraft systems to suit the needs of a freighter aircraft. Aircraft system modifications were also applied to the hydraulic system, the oxygen system, the fire protection system and the environmental control system.
Q: What is it like being a female engineer?
To me, I’m just an engineer who enjoys solving problems. There is no distinction between being a male engineer or a female engineer. We have an open culture and there are equal opportunities for both male and female engineers.
Perhaps because I am accustomed to a male dominated environment since my university days, I find no difference in communicating with other male counterparts at work. On the contrary, I find it enjoyable working in this field as I get to mingle with like-minded people, who have a common interest in the aviation industry. It is not the gender but rather the passion that matters.
Q: What do you find most meaningful in your job?
It excites me to constantly learn new things and acquire new skills. ST Engineering provides this exact platform for me to keep challenging myself. From engineering work where I continually gain new knowledge about aircraft systems; to non-technical tasks where I expand the breadth of my knowledge into other fields like Intellectual Property Rights; to setting up a new business where I develop financial and business acumen, these opportunities have allowed me to continuously grow and develop myself in all dimensions.
At the Aerospace sector, the most meaningful aspect of the job was recognising that my daily work had a direct impact on the air-worthiness of the aircraft and it was my responsibility to ensure that the right engineering judgements were made to keep aircraft flying safely.
Despite working in an established company like ST Engineering, my current role gives me the opportunity to be involved in the building of a new business from the very beginning, where the team has to be very dynamic and agile, much like a start-up. I gain satisfaction from constantly being challenged to pick up new skill sets in an entirely new industry.