Making a successful mid-career switch with PCP
(Image courtesy of Chefco.biz)
Under the Adapt and Grow Initiative, Workforce Singapore (WSG) offers Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) to help mid-career PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) undergo skills conversion and successfully transition to a new career.
One beneficiary of PCP is Norefa Binte Riffin, a manager at local F&B business Chefco.biz, who was elevated to her current position after participating in the PCP for food services executives.
Today, she oversees Chefco.biz’s outlet operations and here, she shares her personal journey and how PCP has helped her develop and grow in her new career.
Can you share more about your work experience prior to joining Chefco.biz?
I attained a Nursing Certificate in 1994 and a Diploma in Biomedical Science from MDIS in 2009. Prior to joining Chefco.biz, my last permanent job was at the National Dental Centre, where I held a research coordinator / research assistant position.
During this period, I worked on many research projects including one for GlaxoSmithKline’s H1N1 study in 2011. Such research positions are on a 1 to 2-years contract assignment and extension of the contract would usually depend on the progress of the project and the budget. Hence, I would always be on the look-out for a new job when my contract/project ended.
Before that, I had also been working as a freelance nurse through a nursing agency for a few years. As the job was irregular, I was looking out for a new career that was more stable and where I could apply my coordination skills.
Why did you decide to tap on Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Professional Conversion Programme (PCP)?
I was given the opportunity by my employer, Chef Noor Hisham of Chefco.biz, to be trained as a management trainee in food & beverage management at the SHRM College. It resonated with me as I was always keen to upgrade myself, especially in the F&B industry, which was new to me.
How has the PCP helped you so far?
The PCP has helped me acquire the necessary set of skills & knowledge that I can apply to my work. The course that I attended on F&B Management gave me an insight of what the roles and responsibilities of a F&B manager were, and also exposed me to the different jargons or words used in F&B, which were very foreign to me at that time.
The trainers in my school knew about my background but they were very patient and accommodating to me even though I had zero experience in F&B. The on-the-job training (OJT) was also very helpful as Chef Hisham would go through the OJT one step at a time to help me better understand the process flow and conform to SOPs. The course work and content were also very industry specific as all the modules were beneficial and allowed me to improve workflows in my workplace.
What were the challenges you faced in changing to a different industry?
From the environment to people, roles and expectations, everything was a challenge. Working at a hospital where I am used to was different from working in the F&B oulet, where I had to adapt to a different position by serving customers behind the counter.
The courses that I attended helped me adapt better to the service culture in the F&B sector, which was very different from nursing and research work. In addition, although I am used to performing paperwork, I had to learn to use an accounting software for my bookkeeping duties and had to take on added responsibilities such as marketing, where I had to create promotions for the company
How has the experience been so far?
Challenges remain as the business progresses from a cafeteria stall operation setup, to a delivery-only central kitchen. My take is that businesses need to adapt fast and evolve to stay resilient and relevant, and be prepared for any situation.
In early February, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, I had assisted the chef and the team to manage events and catering at a new event space at the Interlocal Centre, where we had re-located the business. I had to also source for a central kitchen for the catering business to operate and it has been challenging, especially during the Circuit Breaker (CB) period, when event spaces had to be closed temporarily.
Thankfully, the central kitchen management that we sought out had agreed to let us move in earlier than expected and we were able to operate meal delivery services during the CB period after attaining the relevant licenses.
How receptive & supportive has your employer been so far?
Chef Hisham has been very supportive of my training needs. He allowed me to leave work earlier for my classes and when I had course assessments / exams, he would let me have the day off to prepare. He was also very patient and understood that I needed time to adjust and adapt to their working styles.
What advice do you have for fellow Singaporeans who are looking to make a career switch?
For anyone who would like to make a career switch, you need to know what your passion is. From there, look out for any suitable platforms or assistance that can help make you make the transition smoother. WSG’s PCP is one such avenue that can help mid-career switchers and I encourage those looking to make a mid-career switch to consider tapping on it!
Part 2 of the article highlights how the PCPs can help businesses in Singapore overcome the challenges in today’s economic climate, as well as find the right employee fit for their organisations.