L&D in the hot seat: Chan Yit Foon, Marina Bay Sands

by John Hilton29 Aug 2016
L&D Professional interviews Chan Yit Foon, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Marina Bay Sands, for her insights.

LDP: What do you see as the most important parts of your L&D program?
CYF: Marina Bay Sands is proud to be one of the largest hospitality employers in Singapore, with over 9,500 full-time staff working across the multi-faceted property. We constantly review our human capital strategy not only to align with our business goals, but to ensure that we create meaningful, and rewarding long-term jobs for our employees.

The integrated resort is not only in the business of hospitality - it also encompasses meetings and conventions, entertainment, food and beverage, retail and culture. Such a diverse portfolio requires a sophisticated training and development plan that covers a range of job requirements. In 2015 alone, our employees clocked a total of 157,164 training hours across more than 180 different learning and development programmes.

It is also important that we maintain a highly productive and skillful workforce that stays industry-relevant to adapt to changes in the environment. Hence, we work in tandem with the Workforce Development Association of Singapore to align our training needs with national competency standards. We currently have in place a rigorous training plan that includes more than 50 Workforce Development Association (WDA)-approved modules to ensure our training content stay relevant. Customised training that is designed specifically for roles that are unique to the integrated resort are also in place.

For instance, our security team goes above and beyond the daily responsibilities of ensuring the safety and security of the property. Security team members also receive training in customer service as they interact with guests on a daily basis.   

LDP:  What parts of L&D do you find the most exciting?

CYF: Marina Bay Sands’ learning and development strategy serves to grow our employees professionally. The most exciting part about our unique L&D program is the ability to tailor training content to specific job scopes, ranging from senior leadership roles, to supervisory and rank and file employees, as well as across diverse demographics, languages, and skills
We are also exploring ways to innovate training in order to engage and sustain the interest of team members. For instance, we are adopting gamification for certain types of training, especially when it comes to theory-based learning such as compliance-related topics.
Other types of application based training, such as language courses for the older workers or non-native speakers are held in classroom settings to encourage brainstorming and sharing. More recently, we have also worked with INSEAD to enrol our senior management team for the Executive Leadership training programme.
Putting in place a sound learning and development program is part of our HR strategy to develop and retain staff. At the same time, our learning and development strategy also gives us the opportunity to build a pipeline of talent and herein lies the challenge. We want to inspire young adults to consider the hospitality industry as a long-term career choice.

To achieve this, Marina Bay Sands works with local educational institutions to offer traineeship schemes for graduating students.  Together with schools like the Institute of Technical Education and Republic Polytechnic in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands offers programmes that integrate on-the-job training with classroom learning.

All these initiatives are tied to our overall strategy to attract and retain talent, as well as stay competitive in the market.

LDP: How do you go about ensuring that your employees are learning a lot from your training and enjoying it?
CYF:This is achievable through surveys to measure awareness, as well as through individuals’ Net Promoter Scores. While the Net Promoter Score is a system that measures customer satisfaction and the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s product or service, it is also an indication of the company’s overall performance in service delivery.
By observing any increase or decrease in the score, Marina Bay Sands can implement the appropriate action to address training gaps, or reward team members that have achieved a high level of performance.
Post-training surveys also help us gather feedback on how we can tweak or improvise existing programmes to better resonate with the current job demands.
LDP: What are some key lessons you have learned with regards to learning and development?
CYF: Marina Bay Sands believes in benchmarking ourselves against our peers, to continue growing our pool of talent and strengthen the learning culture from within. We currently have close to 50 Corporate and Departmental Trainers internally who are certified to conduct trainings for fellow team members.

The team is also exploring ways to make learning more interesting and engaging beyond the classroom setting, through technology such as gamification.

As Marina Bay Sands evolves as a hospitality leader in Singapore, we will continue to engage and empower our staff, by providing a conducive environment that motivates them to achieve excellence.