How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been working for about three and a half years now. It’s my first full-time job upon graduating with a degree in accountancy and finance.
You decided to join the industry after a chance meeting with a hotelier on a flight. How did that encounter inspire you? I was seated next to a hospitality trainer and we got to talking during the flight. He asked about what I was studying and what career ambitions I had. When I told him that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, he shared his experience in the hotel industry and told me that hospitality was a really dynamic and fun place to be in, where you don’t get stuck doing mundane routine work because there’s something new to do every day. That conversation sparked my interest in the industry. I did my own research and eventually made the decision to apply, and have not looked back since.
Can you tell us more about your career journey and what you now do on a daily basis? I started out as an Accounting Officer, handling accounts receivable. Two years later, I was promoted to Pay Master, which is my current role. My core duty is to ensure that everybody gets the pay due to them – and on time. I also keep track of any allowances, claims, benefits and compensation that staff are entitled to.
As an Accounting Officer, you often go the extra mile to carry out your responsibilities, even meeting guests on your days off to process refunds. What keeps you motivated to do your best at your job? I believe that no matter where you work, whether in a direct guest-facing role or an administrative position, our core duty is towards our guests and their satisfaction. Working with that mentality makes me feel that I’m part of something important. On the occasion when I met guests to process refunds, I se it as part of ensuring service excellence, to make all our guests happy.
Tell us about some of the opportunities you’ve had to upgrade your skills since you started working at the hotel. I’ve had several opportunities to attend courses to learn more about areas of finance such as taxes. I’ve also learnt on-the-job and grown in other aspects. For example, I used to shy away from speaking up, but working here has made me understand the need to voice my opinions and thoughts about operational matters. That has pushed me out of my comfort zone, and my communication skills have improved a lot as a result.
What are some of the perks that you enjoy from working in a hotel? Our meals are provided, for one! We also get staff discounts on properties overseas when we go on holiday.
How would you describe the working environment and culture of the hotel? We are a very close-knit group. It’s very much a family culture, where you get to know everyone because one way or another, we do work together or cross paths at some point. For example, during our hotel restoration project, we had to move a lot of our assets out of the hotel for the restoration works. I had to work with departments like Housekeeping and Front Office to coordinate moving the assets to a warehouse, and to locate any item when it was needed. I’ve gotten to know and work with colleagues from most departments, and have made friends along the way.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Everyone in the Finance team works closely together and we’re all driven to complete our tasks. During more intense periods or when we’re facing tight deadlines, like month-end closing, I really appreciate having such a close-knit group around me.
I also like knowing that my job enables me to help everyone, and I don’t just mean my colleagues. The skills I’ve picked up at work allow me to help my friends to file their taxes and know what tax relief they’re entitled to. It really makes my job a fulfilling one, and that is something I value.
How do you think you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his/her stay? Most of the time, when guests have an issue that involves the processing of refunds, it isn’t just about giving them the money back. It’s about showing empathy, understanding the inconvenience that they may have faced, and showing that we take the situation seriously, with an added personal touch. So even though my job doesn’t directly involve interacting with guests every day, I do try to be personally involved when such issues arise so that guests can see someone from the Finance department addressing their issues promptly. Going the extra mile to do that can make all the difference to a guest’s happiness during their stay.
What has been your most memorable experience in your career so far? I remember working on our Raffles Signature Mooncake promotion. That was my first project here after I was hired, and it was a huge project for the hotel. It ran for three months and required a lot of coordination between various departments. The finance department had to set up payment gateways online, work with partner banks to ensure that our discounts are in place, and keep track of vouchers used during collection. We had corporate tie-ups as well, for businesses who bought mooncakes in bulk. It got really overwhelming at times because it was such a big project, and I remember having many late nights during that period, But it was a great experience to be part of something that so many people in the hotel were involved with. Being part of such a massive operation would be an amazing learning experience for anyone, but for me, it was extra special as it was my first project.
How has working in the industry enriched your life? I get to meet different people, from all walks of life. Sometimes, I have conversations with guests when I meet them around the hotel, and I always learn something new when I talk to people from different parts of the world.
Do you have any goals that you hope to achieve during your time in the hotel industry? Beyond continuing to get better at what I do, ultimately I want to keep improving as a person, as a professional. To me, that means being willing to learn and to keep embracing challenges. I think working in the hotel industry enables me to do that.
What is something that most people would not know about working in a hotel? People may think that in a big hotel with many employees, it’s impossible to know everyone. But because of the inclusive culture here, you’ll actually end up not just meeting but also getting to know most of your colleagues. Even though I’m in the Finance team, I’ve worked with colleagues from every department. That’s probably something that someone in other industries wouldn’t experience.
What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? Give it a shot even if you have just a tiny bit of interest, because I think this industry will really grow on you.