Swapping a desk job for a career in the sky
After five years in the banking industry, Singapore Airlines cabin crew member Alvin S Louruduraju decided to pursue his passion for flying
A mid-career switch can be daunting – but it can also be immensely rewarding, as Chief Steward Alvin S Louruduraju can attest. Back in 1996, the then 23-year-old traded his desk job in banking for a career as a cabin crew member with Singapore Airlines (SIA) – and he hasn’t looked back since.
“The pull factors of being able to travel the world, embrace new cultures and taste new cuisines were what made me decide to switch careers,” says Alvin, who has recently been promoted to In-Flight Manager. “Transitioning to a new work environment – one without a permanent desk! – away from home was certainly challenging. However, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given as a cabin crew member and as a leader.”
Alvin underwent rigorous training, with unwavering support from experienced colleagues
A learning experience
Alvin soon discovered that all Singapore Airlines cabin crew undergo rigorous training – in areas ranging from safety and security to services – in order to deliver a consistently high level of service. “The learning curve at the beginning was steep. Being new to the industry, I was overwhelmed by the multitasking abilities that were required of a cabin crew, and the need to think quickly on one’s feet. I had to learn the ropes from my fellow experienced colleagues while ensuring that customer satisfaction was not compromised,” he recalls.
Fortunately, he managed to settle into his role thanks to the supportive work environment. “The constant encouragement shown by my colleagues and team leaders played an important role in helping me develop a growth mindset and embrace the joy of learning. My instructors and managers have also been extremely encouraging,” he says. “The most memorable part of training is striving for excellence together as a team. On board, cabin crew will always rally together in times of need to deliver the best service to our passengers, especially during full and busy flights.”
In addition to learning the various responsibilities of a cabin crew member, Alvin has picked up many soft skills along the way, including heightened situational awareness. “My training has prepared me to manage emergency, medical and security situations on board.
Alvin says his career with Singapore Airlines is a constant learning journey. “My mantra for success is ‘practice makes perfect’. Repeating what we do every day on board helps us become better at our job, and helps us grow individually and professionally,” he notes.
And while his role can be demanding, he ensures that he sets aside time to decompress after each flight. “I know when to work hard and when to play hard,” he says. “I look forward to enjoying me-time overseas after a hard day’s work. Experiencing what different cultures have to offer with my fellow colleagues is extremely satisfying.”
New York's Central Park, Melbourne's Flinders Street Railway Station and London's Kensington Palace are just some of the sights Alvin has enjoyed as a cabin crew member
The joys of flying
Indeed, being able to explore new places is a major perk of the job. “As Singapore Airlines flies to more than 70 destinations, I’ve been able to enjoy the sights and sounds of big cities like New York, London and Paris. I also vividly remember my first experience of winter on my first flight to Auckland,” he shares. “And of course, I’ve been able to indulge in famous cuisines from Indonesia, India, China and Australia, just to name a few.”
Watching football in the UK and Italy and witnessing glorious English Premier League and Champions League games have been some of the most memorable moments.
As a massive football fan, Alvin relishes being able to catch some of his favourite players in action. “Watching football in the UK and Italy and witnessing first-hand the glorious English Premier League and Champions League games have been some of the most memorable moments for me,” he enthuses. “It’s simply a dream come true.”
Alvin loves to indulge in dining experiences during a layover, savouring French mussels, Taiwanese pork belly buns and Thai-style fish
In addition, Alvin appreciates that his job enables him to meet new people on a daily basis. “Over the years, my role as a cabin crew has trained me to interact confidently with people from all walks of life,” he says. “The important elements of communication involve a genuine smile, eye contact, and showing mutual respect. With these in mind, I have been able to have meaningful conversations with customers from all over the world.”
Above all, Alvin thoroughly enjoys being able to deliver personalised care and attention to the customers he serves – right from the moment they set foot on board. Once, a Solitaire PPS customer declared he could tell how good the service was going to be just by looking at the chief steward or stewardess greeting passengers at the door. “His words resonate with me every time passengers board the aircraft, and underscore the world-class service we provide throughout each flight,” he says.
Visiting new cities for the first time with cherished colleagues adds to Alvin's fulfilling role with SIA
Part of the family
At Singapore Airlines, Alvin feels glad to be part of a large, close-knit community. “I cherish the moments I spend with my colleagues, who are like siblings to me. We have fun together and the bond we have created will stay close to our hearts forever,” he shares. “I continue to do what I do without regrets, knowing that my extended SIA family is rooting for me.”
He is especially grateful for the strong culture of compassion, especially among fellow cabin crew. “For example, when a crew member is ill or injured, other crew members will rally to show care and concern without hesitation. This togetherness transcends both time and geographical boundaries and touches my heart,” Alvin says. “The spirit of gotong royong [“mutual assistance” in Bahasa Indonesia] is so beautiful and wonderfully contagious.”
This sense of familial belonging helps Alvin stay grounded, no matter where in the world his job takes him. As he sums it up: “Knowing that I have the love and support of my colleagues, whom I am proud to call my family, makes me feel at home even when I am away from base.”