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 Eusope Saripi, share why they’ve remained in the hospitality industry for decades.
How long have you been in the industry? This year will be my 48th year with the hotel.
How did you start your career in the Business of Happiness? It began in 1971, when I finished school. At that time, there were many new hotels opening in the city, so there were many job opportunities in the hotel industry. I decided to give it a try.
Your career journey is quite interesting. Can you tell us more about it?
I applied to Grand Hyatt Singapore when they first opened and was hired. The management asked me which department I preferred to be in, so I applied for an opening in the Mailing department. I began my career as a Mailing Clerk, where I collected all the guest and office mail and franked them. I was quite happy with my job.
In 1974, I was promoted to Inventory Clerk, and was tasked with keeping track of all the office and guest stationery supplies. Back then, we also had a print shop in the basement, so I also collected stationery and printed the guest bills.
I then transferred to Accounts Payable. This happened because an old colleague was leaving his position in Accounts and encouraged me to apply for his position. The hotel and management were very supportive and offered on-the-job training and mentoring. I learnt the required skills for the job. When I passed, I became an Accounts Payable Clerk. Eventually, I was promoted to Audit Assistant, which is my current position.
It’s really quite amazing to have stayed here for 48 years – without any plans of leaving, too!
48 years is really a long time! Is there a reason why you’ve stayed?
My colleagues have become part of my family. I have a great relationship with them, and we’re quite close to each other. Many of them joined the hotel around the same time I did. On special occasions, we visit each other’s homes and celebrate together. The management is also very supportive and kind to their staff. I also get to work with a diverse group of people, and I get along with them quite well. It’s not easy to leave all that behind, especially when I still enjoy my work.
My work schedule is quite flexible too. The management was able to shorten my work hours so I can spend more time with my family, especially my grandchildren.
About 20 years ago, I did consider whether I should move to another hotel, wondering if the grass was greener on the other side. But I then realised that there was no real reason for me to leave – I am happy with what I have and what I do for work.
Tell us more about your role and what you do on a day-to-day basis. The hotel has five F&B outlets, and for every function of each individual outlet, I have to check and balance the entries that they bill, mainly if it’s a credit card, room charge posting or cash. If anything seems inconsistent or wrongly billed, I raise it in the report to be rectified. My duties also extend to the hotel’s spa and fitness centre.
You started in the mailroom and now you’re in a senior position. How did you pick up the required job skills? It’s a combination of experience, in-house training and short courses sponsored by the hotel. The hotel provides on-the-job training for all positions to keep our skills updated. HR also reviews relevant SkillsFuture courses and sends them across to staff who may find them useful. My bosses also mentored me and offered guidance as I learned the ropes. Additionally, I took external courses on bookkeeping and basic accounting.
You recently completed a training course, SkillsFuture for Digital Workspace. Tell us more about this experience.
We learned how to work and engage with smart devices that we’d typically use in the hotel. This training session was very helpful because having digital skills can make our work easier. As you may know, a lot of the work I did was done manually which was time-consuming. Back then, it would take six to eight hours for manual accounting calculations. But with new applications and software, the flow of work can be completed more efficiently.
Also, I now know how to use communication and messaging apps, which I use to talk to my children. It’s very handy!
You’re the chairman of the hotel’s union, which is part of the Food, Drinks & Allied Workers Union. Can you tell us more about what you do in this role? I’ve been in this union for about eight to 10 years. I like helping our members with their issues and concerns. When the ex-Chairman retired, I was approached by the union and the hotel’s HR to succeed him. Since I’ve been in the hotel for so long, I know how the hotel operates and how to talk to management and staff, which is why the union thought I’d be a good fit for the role. I’m currently involved with the Collective Agreement (CA), and I make sure that employment contracts are respected. Every month, I also help organise meetings or information sessions for union members.
You also won the Hyatt Pageant three times. What is this pageant about?
The hotel’s Associates Activities Committee runs monthly activities for the staff. It can be anything from barista classes to Zumba classes. They’re a lot of fun because you get to unwind with your colleagues.
Back in the 1970s and 80s, the committee organised “Mr. and Ms. Hyatt” pageants. Participants performed on stage and showed off their talents. On top of that, there was also a Best Dressed category. I remember one of the times I won the contest, and I received a free trip to Bangkok. Coincidentally, it was also around the same time my first wedding anniversary took place, so the prize was also a great gift for the occasion.
What advice would you give to young professionals who want to join the industry? The hotel industry is filled with many opportunities to develop your career. Don’t be afraid to try something new and make mistakes – it’s all part of the learning experience.