As industry pivots, marine engineer retrained to take on new role

Mr Steven Lee went through a professional conversion programme for marine engineers in 2018. PHOTO: SEMBCORP MARINE

SINGAPORE - Traditionally, career paths within a company progress along the lines of one's area of expertise. However, with change becoming a norm in many industries, it is not unusual for employees to switch jobs within the same company - which usually entails training to get new skills.

Mr Steven Lee, 38, started out as an assistant engineer, supporting the engineering design of oil rigs, when he joined marine engineering firm Sembcorp Marine in 2003.

He is now an assistant manager dealing with the design of other up and coming areas such as floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) units and gas technologies.

A FPSO unit is a floating vessel which facilitates the processing and storage of oil and gas at sea.

To upskill himself and switch to a new job role, Mr Lee went through a professional conversion programme (PCP) for marine engineers in 2018.

This was part of the company's efforts to overcome the challenges of the oil price slump around that time and pivot to new growth areas like renewables and gas solutions.

Such pivoting is vital to grow long-term opportunities during a challenging time for the marine and offshore industry, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing during the sector update on Monday (Nov 9) when he visited Sembcorp Marine.

Looking back on his switch, Mr Lee said: "It was a challenge to familiarise myself with the FPSO and gas technologies that I was newly exposed to. Fortunately, my fellow PCP trainees and mentors were a source of support and encouragement. They readily shared their knowledge and expertise."

With this new technical expertise, he transitioned into project management in the areas of design and system integration for FPSO and gas-related projects.

"Besides technical skills, soft skills such as communication and teamwork are important," he said.

"I have also enhanced my soft skills such as interpersonal communication and have taken up a leadership role - I'm managing a team now," he said.

Mr Lee added that the marine and offshore sector is still evolving as businesses move towards new areas of growth in greener energy resources.

"Singapore, with its strategic geographical location and integrated marine infrastructure services, is well-equipped to seize opportunities in new areas of growth," he said.

This makes continuous learning essential, as the industry develops and changes, he added.

It is important, he said, to "be hungry to learn new knowledge and take on new duties to grow and develop your career".

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