Acing the Civil Aviation

James getting his Extra Mile award from Mr Albert Sim, Vice President of Airport Operations Division.

Even as a student in Republic Polytechnic’s (RP) Diploma in Civil Aviation, James Tan’s drive and commitment were already evident. He was a good team player and excelled in class. He also aced his co-curricular activity, canoeing, where he was appointed the team captain when he was in his second year. His sport accolades included six medals in various competitions, and the Sports Excellence Awards in 2012 and 2013.

He was later presented with a golden opportunity to intern at Changi Airport. His role as a duty terminal manager was to ensure a smooth experience for passengers waiting to board their flights as well as to deal with unforeseen situations. Little did he know that this internship will give him insight into the career path he will choose. Because with every help extended to the people he met while performing his duty, his sense of purpose grew.

James brought the same impressive amount of drive and commitment to his work, where he went all out to help people at the airport. It’s little wonder that he became the first intern to be hired full-time by Changi Airport Group since the commencement of its Youth Ambassador Programme, beating 35 interns from the four other local polytechnics.

“During my internship, there was an old man wandering around in our office area. I was called in to assist him. I found out that he had soiled his pants and so, I helped him change his pants and pack his soiled clothes before bringing him to the airport police. Later on, we discovered that he was a missing person from a report made at the Ang Mo Kio police station. We eventually reunited him with his family. I thought this was a very meaningful thing to do, and being able to play a part in this gave me an amazing feeling,’’ said James.

Another group of people he encountered regularly was seniors who lost their way. “Sometimes, when some of them almost miss their flight, we’ll rush to the plane and request that the pilot hold until these passengers board. Thankfully, they will manage to catch their flight in the end,’’ he recounted.

Such examples, along with other instances of him going the extra mile led to James becoming a recipient of the Extra Mile Award in 2012 and 2013—an award given to employees who have shown commendable and uncompromising service.

Although appreciative of the awards, James’s excellence at work is not driven by the prospect of accolades, but rather by a simple and innate passion for service. “I’m happy to receive the awards, but I don’t want to become too proud because of it,” said James modestly.

James’ supervisor at the Changi Airport Group, Ms Rachel Ling, singled out his ability to solve problems as one of his strengths. She remarked, “James is very service-oriented and has a hands-on approach when handling incidents. He takes the initiative to acquire technical knowledge of airport operations.”

In service industry like airport operations, a can-do attitude is a big plus. “He has shown himself to be responsible for his work and is willing to take up additional roles if requested,” Ms Ling added.

  • Name: James Tan Hua Yong

  • Polytechnic: RP

  • Course: Aviation Management

  • Year of Study: 2011 - 2013

Former Secondary School: Hillgrove Secondary school