International Study Tour – Singapore Airlines
Guest post by Jessica Efta, Class of 2012
Our visit to Singapore Airlines started with Hank from Public Affairs giving us an overview of the company, beginning with the following mission statement: “Singapore Airlines is a global company dedicated to providing air transportation services of the highest quality and to maximizing returns for shareholders.” Two core components of the company’s culture can be seen in this mission statement, “global” and “quality.”
As a global company, Singapore Airlines flies approximately 17 million passengers per year. Pretty impressive, considering Singapore itself has only 5 million citizens. The airline now flies to 63 destinations in 34 countries.
Singapore Airlines is known as a higher end airline, and a very strong culture of quality and customer service pervades the company. Artifacts of the company culture for high quality can be seen in the entryway, where the flight attendants’ attire is proudly on display behind glass. We were told that flight attendants receive double the amount of training compared to the industry average.
This strategy of providing high quality seems to be working quite well for the company. Singapore Airlines has never posted a loss in its 40 year history. A smaller airline, it ranks 16th in terms of traffic size, but it is the most profitable in terms of RPK (revenue per kilometer). In FY10, group revenue was reported as $14.5B with a net profit of $1.1B.
We then took a tour of the building, where we got to learn more about what high quality at Singapore Airlines’ really means. We went inside a demo plane and see a water tank complete with a wave-making machine designed for emergency landing training purposes. Next, it was explained to us how Singapore Airlines trains their flight attendants. Our guide explained that the flight attendants must memorize each piece of silverware, glass pairings for wines, and every other detail for the food service (including which glass to use for Dom Perignon champagne). They also must learn the appropriate way to deal with all kinds of passengers—kids, elderly, moms, businessmen, etc. An interesting (and I would assume, effective) approach to “empathy training” is to send their attendants to nursing homes to know how to deal with elderly passengers. They even attend classes on how to fix their hair and apply makeup. After learning this, I could see why the attendants received double the industry average on training! For the grand finale, we got to tour the first class and business class sections of the latest plane models, where the value of high quality could be experienced. Seats were wide enough to fit at least two people, and each seat had a footrest and a flat screen TV! Perhaps one day with my MBA degree I’ll land a job where I can afford such luxury!
GE – Singapore Water – Technology Centre at NUS
One of the companies we visited in Singapore is GE – Singapore Water. The National University of Singapore (NUS) and GE launched the new Singapore Water Technology Centre back in June 22, 2009. This is GE Water’s first collaboration with a university in Asia-Pacific located on NUS Kent Ridge Campus with S$150 million (US $100 million) investment. The vision is to develop and test technologies in areas such as desalination, water reuse and generation of ultra-pure water for the semiconductor industry.
We wanted to capture a couple of things with the picture below. First, we had our picture taken with the GE logo outside the building as they don’t permit any cameras inside. The employees are very adamant about not letting anything leak out of this research center. In other words, this is a very secure environment to work in. It’s also a very hot and humid environment to work in! Singapore is located just one degree north of the equator. So the climate is very tropical. We were all soaked in sweat once we stepped out of air-conditioned space.
The company culture
Our speakerwas Dr. Adil M. Dhalla, who is the director for the Singapore Water Technology Center. Dr. Dhalla has a master’s degree in chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. He earned a doctorate in chemistry from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Dhalla has co-authored 16 issued U.S.
We identified three major themes to take away from our speaker: innovation, global career growth, and global footprint.
Innovation – GE continues to innovate on products and services that solve big problems around the world. GE understands the global needs, both private and commercial for clean, potable water and is hard at work to develop ground-breaking solutions to meet those needs.
Global Career Development – We were excited to learn about GE’s heavy investment and focus on employee career development. This aligns with the GE case study we covered in the leadership class. Opportunities abound for GE’s employees that show promise and drive.
Global Footprint – It was amazing to learn about GE Singapore Water’s vision to produce clean and reusable water not just within Singapore, but wherever it is needed at a global scale. GE has offices, technology research centers, and plants on every continent. Adil showed us a current map of GE offices, and they covered the globe. They coordinate their efforts with video, phone, email, messenger – virtually any medium you can think of to stay in close communication. This allows them to pursue projects virtually anywhere in the world.
We were very impressed with GE’s culture to innovate, ability to grow employees at a global scale and change the world with its product and services, and we thank Adil for his hospitality during our visit