What motivated one employee to stay for 46 years

Raffles Hotel’s Resident Historian, Mr Leslie Danker, shares key career highlights and examples of effective age-friendly initiatives at his workplace.

31 Oct 2017 Interviews Age management


Mr Leslie Danker holds one of the most interesting roles as Resident Historian at renowned Raffles Hotel.

Q: Tell us briefly about your role and responsibilities at Raffles Hotel.

As Resident Historian at Raffles Hotel, I conduct history tours for the guests of Raffles Hotel. It comes as no surprise that there are many requests for these tours as most of our guests have heard about the legacy of Raffles Hotel and more often than not, our guests would also request for me to conduct these tours. I also conduct tours for various organisations such as Women Associations and schools, just to name a few. Also, as Resident Historian, I give history presentations to companies who are interested to learn more about the hotel.


Q: Any memorable guest in particular?

The most memorable guest whom I have had the honour to meet was the Queen of England. She stayed at Raffles Hotel in 2006, and I had the privilege to be introduced to her. She was humble in her interactions and stood out with charm and grace. It is a moment that I will always treasure.


Q: Tell me more about your hotel’s initiatives for older workers and how does that help you in your job?

The hotel has always considered older workers as assets to the company. Most of us have worked at Raffles Hotel for many years. Older workers are more mature in their views and perspectives. They are also accountable and responsible, and observe punctuality at the workplace. The hotel values the loyalty of its older workers and their dedication. When it comes to retirement age, the hotel considers their contributions and offers them the opportunity to work on a yearly basis after their medical check-up. The hotel also recognises the good work and performance of its older employees. Some of the older workers have received the Raffles Award, a recognition for their contribution towards the establishment. 


Personally, I always believe in doing my best as a Resident Historian. Taking pride and responsibility in my job, I invest a lot of effort to improve my knowledge on the history of Raffles Hotel. Seeing my dedication and passion for the hotel, the company has always renewed my contract annually after my retirement. To date, I have completed 46 years of service with the hotel.


Q: In your opinion, what are some of the challenges and opportunities for older workers at workplaces? Share with us your challenges and how you've overcome them.

The tasks that older workers carry out in their jobs tend to be done on a routine basis. While younger workers pick up on new approaches and adapt very quickly, older workers may find it difficult to adjust initially when new methods are introduced. The hotel regularly conducts training for all workers to improve and upgrade their knowledge of the hotel industry or courses pertaining to their skills. In the early phases, older workers may find it challenging to keep up with the training courses. Fortunately, the younger workers have always taken the initiative to assist the older workers to understand the training courses. 

For me, the challenge I faced was the use of computers. I am the only employee who has been with the hotel before, during and after its restoration. Prior to the restoration, all operations were done manually. When the hotel re-opened after the first restoration in 1991, all operations were computerised. I had never used a computer before, not to mention typing as a skill. Nevertheless, I was determined to overcome this. Slowly and steadily, I eventually learnt how to use a computer for my job.


Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

When I first joined the hotel in 1972, I had very little knowledge of its history. I took the effort to do a lot of research and collected documents that recounted the history of Raffles Hotel. I also make it a point to read articles about the hotel every day. With all these knowledge, I take pride in doing history presentations and conducting history tours of the hotel. It gives me great satisfaction to share the hotel’s rich history with our guests. Most of our guests often tell me that I have made the history of Raffles Hotel come alive.


Q: What can older workers do to succeed at workplaces?

It is important that older workers have the passion for their work and stay actively involved in their jobs. At Raffles Hotel, we conduct daily briefings with all employees including the older staff to ensure that they are aware of our guests’ needs and requirements. By doing so, the older workers are better prepared to serve the guests and as such, be able to succeed at the workplace. Guests have often complimented the excellent service rendered by the older staff at the hotel.