Playing a role in wildlife conservation was never part of her career plans when Ms Lim Wei Qian was growing up.
But now, she is loving and enjoying her job as a manager at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS),working with volunteers to manage educational programmes on wildlife conservation at Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo, as part of its Volunteer Engagement team.
Part of her job involves being responsible for a small collection of animals like a rabbit, guinea pig and red eared slider in the education department of WRS where she plans and runs animal enrichment activities. She finds this aspect fun and appreciates that it helps everyone improve patience and hone observation skills.
“Animals can’t tell you what they think, so it is on us to observe and understand what we can do for them,” she adds.
The 31-year-old recalls learning about wildlife and conservation from the public talks she organised as part of her marketing and events duties at National Geographic Store at VivoCity, where she started her first job. She became interested in wildlife conservation then and reconsidered her career to focus on animals. So when she saw a job opening at WRS, she decided to go for it. She has not looked back since she clinched the job.
A mission to protect wildlife
Ms Lim feels that she was confident to jump right into her duties after taking up her new job at WRS in 2012 because her education at the Singapore campus of James Cook University (JCU) prepared her well.
She had graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management and Marketing) from James Cook University in 2011. Prior to that, she attained a Diploma in Tourism & Resort Management from Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2009.
She draws many lessons from her modules at JCU that shape her holistic view of the tourism industry. Modules such as tourist and leisure behaviour management and consumer marketing are applicable to her current job scope where she manages volunteers and develops training plans to support them in engaging guests. The analytical skills that she picked up are particularly useful when she reviews training programmes or develops new initiatives to meet the needs of park visitors.
Describing her job as challenging but fun, Ms Lim says that there is no “typical day at work” for her. She recruits volunteers, develops volunteer programmes, gathers information on animals and maintains the animal collection for educational programmes. The park guests that she caters to are mostly students and working individuals who are keen to volunteer.
“Things are never really the same at work and it helps my personal growth,” she says. “I also enjoy the feeling of working together with my colleagues and our volunteers for a common goal — to protect wildlife. Everyone here takes pride in their work,” she says.
Sharpening communication skills
Prior to pursuing a higher education at JCU, Ms Lim studied hospitality and tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. After she graduated with a Diploma in Tourism & Resort Management in 2009, her mind was set on getting into a course to specialise in hospitality and tourism. She enrolled at James Cook University because many other local universities did not offer that.
“I also did not wish to go overseas due to the additional living expenses needed,” she explains.
She was also drawn to JCU because it offered her the opportunity to earn double majors in hospitality and marketing and exempted her from a few modules as she already has a diploma in a related field. Being able to complete three trimesters in a year was an added bonus.
Interacting with lecturers and students from different backgrounds and nationalities enabled Ms Lim to develop the communication skills that are important when collaborating across teams and external stakeholders in the tourism industry too.
She was also able to learn from lecturers with rich industry experience. One of them who made an impression her was Dr Donald Tan, who frequently shared his work experience and understanding of the marketing industry with students.
“Even after our modules ended, he invited his students to stay connected through his Facebook group to keep everyone abreast of marketing trends and stories,” she says.
With greater knowledge about hospitality and marketing, Ms Lim has been able to develop her skills and confidence to engage WRS guests better in conversations about wildlife and conservation issues, as well as provide them with a meaningful experience in the parks.
Her supervisor, Ms May Lok who is Director of Education at WRS, observes that Ms Lim made an impression with her positive attitude and strong communication skills.
“Wei Qian communicates well with the team and leads by example to inspire team members to put in their best effort,” says Ms Lok. “Her tertiary education has certainly provided a good foundation for her and prepared her for her career.””
Visit www.jcu.edu.sg/courses-and-study/courses/tourismhospitality for more information on the Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management and Marketing) offered by James Cook University.