Business of Happiness

Business of Happiness

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THE WORKING MOM WHO GOT THE SUPPORT SHE NEEDED

As a mother, I’m attuned to taking care of others’ needs. This translates easily to my responsibility in the hotel as a Guest Relations Officer. I help address our guests’ requests to ensure their stay with us is as comfortable as possible. That responsibility doesn’t end when I leave work, though. When my work at the hotel ends, I begin my second shift – being a mom at home.

BALANCING MY FAMILY LIFE AT HOME AND AT WORK I’m a working mother with two kids, aged seven and eight. I left the hotel industry to take care of them when my younger child was born and only returned to Travelodge Harbourfront two years ago. Coming back to work was no easy decision. I knew it would be a tough task balancing responsibilities at work and at home.

“But I couldn’t think of a better place for me than the hotel industry.”

When a previous manager that I had worked with heard that I was looking to rejoin the industry, she invited me to interview for a vacancy at this hotel.

It also helped that when I planned my return to the workforce, the hotel was supportive and encouraging. They gave me the flexibility to plan my work schedule around my duties as a mother and that made all the difference to me. My understanding colleagues gave me the priority when it came to picking my shifts and off days. So I make sure I can be there if I need to send my children to school, or meet-the-parents day. It’s the best of both worlds – I get to pursue my career, while also being present to watch my children grow up.

My situation is further complicated due to my health condition. I was born with spina bifida. Since returning to work, I’ve had to be hospitalised at least 3 separate occasion due to my condition. The hotel has stood by me every single time, encouraging me to rest and recover. Never putting any pressure on me. I’m thankful that instead of being excluded due to my challenges, I’m empowered by the inclusive and supportive environment of the hotel – which is part of the culture of Travelodge Hotels Asia.

How does my condition affect my work? Well, it's unpredictable. One day, I could be totally fine, and the next moment, I’d collapse and be rushed to the A&E. During those times, my colleagues are gracious enough to assure me not to worry about work and just focus on recovery. I’m so grateful for their support. They've become like family to me. We have dinner regularly, and even celebrate festive seasons together. It's always the people you work with that makes a difference. They make me look forward to coming to work every day.

HOW I GOT STARTED To be honest, I have my manager to thank for, for this job. While I’ve always enjoyed working with people and customer service, I had no experience in hospitality. I didn’t study it in school and knew next to nothing about the industry. Thankfully, my manager saw my passion for the role and decided to give me a shot.

From the moment I joined the team, everyone was instrumental in my training– helping me understand the system, the ins and outs of the hotel operations. Over the years, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from my colleagues. Now, I can proudly say that I pay it forward by helping new team mates settle into their roles.

We get a lot of regulars in this hotel, so I make it a point to remember what they like, and try to personalise their experience. I’ve also managed to learn some useful skills from my colleagues, like speaking and understanding basic Mandarin. Our guests from China are always delighted when I converse with them in Mandarin! It’s so much easier to communicate and helps make their experience better.

“The one thing that I’ve held close to my heart since Day One, is that joy I get when I see guests happy.”

To me, that’s the most rewarding part about my job.

THE ROAD AHEAD Diligence and the right attitude can go a long way, but at the end of the day, it always comes down to the people around you. It would have definitely been a lot harder for me to assimilate into the hotel industry without supportive colleagues and managers.

I’m determined to continue progressing onwards and upwards in my hospitality career. With the hotel’s encouragement for us to upgrade ourselves, I’ve been hoping to learn more about hotel management and operational matters. I hope to be able to expand my job scope in the future.

My motivation for working hard has always been to provide for my kids. Working with this hotel, I get that sense of satisfaction, knowing that I’m in the right place at the right time to keep doing that. I've been incredibly blessed with a supportive family too – my mom, Madam Zalina, my grandmother, my fiancé, Rudy, and my two precious angels, Rayyan and Rizqin. They’ve been my cheerleaders in the background, always pushing me to be the best I can be – overcoming obstacles as a single mother, and as someone with a chronic illness. It is really thanks to them that I am able to confidently pursue my passion.