How long have you been in the hotel industry? Ten years.
Can you tell us about your journey?
In 2009, I joined Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort when they were just starting amidst much anticipation that it is an iconic development for Singapore. I’m passionate about great service and very keen on joining the hospitality industry. I started from scratch as Guest Service Agent to check guests in and out, assist them, and handle their requests. Subsequently, I became MBS’s Club Agent.
After MBS, I joined Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium as a Duty Manager where the responsibilities were bigger. I got to meet VIPs, handle important guests and resolve complaints. What gave me the most satisfaction was being able to turn things around when guests had some complaints and bring a smile to them eventually. After three years as a Duty Manager, I wanted to explore other areas of hotel management. At InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the parent company of Holiday Inn, the team encourages internal transfers whenever there is a suitable position or vacancy. I was elated that my request for transfer to Finance was supported by the Director of Finance, despite a lack in accounting knowledge. My director and team were very supportive of my training. With this opportunity, I was able to grow as a Procurement Officer, then to Accounts Receivable and now, a Credit Manager.
Can you tell us a little about your role and what you do on a day-to-day basis? In the Finance department, I maintain the hotel credit policies and ensure good compliance by all the departments. I also monitor and control the outstanding balance and track the deposits. I run financial analysis on the companies who apply for credit with us and check their financial background.
What are some of the reasons that made you want to switch to a back of house role? While working at the Front Office, the Finance department would advise us on the standard operating protocols, and the key things to watch out for. This piqued my curiosity and aroused my interest in Finance and Accounts. That encouraged me to muster my courage to request for a transfer as I wanted to be exposed to other areas of hotel management. I chose to make a transfer because I love the culture and working environment at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium and wanted to stay on with the company. I wanted to gain new skills and my passion is to learn.
How was the transition like when you made the switch? I have to compliment all my teammates because they're very patient! The team leaders crafted a development plan for me. The intention was to train, guide and allow me to assimilate into the role in the shortest possible time. My first stop in the Finance department was Purchasing, and then I moved on to Accounts. I don’t have a background in Finance so they taught me from scratch and spent their time to run through work processes with me. It's like following a manual – you go through point one to point two and so on to complete the task.
Did your experience at the front of house help you in your current role? Yes! My experience as a Duty Manager is being put into good use as I have to deal with guests when there are discrepancies in payment and invoices. I also have to meet clients to build rapport as I communicate with them regarding payments. As I’ve known my colleagues here for a long time, I can interact with them better.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? I enjoy the team spirit in the Finance department. Everyone will help each other out when necessary. When we go on leave, there will always be someone who will cover your duties so we are able to enjoy our vacation without disturbance. This is possible because the department has in place a cross-training plan which equips staff members with competencies and exposure to adequately cover each other’s roles.
What are some of the perks you get to enjoy in the hotel industry? Perks include enjoying discounts worldwide! We have over 5,000 hotels globally, and we get staff rates when we stay at any IHG property.
What were some of the challenges you face and how did you overcome them? Back when I was a Duty Manager, it was the deadlines and of course, perception management. This is an industry where we are working with people so I need to be very sensitive and careful with what I say to stakeholders. I interact more with internal staff now that I’m a Credit Manager, but the principle is still the same. With my team, I don’t use my seniority to make them follow my decisions, but I seek to educate them and gain their respect from there.
Do you have any goals you hope to achieve during your time in this industry? There are many aspects of Finance that I’ve yet to experience – Payroll, Accounts Payable, and General Cashier, for example. I would like to learn the skills needed for those roles.
What advice would you share with someone who's interested in joining the hotel industry? I would definitely recommend the hotel industry. It is as vibrant and robust as I had always imagined it to be, offering many career opportunities. Personally, I’ve expanded my skills and work experience so much at just one property. As someone who enjoys challenges, I’m constantly being exposed to events and engagements that help to shape not only my career, but also create a unique and memorable travel experience for our guests. That brings great satisfaction.