Chew Ling Foong

Chew Ling Foong started his career in the marine industry as a steelworker and welder in 1989. Through his 28-year career, he rose through the ranks to become Assistant General Manager (Ops), where he was in charge of a 3,000-strong workforce. His career journey is proof of his commitment to lifelong learning and upskilling, through which he has gained a wide range of skills in marine engineering and offshore construction. His core competencies include operations, project and quality management, strategic planning, resources and logistics management, and leadership development.

You started your career on the ground as a steelworker/welder before rising the ranks to your last role as an Assistant General Manager for Ops. What do you think are the key factors that has helped you in your career?

I believe the main key factor that helped me progress in my career is my “committed to work” attitude, despite facing many obstacles and being subjected to challenges in the course of work. Unlike other sectors, work in a shipyard is very dynamic and labour-intensive. We have to cater to various types and designs of vessels and machinery with numerous makes of equipment, so we cannot apply the same rules or methods to every job. It takes hard work, adaptability and perseverance to complete a single complicated task. As such, I personally witnessed many who have been unable to endure the difficulties. While skills and experiences are important for progression, responsibility plays the more crucial role. All these shows that it takes an individual full commitment both physically and mentally to complete the tasks given. Additionally, staying committed refers to my loyalty to an organisation and being ready to face new challenges when they arise. Over time, I believe this is important in building trust between the organisation and individual.

What do you believe are your strengths that will add value to your next company?

I have experience in most of the production and commercial departments in a shipyard. This hence allows me to be both technically sound in vessel construction, as well as being commercially trained. My forte lies in project and operation management. With the former, I led the construction of many sophisticated and higher-value vessels. This opened doors for me to manage entire shipyard operations, which included production, building of new vessels, repairing of ships, yard development, asset maintenance and HSEQ. I was also involved in the commercial aspect such as tendering for projects, liaison with equipment suppliers, sub-contracting works, settlement of invoices etc. As a member of the management team — where I held senior management positions — I was able to decide the viability of a project, with particular reference to its profit and loss, budget and cost control. I believe with my years of experience in the industry — which has increased my skills in project and operation management, as well as commercial knowledge — have equipped me with good business acumen. This includes the ability to react effectively and efficiently to benefit any organisation in this fast-moving society.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

One of the greatest achievement in my career was being able to successfully carry out commissioning works onshore for our new build vessels. Taking place over a decade ago, such works in this region were considered a daring attempt and it was the first such experiment conducted then. Traditionally, all new build vessels can only be commissioned while they are afloat. In the beginning, we encountered obstacles and faced with many uncertainties. For example, as equipment is designed to work within certain environment and parameters, we had to stimulate a condition as though the vessel is afloat. The challenge paid off and led us to commission most of the equipment onboard. By doing so, we saved a great deal of time and shortened the overall construction schedule. Later on, our neighbouring yard also adopted our commissioning method into their processes.

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