Throughout his working life, Mr Irenaeus Francis Sta Maria has never stopped learning.
In 1983, after graduating from secondary school, he worked at the Singapore Refining Company for 14 years, first as a lab technician and, later, a quality control supervisor.
During that period, Mr Sta Maria, 56, attended numerous short-term courses on analytical instruments and modules in laboratory chemistry, computer training and programming, industrial health and safety, and fuel engine maintenance.
Hitting the books
In 1998, when he turned 37, he finally got down to what he called “serious studies” as it entailed a much larger investment in time and effort.
He graduated with a double diploma in information technology (IT) and Sun Microsystems Java (NCC London) in 2001.
Many more certificates followed.
In June 2016, he enrolled in a part-time Master of Science in Programme and Project Management course that is developed, fully taught and awarded by the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, at Singapore Institute of Management Global Education (SIM GE).
This programme, also available as a full-time course, combines academic excellence with industrial experience and is developed with industry experts to address real-world problems.
It also features application-based assignments and projects, as well as incorporates global experience and inputs.
In addition, students get to learn the methodologies, tools, principles and philosophies to successful project management as well.
Says Mr Sta Maria: “I was interested in keeping up with the times and remaining relevant in an area close to my field of specialisation.
“Project management is very extensive and I wanted to be involved in redevelopment projects.
“These could be for post-disaster or for preserving energy and the environment.
“Putting your skills to serve society is a reward in itself.”
Looking back, he says he enjoyed how the models and examples in the class exercises played out together with fellow students with different fields of experiences and ideas.
He adds: “For example, we participated in group exercises on how to manage LEAN principles, identifying loopholes and wastage of time, cost and performance in a process system, and to meet challenges faced at a higher level.
“This was knowledge I could actually apply in my organisation without spending time and effort searching the Web or emulating wrong concepts.”
Mr Sta Maria is currently a technical service leader at Kuraray Asia Pacific.
He says the course has helped him significantly in engaging customers directly in solving quality and product application problems.
He is also able to manage his time better, and the knowledge he has acquired is useful in his other role as a representative of regulatory and product stewardship for the company.
Thanks to his postgraduate degree, his professional life has improved.
By making sure he chose the right course and university, he knew he was on the right track to self-improvement.
“The Warwick programme that I pursue at SIM GE is the right choice for me as it closely matches my current field of work and my future desires,” he says.
Mr Sta Maria aims to graduate by the end of this year.