Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beyond the F1 Arena: a Hospitality Student’s Tale


It was a dream come true for racing enthusiasts when it was first announced, in 2008, that the SingTel Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix Night Race will be held in Singapore. Since then, the grand annual event has been a success, for both spectators and businesses alike.

Looking beyond the glitz and glamour, did you know there are different teams working behind the scenes to achieve a smooth and seamless operation? Success of the F1 event cannot come without the support of these teams.

Today, our student reporter talks to NYP’s first year student Muhammad Fildaus Bin Nazir Miah, 25, who is pursuing a Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management. For the past four years (in fact, even before he joined NYP), Fildaus has rendered his services in a plethora of jobs with Singapore Grand Prix (SGP). Certainly, his is an experience we would definitely want to hear about!

Fildaus (middle in picture) hard at work
Ready, Get Set... GO!

Back in 2010, Liaison Officers from SGP held a recruitment drive at ITE College West (Choa Chu Kang). Fildaus, who was an ITE student then, joined the recruitment drive and was placed for a series of interviews. After what seemed to be rounds of endless interviews, Fildaus managed to get a job as a Lift Operator. Uninteresting as it may sound, this job is essential during the event. The job requires a front line representative to interact with corporate guests dining in the various hospitality suites while operating a makeshift lift.

After going through training, Fildaus started on his two week job stint in the hospitality suites.

Ever wonder how things work there? Let Fildaus enlighten us!

“There are four levels in the hospitality corporate suites buildings. The first two levels are accessible via lifts. The club suites are on level two, and the sky suites on level 3,” said Fildaus. “However, to access level four sky terrace, you’d have to walk up the stairs. The sky terrace is only available to sky suites guests.”

To Fildaus, this short but wholly exciting stint was a kick-start to more F1 job opportunities to come.

The first certificate Fildaus received for his participation in F1, more to come!
2011 to 2012: Close proximity with famous personalities

The next two years, the SGP welcomed Fildaus to continue working with them. He had the opportunity to try on a more challenging job as a Facility Coordinator. The team comprises  a Facility Director, a Facility Manager and two other Facility Coordinators. What an important and daunting role, you might think! The role required Fildaus and his other team mates to thoroughly check for any defects in the hospitality corporate suites and to assist the Facility Director and Manager in any other duties. During the F1 race, his team also handled matters such as guest dissatisfaction, safety, security, while working hand in hand with the various caterers and suppliers.

Fildaus reminisced about an occasion in 2012 where Minister Mr. S. Iswaran visited the corporate suite and shook his hand. Mr. S. Iswaran even asked about his experience at the suites! Fildaus also saw Minister Mentor Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Deputy Prime Minister  Teo Chee Hean arriving with their bodyguards.

More F1 opportunities 

Fildaus was very lucky to have a Facility Manager who was also his ITE lecturer, Ms. Lim Soo Ting. Through Ms. Lim’s recommendation to SGP, Fildaus was given the chance to take on a higher responsibility role as a Facility Manager.

This was a golden opportunity indeed. It allowed Fildaus to expand his job scope and interact more with important guests.  As a Facility Manager, Fildaus got to know more of the back-end workings of the F1, and had to manage his team. In addition, he also had to ensure strict adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures and manage the multitude of caterers and suppliers handling the event. Of course, one highlight of working backstage is being able to enjoy the complimentary entertainment!

The team at SGP loved him so much that they invited Fildaus back to work for them again this year!

Fildaus impressed them so much that the SGP Operations Director, Sunil Shamdasani, sent a sterling letter of commendation to his School directors at NYP!

We reproduce the letter below.

"Dear Mr Heng and Mr Lee 

Cc – Lim Soo Ting – ITE (Fildaus was a student of ITE who has recently joined NYP)

We would like to share our appreciation for your student Muhammad Fildaus Bin Nazir Miah who was part of our Hospitality team during the 2013 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX.

Each year, we engage a considerable number of students to assist us in managing various facilities. The success of our international event is a result of staff such as Fildaus who make it happen because they take ownership.

Fildaus was appointed Facility Manager at our Corporate Hospitality Suite at Turn 3 with an operational function of being the liaison person on behalf of Singapore GP for caterers, security, housekeeping, F&B and infrastructure contractors. The role was to ensure compliance to Standard Operating Procedures with the ultimate goal of providing quality catering, comfort and safety of our corporate customers.

Fildaus was always contactable, responsible and proactive in follow-up. He has shown outstanding hands-on leadership pertaining to command and control with a solutions driven approach during situations requiring crisis management. He excelled in communication and coordination which are vital links.

Aside to these traits, his personality, character and mannerism allowed him to engage well with both internal and external customers. He handled stress well in a demanding environment.

Mr Heng and Mr Lee, we are delighted to share with you his contribution and hope he continues to grow with NYP only to come back to add value to the hospitality industry.

Such talent must not pass unrecognised!

Yours sincerely,

Sunil Shamdasani
Food and Beverage Hospitality / Operations Director
Singapore GP Pte Ltd"

A humble background

It was a slow, hard climb to get to where he is right now. Fildaus had been working since he was 16. After his ‘O’ levels in 2004, he moved on to Millenia Institute to pursue his ‘A’ Levels. Unfortunately, he did not pass his first year so he dropped out and went to work.

His secondary school teacher, Mrs Gowrie Somu, advised him otherwise.

“Why not try food and beverage? You love to cook, and you’re good at communicating,” Fildaus recalled what Mrs Gowrie told him.

Mrs Gowrie then introduced him to Dimensions International College, which offered a Food and Beverage Operations Nitec course in collaboration with ITE.

Fildaus went through an 18-month course, did his first attachment at Graze Restaurant in Rochester Park, and graduated with a certificate of merit. Fildaus then continued working in many different hospitality jobs, until he was 19, where he entered National Service.

Happy times at Dimensions International College
After NS, Fildaus continued his studies and took his Higher Nitec in Hospitality Operations. Graduating with a high GPA, Fildaus then went on to work for a year in different companies. He was a waiter, a room attendant, a customer service officer at a call-centre, you name it, he has done it!

Class of 2011: Higher Nitec in Hospitality Operations
In the beginning, Fildaus was shy, clueless of how to interact and serve customers, and ended up making blunders. Nonetheless, he never gave up, but instead took it in his stride, reflecting upon these mistakes in a bid for self-improvement. As he got more used to the work, he became less tense and he was able to perform. Now, he is more communicative, and better able to handle unforeseen situations.

The different jobs he took up allowed him to save up for further education at NYP.

Joining NYP

The thought of going back into the paper chase did not cross his mind, but the need to continually upgrade oneself and get a higher education prompted Fildaus to press on and he applied for a place in NYP, even though his parents preferred him to be working.

For one, Fildaus wanted to mould a future for himself, and to have a solid career path before he reaches the age of 30.

With that in mind, he enrolled in NYP this year, and uses his own Central Provident Fund and a bank loan to pay for his own school fees.

Life in NYP

Currently, Fildaus is pursuing a Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management. He continues to work on weekends to support himself while studying full-time. Obviously, this is no easy feat but he continues to take it in his stride.

Never give up!

Throughout his journey, there definitely have been downs and ups.

We ask Fildaus for advice, and he dishes out some.

When first starting on a new job, you may find it difficult to adapt to the different procedures for respective companies. Nevertheless, Fildaus says that this difficulty can be overcome, as procedures are mainly similar and easy to pick up.

“There are things that you can’t learn inside the classroom. Take whatever criticism thrown at you and make something out of it. Working in this line, we have to try to understand others who may have a different attitude, and the challenge is how you develop yourself to be a better person for them,” he said.

While it may be a tough ride, hospitality continues to open him up to things that he has never learnt before.

One last advice from Fildaus: being humble is the most important thing a person has to have.
Good advice Fildaus!

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Written by Tania Tay, Year 1, Diploma in Occupational Therapy


Tania is a Year 1 Occupational Therapy student who has a rabbit and loves it very much. She also likes cats and used to play with the resident cats in her Junior College frequently. She likes reading books and manga (Japanese comics) in her free time.

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