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From intern to supervisor – how Parameswaran found his passion

I’ve been working here in Marina Bay Sands (MBS) for about seven years now. I started out as an intern, went on to become a management trainee, before landing where I am today as Concierge Supervisor, leading a team of 14.

My life may seem pretty good right now, but it wasn’t always smooth-sailing. Before discovering a career in the hotel industry, I didn’t have a diploma, and was unsure about what I wanted to do with my life.

FINDING MY CALLING When I was 16, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. At the time, engineering was a popular course and many of my friends had taken it. So I figured that it would be my path too and signed up for the Electronic and Computer Engineering Diploma Programme in a local polytechnic.

But that didn’t go as planned.

I struggled. It was a difficult course, and very quickly, I realised that it was not for me. Eventually, the time came when I was asked to leave the school because of my poor results.

This took place when I was 18. It was a devastating moment, not just for me but for my family as well. They’ve always had high expectations of me.

When I enlisted for National Service (NS), it was without a diploma nor a plan of what I wanted to do with my life.

While serving NS, I was involved in helping out with Army Open Houses. These events gave me opportunities to interact with people from all walks of life – from members of the public to foreign dignitaries. From these experiences, I realised how much I enjoyed speaking to people, as well as the customer service aspect of it all. So I started looking to pursue a career with a service-oriented focus.

With these newfound interests in mind, I decided to apply for Republic Polytechnic’s course in Customer Relationship and Service Management after completing NS. I was accepted into the course and that was when everything changed for me. Finally, I started to get a sense of where my life should be headed.

I was 23 – way older than everyone else in my batch, but that didn’t bother me. I knew I was finally doing something that I was really passionate about.

ENTERING THE BUSINESS OF HAPPINESS In 2011, I was offered a scholarship with Marina Bay Sands. The scholarship programme was only offered to students who demonstrated outstanding performance in their respective courses. I was overjoyed to be one of the chosen few.

The programme saw me going through a six-month internship as a Guest Service agent at Marina Bay Sands. I had a detailed manual and a helpful mentor to guide me through the various operations and functions within the hotel. As a Guest Service agent, my main role was to assist guests with their check-in process– from greeting them upon arrival to sending their luggage up to their rooms.

These may sound like menial tasks, but I was beyond ecstatic to be working my dream job. The internship experience was intense, yet truly rewarding. It was my first taste of dealing directly with guests.

This internship turned out to be crucial in shaping me towards becoming who I am today. In a way, those months helped to solidify my belief that this path is “the one” for me. Sure, my diploma course taught me a lot, but no amount of education can teach me what I learnt through real-life experience. It was during this internship that I truly realised my passion for hospitality.

And I never looked back since.

“When you’re doing something you love, you want to keep improving and learning new skills to get better at it.”

As a management trainee at Marina Bay Sands, I had the opportunity to work across five departments, taking on different jobs over a span of 2.5 years – including bellman, guest service agent, concierge agent, valet dispatcher and limousine coordinator. The job rotation across different departments allowed me to develop a wide range of skill sets. I learnt to adapt quickly to support any type of function the hotel needed. In 2016, I was promoted to concierge supervisor for my exemplary performance.

In my current role, I feel empowered, knowing that my managers will support the decisions I make when dealing with guests. Of course, this didn’t happen overnight. My managers and I got to this place of mutual trust based on years of experience and invaluable teamwork.

“This is one of the reasons why I love my job – Marina Bay Sands places a lot of trust in its employees. We are empowered to act independently to help guests.”

For example, I once spotted an old couple counting coins in the hotel lobby. I approached them, and they told me they were checking how much it would cost to take a train to the airport. I noticed that they had a lot of luggage with them. It was clear to me that it would be difficult for them to bring so many pieces of luggage onto a train. So I decided to arrange a free airport limousine for them.

The couple showed deep appreciation for my simple gesture. I later found out that they were worried about carrying their luggage on public transport because the elderly man was recovering from a recent back surgery!

The feeling of being able to make someone’s day is indescribable… It’s joy to me. It always reminds me how through doing my job, a simple act can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

REFLECTIONS I know that I couldn’t have been happier than in the hotel industry. When I tell my parents about my job promotions or the awards I’ve received, I can tell they are proud of me for owning something I’m passionate about, which drives me to be at my best every single day.

“This job gives me everything I need in a career – a challenge, and at the same time, satisfaction.”

To anyone struggling to find their direction in life, I would say that there is no such thing as the wrong path, just longer ones. Be open to trying out new things because you may just stumble upon something that’ll turn out to be exactly what you’re looking for. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.

I’m grateful to have found a fulfilling career for myself. Hopefully in the future, I can help others in a similar position as I had been to find their passion. Just like how I found mine in the Business of Happiness.