Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life as a security officer


Meet Hairi.

At 30 years old, he is happily married with kids aged 3 and 5 respectively. He often takes his children to the beach at East Coast Park, even though it's far from where he lives - the west. On his off days, he plays soccer with his team named NALO FC. Hairi shared that Nalo is from the Borneo language, and it means "stubborn" or "playful boys". He loves Messi from Argentina!

Hairi is a Security Executive at Soverus Pte Ltd and he loves his job. His career at Soverus has been pretty impressive! He was first hired as a Security Officer for a condo back in May 2013. His performance was very good and there were many compliments from the residents, so much so that he was promoted to Security Supervisor by the end of 2013! The company sent him for continuous training and Hairi’s performance and positive attitude continued to impress. He was promoted to Security Executive earlier this year in May 2014.

So yup, that's two promotions within a span of ONE YEAR!!

I had a chance to have a chit-chat with Hairi last week and I found out stuff that I never knew about the security industry! Here is a short snippet of how our conversation went...

Have you always been in the security line?
"I've been in the security line for almost four years already. I was working as a bouncer before I joined Soverus to be a security officer."

Bouncer? Woah so cool, why did you quit to become a security officer?
"A bouncer's job is dangerous. When we get hit by drunk or violent people, we are not allowed to hit back and we have to watch ourselves. If we happen to retaliate, we will be charged. And our families may be targeted too. A bouncer's pay is low. I earn more now."

Do you like being a security guard? Why?
"Yes. Can protect the compound, allows people to feel safe."

(I can totally feel his love and pride for his work! He was talking about how a simple greeting, a smile or positive feedback to his management are all things that make him feel superb. It was almost surreal listening to him talk so passionately about his job!)

Do you get bored on the job? If so, how do you survive it?
"At the beginning, yes. But after a while, I've learnt more things, picked up more skills and can do more during my shift. I can now manage the time very well. I don't get bored anymore during my deployment. Many people do not know that there are several things that we do actually."

Why do you think people do not want to be security officers?
"The long hours. Some have no passion for it and many have the mindset that it is 'old people's job'."

Do people disrespect you?
"Yes, sometimes we receive very rude comments or get threatened. But sometimes after the fights, we become friends."

Do your family members know that you work in the security industry? And are they supportive?
"Yes, they know. At first they commented that it is an 'old man's job'. Now they think differently and don't ask me to switch jobs anymore."

What do they think of your job now?
"It's not an old man's job. In fact, many people in their 20s to 40s join our company, including women! My family and friends also used to think this is a dead-end job, a job with no prospects. But the company sends me for training and they also saw I was promoted twice from Security Officer to Security Supervisor and to Security Executive, they understand better now. There can be good prospects in the security line. The pay is also better now."

Which is the most satisfying part of your work?
"When the residents give positive feedback and compliments to the management about me, I feel that they appreciate my work."

Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?
"I still see myself in the security industry since I’m happy doing what I do.

I know if I work hard and show good performance, the company will recognize it by sending me for courses to upgrade myself and also to give me opportunities. Hopefully next step is Assistant Operations Manager or Operations Manager. Pay will also go up.

And oh, I'm am currently living in a HDB flat. Who knows? I may move into a condo someday."

Hairi with his Operations Manager, Norman

I also chatted with Norman, Hairi’s Operations Manager, for a bit. He told me about the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the Security Industry. Security officers are known to be one of the lower-paying jobs here in Singapore, and also perceived to be jobs with little career prospects.

So, how did Hairi get where he is?

Norman explained that it’s got to do with the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) that NTUC has been fighting for. Although security firms have until 2016 to implement the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), Soverus Pte Ltd has gone ahead and started it first.

Here, watch this video to get a feel of what the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is all about.

Get it? Some people have asked why we have not implemented minimum wage in Singapore, but the truth is the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is better than the minimum wage. I like how this Five Stars and a Moon article has explained it, "Progressive wage has levels of minimum wage within its framework. Instead of being stuck at one minimum wage forever, you can jump up to the next minimum wage level."

Yes, if NTUC had fought for minimum wage only for the security officers, then they would be stuck at that minimum wage for a long time. But with the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), other than ensuring wage progression, NTUC also factored in productivity, skills and career prospects so that workers have a chance to upgrade their skills and have opportunities for career advancement. Meanwhile, businesses can also reap the benefits of higher productivity.

So, of course Hairi is hardworking and demonstrates fantastic attitude at work, but if without the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), he could still be earning a lower pay as a Security Officer. Check out his pay adjustments (gross pay) in just a year!

Hairi is an example of how a security officer can enjoy promotion and career progression. He first joined in 2013 with a monthly salary of $1,780. Now, he earns $2,900 a month as a security executive. This is his job titles and their respective salaries:


I know many people must be wondering about this… Like what sort of training do security personnel need. Well, they actually do more things that we can see or even think about. Many of these security officers are well trained and have skills that many of us never knew about.

Did you know there’re courses like the WSQ certificate in security operations (CSO) for security officers? Some of the modules include workplace first aid, crowd control, traffic control, managing disorderly conduct and assisting in evacuation?

There are also more advanced courses like the WSQ advanced certificate in security supervision, which includes modules like supervisory and people management skills, maintaining workplace safety and health policies. They even learn about conducting operations briefing and debriefing!

My point? Security officers like Hairi are just you & I. We want jobs that we can be happy working in, and we want jobs that allow us to upgrade our skills and have opportunities for pay raises and for promotion.

So the next time you walk past a security officer, SMILE!

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