Tommy Sheng Hao Chai

Tommy Chai

A profound interest in contributing and being part of history, especially the evolving situation in the Asian region, was the driving force that led Tommy Cheng Hao Chai to study a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC).

Tommy knew he was making one of his most important decisions when he started his next adventure at the  Australian National University (ANU) to study the Master of Strategic Studies (MSS). Tommy said “It is a holistic program and is extremely useful for anyone seeking to move into the defence industry, the foreign-policy industry and academia”.

This master program is taught by leading academics and practitioners in the field at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), one of the most prestigious centres examining key strategic, defence and security issues for Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region.

Tommy’s passion for this degree is distinctive. When questioned about his favourite course he, without hesitation, stated that all the courses he enrolled in were “top-notch”. “But if I have to pick one, it is Alliances in Asia: Theory, History and Practice. I have never studied alliances before and used to think that it is an archaic concept of the past, but Dr Iain Henry, our lecturer, did a superb job in making the course engaging, relevant and useful”.

The student journey at ANU is fascinating. Among other elements, the relationship between the student and the academics is key to creating a positive and meaningful impact on the student. That was Tommy’s experience. He had the pleasure to meet Professor Evelyn Goh, who supervised Tommy’s Master’s sub-thesis. “I am now motivated to conduct further research and make my way into the world of academia,” Tommy said.

Through his Master’s degree, Tommy has developed a deeper understanding of the key issues and actors driving the strategic developments in the Asia Pacific. “I have also developed skills necessary to conduct scholarly research (such as writing a thesis and publishing in academic journals)”.

On subjects related to defence, he has learnt how to craft a defence policy, an executive report on warfare and military strategy, a departmental policy brief, and an operational plan.

“Thanks to the skills I developed in the Master of Strategic Studies program, I published my first journal article How China attempts to drive a wedge in the US - Australia alliance in the Australian Journal of International Affairs (AIIA)”.

Tommy has recently been accepted as a PhD at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs to further develop and expand on his master’s sub-thesis.