Ever wondered what it’s like to be part of a team that constantly strives to enhance Singapore’s image through creating exciting and innovative campaigns to attract our foreign visitors? We speak to two employees from STB to find out more.
By Mabel Tan
Nothing ever stays the same in the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). From travelling the world on the behest of work to interacting with foreign dignitaries, no working day is the same as its employees work towards positioning Singapore into a unique and compelling destination for leisure and business visitors.
26-year-old Sandy Koh and 27-year-old Janice Fong tell us how life is like in STB and share with us the countless opportunities offered to them – both in and out of the country.
What compelled you to join STB?
Sandy Koh: When I first decided to join STB in 2008, everything seemed to be on an upswing in the tourism industry with numerous events and projects in the pipeline like the construction of the two integrated resorts and the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix. So I was thinking to myself, “What better time to join the industry than now?”
Janice Fong: I learnt about STB and the role it plays in the tourism industry when my university professor invited one of his ex-students to share his work experience in the organisation during a lecture. The dynamic nature of the job prompted me to apply for the Management Associate Programme (previously known as the Management Trainee Programme) during my final year of university.
Tell us about the work you do in STB.
Sandy: Being in STB’s Cruise Division, my key project is the development of a new International Cruise Terminal which is slated to open at the end of this year. One part of the work is centred on attracting competitive proposals for the management of the cruise terminal to position Singapore as a world-class cruise homeport for Southeast Asia, much like the equivalent of our Changi Airport.
Other than building up the infrastructure capabilities, my team also looks into the software aspects which include putting in place a cruise regulatory framework and policies to support a transparent and pro-business environment for industry players.
My work in Cruise gives me the opportunity to catalyze the development of an emerging tourism business in Singapore with great growth potential and travel to exciting cruise capitals like Miami and Barcelona.
Janice: STB has 21 regional offices worldwide undertaking the entire range of tourism functions from marketing to investment promotion. At STB Seoul, our task is to maintain close relationships with our Korean industry partners in order to gain a better understanding of consumers’ needs in the market.
Other aspects of our job include working with in-market industry partners to promote Singapore to our overseas consumers, facilitating tourism companies in investment plans and business alliances, monitoring competitive activities, and supporting the development of bilateral or multilateral agreements.
I also handle our public relations portfolio, executing public relations programmes and working with local agencies to promote Singapore as a destination of choice. On top of that, I meet with potential investors, sharing with them Singapore’s innumerable tourism investment opportunities.
Share with us your most memorable experience with STB.
Sandy: I recently took on an assignment to be a liaison officer for my CEO on a business trip. Through the various meetings with other leisure/ tourism companies, I gained breadth of knowledge and fresh perspectives on the travel and leisure industry. I also had the opportunity to participate in high-level meetings and benefit from their sharing of management insights and strategy.
Janice: For me, the most memorable experience was during my time in Management Associate Programme. I was working at the Singapore Visitors Centre for a few months, receiving all sorts of queries from a diverse group of people. From that experience, I learnt how to relate to overseas visitors which is an essential quality to have. Till this day, this knowledge has influenced how I carry out my work in STB.
What is your greatest challenge on the job?
Sandy: A large-scale project like the new International Cruise Terminal is often in the spotlight of the industry and the public. As the culture in STB goes, junior officers are given ample opportunities to develop through taking ownership and responsibility. Being on the project has challenged me to adapt to a steep learning curve and tight timelines. I also had to step up to the task of making major presentations before management early in the game!
Janice: On a lighter note, I miss the food in Singapore! I love Korean food but once in a while, I really crave for Singaporean dishes like chicken rice and mee pok. Fortunately, a Singaporean restaurant just opened its doors in Seoul recently.
Describe the work culture in STB.
Sandy: The people here make work exciting and dynamic. The work might get very challenging but it’s tempered by the fun-loving people. It’s always very high-energy every day!
Janice: I wholly agree with Sandy. My colleagues are highly energetic and we practice an ‘open’ work culture. That being said, we STB-ians have plenty of fun together even outside the workplace.
What’s next for Singapore’s tourism industry?
Sandy: With the maturing of the tourism landscape, we see a lot more diversity in the various sectors like hospitality and retail. Look at the number of independent local brands sprouting out at Haji Lane, for example, or the myriad of boutique hotel concepts. It is this diversity that will give Singapore the character and flavour to continue to differentiate itself from other metropolitan cities of the world.
Janice: Tourism is a dynamic sector that has undergone tremendous change in recent years with the introduction of a host of lifestyle experiences such as fine dining and exciting entertainment options. Ten years from now, Singapore will be a much more exciting city, offering visitors a more multi-faceted and memorable Singaporean experience!