A passion for animals did not seem like much of a winning hand in the job market but MrMohammad Shahril has turned it into a trump card.
Mr Shahril, 31, loved his job as an animal handler on Sentosa but had just an ITE certificate, not regarded as enough to take him further.
Yet that love for the job was recognised by his employer, Sentosa Leisure Group, which sent him on a diploma programme.
The course cost about $8,000, 90 per cent of which was subsidised by the Workforce Development Agency, with the company paying the rest.
Mr Shahril is now a supervisor overseeing the daily operations at six attractions on the island, including Animal Encounters and Fort Siloso.
His salary has also steadily increased, from $1,300 a month in 2005 to more than $2,000.
"The company has given me an opportunity to grow and is grooming me to do more," he said.
In the five months since graduating with a diploma in tourism and hospitality, he has put his new knowledge to good use.
He made 12 suggestions to his bosses on how to improve operations. One was a schedule showing how staff members could clock in 44 hours of work over five days instead of six.
The proposal was taken up and now he and his colleagues get two days off a week.
Mr Shahril said this was possible because the course not only taught him how to draw up documents but also provided him with an overview of the operations of a company like Sentosa. "Now I can even do presentations in PowerPoint," he said.