12 July 2021

These Folks Have the Coolest Jobs in Singapore

Banker, lawyer, doctor, engineer – nope, it’s none of the above for these brave souls who’ve let their not-so-regular jobs shape them to become better individuals in their own little way

by Sam David When not scuba diving or birdwatching, Sam's busy binge-watching true crime documentaries.

Being passionate about what you do for a living is a privilege not everyone has. And being passionate about what you do for a living probably comes easier when you’ve got a darn cool gig. From a tarot card reader to a gin distiller, meet the people who don’t buy into the whole “9-5, work behind a desk” life because they’re busy following their dreams.

Elaine Lee, 28, gin distiller at Tanglin Gin

As a gin distiller for local distillery Tanglin Gin, Elaine does plenty of research, development, and testing. Some production runs can produce up to 800 bottles, and the entire process from start to finish takes about a week. “I’m basically a distiller/food scientist. Working with spirits is always tricky and there’s an entire science to it,” says Elaine. She enjoys experimenting with different ingredients to try and come up with various gin flavours, but it’s not always fun and games. Elaine recalls how particularly challenging it was to work with the brand’s Orchid Gin in making sure it didn’t turn cloudy due to the reaction between oily ingredients within the gin (orange and vanilla). To top it all off, when the bottles are exported to places like Canada or USA during seasons like winter, there’s the risk of the spirit turning opaque and cloudy when exposed to certain temperatures – not a pleasant look from a consumer’s point of view, and just one “troubleshooting” example she deals with all the time. 

Also read: How to Become a Gin Genius

Elaine had been wanting to enter the wine and spirits industry since her internship in Taiwan, where, thanks to her professor, she was presented several opportunities to brew beer with her coursemates. “I was so fascinated. It was truly an accidental discovery but I realise it fits my style of wanting to really dive deep into the technicalities of the things I like, for example alcohol.”

As someone with a food science background, Elaine admits she did not have the exact special qualifications to become a gin distiller. Before taking the role on (which was introduced to her by a friend), she was full of self-doubt. Plus, coming from a 9-5 product development role where she was getting extremely comfortable with routine and predictability didn’t help her situation much. “I’m not someone who wants an ordinary life. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided to just go for it. I’m not getting any younger, and who knows when another opportunity like this will come around? It’s time to step out of my comfort zone already!”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Pearlyn Siew, 27, tarot card reader at The Moon

“Some think that this craft requires speaking to ghosts and the devil. That really isn’t the case when it comes to tarot and its messages,” says Pearlyn, who’s the resident tarot card reader at local indie bookstore, The Moon. Pearlyn started doing readings for friends, then family, and then soon word spread. 

On a daily basis, Pearlyn gets to connect with many individuals from all walks of life. “I believe in experiencing as much as I can in my lifetime and that all of us are representations of parts of ourselves we don’t get to live out. Reading and hearing the stories shared during my sessions allow me to also try and understand parts of myself in relation to others, and our world,” says Pearlyn. 

The way she sees it, tarot is a tool you can use to see yourself with clarity. If you disagree with what is read, you may actually end up having a bit more clarity on what is right for yourself. Pearlyn believes that, as difficult as they may sound to some, a huge part of growth and self-discovery is involved in the process.

John Chong, 62, beekeeper at Bee Amazed Garden

John likens himself to Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, who became a famous superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. “In a similar vein, after my chance encounter with some bees in Australia (yes, I got stung), I became obsessed with them. I couldn’t stop learning about them and thinking about their importance in our ecosystem.”

John was a teacher and vice principal before founding Bee Amazed Garden, one of Singapore’s few beekeeping centres. He says that although he’s a beekeeper, he’s still an educator at heart. “Although I keep bees and manage an apiary, education is much in my heart. Many Singaporeans still think bees are harmful and out to sting and cause harm. I’m working towards changing these perceptions! I take great delight in helping others overcome their fear of bees.”

According to John, beekeeeping is just like farming. Farmers face the elements of nature, pests, and diseases, and inclement weather can wipe out a colony of bees in no time. Although Singapore is well-known as a garden city, did you know that most of the plants or trees we have do not produce nectar the whole year round for the bees? With this in mind, John is slowly attempting to plant more bee-friendly flowers in the vicinity of his garden. “My hope is that Singaporeans will view bees as part and parcel of nature and everyday life. If bees are taken out of the equation, our society and nature will be incomplete.”

Muhammad Izuwan Bin Hajis, 30, jump master at Skypark Sentosa by AJ Hackett

Unlimited bungy jumps? That’s what Izuwan gets for being a jump master at Skypark Sentosa by AJ Hackett. “The major role of a jump master is to ensure the safety of all our customers and crew members. My daily job includes ensuring the jump deck and bungy system are set up properly and that all equipment is in working order for the day. I am also responsible for final safety checks before a jump can occur,” explains Izuwan, who’s actually Singapore’s very first certified jump master. 

Izuwan says that one of the best parts of his job is helping people conquer their fears and do what they never thought they’d do: bungy jump. “I’m able to have conversations with all sorts of people. I get to ask them questions like, “What made you decide to bungy jump today?”, and some answers I get include their life stories up to that decision point. I get to understand different perspectives of life and it shapes who I am as an individual as well.”

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