When you make people happy, you make yourself happy. This sense of fulfilment is why many who join the Business of Happiness go on to stay for years. To celebrate Labour Day, four long-serving hotel staff, including Abdullah bin Yusop, share why they’ve remained in the hospitality industry for decades.
How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been in the industry for 25 years.
How has your career journey been?
So far, so good. I started my career as an Assistant Technician at Copthorne Harbour View Dai-Ichi Hotel, which is the current M Hotel. Over the years, I rose through the ranks and worked in other well-known establishments such as InterContinental Singapore, Regent Singapore, Novotel Singapore and, of course, Hilton Singapore, where I was the Assistant Chief Engineer for eight years
Subsequently, I took a break from the Hotel industry, but when the offer came from Amara Sanctuary Resort for the position of Chief Engineer, I took it up immediately! I haven’t had the chance of working in a Resort Hotel where the environment and challenges are vastly different from what I’ve experienced, so it was a learning opportunity I couldn’t refuse. My final move to BIG Hotel, which was taken over by Hotel G Singapore, was an opportunity to lead both the Engineering and Security teams.
How has your role evolved over the years? My career progression has followed the usual track of growth and progression that technicians can look forward to in the hotel industry. However, I always wanted to learn more and took on many courses in my own time to improve myself. I have a background in electrical engineering, but I took courses to learn more about air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, plumbing systems and hot water systems. I believe that knowledge of the fundamentals can help me tackle the challenges I face at work. During my time at Hilton Singapore, I took a fire safety course and subsequently, a security course and project management course at Big Hotel.
What are the changes you’ve witness during your 25 years in the hotel industry? The biggest changes are brought about by technology. Work order systems for the Engineering department has been digitalised. Through these systems, I’m able to assign jobs to my team and track their progress. This doesn’t only help me in my role, but it also helps everyone involved stay on track, increasing overall productivity. The process also helps the Engineering department keep inventory.
Despite all the changes, what is one thing that has not changed at all since you’ve started working here?
Jokes aside, one thing that hasn’t changed, no matter where you go, is that the hotel is foremost a business. This in turn challenges you to consider the wider business needs and take into account any opportunity costs when making decisions to ensure the hotel always stays viable.
Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? I wear two hats here at Hotel G Singapore. As Chief Engineer, my job is to oversee all the components within the hotel and ensure that the hotel is constantly maintained. This can be anything from having my team build a plywood structure to house our restaurant’s Dry Ager, to ensuring that the air-conditioning within the hotel is properly maintained. The other aspect of my role is Safety & Security Manager, where I take care of everything to do with the safety and security of our guests, employees and vendors. A hotel needs to feel like a home away from home and safety and security is a top priority for any hotel.
What do you enjoy most about your work? Everything! But if I have to choose just one thing, it has to be meeting new people. When you work in the hotel industry, you’ll meet many people from all parts of the world and all walks of life, be it guests, vendors or colleagues. The hotel industry is a close-knit community where everyone young and old gets along very well. It’s always fun to work with my team, and everyone is always ready to lend a helping hand.
How did you adapt to or embrace the changes you’ve experienced? For me, personally, I always try to take the initiative to improve myself so that I don’t become obsolete. I’m always eager to learn new things and am always asking questions. Also, working in this industry for 25 years, you meet so many people, all with their own way of doing things and over time, you learn that the most important thing is to learn to work with everyone.
What motivated you to take up two important positions as both the Chief Engineer and the Safety & Security Manager? The salary, of course! But seriously, it’s really about the passion. From a young age, I was always curious to learn things. I took courses on my own and when the opportunity came around, I decided to give it a shot. I love challenges and I wanted to challenge myself to take on something new. Also, both these roles complement each other and I believe that I could perform both roles efficiently.
How do you manage two separate teams effectively? I’m very fortunate to have strong teams that back me up. Our Assistant Chief Engineer and Assistant Security Manager are both experienced and good at their jobs, and they take on half the load off me. At the same time, because I myself started learning everything from scratch, it helps me manage my team because I know what issues they are facing and I can help to fix them.
Do you have any interesting experiences when dealing with the safety and security of the hotel? No. And for me, that’s a good thing. Because safety and security are the main concerns of guests, and having no issues is the best it can be.
Can you tell us more about the Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment (ACTA) programme you attended? Last year, upon deciding to learn how to better manage and train my team, I applied for the ACTA programme, and Hotel G sent me for it. Through various discussions and hands-on training, I’ve learnt how to effectively impart my knowledge and skills. This has helped me with the management and training of my team, as well as other employees at Hotel G Singapore. I’m thankful for the opportunity and I really enjoyed the program, although it was challenging.
What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? I would say: Don’t be afraid to take risks and explore opportunities. For me, I had my fair share of missed opportunities, but I’m glad I took chances throughout my career, many of which led to fulfilling opportunities and experiences.