Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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CHRISTINA CHIN

BAR MAID

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, SINGAPORE

How long have you been working in the hotel industry? I joined the hotel industry in 2007, so it’s been almost 12 years. I started my career in Housekeeping at another hotel and I was there for about nine months. Then I moved to Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, and I’ve been here since.

What made you want to join the hotel industry? Prior to joining the hotel industry, I worked as a cabin crew staff for quite some time. There was a restructuring in the company and that’s when I made the switch to the hotel industry, which was very appealing to me and my group of friends. Looking back now, I’m glad it turned out this way.

How has your career journey been so far? I worked in Housekeeping for about eight years. With age and the desire to spend more time with my family, I decided that a change of roles would be the best option for me. I requested for an internal transfer and the management offered me a role as Bar Maid in F&B, which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Did you have to undergo special training in order to join the F&B department? Yes. I was trained on industry standards such as hygiene, food safety, and also the scope of our job. Besides these technical aspects, I had to undergo training on how to make different types of coffee.

When it comes to coffee, we have to be fast and efficient. From the time we take the order to the time the customer receives his or her cup of coffee, we only have three minutes. It gets challenging because the orders can get complicated. We have many different styles of coffee, different types of milk, not to mention special requests from customers. On top of all that, everything is in English! So when I first started out, it was really overwhelming, and I thought to myself, “I’m doomed.” But with help from my manager and peers, I managed to get the hang of it pretty quickly, and I can make coffee really fast now. My command of English has improved too! I feel that this is a great example of how nurturing the hotel industry is.

Can you tell us about your role and what you do on a daily basis? Besides making coffee, the first thing I do when I get in at 7am is to check the temperature of the coffee machines and also the dishwasher. I have to log my tasks at 7am every day to ensure I’ve done them properly. Apart from that, I will set up the station for the next shift, such as keeping the cups, cleaning up the area and basically putting things in order. Most importantly, I’ll have to ensure daily maintenance of the coffee machine to prevent it from breaking down. Other miscellaneous tasks include preparing different kinds of tea bags.

What do you enjoy most about your work? The fixed working hours and flexible schedules! I had to make a special request to work from 7am to 4:45pm due to family commitments. My manager was very understanding and tried his best to work out an arrangement that is best for both of us. I’m very thankful for this.

I also enjoy that it feels like a home away from home here. Most of my colleagues are much younger than I am, and they often call me "Mummy". The atmosphere is light-hearted and pleasant.

Do you feel that the advantage of this industry is that you can seamlessly step into a different role? Yes. Because the general scope of our work is service, it’s easy to step into different departments in the hotel. As long as you’re willing to learn, nothing is too difficult. Furthermore, we’ve all been trained in the etiquette of interacting with guests. What I learned when I was in Housekeeping is still applicable to my current role in F&B. Because at the end of the day, we’re all working towards a common goal – making our guests happy.

What’s the happiest memory you’ve had while working here? Sometimes, my peers will tell me, “The customer said that the coffee you made is delicious!” I get so happy after hearing these compliments, and it brightens my mood immediately. It’s simple things like this that makes the job enjoyable. Just a simple comment like “Your cappuccino tastes great!” or “The hot chocolate is very tasty!” is all it takes.

Have you experienced difficulties and challenges while working? How would you overcome it? Of course, there are times when you’re faced with disappointing or difficult situations, but I let nature take its course. I try not to take things to heart. The more you’re bothered by it, the more your work will be affected. In the beginning, when I first started out in this role, I had many doubts and worries. But with time, practice, and support from my family and colleagues, I am now comfortable and proficient in what I do.

What advice do you have for someone looking to join the hotel industry? I would encourage them and say that the welfare here is great. I’d encourage older folks to join as well. If your children are all grown up, you should make the most of your free time. With so many different openings in the hotel industry, there’s something for everyone.