HER start in the food business wasn’t easy by any measure. It involved knocking on doors — day and night — to help sell her mother’s homemade puffs and cakes. For a young girl of seven, that was a daunting task.

But big dreams start small. Now, Ms Ervinna Ong, 36, can proudly say that this paved the way for a successful career.

After all, her job is to prepare everyone in the food and beverage team of the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort — from managers to captains, from bartenders to waiters and cashiers — to be ready for its launch. They have to be skilled enough to deliver world-class service to the guests who dine at Singapore’s entertainment destination.

Team members go through compulsory training that involves preparing food and drinks, hygiene standards, service sequences, maintaining a safe dining environment and even their overall grooming, says Ms Ong.

She adds: “They are then divided into their different areas of speciality where the trainers will share with them the techniques involved in perfectly executing their responsibilities and obtaining total guest satisfaction.”

Role-playing features prominently in the training module, she says.

“The staff will be trained to react when an unusual request is put forward and to complete the request in the best possible way. We will also use role-playing to train them to keep their calm when dealing with difficult guests and on how to cool a heated situation”

The right attitude

Training for the F&B team — one of the biggest departments at Marina Bay Sands — will take up to six weeks.

The focus on training is par for the course for the integrated resort that will be a major attraction in Singapore’s dining scene. It will offer a variety of dining experiences, including its signature restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs.

A top-notch culinary team will work in the kitchens, complemented by the dedicated frontline team comprising captains, waiters and cashiers.

The scale of Marina Bay Sands allows it to have a dedicated beverage service team made up of beverage servers, bartenders, sommeliers and mixologists. This F&B team will attend to the dining needs of restaurant and hotel guests, casino patrons, as well as business delegates and even wedding couples.

Says Ms Ong, who has two decades of F&B experience under her belt: “This multiplies into endless choices for our team members. They can work alongside the best chefs in the world to create memorable experiences for our guests.”

She recalls that training and staff development programmes were rare when she first started out in the fast-food restaurant industry.

As she moved into the hotel business, the potential for growth through training became obvious. But still, not many companies were willing to invest in training, she adds.

“Few took the time to create manuals, hire trainers and start training programmes. At Marina Bay Sands, even before the team members join us, all the training material is ready for them,” she says.

“In addition, all our team members will be awarded the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) certification, a nationally recognised credential.”

However, she emphasises that dedication and passion are the key to a long and fulfilling career in the service industry.

“It is after all the human touch that will turn a great destination into a magnificent one.”

She is proud to be a part of a milestone in Singapore’s dining and entertainment scene.

“We’re making history right here, right now in Singapore and it is an opportunity of a lifetime,” she says.