How long have you been in the industry? Almost eight years. I started in 2011 when I was 57 years old.
What made you decide to join the hotel industry? My background is in engineering, and I practised that for many years. I applied for the position of an engineer at a company once, and when the hiring manager saw that I was 57 years old, they wanted to pay me half the salary for that position. So, I decided to look for a more stable job in other industries. I saw a job posting by Bay Hotel Singapore and thought I should give it a shot. I applied for the Room Attendant position and was hired.
You were in engineering for a long time, and then you made the career switch to the hotel industry. Can you tell us how your career is going so far? Sure. I’m very happy with where I am right now. In the hospitality industry, there is no age limit. I joined when I was 57, and three years later, I was promoted to Housekeeping Supervisor. I didn’t think it’d be possible to get a promotion at the age of 60, so I was very happy and surprised when I heard the news. I now manage a team of six people, and they are great to work with.
Tell us more about your role and daily duties.
As a Supervisor, I have more responsibilities. Since I now have a team to supervise, I have to make sure that my staff are performing their duties well and that they’re happy.
My main focus is to maintain the hotel’s cleanliness and appearance. My team and I divide and share the tasks, and if any help is needed, I’m always there to lend an extra hand. I inspect all the areas of the hotel to make sure that nothing has been missed by the housekeeping staff. If my manager has any urgent tasks, such as servicing of equipment or checking housekeeping supplies, I will help with those too.
What surprises you about the hospitality industry? I am surprised by how the industry is full of friendly, passionate and positive people. The people I work with are like family to me. They call me Uncle Chong. Since I started working here, I’ve become happier, more open-minded and patient. I also learned how to smile, something I didn’t do much of in my previous jobs.
What do you enjoy the most about your job?
I greatly appreciate the compassion and kindness of my boss and the upper management. Everyone looks after each other here. I really love the people I work with. The management trusts me, and they know that I always give my best to complete whatever I’m tasked to do
I enjoy the freedom of having a flexible schedule, even though I work full-time. My shift starts at 9am and ends at 3pm.. After work, I don’t feel too exhausted. I now have more time to be with my friends and family, take care of my fruit garden, and even go out for a jog around my neighbourhood.
How do you think you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his or her stay? I always greet them with a smile, ask them how they’re doing and treat them with respect. If they need any assistance, I am more than happy to help and make them comfortable.
What is the most memorable experience in your career so far?
My most memorable experiences include winning the Food, Drinks & Allied Workers Union/National Trades Union Congress/Singapore Hotel Association Employee of the Year award, I was very surprised to have won that after joining the hotel industry for eight years!
I also appreciated the trust given by my manager and General Manager to train newcomers. It’s fulfilling to see the staff whom I have trained doing well in their roles right now.
How did your life change after joining the industry? I feel very happy, I’m never mentally stressed when I work here. Since I joined, I feel more passionate about my work. I also smile more and I think that’s because I am happier working here.
Do you have any goals you hope to achieve in this industry? I want to learn as many new skills as possible. I’d like to try working in other departments.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to join the industry?
They have to understand that the guests’ comfort and happiness is our top priority in this industry. So, you have to be very passionate and have a positive attitude. You must have the heart to help others. For people around my age, this is a good industry for us. The management and fellow colleagues are very understanding and work arrangements are flexible.
Watch Keu Chi's video here