He's 'Dad' to 350

He's 'Dad' to 350
Aru believes in offering a listening ear to his colleagues, even for personal matters, because mutual trust is important to him.

Meet Mr Karuppiah Arumugam - father of one at home, but father figure to some 350 at work.

The 53-year-old, who is the senior manager of the Certis Cisco Aviation Security team at Changi Airport, gets such respect and affection from his staff and subordinates that many of them call him "papa" or "daddy".

"It's not about his age, but his level of experience and his concern for us," explains his deputy Mr Yan Hoi Leong, who, at 49, is not much younger.

"He has been a very encouraging figure. He pushed for me to go for further studies and even helped me get a sponsorship from the company."

Some of his officers are older than him, but still look up to him as a father figure.

"One of my staff is 76 years old, but it's still important to guide them and listen to them," says Mr Aru, as he is more affectionately known as to his staff.

"I tell them when they've done a fantastic job and they tell me 'Thank you so much, you're like my dad.'"

Having worked his way up through the years, he now heads a team of more than 350 frontline security staff at Changi Airport, and is well-known for involving himself in their lives as a caring leader.

For instance, he personally made arrangements for aviation security officer Emily Shok, 33, to be transferred to an administrative position during her pregnancy.

He even has a list of all his colleagues' birthdays pinned to his cubicle and has been known to buy meals and top up EZ-Link cards for his officers in financial difficulty.

"He really treats us like family," says Miss Tai Chiew Yen, 34, who has been working with Mr Aru for about a year.

"On our birthdays, he sings for us and gives us chocolates."

The man himself says he doesn't feel awkward or embarrassed by the term of endearment.

"I treasure the title, it shows that they have trust in me," he says with a smile.

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