Inspired by Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s (CAAS) mix of policy-making and technical operations, Ms Michelle Low decided to take up the CAAS Overseas Scholarship.

She claims: “Not many people are aware of this, but CAAS not only strives to develop astute policies, it is also an excellent provider of safe and efficient air navigation services within the Singapore Flight Information Region — allowing travellers to have peace of mind when flying in and out of the country.”

In 2010, on the CAAS Overseas Scholarship, Ms Low headed to Imperial College London in the United Kingdom to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering (Hons).

To balance her technical knowledge and to hone her writing skills, she then completed a Master of Philosophy in Technology Policy at University of Cambridge in 2014 on the same scholarship.

Many ‘firsts’
At Imperial College London, Ms Low was honorary secretary at the City and Guilds College Union (student union).

In recognition of her contributions, she was invited to the 100th City and Guilds Dinner at the Mansion House — her first white-tie dinner.

She also rode in the union’s mascot, a 114-year-old vintage car named “Bo”, and her name was engraved on a tankard in the college’s Union Bar as part of a tradition.

At Cambridge, Ms Low joined rowing, air pistol competitions and other activities.

For her role as coxswain in the rowing team and helping to lead the boat club to victory, she was awarded a pair of trophy blades. A similar set, also inscribed with the team members’ names, is displayed at the university.

Another once in-a-lifetime moment for her was meeting Mr Herman Hauser, an influential British entrepreneur and angel investor, when she was the external relations director of the university’s Social Entrepreneur Society.

Besides keeping up with tutorials and projects, there was the added pressure of managing her day-to-day life — laundry and cleaning, buying groceries, cooking her meals and bill payments.

“This juggling act of responsibilities increased my threshold for stress and taught me the value of time management,” she says.

Impactful career
Ms Low, 26, is now a manager (International Air Navigation Services Policy) with the Air Navigation Services Policy and Planning Division.

This is her second posting at CAAS. She was previously with the Environment section of the International Relations Division, where she analysed and developed policies on international aviation and climate change.

As a member of the Global Market-Based Measure Technical Task Force, in the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection in the International Civil Aviation Oganization (ICAO), she contributed to a milestone agreement among ICAO member states to adopt the global Market-Based Measure (MBM)scheme earlier this year.

Currently, she is in charge of developing air navigation services policies on both a state-to-state level and within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region.

This includes Search and Rescue issues and the adoption of new air traffic management technologies.

She says: “With over 55 million passenger movements and more than 100 airlines operating at Changi International Airport, the policies we develop in CAAS not only impact us domestically but also many other stakeholders worldwide.

“With Singapore an elected member of ICAO since 2003, we can shape international and high-level policies.”