Celebrating his tenth year at Frasers Centrepoint Singapore, is Raymond Chan, Centre Manager at Anchorpoint. Previously handling marketing at Frasers Centrepoint Singapore, his open, gentle spirit and a love for challenges has propelled him forward. “I like to share and teach and I believe by looking for new things to do and challenging myself, I can also impart new knowledge to others.” Read on and find out what inspires Raymond’s positive attitude in life.
Share with us your journey at Frasers Centrepoint Singapore.
I began my journey in April 2007 as Senior Manager with Frasers Centrepoint Singapore’s core marketing team which at that time was based at The Centrepoint. We worked with the malls and respective Centre Management teams to plan mall campaigns and promote programmes.
In April 2012, I was offered an opportunity to step up and fill the shoes as Anchorpoint’s Centre Manager. I thought it was a great chance for me to challenge myself and try something new. When I first joined, Anchorpoint was undergoing the Asset Enhancement Initiative (AEI) for the mall. As I was involved with the project and the mall’s marketing activities, I was familiar with the process of running campaigns and events. So, I challenged myself to take up the role of Centre Manager and today, five years later, I am one of the longest serving Centre Manager’s in this mall after the AEI.
How did your experience in the Marketing team help you in your role as a Centre Manager?
The two roles were quite different. A&P was about promoting the mall and its tenants through activities and programmes, while using media advertising platforms as tools to create hype for the activities. I had to liaise with the tenants, Centre Managers as well as outside vendors and shoppers and this exposed me to the unique processes and elements of each mall.
Unknowingly, I was groomed for the post. So, when I became the Centre Manager at Anchorpoint, I was already mentally prepared on the kinds of challenges and issues I would face. Being a Centre Manager entails a different form of work responsibility where I am required to look at the P&L, some days are routine and some not so. I also must manage tenants, shoppers, partners and stakeholders. Anchorpoint is part of a common property of strata sub-divided mixed-use development, which also comprises The Anchorage (a condominium), which is managed by the MCST. We have cultivated good relationships and as our mall serves the community, these relationships help us to serve the community better.
What is an essential trait to being part of the Centre Management team?
When I joined as Centre Manager, one of my first tasks was to recruit a new Centre Management team to help me run the mall. Today, my team comprises a total of four executives, one Chief Safety and Security Officer and 10 operations colleagues who provide excellent support in the running of the mall. Initially, we had to learn the ropes together as the whole Centre Management team was new. It was a great learning process and we bonded even tighter as a team. Sure, we made some mistakes here and there but we learnt from them, became more confident and grew from the experience. I encourage my staff to find opportunities to grow, develop and do well. For example, one of our Operations team member, who started as a technician at The Centrepoint and later filled the role as a Senior Building Executive was offered to join Waterway Point’s opening team and I encouraged him to go for it was a good career advancement for him. It is important to support one another from day one.
The mall itself, has its own set of challenges. In the event of refurbishment works, we are responsible and diligent to ensure that relevant parties are informed. We need to ensure minimum disturbance, especially in terms of noise, to the condominium residents above, as well as mall patrons and tenants. Given the limitations, we are able to comply with the requirements and manage the situation accordingly.
What keeps you motivated?
It is not about the goal or the destination but more about the journey or the process. The process of learning keeps me motivated and I really enjoy learning new things. I learn by observing others, and as I perform my role I will try to make improvements and do things better. Plus, it is reassuring to have support from my bosses always and the asset management team who encouraged me to take up this post.
While serving as Centre Manager here, I was asked to assist to cover at Bedok Point in the interim for a few months till a new Centre Manager was hired. I was also posted to Eastpoint Mall for three months. I enjoyed such challenges and am flexible and easy-going that way. One of the bosses once told me to look at the big picture and be willing to contribute our time, skills and knowledge and I have taken that advice seriously.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy doing volunteer work at the Japan Cultural Society Singapore, a non-profit organisation. I am the Honorary Secretary as well as the Trustee. The Society runs the largest Japanese language training school in Singapore with an enrollment of over a thousand students. The Society also conducts the worldwide Japanese Language Proficiency Test in Singapore, twice a year. It is a standardized criterion-referenced test to evaluate and certify Japanese language proficiency for non-native speakers administered by Japan’s Ministry of Education. Each year over 2,000 candidates, with some participants from South East Asia, come to sit for this exam where I assumed the role of the Chief Invigilator.
I am fluent in Japanese, having taken up language training under a PSC (Public Service Commission) Scholarship programme when I worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for eight years. I had also resided in Japan for 10 years. At that time when I joined MFA, we were assigned to study one language and initially I took up Vietnamese. About a year later, by coincidence, I was sent to study Japanese in Japan under a special language programme for Foreign Service officers for Asia & Pacific administered by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which I was grateful for as I enjoyed the language as much as the culture.
I also teach traditional handmade Japanese craft work, which is my specialty, to a class of about 12 students, two Saturdays a month. These are current and ex-students of the Society’s language school who are keen to explore more about Japanese culture. The intention is to train the students so they can teach others as well. I have been conducting these sessions for about two years now. For each session, I will create the designs for the students and they craft their works accordingly. These range from origami, Japanese textile and paper crafts and UV resin art.
During my posting at the Singapore Embassy in Japan, I also learnt to dye kimono silk fabric using traditional methods where rice paste is used to outline patterns on silk fabric as dye resist. It was an expensive hobby as the cost to dye a bolt of kimono silk fabric 12 metres long is about S$800. I have only dyed three kimonos and all were given away eventually.
What else do you teach and why?
I plan to start a new class on Japanese stencil dyeing, for which I went to Japan to source for the latest materials and adapted it to local designs to be taught here.
The Society has received many requests to conduct workshops on Japanese traditional crafts. I have even been invited by the Japanese Embassy to teach the wives of the heads of missions in Singapore on Japanese art of paper folding. Last year I organised for the Society a grand kimono fashion show at the Esplanade as part of the theatre’s programme in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Singapore-Japan Diplomatic Relations. The Society is going to discuss with the People’s Association (PA) on programmes targeted at low-income families so that they can pick up a skill to earn as a source of income, and for the elderly, to socialise and pick up a creative hobby. Craft-making has proven to be an effective way of keeping one’s brain and hands active. I will also be holding two workshops for mother and child participants at the book fair in June and at MBS in August.
As you can see, I like to keep myself busy but it is more because I enjoy doing Japanese craft work and sharing the skill. It is a fulfilling experience when someone can use the skill to keep themselves gainfully engaged.
What is your philosophy to happiness?
If I can make someone happy, I will be happy. Happiness comes from the satisfaction that I have done something good for someone. We should reflect on what is lacking, not just in our lives, but on others too. I don’t dwell on the unhappiness part but more importantly on what can I do better.
For more information about Anchorpoint, visit www.FrasersCentrepointMalls.com.