Never Stop Learning – Murugan Nattan


Mr Murugan Nattan is the Department Head (DH) for the Hull department in ST Marine’s Benoi Yard. Married with three children, he has never stopped in his pursuit to learn and pick up more skills and knowledge in his shipbuilding career even if he may meet with difficulties along the way. He takes strides in these challenges and faced them with positivity. As such, he decided to take up a Master of Science in Marine Technology (International) course at the Newcastle University, under the STEP Marine & Offshore Scholarship Programme.

Background: The Skills Training for Excellence Programme (STEP) Marine & Offshore Scholarship Programme is a programme rolled out by the Work Development Agency, in partnership with the Association of Singapore Maritime Industries (ASMI), for professionals, managers and engineers in marine companies, and is available to local employees of marine and offshore companies who want to work towards a Master of Science (MSc) in Marine Technology degree offered by the Newcastle University.

This Master of Science in Marine Technology (International) course is meant for maritime professionals working full time in Singapore. The dynamic course responds to the challenges and demands of the global maritime sector, and develops technical and managerial techniques essential to the sector.

Hi Murugan, tell us more about yourself…

I first joined ST Marine in 2006, as an Engineer in the Hull department. I gradually rose through the ranks to be a Senior Engineer, Assistant DH and DH in the same department. As a DH, I mainly took charge of the hull assembly and erection of a vessel. I took a Bachelor’s degree in Production Engineering during my University days, after which I started my engineering career in the manufacturing industries. I was a greenhorn who had no idea what shipbuilding was all about when I first joined ST Marine. I was only familiar with the allocation, sequencing and deployment of jobs. With the Frigate as my first project, I have also worked on various naval and commercial new build projects throughout my years in ST Marine. I have always liked taking on challenging tasks, which gives me a sense of satisfaction upon its completion.

How did you get to know ST Marine?

I came across a vacancy in the newspapers stating a vacancy for a Management Trainee role in ST Marine. Hence, I decided to apply for it, and was glad that I got the job.

Why did you join ST Marine and how is your experience so far?

Throughout the years in ST Marine, I had the opportunity to manage projects with given resources, budget and schedule. Almost into my 12th year here, I have learnt a lot from my mentor Mr Phua Siang Ling and fellow colleagues, and I am still learning. I believe learning can take place anywhere as long as you are willing to. For example, in the shipyard, we need to learn things relating to safety, team work, quality and productivity to save costs for the company. There were many challenges faced but with team work and involvement, we were always able to complete the given tasks, and I derived a sense of achievement and graftication from it.

How did you know about the course in Master of Science in Marine Technology (International)?

I knew about the course from our HR department and my superior recommended me for it. Subsequently, I had to go for a panel interview with our senior management, followed by ASMI. I am glad to say that both interviews were successful and I eventually got the scholarship.

Why did you decide to take up this course?

Well…I am not a naval architect. Most of the knowledge I am currently equipped with were gained through my working experience, information available on the web and through sharing by my mentors and colleagues. I felt that this course will be able to add value to my theoretical knowledge, and at the same time, take this chance to update myself with current technologies, which was proven to serve its purpose after completion of this course.

Share with us more about the course…

The course comprises a total of seven members including myself, and they were people who came from the shipbuilding industry and/or classification society. It was a good mix as we got to exchange our working experiences and knowledge. Most of the lecturers and professors were from the United Kingdom and they shared about the differences between the marine and offshore industries in the past and at present. The course covered various interesting topics ranging from the classification society, marine project management, advance offshore technology, surveying ships and offshore installation, advance subsea and pipeline engineering, advanced hydrodynamic etc., which are relevant to my current job.

What did you like most about the course and what did you hope to achieve at the end of it?

I liked the structure of the whole course and the way it was delivered with expertise from various industry professionals. I hope that I will be able to expand and develop my skill on technical details relating to design.

Any challenges faced during the course and how did you overcome them?

There were lots of challenges faced, especially in time management. It was very difficult to manage work, family and studies. I wish to thank my wife for her understanding and cooperation, in helping to take care of our three kids and household matters.

How did the course help in your work?

At least now, I have better knowledge on why things have been designed in a certain manner . Also, some of the subjects like surveying ships and offshore installation taught me the importance of quality standard in shipbuilding.

Thank you for your time Murugan! Before we end this interview, any other thoughts that you want to share?

I would like to thank my superior and the senior management for providing me with such a great opportunity in my pursuit towards higher studies. I affirmed that one should always do your best with involvement, hard work and efficiency. At the same time, it is important to share the knowledge, experience and ideas with others and work as a team to ensure better safety and productivity.