TL;DR – Be passionate and positive like a panda!
Even though it was via a Zoom meeting, Azhrin’s warmth and enthusiasm was palpable through the screen. It wasn’t difficult for me to see why he would have thrived being a food delivery rider and why foodpanda recognised his potential and gave him the opportunities that it had.
Journey beginnings: as a food delivery rider
Azhrin, 31, greeted me with a jovial smile, telling me that he is a father of two and enjoys soccer. Azhrin’s journey with foodpanda began in 2015, when he was first employed as a food delivery rider. He eagerly shared with me that one of his bad habits back then was not filling up enough fuel, causing him to be stranded during his deliveries.
“No choice, have to call dispatch team and wait there but someone will come and rescue me”, Azhrin explained with a sheepish smile.
Even though I thought that rain would be the nemesis of all food delivery riders, the optimistic Azhrin told me that it wasn’t necessarily true, because they also receive increased orders whenever it rains (and if they got really lucky, customers may tip them too!).
I asked him a burning question, “Is it possible for riders to earn 10k a month?”.
I wasn’t expecting the answer to be a “yes” but Azhrin actually said, “back then, it’s actually possible and we were paid hourly. But it means you probably have to work 12 hours daily for 6 days to hit that amount”.
Azhrin went on to explain that being a food rider required a lot of sacrifice on family time and he hoped more customers would realise that it wasn’t an “easy job”.
“It is also common for people to think that it is a “dead-end job” but it actually takes a lot of patience and a good knowledge of the roads,”, Azhrin added.
Taking a leap of faith: joining the dispatch team
It wasn’t long before foodpanda recognised the potential in Azhrin and offered him a position in the dispatch team. Azhrin was honest about how he felt on his first day and said, “I was completely clueless but I had the assurance from my mentor to work hard, gain knowledge and experience”.
Unbeknown to many people, there are multiple training schemes in place to help food delivery riders like Azhrin. For example, under the Self-Employed Persons (SEP) Training Support Scheme, SEPs will be given $10/hr when they attend training courses under the SkillsFuture series while NTUC members will receive $11/hr. This translates to an estimated allowance of $176 for attending a two-day course!
Even though it was a sharp learning curve for Azhrin, he credited his success to the in-house training that foodpanda provided him with, which included excel and leadership courses. Most memorably, he was posted to KL for 10 months to assist the KL team in setting up their operations. The trip was significant to Azhrin and he cited that as a big learning opportunity for him.
Going full circle: becoming area manager
Eventually, Azhrin’s hard work and passion paid off when he was promoted to the position of Area Manager.
Azhrin concluded the interview with a smile saying, “it’s important to be adaptable and I enjoyed each role in my journey. I was positive and passionate since Day 1, and it paid off”.