20 September 2018

Japanese fashion retail concepts arrive in Singapore

Source: WMH Group. Shinsuke Kafuku.
Source: WMH Group. Kafuku.
World Mode Holdings Group (WMH Group) is looking to elevate the fashion retail industry in Singapore with the launch of its first overseas office, iDA Singapore (iDA’SG).

WMH Group is a Japanese fashion retail consultancy with a proven record of enhancing their clients’ brand presence. The company is the leading player in recruiting sales professionals for beauty and fashion in Japan. The Singapore subsidiary will provide professional support and consultation services aimed at enhancing the skills of retail staff. 

“We have the largest market share in successful retail job placements in Japan, having successfully placed 100,000 retail staff to our extensive list of clients, numbering around 1,000 mostly in the fashion and luxury industry. Hiring and training services for retail professionals remains our biggest business in World Mode Holdings. We want to bring our expertise in Japan to Singapore and introduce the concept of Working Dream. The concept represents the support that we can provide to turn retail professionals’ dream of succeeding in a retail career into a reality,” said Shinsuke Kafuku, CEO of WMH Group.

The WMH Group has developed customised integrated solutions and methodology covering recruitment, placement, marketing, store operations management, marketing and advertisement to retail technology. The branch in Singapore will focus on training and recruitment with services extending to learning and development programme development, career guidance, training and coaching for retail professionals, service assessments, consultancy services in retail store operations and providing emerging technology for retailers.

“Taking on the mission of WMH’s iDA and iDA Pro, our vision at iDA’SG is to continue to provide world-class services through strategic recruiting and training of retail professionals while promoting and elevating the retail industry. We hope to build a community of about 600 qualified retail professionals whom we can provide career guidance and upskilling services to by end of 2019. 

"We also target to successfully place 60 qualified retail professionals in the local retail industry by the end of next year. We always have a triple win aim – firstly, to upskill and develop retail professionals especially with the practice of omotenashi* (お持て成し or おもてなし) which will result in quality customer service; secondly, to help our retail clients acquire and benefit from elevated businesses and branding; and finally, to provide an enhance customer journey at the retail stores which will result in repeat visits," said Izumi Matsumoto, MD, iDA’SG.

Retailers will benefit from customised customer insight and methodology that can enhance service standards and maximise store-level resources. The company intends to launch proprietary in-store technology, tracking shopper habits and movements which provide real-time data it can use to provide better solutions for its clients.


Businesses, job seekers and retail professionals can contact cindy-chai (at) wmh.co.jp

*Omotenashi is the Japanese concept of offering the best service possible to a customer. WMH explains that it is a traditional code of conduct outlining the ideal guest-host relationship, hospitality and reception. It is infused with principles such as the anticipation of the needs of others, flexibility and adaptability to the situation and approaching relationships with modesty and respect.

Souq Al Wakra Hotel by Tivoli offers MICE opportunities

Source: Tivoli Group. The Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by  Tivoli.
Source: Tivoli Group. The Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by
Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by Tivoli has launched in Al Wakra, the up-and-coming seaside district a 20-minute drive south of Doha.

Blending Qatari tradition and contemporary leisure, the new hotel has 101 guest rooms housed in two former heritage houses.

Each house features architecture mirroring a Qatari house or fortress. In keeping with the local heritage, each of the guest rooms and suites features classic thatched roofs, reflecting traditional basket weaving elements. The guest rooms have motifs reflecting blues of the sea and the tones of the desert, inspired by Al Wakra’s history as a pearl diving and fishing village.

Open walkways and maze-like paths lead to courtyards where multiple guest rooms can be blocked off to create private areas for groups. Large parties can stay together in guest rooms grouped around authentic Qatari majlis (meeting rooms). Historically a majlis was a gathering place for people to discuss family and business-related issues and announcements. The tradition continues in Arab homes, which typically have a majlis for events and meetings.

Souq Al Wakra Hotel Qatar by Tivoli has five restaurants and lounges. Jarnen offers Mediterranean all-day dining with fresh seafood sourced daily from the local Al Wakra market and BBQ dishes grilled to order at live cooking stations. Markhan, an Arabic fusion lounge, has views of sunsets overlooking the gulf.

Emshoot offers invites Asian flavours while Mahaadeg’s terrace, which has views of the souq, serves international dishes. Quick bites are available at the Lobby Lounge.

A majlis situated across the property offers an authentic Bedouin-style evening or live BBQ.

To complement the waterfront location, Tivoli Spa provides services for relaxation and wellbeing with separate treatment rooms for men and women as well as a hydro pool, steam room, Vichy shower* and jacuzzi. A multifunctional gym in each building is also available for all guests.

Fifteen minutes by car from Doha’s Hamad International Airport, the hotel is an easily accessible location for business meetings, with both a multipurpose boardroom equipped with the latest audio-visual equipment and a business centre available in each building. The hotel also has direct access to the adjacent Al Wakra public beach and promenade.

A former coastal settlement for pearl divers, sailors and fishermen, Al Wakra flourished as a trading post until supplies ran out. Recent investment has resulted in efforts to preserve and revive heritage sites, said Tivoli.

Souq Al Wakra is now popular with merchants selling traditional garments, dates and spices, and souvenirs. The souq comes to life at night with diners along the promenade, locally called the corniche. The regeneration of the area also includes historical landmarks such as Al Wakra Fort, a short walk from the property, which will soon reopen after refurbishment.

Tivoli Hotels & Resorts is part of the Minor Hotels and currently operates 16 properties in around the world.

*The user lies on a shallow bed with drainage, underneath several shower mechanisms.

19 September 2018

Thoughtful essays about living in Singapore in annual book

Cover, The Roads We Take.
Cover, The Roads We Take.
The Birthday Collective has released a book every year since 2016 timed for Singapore's National Day, with each book featuring the same number of essays as Singapore's years of independence.

In this year's edition, 53 contributors reflect on The Roads We Take – the paths they have chosen to take in their lives. According to the Birthday Collective, the essays highlight the importance of resilience and the evolution of the political and social landscape in Singapore.

"The book compels readers to think of the complexity of the future roads we must take, as individuals, as a nation – because in sunny Singapore, no one road stays forever," the organisation said on its website.

At the launch ceremony for the book co-editor Cheryl Chung, head of the strategic planning department at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, noted that contributors had brought up multiple roads in Singapore, "not the official road, not the road we are pressured to go on". "All the roads shape us," she said.

The theme of the inaugural edition in 2016 was What is Singapore’s Next Big Thing? whereas 2017 was about What Should We Never Forget?, Chung noted, while the 2018 theme is very much in the present tense. The book is also subdivided into four categories, why, how, who and what.

"(The why section is not about) why are we on these roads but why do we do what we do, why do we go where we go," she said.

The who section features essays writing about people the authors have journeyed with, as well as the people they were before and the people they have become.

Chung also said the book is about wayfinding, of sharing with each other the milestones of lives and creating a map "to show others where we have been".

From left: Maniam, Rufaihah, Chambers, Lim-Tsung.
From left: Maniam, Rufaihah, Chambers, Lim-Tsung.

In a panel featuring several contributors Rufaihah Abdul Jalil, who works at the National University of Singapore, shared that she wrote a letter to her daughters that focused on the beauty of lifelong learning, because "there are always going to be challenges whatever you do".

"You don't have to learn something very specific. You should be open to learning about other things... You will learn that everything is somehow connected to one another," she said.

Joshua Chambers, founder of Govinsider, commented on how easy it had been for him to start his own business in Singapore, to find "all the ingredients which make success a little easier". "It's very easy to meet people, to find connections and contacts," he said. "I feel very privileged to start something...that I would not have been able to start anywhere else in the world."

Cherie Lim-Tseng, COO, Secur Solutions Group, wrote about her volunteer work in Myanmar. "Sometimes it is what you don't see that is building all the things that you forget to see," she said. "What binds us is the stories. What makes the nation different from the city is when you stop looking at the key performance indicators (KPIs) and look at the things that you value."

Rufaihah hoped that Singapore will continue to take a greater role in world affairs, to allow other smaller nations to learn from the city state.

"A manmade system is never perfect," she observed. "It could work for us right now but it may change. Trying to be No. 1 in everything, you lose.. There's nothing to compete for when you are No. 1."

Lim-Tseng said being KPI-driven could be Singapore's demise. "We're so afraid of losing the check box that we don't take enough risks. We feel like we cannot drop any ball. Sometimes you have to make a stand and be clear about what it is about," she said, adding that we should be proud about "every crack and blemish" rather than "worrying about how we are No. 1 or No. 2 or 3".

"Our true body of work needs to stand out for what it is," she said.

"Singapore needs to take a step back and see what they can learn from others too," she added.

"We are a very pragmatic society. I want a Singapore with spiritual values, more 'give, care and share'."

Lim-Tseng also announced a children's version of the Birthday Book as well as a video competition to be launched with ITE in October. 


Buy the books

View pictures of the launch on Facebook

18 September 2018

Colliers introduces Internet of the Workplace concept

Colliers International, a global leader in commercial real estate services, has released Flex, Core and the Cloud: A Blueprint for the Future Asia Pacific Workplace.

The report, based on field research and interviews with some of the world’s leading organisations in the technology, financial services and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries, addresses the adoption of cloud technology in companies’ workforce models and broader implications for productivity and employee wellbeing.

Cloud computing, fuelled by the Internet of Things (IoT), has given rise to a new era of real estate possibilities for Asia Pacific companies and their workforces, the report says. By allowing firms to store and process virtually limitless amounts of data remotely, the cloud is enabling what Colliers International terms the Internet of the Workplace (IoW) – a digitally integrated enterprise architecture that exists in the virtual as well as the physical realm, connecting employees and allowing them to collaborate regardless of location.

According to Rob Wilkinson, Associate Director, Corporate Solutions APAC at Colliers: “Applying the IoW gives enterprises the ability to ‘cloud their workforce’ - adopting decentralised structures that mirror the cloud computing environment, based around multiple remote teams that can be rapidly combined or scaled as needed, rather than a large central office. This can make companies more agile and cost-effective, with positive impacts for employee wellbeing and productivity.”

Like any transformation, clouding the workforce can prove disruptive for enterprises and the commercial real estate industry, forcing landlords and occupiers to adapt to new demands. Through careful planning and the right approaches companies can navigate this disruption while capturing the benefits of the cloud.

“Some companies are investing in equipment such as interactive whiteboards, videoconferencing facilities and chat platforms, and making changes to the physical space such as ‘decoupling’ employees from permanent desks in a move towards activity based working (ABW), utilising flexible workspace in a flex and core model, or developing open-plan offices to foster spontaneity and collaboration across teams,” added Wilkinson.

Colliers also has recommendations for occupiers and landlords:


- Determine which business services or processes would be more cost-effective and efficient to deliver via the cloud, and develop a roadmap for cloud migration

- Consider adopting a bring your own device (BYOD) policy and encouraging employees to work remotely where feasible

- Adopt IoW technologies, and minimise or reduce the number of dedicated workspaces, to make offices more scalable and encourage cross-team collaboration

- Develop an overarching plan for the clouding of the workforce, overseen by a cross-functional team


- Develop more flexible lease structures and spaces to accommodate changes in occupier demands

- Ensure buildings and office spaces are designed in a way to respond to rapid changes in occupier headcount

- Consider alliances with flexible workspace operators to enhance the flexibility of their property portfolio

- Evaluate whether the technical infrastructure of properties is sufficient to support IoW models

14 September 2018

LinkedIn reveals emerging jobs in Singapore for 2018

Top jobs on LinkedIn in Singapore:
  • Data Scientist
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • User Experience Designer
  • Head of Digital
  • Content Specialist

LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, has released the 2018 Emerging Jobs in Singapore Report, which has identified digital competency as being in high demand, together with soft skills. The findings underscore the demand for jobs which require hybrid skills, primarily to help Singapore organisations navigate their digital transformation journey.

LinkedIn analysed* millions of unique, user-input job titles from the last five years, and found that while the top five emerging jobs are all related to technology, many of them require management and communications skills. Their actual roles are varied and diverse, reflecting a labour market that values talent with a hybrid set of complementary skills.

According to LinkedIn, the top five emerging jobs for 2018 are:
  • Data Scientist
  • Cybersecurity Specialist
  • User Experience Designer
  • Head of Digital
  • Content Specialist
“Our Emerging Jobs Report highlights the reality that new jobs are emerging more rapidly than at any other time in history. Traditional roles have evolved into hybrids that did not exist five years ago. While it’s no surprise that the top emerging jobs for Singapore are all related to technology, many of them require management and communications skills making them hybrids of new and traditional roles – such as user experience designer,” said Feon Ang, VP of Talent and Learning Solutions for APAC at LinkedIn.

The global and local talent shortage has made it necessary for HR and talent acquisition teams to evolve and innovate the way they hire. As skills commonly associated with these emerging jobs evolve, hiring based on a candidate’s title is no longer adequate and accurate in filling these gaps.

Although demand for digital talent is growing, supply is not keeping up around the world. With 'data scientist' being the fastest-emerging job title, and also the one which is the most in demand, skills in machine learning and data analytics are highly sought after. LinkedIn notes that out of the talent that has migrated to Singapore, 21.95% are from India, followed by France at about 14%**.

Source: LinkedIn. Talent migration graph showing the total number of people who have migrated to Singapore since January 2017.
Source: LinkedIn. Talent migration graph showing the total number of people who have migrated to Singapore since January 2017.

In some sectors, the rising demand for content has also led to job roles such as content specialists, which were not as popular five years ago. This top emerging job is unique to Singapore, home to a number of regional headquarters for various organisations. With most content in English, organisations are looking to locals to fill content specialist roles, but also increasingly at international talent from the UK, Australia and India.

The emergence of user experience designer and head of digital roles in Singapore is also driven, in part, by the financial sector’s investment into establishing a bigger digital footprint. Increasingly, these roles are breaking out of technology companies and spreading across the workforce.

Soft skills like adaptability, collaboration and leadership have emerged to be of increasing importance for professionals, even for roles that are technical. Heads of digital need to know how to communicate and lead effectively as they steward digital transformation projects; content specialists need to be adept at storytelling to ensure their content resonates with their audience; data scientists need to communicate their insights creatively to help consumers make sense of interesting data.

The top skills for the five emerging jobs are:

Data scientist:
  • Data science
  • Machine learning
  • Analytics
  • Data mining
  • Big data

User experience designer:
  • User experience
  • Design
  • User interface design
  • Wireframing
  • Banking

Content specialist:
  • Content marketing
  • Digital production
  • Sales enablement
  • Content delivery
  • Communication

Cybersecurity specialist:
  • Computer security
  • Consulting
  • Management
  • Cisco Systems products 
  • Research
  • Sales 

Head of Digital:
  • Digital marketing
  • Internet banking
  • Management
  • Communication
  • Leadership

“Digital competence, as we now know, is composed by a blend of hard and soft skills. This competition for talent will only grow fiercer, so organisations need to build an adaptable workforce. Real-time understanding of the demand and supply of skills, talent pools and talent movement is the first step towards building talent intelligence at scale,” added Ang.

Qlik, a data analytics player, agrees with the LinkedIn findings about data literacy. Julian Quinn, Regional Vice President for Qlik Asia Pacific said, “With data and technology presenting opportunities for businesses in Singapore, we believe that data literacy will become an important and common skill – not just to data scientists but for the entire workforce.

"As Singapore is a step ahead in both technology and connectivity, the data literacy skills gap locally is startling. A global research study by Qlik found that 85% of Singaporean employees are not data literate, more than the Asia Pacific (APAC) average. Despite the rising expectations to use data within the workforce, only 15% of employees know how to deal with it. Among graduates, nine out of 10 admitted to not knowing what to do with data.

"Those without the knowledge of data literacy will be limited in what they can accomplish. The responsibility to be data literate falls on everyone’s shoulders - government, employers, and individuals. Governments and organisations can foster this mindset by providing all employees with access to relevant data as well as the tools and encouragement to turn it into insights. On an individual level, people can take simple steps such as asking more questions, and interrogating facts and information given."

Qlik has four tips to enhance data literacy:

- Ask more questions, interrogating the facts and information given. "If you’re shown a graph, be critical and don’t take it at face value – make sure you understand the story it’s really telling," said Quinn.

- Begin pinpointing areas of difficulty where data could be used to support arguments.

- Proactively make the business case for your company to drive a culture of data literacy.

- Start combining data sets to find even deeper insights.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has also released labour market figures for 1H18. According to the government, total employment grew, more job vacancies were available, and retrenchments declined. The resident unemployment rate was lower than a year ago, although it rose slightly in Q218 as more people entered the labour force looking for work in line with the pickup in economic activities, MOM said.

Total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) grew by 6,900 in 1H18, compared with a decline of 17,300 in 1H17, and a growth of 6,700 in 2H17.

Resident unemployment rate rose slightly as more entered the labour force to look for work. The seasonally-adjusted resident unemployment rate rose from 2.8% in March 2018 to 2.9% in June 2018 after a general downtrend since June 2017, but remained slightly lower than the same period a year ago (3.1%). The unemployment data comes from Labour Market Second Quarter 2018, Manpower Research & Statistics Department, MOM.

There were 5,350 retrenchments in 1H18, which was lower than in 1H17 (7,640). At the same time, the six-month re-entry rate into employment of retrenched residents was about two-thirds (63%) in 1H18***, comparable to that in 1H17 (64%). Job vacancies rose to a three-year high of 56,700 in June 2018, an increase from 53,900 in March 2018.

MOM expects labour demand to pick up in 2H18, in line with seasonal hiring as seen in previous years. Hiring is expected to remain cautious in sectors such as Construction and Marine Shipyard, while job opportunities will continue to be available in others such as the Information & Communications, Financial & Insurance Services, Healthcare, Professional Services, Wholesale Trade, and Built Environment sectors.


Read the 2018 Emerging Jobs Report for your country

*LinkedIn analysed millions of unique, user-input job titles based on common job roles and counted the frequencies of job titles that were held in 2013 and compared the results to job titles that were held in 2017. The ‘emerging jobs’ are the top five job titles that saw the largest growth in frequency over the five-year period.

**LinkedIn has clarified that the data collected is about the previous locations of talent who have migrated to Singapore, as opposed to the nationalities of that talent. While people moving from India to Singapore might have Indian passports, it is entirely possible that they are from another nationality, were based in India, and later took up a job in Singapore.  

***The 1H 2018 rate is the simple average of Q118 and Q218 rates of re-entry into employment.

Soirees, Sojourns & Stories recounts the highlights of the Raffles story

Raffles Hotels & Resorts, a major name in luxury hospitality that owns some of the most prestigious hotel addresses worldwide, has announced Soirees, Sojourns & Stories. 

The result of a collaboration with Rizzoli New York, Soirees, Sojourns & Stories by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a 200-page slipcased volume reveals how Raffles created its legacy of bygone elegance and exceptional hospitality across the globe, from the opening of its Singapore flagship in 1887 to the recent unveiling of Raffles in Warsaw, Poland.

Archival materials complement contemporary photography depicting special events, remarkable stories, and celebrity guests and original illustrations by Luke Edward Hall.

“Raffles has entered an exciting new era of expansion,” said Jeannette Ho, VP, Raffles Brand Strategy & Strategic Partnerships. “Yet the brand remains true to its origins, delivering the timeless elegance, first-class travel experiences and the authentic personal charm that our loyal guests have loved for well over a century.”

Soirees, Sojourns & Stories reveals the tales behind the traditions, from the story of the traveller’s palm to service like a gentle breeze. From Raffles afternoon tea and much-loved mooncakes to the collection’s architectural achievements and the artists who have graced its halls, readers will find a riveting history of famous luxury hotel stories that covers more than 130 years. 

“We are delighted to partner with Rizzoli to create this captivating volume; it allows us to showcase our time-honoured traditions, remarkable stories and extraordinary portfolio of hotels in a meaningful way, even as we continue to expand and open new addresses in exciting international locales.” said Xavier Louyot, Senior VP, Brand Content, Raffles and AccorHotels Luxury Brands. 
Source: Raffles Hotels & Resorts. Illustration from Soirees, Sojourns & Stories.
Source: Raffles Hotels & Resorts. Illustration from Soirees, Sojourns & Stories.

In 1887, Raffles Singapore set the standard for luxury hospitality, introducing the world to private butlers, the Singapore Sling and its legendary service. Today, Raffles continues this tradition in leading cities and resort locales, enchanting travellers with meaningful experiences and service that is both gracious and intuitive. In addition to Raffles Singapore, which is currently undergoing a sensitive restoration and on track for a reopening Q119, properties include Raffles Jakarta; and Raffles Istanbul. 

At every location, Raffles Butlers deliver the ultimate in discreet, bespoke service, while Raffles spas are noted for their aesthetics and quality of service.
Raffles Hotel, Singapore decorated for Christmas, 2007.
Raffles Hotel, Singapore decorated for Christmas, 2007.

View of a traveller's palm, taken in the garden of Raffles Hotel, Singapore, 2007.
View of a traveller's palm, taken in the garden of Raffles Hotel, Singapore, 2007.

Available as of December 2018 at Raffles Hotels & Resorts worldwide, and wherever fine books are sold, Soirees, Sojourns & Stories is an ideal gift for hotel buffs, armchair travellers and luxury aficionados.