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

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