Keeping companies and their employees agile and responsive in Singapore
In a bid to ensure that his business remains agile and responsive during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sherman Ng (left), CEO of Salt Media & Entertainment, decided to place his employee, Carissa Fan (right), on the 6-month Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for digital sales executives offered by Workforce Singapore (WSG).
Much like any country in the world, Singapore has not been spared from the wave of disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This in turn, has made it an imperative for many organisations and workers alike, to quickly adapt to changes as the way we work continues to be reshaped.
For 30-year Singaporean Carissa Fan, an ex-cabin crew member with Singapore Airlines (SIA), the return to the workforce after an almost two-year hiatus proved to be particularly challenging. Leaving SIA in March 2018 after becoming pregnant, and subsequently to take care of her new-born son, Fan joined Salt Media & Entertainment, a media content producer and distributor, in November 2019.
In her initial role as a client relations executive, Fan had to learn to quickly adapt and learn on-the-job, as she explained, “When I joined Salt Media, it was difficult during the first few months as I had no experience in the corporate and media industry, and the skills I’ve learnt in school were rather obsolete [for the job].”
To exacerbate matters, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of 2020 forced the temporary closure of Salt Media’s 227-seater cinema at the Capital Tower in Singapore. Not to be deterred, Salt Media proceeded to move forward the launch of SMIX.asia, a new streaming service, to April 2020.
As recognition of her value to the company, Sherman Ng, CEO of Salt Media, then decided to redeploy Fan as a client relations and marketing executive, where her role included working on and brainstorming new marketing ideas for SMIX.asia.
More importantly, Ng also decided to place Fan on the 6-month Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for digital sales executives offered by Workforce Singapore (WSG). Under the Adapt and Grow Initiative, WSG offers PCPs to help mid-career PMETs undergo skills conversion and successfully transition to a new career.
It was a decision that has continued to benefit both Salt Media and in particular, Fan herself.
“The skills I’ve learnt during the [PCP] course are relevant, and I had the opportunity to be mentored by industry experts with the latest sales and marketing trends,” she elaborated. “Each learner did an analysis on our individual companies, which helped identify how we would use digital tools to aid us in our business plans.
“We also had the chance to practice running social media campaigns and draw up content plans, which has helped me contribute more in my new role with my company.”
For Ng, operating Salt Media during the pandemic has been fraught with challenges, including the need to remain constantly agile and responsive. Besides the aforementioned closure of Salt Media’s cinema, the pandemic has also stopped all productions, while delays have impacted the company’s distribution business.
In order to successfully re-position staff from the cinema business to the company’s new streaming service, training, whether through professional courses offered by PCP, or on-the-job training, became a critical consideration for Ng.
He highlighted, “We have to decide which skills to re-tool our team with, and we need to match the aptitude and attitude of the team member, as well as consider the future needs of the company.
“We also face a time crunch as we needed to preserve cash flow to survive a season of extremely low revenue. Matched against a slow pace of cost reduction, this provided a real challenge for us as we also needed time to adjust to fixed costs like rental.”
While a “lean setup” means that Ng has not had the opportunity to place other members of his team on the PCP programme, he is adamant that Singapore companies should take advantage of the help offered by initiatives such as PCP as they plan their recovery from the pandemic.
“Instead of current needs, ascertain the future needs of your company, and send your staff for programmes such as PCP as soon as possible. Together, we can overcome the obstacles in our way!”
For mid-career converters like Fan, the learning journey has perhaps only just begun, and in her case, would not have been possible without the committed support of her employer and her colleagues.
“My boss, Sherman, was extremely supportive and encouraged me to do my best for the PCP programme, and my teammates rallied together to fulfil some of my duties whilst I focused on my course.
“I am very thankful for that as I have seen how many of my course mates struggled to juggle both full-time work and the course, which was quite intensive.”
She also advised Singaporeans considering a career change to persevere with resilience and adaptability, even if the road to recovery might appear to be a long and challenging one. “When in a new environment, be open to changes and adapt quickly. Be respectful to others and stay hungry to grow and improve, and you would be guaranteed success in the long run,” Fan concluded.