How Can I Make My Mid-Career Switch a Success?

Here’s how the Professional Conversion Programme can help you make that job transition much better. — Contributed by HRMAsia

Image credit: Chefco.biz

To help mid-career PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) undergo skills conversion and successfully transition to a new career, Workforce Singapore (WSG) has offered the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP).

One beneficiary of this programme is Norefa Binte Riffin, a manager at local F&B business Chefco.biz, who was elevated to her current role after participating in the PCP for food services executives, where she oversees the company’s outlet operations.

She shares her personal journey and how PCP has helped her develop and grow in her career.

What were you working as before joining Chefco.biz?

I attained a Nursing Certificate in 1994 and a Diploma in Biomedical Science from MDIS in 2009. My last permanent job was at the National Dental Centre, where I held a research coordinator/assistant position. Before that, I was working as a freelance nurse for a few years.

Why did you decide to tap on WSG’s 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 SHRM College. It resonated with me as I was always keen to upgrade myself, especially in the F&B industry,.

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 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 the industry.

The school trainers knew my background and they were very patient and accommodating, even though I had zero industry experience. The on-the-job training was also very helpful as Chef Hisham would go through the training 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.

What were the challenges you faced in changing industries?

From the environment to people, roles and expectations, everything was a challenge. Working at a hospital was different from working in F&B, where I had to adapt to serving customers behind the counter.

The courses that I attended helped me adapt better to the service culture in the F&B sector. I also 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?

Challenges remain as the business progresses from a cafeteria stall operation setup, to a delivery-only central kitchen. Businesses need to adapt fast and evolve to stay resilient and relevant, and be prepared for any situation.

Before the pandemic, I had assisted the chef and the team to manage events and catering at a new space at 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 after attaining the relevant licences.

How receptive & supportive has your employer been?

Chef Hisham has been very supportive. He allowed me to leave work earlier for my classes and when I had 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 others looking to make a career switch?

You need to know what your passion is. Look out for any suitable platforms or assistance that can help make you make the transition smoother. WSG’s PCP is one such avenue and I encourage those looking to make a mid-career switch to consider tapping on it!

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