Jul 31, 2013


Not to be confused with Cameron Highlands
I remember how desperate I was in job hunting - I was scratching my head so hard, hoping to secure a job as soon as possible so that I can have a chill final semester. Frustrated and worried, January has passed, followed by February, March, I was still jobless, envious of my friends’ job security. Despite depositing more than a dozen of resumes to different companies during the NUS Career Fair 2013 in late January, only one company (PSA) got back to me, and I failed the interview, most probably due to my absent-mindedness (I forgot to bring most of the required documents, how forgetful I was). My ascertainment of the ineffectiveness of the NUS Career Fair was elevated when I received more feedback about it from my friends and fellow course mates, in terms of the possibility of getting called for interviews.

I used to have plenty of criteria when choosing a company for job application. Some of them are: NO Tuas area, NO Offshore & Oil Technology. Now I think that’s a stupid way to filter job selection. Anyway, I continued to actively looking for job through various portals (eg. JobStreet, JobsDB), that’s when I started to loosen my criteria. Somewhere in March, NUS organized a career event called NUS GradHunt 2013 and its own job application portal called NUS TalentConnect. I utilized both, and I would say that these are far more effective in terms of the responsiveness of the employers. I was finally called by a few companies (eg. BioFactory, LTA, MATCOR Technology & Services, Micron, Shimizu Corporation etc.).

1st interview
On 4 Apr 2013, the day when we (Threshold) filmed an MV, Cameron called me for an interview on the next morning (5 Apr 2013) at YIH, NUS. This was really last minute. I applied for 2 positions, 1st choice Global Rotational Development Program (GRDP) Trainee, 2nd choice Associate Engineer (Product Design). They called me for the position of GRDP, which I didn’t expect, because to me, the position of GRDP Trainee is like the typical management trainee position in an organization which is usually difficult to get. The first interview took about half an hour, no technical question, but more about the kind of response I gave for the given situational scenarios. Honestly speaking, I can’t tell how well I did for the interview.

2nd interview
The next week, on 9 Apr 2013, I was called for the 2nd and final interview, which will happen on 11th April. Okay I was overjoyed for a while because it was just simply unbelievable. The interview took place in the company located in Tuas. Taking the non-air-conditioned bus 255 for nearly half an hour touring around the industrial estate's vicinity wasn't cool, by the way. I was interviewed by the senior manager of HR and the director of operations. This time, the interview was more like a conversation, a chatting session with the director. I told him the story of me doing musical stuffs, and he said I can be the manager in future and conduct my people like conducting a musical band, ya and that came from the director.

Job offer
Just a day after the 2nd interview, on 12 Apr 2013, a Friday afternoon when I was practicing songs in my hostel room with Kirsten, I received a call from the HR supervisor from Cameron, telling me the good news: "You are offered the role of GRDP Trainee". I'm pretty sure Kirsten could be the witness of me bouncing on cloud nine. At long last, I laid down the burdensome rock in my heart. Besides, I felt really blessed for such a great starting position in such a relatively big company. And as soon as I received the remuneration package, I realized that Cameron actually offers quite a competitive starting pay to fresh university graduates. I could see how convoluted yet miraculous God's plan was. I soon practiced my loyalty by turning down all the upcoming interviews and job offers from other companies. LOL~

To be truthful, I really had never heard of Cameron (except for Cameron Highlands) before NUS Gradhunt 2013. If you Google 'Cameron', I believe the first result is the company's website, and let me quote the company profile here: "Cameron is a leading provider of flow equipment products, systems and services to worldwide oil, gas and process industries". Some are mistaken that Cameron is an oil and gas company, like ExxonMobil. Well, not really, in short Cameron mainly provides equipment and services for the oil and gas industries (eg. Shell etc.).

Cameron is a multinational corporation based in the United States, headquartered in Houston, Texas. Cameron Singapore has two facilities - Surface Systems and Drilling Systems, 2 of the 9 operating divisions. I am employed under the Surface Systems division, which manufactures mainly wellheads and Christmas trees, at 2 Gul Circle, Jurong Industrial Estate.

The HR supervisor managed to make me commence work on 1st July instead of mid June upon my request as I was acting for a movie starring Mark Lee and Sandra Ng in late June. Well, 1st July is a good date to start as it marks the beginning of the 2nd half of 2013.

GRDP Trainee
Global Rotational Development Program Trainee, in full, while everyone will just say 'GRDP'. The prestigious-sounding title basically makes me thrown with the standard question "What is GRDP?" whenever my friends ask me about my job title. However, it is standardized that GRDP is the standard program title that Cameron uses worldwide.

Isn't that cool? They actually have a YouTube channel with professionally produced recruitment videos. As mentioned in the video, GRDP is a 2-year-program with 4 rotations, 6 months each. A more detailed information about GRDP can be found here.

Similar to the previous batch, Cameron takes in 4 GRDP Trainees every year, I'm just one of the not-so-deserving-but-just-lucky ones, if there's another one like me.

Before I continue, just wanna share one thing that might cause you die of jealousy - Cameron is flying me to the United States for the GRDP Leadership Week and plant tours in August, which means that as a fresh graduate, I get to travel to the states after working for only a month. Sounds good to be true? I thought so, and I still think that's too luxurious for a newbie like me., but that's really one of the best things for GRDP.

Certainly, there are terms & conditions. We're bonded to the company for 2 years upon graduation from this 2-year-program, else, we're liable to paying all the expenses (airfare, training fees etc.).

Weld Shop
My first rotation is the Manufacturing Engineering rotation and I’m attached to Weld Shop as a Welding Industrial Engineer (IE). Yi Jie, a new female GRDP joined Cameron the same day as me, while Boon Kiat, a male GRDP has been aboard for 2 weeks. They’re currently recruiting for the 4th one. We’re all in the same rotation, but attached to different department: Boon Kiat in Assembly & Test while Yi Jie in Machine Shop 1.

On our first day, the HR Representative brought us to the IS department to get our laptop (HP EliteBook 8470p) and mobile phone (Nokia Lumia 520). That’s truly overwhelming, but I felt so happy to have them. Yi jie and I were waiting at the lobby after that, stupefied by the defined muscular arms she has, I had no clue how on earth this 159cm not-very-tanned girl gained those muscles (but later found out that she’s a hardcore regular rock climber).

The HR Representative escorted us to our respective departments in the manufacturing building next to the shop floor. From the moment I was told that I’m attached to Weld Shop, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps. “Why Weld Shop? Why not Machine Shop?”, grumbling about the assignment, I felt let down as besides having relevant knowledge gained from part of my degree specialization, I’m more interested in machining. In spite of having learnt some welding processes in ME3162 Manufacturing Processes in NUS, still I am pretty much foreign to welding. Furthermore, welding gave me an impression of “eww, electric arc, tzz tzz tzz, so dangerous…”. Of course, I’m the welding IE, not the welder, so I’m not qualified to weld.

Weld Shop (Team B)
However, there are a lot to learn in Weld Shop (weld map, feature based instructions, routing, nonconformance report/NCR, auditing etc.), and I didn’t know welding is so crucial in our manufacturing operations. There are two types of welding processes done here – cladding and fabrication welding. Fabrication welding is the relatively common welding process that some of us know – joining two pieces of metal, which our Weld Shop doesn’t do densely. What we do voluminously in Weld Shop is cladding – overlaying a metal (consumable, typically Inconel 625) onto a base metal (typically 4130 low alloy steel).

Jia Hua, a year 2 GRDP was finishing his supervisory rotation in Weld Shop in a fortnight when I first joined. There was no GRDP attached to Weld Shop before him. He and some seniors made me read a lot of Weld Shop-related training materials, which drove me into boredom and that’s when my upper eyelids felt really heavy.

I’m glad that I have my own cubicle desk, desk phone, laptop, business cards and stationeries, all provided by the company. There’s a kitchenette at every level with water dispenser, microwave oven, refrigerator, Nescafe and Milo powder. It’s convenient for me to clear the tea bags I’m having at home, by making myself tea every morning in the office.

I was handed a copy of training schedule which lasted for a week. Astounded by the well-structured training plan, I was going to be trained by the IEs in a week time on different aspects (welding processes, process planning, inventory control, weld shop overview, welding testing, NCR, weld repair, SAP etc.). It’s good enough if you could absorb half of the training, really, and I couldn’t. The most interesting training was about the welding processes guided by Sajan, one of the Welding IE who's an expert in welding inspection. He brought me to the shop floor, checking out the different machines and welding processes (TIG, SMAW, FCAW, GMAW, SAW). That made me wanna go back home and revise the welding chapter in ME3162.

Weld Shop was looking for a new IE previously. Two of my friends (Wilsen and Calvin) actually got offered the position of welding IE, both of them, however, rejected the offer, one person followed by another. Dwayne, a new welding IE joined us in the 3rd week of the month, the week when Jia Hua left Weld Shop.

Swensen's, Jurong Point
On 29th July, the Weld Shop team organized a farewell cum welcome lunch at Swensen's, Jurong Point, farewell for Jia Hua and welcome for me and Dwayne. Lunch is always so enjoyable when it's funded by the department. LOL... But really, all the welding IEs seldom have chance to have meal together, it's therefore a good opportunity for team bonding as well.

Summarizing my first month (July) in Cameron, I as a mechanical engineering graduate who specialized in product design ended up in an operational role in a manufacturing industry. Well, unlike a musician or an actor, being an engineer is never going to be my dream job, therefore I think GRDP is the best position for me as an engineering graduate, as I don't really have a designated role in mind that I'm gonna settle down with, things are always up in the air when it comes to a permanent role which defines my career path.

The working culture in Cameron is so far good for me - very minimal vulgarity or giving someone a piece of his/her mind. Plenty of things are done by the own time own target way.

This month alone, I found myself most of the time lost in the submersion of the foreign surroundings. Nevertheless, I am more than happy to keep learning and picking up skills rather than standing still. I anticipate more rewarding experiences and fruitful takeaway from Weld Shop, and the thing I'm looking forward to for the most, is definitely none other than the upcoming US trip in August. Stay tuned!

*Update: As a result in acquisition in 2016, Cameron is currently a company of Schlumberger.

Javin Tham MSc, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB, CQPA, CQIA, MSOE, MIPlantE Industrie 4.0 Consultant | Pop Piano Coach | YouTube Coverist

Jul 19, 2013

RamenPlay @ Jem

I spent my 3rd TGIF having dinner with the big girl, Chu Luei. Because I needed to visit OCBC Bank that opens till 7pm, so I suggested Jem as the bank branch there is one of the nearest ones. In the meantime while I was settling some stuffs at the OCBC Bank, this adorable little girl was hesitating to buy a packet of toothbrushes at NTUC FairPrice.

Green Tea Milkshake @ $4.80
It's a bloody Friday evening when you see tides of people queuing for food in front of EVERY restaurant!! And so we got no choice but to queue for a ramen outlet - RamenPlay. I'm partial to ramen when it comes to Japanese cuisine, as compared to sushi, sashimi, don etc. Adequate tastiness is indeed the essence of enticement.

I wouldn't suggest eating ramen accompanied with green tea milkshake. Nothing was wrong with the milkshake, but milkshake + ramen combination doesn't go along well. For ramen it's kind of unappetizing. I should have just ordered plain green tea.

The saturation of the broth sometimes is telling you that you're lucky man, something savory is just right in front of you! Ok, maybe this imaginative scenario doesn't apply to everyone. ;P

The ingredients were generous, I can hardly find a hard boiled egg in a bowl of ramen like this one here, unlike other ramen which is usually spammed with bamboo shoots but not eggs. You might judge differently, but the ramen I've eaten here tastes almost as good as the ones I had in Kyoto, Japan.

The yakiniku was tender and pretty tasty that it immediately made me share with Chu Luei a few pieces of that. Perhaps it's pork, not beef yakiniku which tastes rather dull.

My Pork Yakiniku Ramen ポーク焼肉豚骨らーめん @ $14.80 ★★★★★

Chu Luei's Cha Shu Tonkotsu Ramen チャーシューとんこつらーめん @ $12.80 ★★★★☆

Now you know why I called her big girl in the beginning of this blog entry. It's her 24th birthday, after an exact couple of the Chinese zodiac cycles.

I bought her a present in pink, a slice of pink cake and wrote her a pink birthday card, coincidentally.


50 Jurong Gateway Road
#B1-10 Jurong East Mall (Jem)
Singapore 608549

Javin Tham MSc, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB, CQPA, CQIA, MSOE, MIPlantE Industrie 4.0 Consultant | Pop Piano Coach | YouTube Coverist

Jul 9, 2013

NUS Commencement 2013

I thought I made it in time for my ceremony at 3pm, but my anxiety arose as soon as I started to notice most of the graduates there have had their gown put on and photos taken already. One of the worst scenarios you can have on your convocation is raining. The University Cultural Centre is moreover somewhere so isolated in NUS that my family and I had to walk through the drizzle and my sister and I utilized my gown bag to shelter ourselves, so battered...

Like me, everyone was excited about officially graduating from NUS on that day, the 4th graduation ceremony of the NUS Commencement 2013, attended by graduates from the following programmes:
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Singapore-MIT Alliance)
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Master of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Master of Science (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering)
I'm a graduate from the last programme in the list. Immediately Wilsen guided me to the robing room to get changed, and I realized that white shirt goes absolutely well with a silver necktie. We then went into the theatre and I was seated on row P seat 15, and argh... now I know how girls feel like sitting down with a dress on.

My first time singing Majulah Singapura at a public occasion after staying here for 4 years.

The degree scroll presented on the stage is just an empty tube and I was given the real degree scroll and official transcript in an envelope with a hard folder along the side corridor. A photo of me holding the 'degree scroll' was also taken there and it's sold for $8.

Speech by valedictorian
It was rather a long and boring session as hundreds of graduates were called one by one to receive their respective scrolls. However at some point in time you can enjoy watching some graduates doing stunts on stage, like turning one round before shaking the dean's hand or camwhoring with the dean using a polaroid.

I think it's important for every valedictorian to have a sense of humour apart from academic excellence, otherwise I was just sitting for a speech by a nerd. I wasn't really paying much attention to the valedictorian in the ceremony but I remember he mentioned something like, "life without goals is just like thermodynamics without steam table", that's quite applicable to all of us there, as we the engineers understand the joke.

At the closing of the ceremony, the blue and orange balloons hung at the ceiling were dropped after the party poppers exploded. It reminds me of the days when I first entered NUS because the exact same thing happened at the closing of the Freshmen Inauguration Ceremony I attended in my first year, also at UCC.

Just realized that my parents were seated upstairs when this was taken.

My first younger brother wasn't there as he was preparing for his exam at TARC.

My brother (11 years younger than me)       My sister (1 year younger than me)

I call this group "JaSonWiLiaCalSan", the ones who went Batam together in March.

The historical moment: 7 of us, the housemates who've been staying under the same roof for a month finally gathered and took a group photo together for the very first time. I'm looking forward to more of such gatherings.

Housemates + Neighbour: Susan (left) is staying a block away from us

Susan        Alison

Emilia        Shu Hui

Calvin        Wei Thye & Harry

Lik Ling        Bailey

Jared        Justin & Ryan


My brother is so cute!!

The I WAS HERE sculpture is somewhat spectacular in the campus. Often you'll see newcomers taking photos there as they pass by during campus tour. There's an imaginary queue for the attraction when it dramatically turns popular among the graduates during the commencement period.

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my degree scroll!
Ya, I don't have a first class honours, and getting a first class honours from NUS virtually happens when a pig flies, especially for a typical undergraduate like me. However being able to attain a second upper class honours is pretty much more than sufficient for me to be extremely grateful of, more than what it takes to be satisfactory, as I spent a lot of time in CCAs.

I am greatly blessed for all this, but still, STILL, I have this rant that I've been wanting to address - I am extremely dissatisfied that I wasn't offered the ASEAN scholarship, or any other scholarships. I wasn't even granted the NUS donated scholarship when my CAP is higher than 4.00. What makes the others with CAP lower than me or those who received warning letters from the MOE because they couldn't attain the CAP of 3.50 and above deserve the scholarship while I don't?! What's the point of getting good grades and graduate with loans that one has to spend years repaying while those scholars with bad grades graduate with all their monthly income going entirely into their pockets?

Dear scholars, I apologize if you feel offended, and if you see this, please don't get mad, but please feel blessed, please appreciate and stop complaining about not being able to graduate with a good class of honours or low salary, if you do. You all are technically a few ten thousand dollars richer than those who survived on loans. To me, having a scholarship is like one of the best blessings you can get throughout your university life, think about it, free tertiary education with allowance, and this is Asia, not Europe where you can get free tertiary education. You basically have less financial worries than those who need to work part-time while studying.

Well, I guess what I should convey is, whatever board of scholarship or the university has the responsibility to elevate the standard of reviewing process before even calling prospective students for the scholarship interview, or provide incentives to those who did well academically.

"The University is committed to providing a quality education for all our students and to ensuring that no deserving student is denied admissions because of financial difficulty."
from NUS Website (Financial Aid Overview)
This is true, and the solution is mainly based on loans, but what about deserving students for scholarship? Is it fair that scholarship is granted based on pre-university performance but not based on the one in NUS itself? If a prospective student with CGPA of 4.00 was called for a scholarship interview, isn't it unfair that the other one with the same CGPA wasn't called? On what bloody basis seriously? I'm not yet talking about the scholarship grant, but just the preliminary part of it - the interview. So many deserving ones weren't even given a chance to be interviewed.
Because of quota? I think the quota is on the grant of scholarship, not the interview. Why is everyone not given an equal chance of being interviewed based on their academic and extra curricular performance? Not to boast, but besides gaining international participation and achievement in CCAs when I was in high school, I scored A for every single subject and paper in STPM ('A' level equivalent), yet I didn't even get called for any interviews.
Because of time? Then why bother spending time interviewing the prospective students? Come on, it's been years, can't the board evaluate for a better compromise?

I think I shall end this. Again, I apologize. Thank you for allowing me to appeal right here, as I've been placing these within myself for a very long time. I thank God for all these wonderful things, and without His guidance, no miracle like this will ever happen. I know I can't do anything much regarding my rant, because I believe unfairness exists everywhere in everyone's life, sometimes he/she has no choice but to suck it up.

I would like to hereby give my blessings to all the existing students in NUS and to the prospective ones as well. May you excel in all your future undertakings.

Last but not least, I would like to dedicate a song to you all, a song that I wish to sing during my graduation ceremony, sadly I'm not from a Japan university. The song is called 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~ or Tegami (Haikei Jūgo no Kimi e). The prelude is the Japanese graduation ceremony song called Aogeba tōtoshi (仰げば尊し).

For more photos, please check out my photo album NUS Commencement 2013 on Facebook.

Javin Tham MSc, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSSBB, CQPA, CQIA, MSOE, MIPlantE Industrie 4.0 Consultant | Pop Piano Coach | YouTube Coverist