From managing large crowds to overseeing ground operations, the Senior Supervisor for Attractions Operations reflects on his career at Sentosa.
“I used to play soccer competitively for the Football Association of Malaysia when I was about 26 or 27. We were paid based on contract, and I was given an allowance of $800 per month in my first season. Everything else was taken care of and covered by the association.
My mother would constantly nag at me, saying that the money wasn’t sufficient and that the lifestyle didn’t suit me. She wanted me to find ‘real’ work, so I came to Singapore looking for a job. I attended a couple of interviews and found Sentosa to be an attractive place to work.
I’ve been working at Sentosa for 26 years now. Relocating to Singapore for work was not hard. Singapore is familiar to me, as my father’s side of the family lives here. As a kid, I spent most of my time here during the school holidays. Adapting was never an issue.
When I first joined Sentosa, I worked with the ground crew. I had to learn all the basic operations of the attractions, including the guidelines and SOPs. I gradually got promoted to Assistant Supervisor and eventually became Senior Supervisor.
As the Senior Supervisor for Attractions Operations, I need to ensure there is enough manpower to run the different attractions. Every morning, I also make sure staff go down to each attraction before opening and check that everything is in working condition.
Back in the day, we used to run quite a number of attractions. However, some have been handed over to private organisations since then. The three that we are operating are Wings of Time, Cable Car and the new SkyHelix Sentosa.
Of all the attractions, my favourite is the Musical Fountain, which has returned as part of the Central Beach Bazaar. The original Musical Fountain opened in 1982, and I was given the opportunity to take charge of its ground operations in the late nineties.
The new Musical Fountain brings back lots of good memories. And with the Musical Fountain, the Central Beach Bazaar, and the new Sentosa SkyJet, the Beach Plaza area is even more dynamic now.
My biggest challenge at work would be managing the crowds. We deal with large groups of visitors, especially during the weekends and festive seasons. I remember once, during Chinese New Year, we had up to 40,000 people coming to the island.
In situations like this, we have additional team members to assist. Safety is our first priority to ensure guests have a good experience when they visit our attractions. It can be challenging, but we always get the job done.
We’re also dealing with people from all over the world, so language can be a barrier. In such situations, you can use your phone to help translate or use hand gestures. I can speak a bit of Hindi and Chinese from my years of working here.
Sometimes guests do get angry, but you cannot respond with anger. You have to put yourself in their shoes and understand that they’ve come from very far away and paid a lot of money to be here. So if something goes wrong, you have to deal with them sensitively.
I’ve been working in Sentosa since I was in my late twenties. There have been so many changes on the island, and I’ve seen all of them. Sentosa is a place that’s constantly upgrading itself and catering to people’s needs.
When I come to work, it doesn’t feel like your typical office environment. You don’t see walls; you’re not deskbound. This place is a tourist attraction, and you meet different people every day. I brought my mum here once, and she was amazed by this place.
Over the years, I’ve had many seniors who taught me important lessons and advice. I want to share the same advice with the new crew so that they can apply it in their own work and personal lives.
And that’s when you come to work, think about work and leave your personal problems at home. You cannot mix the two because you might get distracted and not do a good job. And like running ground operations, follow the SOP, and you will never go wrong.” – Gautha
Interview by: Arman Shah