In our Faces of Co-operators series, we speak to young co-operators who share their passion for promoting the well-being of the communities where we live and work.

Have you met Zhiwei?

Tell us more about yourself. 

Hi, I am Ong Zhiwei! I have been with Seacare for close to 7 years. I am the Senior Manager of Seacare Foundation Pte Ltd and Assistant Head, Hospitality Cluster as well as Property & Environmental Cluster. 

How is working in Seacare different from the traditional industry?

Seacare Group, in general, operates across diverse industries through our 5 clusters namely:-

 Hospitality, HR & Lifestyle, Property & Environmental, Medical & Maritime and Investment.

 Credit to the leadership & vision of our Chairman, Mr. Leow, rarely have you seen companies (other than MNCs) being actively involved in so many different businesses. There is wide exposure and learning opportunities to be involved in business dealings from different industries. But the learning curve is steep and we must juggle well multiple portfolios simultaneously. Fortunately, our leaders have been generous in offering guidance. Mr Leow and other astute directors from different industries have been guiding us along and offering invaluable advice. In such settings, we learnt a lot and pick up essential skills very quickly.

 Besides our day-to-day tasks, staffs are given opportunities to be involved in projects in other businesses. 

 Unlike companies that answer to owners and/or shareholders, our members (i.e. seamen) remains a very large of part of our identity.

 As much as we can, Seacare has provided support for the various schemes operated by Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) such as Seacare Maritime Training Scheme, Seacare Medical Scheme, Seafarers’ Provident Fund and Seacare Sailor’s Home Scheme.

Seacare has a strong culture of unity. There is comparative stronger teamwork, cohesiveness and sense of purpose than most companies. We have a lean management that allows us quickly identify and communicate potential opportunities or obstacles, acts fast and decisively together.

What are the few skills you would need to have working in the hospitality, property & environmental industries [hospitality investment?]?

 In general,

  1. General awareness on global affairs & industry trend
  2. Keen eyes for number
  3. Good analytic skill
  4. Teamwork
  5. Cultural Awareness (i.e. as our assets are in Malaysia & UK)
  6. Time Management (i.e. working on multiple project, tight deadline & across different time zones)

Share with us a day in your job. 

Before work Keeping up with news and industry trend
8.45am – 9.00am Run through the tasks for the day / week
9.00am – 11.00am Preparation works for meeting or following up on project progress
11.00am – 4.00am Meeting or discussion
4.00pm – 6.00pm Liaise with professional / business associate or following up on project progress or paperwork
Others UK matters or other urgent matters


What is one memorable moment you’ve experienced while working in Seacare?

 On the hospitality front, I have seen through:

  • The development of Seacare Hotel Singapore.
  • Branching out into Malaysia through the acquisition of Citin Seacare Hotel Pudu
  • Since 2015, the expansion & growth of Seacare Hospitality (UK) Limited to 10 hotels in the UK including Crown Spa Hotel in Scarborough and Columba Hotel in Inverness.

There is a sense of achievement that comes from being part of the team that built our hotel portfolio from 1 hotel in Singapore to 12 hotels in Singapore, Malaysia & UK.

What do you do apart from your job (hobbies/projects), and how do you balance your time?

 Reading and travelling.

It is more about liking what do you rather than thinking about how to balance time.

If you like what do you, you would find work to be relatively more enjoyable & meaningful.

If you look back at your younger self, could you have imagined yourself working in a co-operative?

 No. But again, I have not imagined that I would not work for a co-operative.

What are you most proud of about Seacare?

 I am proud that Seacare, which was formed in 1994 to help and benefit Singapore seamen during has evolved & grow to what it is today amidst the challenging environment.

I am also proud of our culture and cohesiveness that allow us to achieve much within this short span of time while not forgetting our roots and keeping a strong sense of community.

Check out my colleagues and I serving at Jalan Kukoh to celebrate Chinese New Year with the residents!

What would you tell someone choosing between working in a co-operative or the conventional industry?

 At the end of the day, choose where your heart takes you and where your passion lies.

If you have a preference towards some engagement in social elements, something beyond a typical conventional industry set-up, then joining a co-operative may be a plus point. 

How can the younger generation contribute to the co-operative scene?

 Creating awareness through engagement. The younger generation should actively participate in the co-operative movement, understand more about the roles of co-operatives in Singapore and the spirit behind it. We need more youths to become co-operative ambassadors to spread the words to their friends and families as well as getting more people involved to bring forth the next chapter in the co-operative movement.

Adoption of technologies. Industries are constantly become disrupted by rapid changes, especially in technologies. The younger generation will be able to identify the trends better since they are living through the change. They can work hand-in-hand with the older hands to mitigate the adverse impact while harnessing the potential of technologies.

Generating ideas. Sometime, it will be good to think out of the box. We will need new perspectives and ideas for the co-operative movement.