Category: Career Advice
Published on Friday, 19 June 2015 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
The thought of breaking into the working world for the first time ever after you have completed your studies is a nerve-wrecking situation filled with uncertainties and ambiguities. When fresh graduates think about applying for jobs in various companies, NTUC FairPrice rarely comes to mind. The supermarket industry might seem like a boring place to pursue a career, but there obviously seems to be something worth considering about working for FairPrice especially when these two fresh graduates speak so highly of their jobs there.
NTUC FairPrice is one of the largest employers in Singapore. When someone speaks of employment at FairPrice, what usually comes to mind for most people are the store-front service jobs such as cashiers and logistics since these are the employees that people see and interact with when they go grocery shopping. However, there is more to it than meets the eye. Behind the scenes at FairPrice is an intricate corporate system that makes our favorite supermarket tick. There are a wide range of management and executive positions in different departments of FairPrice, which makes FairPrice what it is today.
Looking for a job is an important milestone for many graduates, and they are often faced with struggles and concerns like finding a job to suit their personalities, striking work-life balance, and learning opportunities. FairPrice offers a range of jobs that differ from the norms that could cater to every individual's job requirements.
Meet Koo Wan Qi. At just the tender age of 23, her career is set on a face-paced track and she is already on her way to managing an entire FairPrice outlet. This management trainee is more than just a pretty face. The happy-go-lucky Wan Qi has an impressive work and social resume. She graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Not only is she highly ambitious, she is equally adventurous and excels in playing the piano. When she is not busy co-managing her outlet, she writes songs, playing them for family and friends, and even performing in concerts! You can also find her living her life to the fullest and taking road trips during the holidays. Basically she is that kind of girl that everyone would love to meet and make friends with, and like how she makes the most of her life, she is making the most out of working at FairPrice too.
Wan Qi started working at a young age, and took on many jobs as a teenager. She worked with NTUC FairPrice when she was 16 years old, and it was then that she began to understand the difference between being a customer and working in a supermarket. She was fascinated that so much more went into the retail industry than she envisioned, and chose to work at FairPrice upon having a glimpse of the variety of opportunities available in this company and industry.
Upon commencing her position, FairPrice gave her the opportunity to attend training approved by WDA. This has contributed to giving her the knowledge and skillsets required for good job performance.
Initially, she started out by rotating at different departments within a FairPrice supermarket, including learning how to merchandise product or performing specialized skills such as fish cutting. She later moved on to the nitty-gritty stuff of learning about how to manage people.
Prior to her role as a full-time executive, she was given the opportunity to work with NTUC Plus! Cards, as well as working with Business Group Support, under the Special Projects department. This experience revealed that there were many areas and opportunities available in FairPrice, and much room for learning and growth for her.
Wan Qi continued working at FairPrice for four months upon the completion of her internship, and eventually returned to FairPrice for a full-time position as a management trainee. She decided to continue working with FairPrice because she wanted to be a part of its growing retail line. FairPrice’s strong branding presence as a household name in Singapore also enticed her to stay on as a full-time employee.
As a fresh graduate, Wan Qi’s biggest challenge was grasping the concept of time. As a student, she enjoyed the freedom with her time. The transition of going into fixed working hours when she started her full-time position at FairPrice was slightly difficult. However, she learned and adapted to gradually improve and perform at the job.
Let's take a walk through a day in the working life of Wan Qi. Wan Qi starts off her day by reading emails, and checking for updates to ensure that she does not miss out on important tasks that are required of her. It is also her responsibility to ensure that any problems that arise in her store will not hinder the growth of the company.
As she works in the store, she ensures that customers are provided for and served according to their needs. She also puts herself into the shoes of the customer, and continuously looks for ways to further improve their shopping experience.
She finds satisfaction in helping her customers and seeing them leave her store with a smile on their faces. She also appreciates that FairPrice advocates a good work-life balance and practices Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which allows her to give back to society. This includes her recent experience with YMCA in April, where she had the opportunity to contribute to a cause by drawing, colouring, and playing games with Down-syndrome children.
Wan Qi plans to stay on in FairPrice for as long as possible. She finds that handling a store suits her character as she can take ownership of her work while managing and running a store. She loves interacting with customers on a day-to-day basis, and finds that there is so much more than meets the eye. Furthermore, FairPrice provides a very family oriented workplace, giving her good work-life balance. Achieving work-life balance in today’s world is not easy, and she is very grateful that FairPrice allows her to do that.
Wan Qi aims to be promoted to the position of a Manager at the store, and take a bigger responsibility in serving customers of a FairPrice branch. She not only aims to be promoted, but also wishes to give back to the society by assisting FairPrice in different Corporate Social Responsibility activities.
In line with FairPrice goals to be the most senior-friendly retailer, she also looks forward to upgrading and changing her store’s layout and to implementing new structures to aid the elderly.
When it comes to people development, she believes that learning does not stop in store. She aims to help colleagues and staff by sending them for training and upgrading courses.
Operationally, she also looks forward to helping FairPrice achieve its goal to reduce food waste through public education and enhancing store operations.
Wan Qi dreamt of being many things when she was younger. She dreamt of being an actress, as she loved to watch television and movies, and she loved acting, where she dreamt of pursuing acting as a career, becoming famous on Channel 5 or Channel 8, later venturing on to become famous in Hollywood!
She always tried to talk her way out of punishments when she was young, and had also dreamed of being a criminal lawyer, helping her clients argue their point of view in front of a courtroom.
Working in FairPrice is definitely very different from the dreams that she had when she was younger, and growing up made her realize that there are in fact many ways to serve the needs of the people, including working in the retail sector and in an organization that serves the needs of thousands daily. Working in a supermarket during her internship opened her eyes to these opportunities in the retail sector. Furthermore, her goals are aligned with FairPrice’s, as she believes that giving back to the community is key.
Of course, coming from a hospitality background, she is even more aware of the importance of serving from the heart. As she also achieves work-life balance, she is already fulfilling her current dream job.
Wan Qi has an insightful advice she would like to give fresh graduates. She advised that “before graduation, take up an internship programme with a company that you wish to work in. This gives you the opportunity to understand yourself better and perhaps see if you are suitable for the job. This, in turn, assists you to narrow down and be better able to choose your first job upon graduation. And of course, follow your passion. Do not be afraid to try things out to see which path fits you the best. This makes waking up in the morning and going to work a lot easier.”
Besides Wan Qi, there is also another young employee at FairPrice that has not once turned back after applying for a job there. 29-year-old Tan Yanbin graduated from SMU, with a Degree in Business Management. He is just like every young Singaporean man out there who loves going to the gym and playing video games in his spare time. While others struggle with handling work and social life, the Senior Executive at FairPrice’s Fresh Foods Distribution Centre (FFDC) has got it down pat. He is a member of Sambiesta, a Singapore-based percussion band with an Afro- Brazilian set up, and will be heading to Germany in July 2015 to perform in the Coburg Samba Festival with his band. Go Yanbin! We always support our local talents.
Yanbin joined FairPrice for several reasons, one of it being the company’s strong branding presence in Singapore, as FairPrice is one of the country’s largest employers. He grew up shopping with his parents at FairPrice since young. Another reason is the awesome employee benefits that FairPrice offers, such as company bonding activities and a focus on work-life balance and pro-family values, which he heard through word-of-mouth.
Yanbin joined FairPrice as a management trainee and the program has allowed him to both understand the core business through his attachment in-store, and learn about warehouse operations through his stint at the Fresh Food Distribution Centre (FFDC). This has given him a clearer idea of the various aspects of the supermarket business, and helped to hone his knowledge and expertise, which helped him tackle day-to-day operational issues in his current position, and to grow and learn in FairPrice.
Yanbin enjoys working at FairPrice because of its warm and inclusive culture. He formed a strong sense of teamwork with his batch of management trainees, who went through training together. This helped build camaraderie, and he is now very close to his colleagues, even those across different departments.
FairPrice also helped him practice and hone his analytical skills, and his department provided many chances for learning, where he strengthened his problem-solving skills and learnt to think on his feet.
Yanbin currently holds two portfolios, where he is in charge of the confectionary warehouse, as well as the transportation and distribution of products to NTUC FairPrice outlets. Part of his portfolio involves troubleshooting and handling issues faced when goods are distributed to stores. His job scope also entails proper resource planning for warehouse space, manpower, and truck movement in anticipation of high throughput volumes during peak seasons such as Christmas and Chinese New Year.
Yanbin derives satisfaction from successfully executing plans during peak periods such as during the festive seasons. This is particularly so when they result in improved performance as compared to the previous year. He feels that his job also has given him great meaning, as he contributes to providing for the needs of Singaporeans islandwide. There is also much fulfilment from learning on the job, and in picking up skills that would be useful in future.
Yanbin enjoys his work currently and feels that there are also opportunities for great learning as he advances in the company. He believes that FairPrice is a great place to work in and he looks forward to more opportunities apply his skill sets through current and future roles within the co-operative.
Yanbin recognizes the growing e-commerce industry, which FairPrice is moving into through its FairPrice Online store. He hopes to be able to develop and hone his skills and knowledge on online retail and multi-channel outreach, which is an area that is important to adapting to the changing needs of Singaporeans, and ultimately be able to contribute to FairPrice’s fast-growing online business
When he was younger, Yanbin has always thought himself an entrepreneur, and wanted to run his own business in the future. However, as he took on his current position at FairPrice, he found that this was a better fit for him, as it trains his analytical thinking and knowledge in logistics, something which he enjoys. He recognizes that the skills he is picking up now continues to contribute in his overall development, no matter what path he takes later in life.
Yanbin would like to tell everyone out there to “Pursue your dreams and aspirations with fervor if you know what you want. However, do not worry if you have not quite found your way. Just indulge in your current interests and the dots will connect in your life. Move forward with an open mind and you will eventually find something that you enjoy.”
Whether you are just fresh out of school or would like to have a change of work environment, you can find employment with FairPrice as these two happy employees have HERE