NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd was founded by the Labour Movement in 1973, with a social mission to moderate the cost of living in Singapore.
From one supermarket, NTUC FairPrice now serves 600,000 shoppers daily, with a network of over 200 outlets, hiring more than 80% Singaporeans.
What is it like working at one of the largest supermarket chains in Singapore?
Muhammad Hilmi Rahman (or Hilmi as his colleagues address him) is one of the newest batches of Management Trainees hired by NTUC FairPrice.
I first met Hilmi at the Customer Service counter of Vivocity’s FairPrice Xtra, FairPrice’s largest hypermarket and pharmacy outlet in Singapore, attending to customers with a smile.
Hilmi has just graduated from NTU this summer with a Chemistry degree (and a second major in Food Science and Technology) and wanted to work in an organisation that cares for the lives of the less fortunate.
He applied to NTUC FairPrice as he felt that this social enterprise’s efforts in moderating the cost of living in Singapore are aligned with his career aspirations.
In June 2019, he was accepted as a Management Trainee by NTUC FairPrice and started work on 1st July.
Jumping straight into the role
One of Hilmi’s first tasks was to prepare the Vivocity FairPrice Xtra store within a few weeks of its opening.
It was a challenging task as there was a lot of shelving and stocks to be arranged in the store at the same time the renovations were taking place.
By working together in a team, the FairPrice team managed to get the Vivocity store ready by the opening date.
The next challenge was to ensure the store was running well. A store of this size typically requires 200-300 staff to man, but hiring within a short time frame was a challenge.
Hence Hilmi and his colleagues learnt how to perform multiple roles, with other FairPrice colleagues from the headquarters coming down to help out with cashiering, bagging, merchandising and any tasks that needed to be done to ensure a smooth and pleasant customer experience.
Why NTUC FairPrice?
In NTU, Hilmi was active as an undergraduate mentor in the university’s Welfare Service Club. He mentored children and youth, providing them with academic and emotional support at a family service centre.
“I came from a normal secondary school, where I had the privilege of meeting people from different walks of life. From there I was exposed to how life is different for different people, and how some people are more disadvantaged. This made me value what I have, and also want to give back where I can.
In JC and secondary school after doing Community Involvement Projects, this gave me a yearning to help people. That’s why in university I decided to take up volunteering, because I wanted to contribute more. I was a mentor to secondary school kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, where I gave them free tuition and help them with their studies twice a week.”.
He wanted a job that was meaningful to society, where he could interact with the stakeholders his employer was serving and have a more hands-on role.
What kind of careers do Management Trainees have at NTUC FairPrice?
Management Trainees like Hilmi undergo a mandatory stint a FairPrice store, followed by two additional rotations to other departments to develop a holistic understanding of the business.
This rotation provides the Management Trainees with practical ground experience in operations.
Having an all-rounded exposure into operations such as customer service, inventory control, and people management is particularly important in introducing the Management Trainees to the world of retail.
For Hilmi, being posted to FairPrice Xtra @ Vivocity is an opportunity for him to experience new retail concepts in the dynamic retail industry that have been incorporated into the Vivocity store.
The rotation allows the Management Trainees to try out to different roles in NTUC FairPrice and assess which role they are suitable for.
Hiring and grooming future leadership is one of the ways NTUC FairPrice supports a strong Singaporean core. NTUC FairPrice also works with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU) to improve the work prospects, wages and welfare of their employees.
To learn more about NTUC FairPrice careers, visit here.
Special thanks to Muhammad Hilmi Rahman, NTUC FairPrice and the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union (FDAWU) for arranging the interview.
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