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From a Gamuda Scholar to Senior Manager, Read James’s Journey and Tips on How He Impressed the Scholarship Panels During Interview and Achieve His Dream Career with Gamuda

Published by Afterschool.my on May 18, 2021, 10:29 am

My name is James Lai Siaw Pin, and I am 34 years old. I graduated from the University of Nottingham, majoring in Civil Engineering. I am currently the Senior Manager of Strategic Marketing and Investment at Gamuda Land, Vietnam.

When I decided to further my studies, I actively looked for scholarships that would help me even after I graduated. So, apart from financial assistance, I applied for a Gamuda Scholarship with dreams of working for Gamuda Engineering.

The company at that time had just completed the SMART Tunnel, the longest tunnel in Malaysia and the second-longest stormwater tunnel in Asia and was working on Electrified Double Track Project. These are novel mega projects that would excite any prospective engineering student like me.

SMART Tunnel toll

The Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Putrajaya Line. Phase 1 (Northern Line) is set to launch in July 2021

From my observation, Gamuda Scholarship has evolved so much over the years. As the company has grown more significant, the Gamuda Scholarship too has led to many opportunities and exposure in which scholars can access via internship programmes and commencement of work as soon as they complete their course of study. It is through this scholarship that I received my internship placement during my study.

Foundations for a career

My internship placement was at the Electrified Double Track Project in Alor Setar, Kedah. It was an 8-week placement in which I was given an opportunity to work at the project site office. It was an insightful experience that has led me to appreciate my studies. The exposure allowed me to witness textbook engineering principles in practice and apply it in real working life.

Apart from that, I was also given the opportunity to work on pre-project feasibilities, particularly in the Pan Borneo Highway project, where we did site reconnaissance and alignment studies during the inception stage of the project.

When I joined Gamuda after I graduated, I had already been exposed to several big projects. However, this next project tops the icing on the cake. My first mega project exposure would be the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Kajang Line.

My roles rotated from being involved with the preparation of documentation for tendering to preparing the mandatory and supplementary documents, participating in the design process of two station structures, and coordinating the client contractor meeting with our design consultants.

This project brought about an enriching experience as I had learnt and been part of the entire project life cycle. Apart from that, I was also fortunate to have worked with strong and supportive superiors in the project, which have repeatedly mentored me as I continue to grow within the organisation.

Climbing up the ladder in the corporate world and holding a position as a leader is not easy. My advice is to take ownership in all your actions, be dedicated to the task at hand, work and operate in an environment which is encouraging, and practise open, honest communication among colleagues. These are all key factors in enabling success.

Help is ever present

Along my career journey with Gamuda, I have met a few significant mentors who have provided sound advice. They have been a great sounding board for me to bounce my thoughts with. My mentors are individuals whom I have worked with and have my full respect.

Apart from individual efforts in one’s career growth, Gamuda is a company with more than 45 years of experience. The industry offers plenty of experienced seniors in which any new employee can tap into to expedite his or her growth journey. I am truly grateful for the access to these tremendous informal resources, my mentors.

In other words, I can confidently say that my mentors served as a support system. Apart from the job structure, which has already been designed to provide the necessary support in the progress and growth of one’s career journey, a Gamuda scholar has an additional support system through the Scholars’ Working Committee.

Senior scholars who are currently serving the company continue to keep tabs of all the newly joined scholars and ongoing studying scholars. It is akin to a pay-it-forward initiative where senior scholars are encouraged to support, guide and assist the development of newly joined scholars. I have personally received this support system from fellow senior scholars that eased me into my career journey at Gamuda.

To the future recipients of the Gamuda Scholarship, my tips for you is to ace the scholarship interview by conducting ample research and understanding Gamuda’s background, past and ongoing projects. This will undoubtedly put you in the spotlight among other candidates.

Be clear of your motivation in your selected course so that interviewers can see how persistent you are. Prepare a set of questions you would like to know more about Gamuda, be it something formal about their vision for the upcoming years or less formal like the working culture at the organisation. Be participative in the interview and subsequent virtual sessions. This will not only help in your future scholarship applications but also impending job opportunities. To those who are interested in applying for Gamuda Scholarship this year, the application is still open until 4 June 2021. Gamuda also offers oversea scholarships. CLICK HERE for requirements, steps to apply and more. Last but not least, to all future scholars, good luck.

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