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In this second installation of the ‘So You Wanna Be’ career series for kids, we now talk to a cabin crew from one of the well-known airline companies.
Discover his adventures and learn what it takes to be in this very exciting profession.
Taken at Rio De Janerio
Q: Can you introduce yourself and your career?
A: My name is Leonard Mok. I’ve been working with Emirates Airlines for 12 years. Emirates Airlines is based in Dubai in the Middle East. I’ve been working as a First Class Cabin Crew for the past 12 years.
Unrelated but helpful college degree
Q: What is your educational background, how did it help you in your career? How did you upgrade your skills along the way?
A: I studied Fashion Marketing and Management at Raffles Design.
It helped me because not only did I learn about fashion and its trends, I also studied practical business management, sales and marketing skills which helped me in my line of work, where we had to work with a team of at least 20 colleagues on each flight, as well as help plan how to increase our sales revenue via our duty-free sales.
First day of training at Emirates training college with batch mates from around the world
Journey to be in the aviation industry
Q: Why did you decide to pursue this career?
A: I have always been fascinated with airplanes at a very young age. I can still clearly recall when I was on a Qantas flight en route to Brisbane for my holidays. I was only 8 years old at the time and the cabin crew was kind enough to take me to the cockpit during the flight. The pilot was giving me trivia about airplanes and I was completely mesmerized.
Taken in Jordan, met a bedouin family who organised non-profit camel rides in the desert
I knew then I wanted to be in the aviation industry. After completing my two years of National Service, an opportunity arose, there was an ad for a career as a cabin crew with Emirates Airline. I was a little apprehensive initially as I would have to move to Dubai if I got the job with Emirates Airline but my parents were very supportive of the decision so I went ahead with the interview.
When I got the call from Emirates that I got the job, I was over the moon. I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. I had never been to Dubai before and knew no one living there. But I told myself that this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
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Intensive training of cabin crew
Q: What is the one thing that people probably don’t know about your career that you would like to share with them?
A: We are trained to restrain passengers and taught to deliver a baby on a flight. I’ve heard of many crew members who had delivered babies in mid-flight! The intensive training from Emirates has given us the skills on how to deliver a baby.
Attending Portuguese class at a Portuguese cafe to learn about different languages and cultures,organised by Emirates
Fun facts: Did you know that if a baby is born on a flight in Emirates, that baby is given free lifetime tickets to travel?
The difficulty of being a cabin crew
Q: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in getting to this point in your career? How did you overcome them?
A: One of the most difficult parts of this job is being away from your family and friends. Rosters are not known to be regular and the hours can be long.
Not only do you miss special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays, etc., most probably your friends and family will be off in the evenings and weekends, but your days off can also be on Mondays, Tuesdays and you may start your working day at 2 pm or even 3 am.
Milestones of his soaring career
Q: What milestones /memorable moments do you consider in your career?
A: The most amazing milestone for me was passing the examination and performance review to be promoted to a First-Class Cabin Crew within a span of five years, as usually, it would take at least eight years of experience to do so.
First-class flight with fellow crew from South Africa and Australia
That was a real sense of achievement for me that cannot be described. Working with Emirates, I feel really proud to represent Singapore in a company that employs more than 100 different nationalities. It’s like working for the United Nations!
Another memorable moment of my career was when my manager called me into the office one day and presented a card to me.
This card was written by a customer on my flight that I was serving. The customer commended my level of service and how grateful he was. This is probably the best reward that money can’t buy. It really shows that the work we do is being appreciated.
Importance of knowledge and personal skills combined
Q: What tips do you have for people who want to start or grow their career in this field?
A: Learn a language & be fluent in your main language
Language can be a great icebreaker and it is a good skill to have especially in the travel industry. Even if you are not fluent, having some vocabulary and friendly banter can go a long way in making your audience feel at ease.
These days with a little effort and the help of the likes of Google Translate you can impress and break down communication barriers easily. The biggest payoff is that even if you don’t pronounce words perfectly, people appreciate the effort you made.
Reading to increase your knowledge
As a first-class crew, customers expect you to be more knowledgeable in general, from the wines you serve onboard (where they are from, what is the specialty) to the culture or what is happening in the country you will be disembarking at.
Honoured to have served many celebrity passengers including football legend, Diego Maradona
Picking up a habit to enjoy reading, to make sure we are updated to current news and happenings at the destination, as well as allows us to understand more about the history and culture of the people of the country.
Being more knowledgeable really allows you to have a good presentation and personality with your team and passengers.
This helps in our career to bond with our customers and give them a value-added experience.
Develop your listening skills/time management/interpersonal skills
Time management skills is a very important skill to have in this industry, as you must never be late for your flight duty. Onboard each flight there are a number of things on the checklist that need to be completed for regulations and most importantly, safety for all passengers.
Being well organised and planning your course of action in work, is a critical step too. These are good skills to develop.
We all have something to say but being able to actively listen is a tool worth learning to make all our communications more effective. It can be the difference between a conversation getting out of hand and a person feeling heard, even if there is not a lot you can do about the situation.
Becoming a good listener helps you get known as a person who has empathy, and people relate to you as being on their side, which is exactly where you want to be.
Make friends easily
You are going to spend time with lots of different people, some will be passengers, some will be colleagues and some will be total strangers, being able to communicate effectively with all these people will definitely help things along.
The quicker you can connect with people on their wavelength, the easier and more enjoyable your job becomes, even if you have to deliver bad news.
The best way to do this is to develop the skill of making friends outside of the normal type of friend circle you are used to. This will cause you to look for what you have in common with people and help build good feelings both ways.
Humour and sincere compliments will also make you a nice person to be around and your passengers and colleagues will turn to you because they want to have a good time and memorable experiences when they travel.
Takeaways from a flight attendant
Being a flight attendant is an awesome job that presents many exciting opportunities, but like any other job, it has its challenges.
No one can say that the job is a breeze – it involves dealing with difficult passengers, being responsible for their safety, cleaning up messes, having to handle unpredictability and a heavy workload at times.
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Why not enroll your child in these courses to pique their interest:
A1 Spanish Course – Secondary 1-2
A1 Spanish Course – Secondary 3-5
Russian Language Course
Chinese Language Course
Action Planning Workshop
Building Improvisational Skills