There is a famous saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This is what Robert Ng, Facilities Manager, Alexandra Point/Alexandra Technopark, lives by as he so readily tells us, “I love my job”, with conviction and a rare determination. The soft-spoken, calm and approachable Robert shares his story.
Tell us about your journey with Frasers?
In September 1982, I started off as a Building Manager at Cold Storage Centrepoint@Orchard, as it was known then. I managed the Safety and Carpark Operations and had to also oversee the Civil and Mechanical and Engineering (M&E) roles. At that time, I worked with two other managers, and we had to cover not just the shopping centre but also the serviced residences at the back of the mall. The role trained me to meet the most demanding expectations in a highly competitive landscape.
I was then re-designated as Facilities Manager at Alexandra Point which started operations in late 1991. My portfolio soon expanded to include Alexandra Technopark A and B. As a Facilities Manager, I am deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of all the facilities and amenities at Alexandra Point and Alexandra Technopark. Yes, “Facilities” is a big word, it covers a wide scope and includes air-conditioning, lighting, washrooms, security, traffic, carpark and more. My role is to ensure all these and more, run smoothly.
What are some of the challenges you face?
I love challenges, especially if I am tasked with something new. For instance, when the company plans to invest in a new property, I will sometimes assist with the due diligence, and assess and advise if the property facilities are in good condition and maintained properly. I enjoy doing things out of my comfort zone as it is only then that I can learn new things and develop new skills.
And then there are also challenges when tenants make many different kinds of demands and we have to somehow arrive at a mutually agreeable compromise. It is not always easy dealing with tenants but again it is about building relationships and having mutual respect. With this as the base, it will help push us towards achieving a viable solution.
What is your most memorable moment?
The most memorable would be obtaining the Green Mark Platinum Award for Alexandra Point. It was not easy due to stringent criteria and measurable deliverables. We worked with consultants, sought BCA’s advice, brainstormed with the team and came up with solutions.
For this exercise, we had to replace the building’s entire ACMV (Air Con and Mechanical Ventilation) system. We also had to make sure we met requirements like water saving standards, improved indoor air quality and environment, planting of additional trees as well as ensure transport connectivity in terms of shortening the walking distance to the bus stop. If we could tick these boxes, we gained points for sustainability and every point gained brought us to the next level.
Can you share examples of crisis situations?
Once we had to grapple with a burst pipe in one of the washrooms on an upper floor at Alexandra Point. The water started to seep into the elevators and formed puddles in some parts of the building. I was alerted at 2am so we quickly mobilised the team and ensured that it was fixed and cleaned up by the time office workers streamed in before 8am to ensure no disruption to the workday.
In the event of such instances, like a power failure, I will be alerted and may have to attend to it on site if the issue is serious. A unique feature we have at Alexandra Technopark is that it runs 24 hours to serve the manufacturing plants of MNCs which must operate under certain temperature-controlled conditions. Here, we need to stringently meet their requirements.
In times of crisis, like during the SARs period, I used to tell my family when I left for work that they may not see me for an extended period in the event of a lockdown situation on site and I may not be able to return home for a few days. Thankfully, it never happened. In such situations, we have standard operational procedures (SOPs) in place.
Where security is concerned, we are vigilant and well-connected. Not many know this but we are members of the Safety & Security Neighbourhood Watch Group too. This means we meet with the Neighbourhood Police monthly to update and be advised on security issues.
What inspires and motivates you?
Because I love my job, what I do motivates me. In my time here, I have seen our company grow from strength to strength and I have been given many opportunities to apply my prior knowledge, as well as learn new skills and take on new challenges over the years. My bosses also believe in me and empower me to contribute to the best of my ability, to meet time-sensitive, critical and crucial datelines and to deliver the best service standard to our customers.
I learn a lot from consultants and customers. I am inspired by my bosses who demonstrate humility and recognise my efforts while appreciating my hard work. I am also inspired by my team who always do their best even under stressful situations.
I am motivated by the many facets of my job scope and the technological advancements that allow me to explore ways to enable Alexandra Point and Alexandra Technopark to be more energy efficient and customer-orientated.
How do you collaborate and bond with your team?
I have about 30 in my team. Most have been with me since they joined. I always make sure to communicate with them, set expectations, encourage them to do their best and be consistent in their customer service delivery. To do well in my team you need to have the right attitude, aptitude and mindset, to be happy to serve and serve well, and work hard and smart.
I can’t manage the facilities on my own. I have a strong and supportive team and I enjoy working with them. It is all about teamwork and having mutual respect. As a leader, we should not command and control. We should lead by example and respect one another. Similarly, my relationship towards contractors, vendors, and cleaners are the same. I treat them all as partners. As we treat them well, they will do a good job for us.
At the end of the day, the goal is to present a record of minimal failure. And it gives us, the team and I, a great sense of satisfaction when we can achieve that.
Explore Alexandra Point and Alexandra Technopark here.