It was four year ago when I left the hospitality industry. To be clear, I have a degree in computer engineering but I was involved in an IT role with a hotel. It was part of my self-exploration process during which I was trying to find my Ikigai.
Prior to my hotel gig, I was firmly entrenched (2007-2013) in something I was fairly good at (profession) and what I could be paid for. I adore my users, but I absolutely hated some parts of my job and I couldn’t see myself doing this in the years to come.
In the book Quit Like A Millionaire by Kristy (and Bryce), she wisely advised in chapter 4 that “Don’t Follow Your Passion (Yet)”. Well, I didn’t know that yet. Some things are meant to be experienced, I suppose.
I pivoted to pursue the “other circles’. At that time, I was running a travel blog as a hobby, plus my strength was in customer-service. I landed a part-time gig running a hostel which was a huge eye-opener. Obviously, we had outsourced work to vendors but much of the process was hands-on and very manual. From reservations/bookings, front-desk (check in/out), housekeeping (cleaner/laundry), F&B (breakfast) to concierge .. you’re looking at me!
Oh yes, plenty of cool and nice people to interact with as well! It was fun and fulfilling, and definitely something I needed to attempt in my life or I’d regret it. But monetarily? It wasn’t going to cut it. After a few months and plenty of time to think, I was ready to depart from my non-IT role for something more permanent.
I figured, why not combine what I’m good at (profession) and what I’m interested in (passion). I ended up in a hotel, and again it opened my eyes to .. how bad things can be 😛
A large part of the job was vendor-management due to the insane number of systems that’s in use. Some are really nice. SOME OF THEM ARE PLAIN SHITTY LOUSY THEY BRING SHAME TO THE IT WORLD. You have to understand that technically, I was a vendor as well in my previous role as a team lead.
So there I was, thinking to myself, well .. If this was the kind of competition I’m up against, I’m set for life. I felt that the standards that I held myself and my team accountable for (i.e. the norm) are way off the charts if the real world outside is in this sad/sorry state. Guess what? I wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t leave my previous job, right?
Most importantly, I learnt not to be too hard on myself.
Finally, I have circled back to the start of the blog post. I eventually left the hotel after 2 years. The IT part of the job wasn’t exactly fulfilling (meh) although I have learnt a lot (yay). The best bits came from the relevance to the hospitality industry and insider peeks into how IT permeates throughout the fairly large hotel with close to 1,000 rooms. Career-wise, the team was small and there was no way to out-manoeuvre the employment situation.
Don’t be mistaken, I love the feeling of walking into a hotel every working day. Excited guests checking in everyday. Flight crews .. ah, the Koreans. Plus, I had unlimited access to almost all parts of the hotel (except guest-rooms), because the IT guys are neutral and everyone’s best friend. I know everyone from security, front-office, concierge, F&B, engineering, reservations, corporate sales, wedding/banquet, accounts, finance and marketing-communications. People bad-mouth other people to me. That’s a normal thing. I’ve seen power-plays at work and directors (nothing more than glorified senior managers) can disappear overnight due to a mis-step.
Welp! The realization that a marriage of profession and passion does not always work as intended was enlightening.
Combining both sets of experience that I had in a hostel and a hotel, it felt like a sneak preview if we were to end up running a bed & breakfast somewhere in future. Best of all, I have gained precious insights and skill-sets to do so.
Trivial : Can you imagine that in one of the years when the industry wasn’t doing well, hotel staff were roped in to help with the packing of moon cakes? Oh yes, you probably ate a moon cake that I helped pack 😛
The fragility of the hospitality industry has always been there for all to see. We won’t ever run a B&B if our lives depended on it. Doing it just for fun and companionship? Sure!
It was probably lady luck shining down on me. It was then that I pivoted again – to what the world needs (mission/vocation). I enjoy solving problems, and I haven’t looked back since.
The Healthcare Perfect Storm
In 2020, it happened. The dreaded crash every 10 years (or so).
I don’t think that I have ever mentioned it before, but my wife is also a computer engineering graduate! A brave lady who set out to start from scratch, fight for her dreams and attempt the impossible. Super proud of her. She made the pivot in pursuit of passion even earlier than I did, (probably inspired me) and was involved in the events and venue industry for a number of years.
What does this mean? You mean .. Both of us ditched our computer engineering degrees at some point in time? Yes, we did. We can look at each other in the eye, touch our hearts and truly say that we have no regrets. Granted, things didn’t exactly turn out as intended and we don’t have fairy-tales endings .. yet.
It was pure luck that we double-dodged the Covid-19 bullet because she changed her job to a non-profit organization last year. By the time the storm hit, she was already a confirmed staff.
S$48.4 billion Resilience Package meant that we ARE in deep shit ; meanwhile, the market opens in the green 😉
— Kevin | Turtle Investor (@turtle_investor) March 27, 2020
Now is time to hunker down and stay prudent. Keep calm and stay the course! Doubling my AutoWealth deposits is my game plan for now. A wise friend commented that it’s like using a double experience scroll (in a reference to role-playing games) to turbocharge my progress. Sounds about right?
Don’t succumb to Stupid-20 and do stuff like hoarding food alright? The economy is going to take time to adjust/contract to diminished consumption. Support Singaporeans, support small businesses and stay safe.