Young Bruneians build career at McDonald’s

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Analisa Amu
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Seven years ago, Muhd Amier Ath-Thayyib Hj Iqbal Arshady applied for a part-time job at McDonald’s Brunei, hoping to earn extra income during his free time following his O-level examinations.

Little did he knew that he would build a long-term career at the American fast food franchise at that time.

“I needed money to pay for my exams. I didn’t expect I would stay long but I eventually fell in love with the job,” said Thayyib.

Like all young applicants, Thayyib started out at the bottom as a frontliner and worked his way up to crew trainer until he secured a full time position in 2017.

Today, he is a trainee manager at McDonald’s in Gadong and even claims he is having the time of his life there.

Trainee Manager Muhd Amier Ath-Thayyib Hj Iqbal. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The former IBTE Business School student said that his employment with McDonald’s has taught him a lot on self-discipline, management, commitment and communication.

“When the management decided to promote me, I was indeed happy although unexpected. They recognised my hard work and dedication,”

“I don’t have any plans to move elsewhere. This is the place for me,” the 24-year-old added.

Thayyib is just one of several local young employees who found a fulfilling career at one of the oldest international food franchises in the sultanate.

Many of them are school leavers and fresh graduates.

This was not the case a decade ago. Working at a fast food restaurant used to be the least popular choice among young Bruneians as they felt embarrassed of their fellow peers or family members.

Today, having a career at an international brand like McDonald’s opens up opportunities for growth and experience in management and leadership, thanks to the training the company provides to its employees.

McDonald’s Brunei now employs nearly 200 people, over 160 of which are crews operating at its two branches.

“At McDonald’s Brunei, everyone has the chance to build their career according to a roadmap that the franchise has outlined for its staff,” said Operations Manager Shahrizam Hj Samat, who has served the company for six years.

Shahrizam said all new staff will start as a crew before being promoted to crew trainer, and better performing staff will be fast-tracked in six months.

He added those that are interested, committed and show signs of improvement would be sent for overseas management and leadership training depending on the promotions and development they aim for.

“It all lies in their work attitude, attendance, punctuality and the interest in doing their job. If they show they are good and can be better then maybe we will plan something for them.”

Trainee Manager Ak Md Khairun Najmi Pg Othman. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Another trainee manager at McDonald’s is 22-year-old Ak Md Khairun Najmi Pg Othman, who told The Bruneian that the job had taught him the importance teamwork and good discipline, as well as helping him improve his communication skills.

“I was a very shy person at first and as a frontliner at that time I had to talk to customers when taking orders everyday,” he said.

One McDonald’s employee who was promoted to assistant manager recently is Ak Md Nur Azmi Pg Ismail.

Inspired by his peers, Ak Azmi aims to climb the ranks in the organisation.

“I love it here… the tasks, the friendship and the common interest we share,” said the 24-year-old.

Like Thayyib, Ak Azmi started off with very little expectations, hoping that the job would help him pay for his A-level examinations which he had to retake.

“But eventually I decided to drop the exams and stayed here. I was envious of my colleague who started off the same time as me but worked his way up to trainee manager… that motivated me to work better,” he added.

For other local staff in McDonald’s, it was the love for the brand that motivates them to excel in their designated roles.

“I am not ashamed of applying for a job at McDonald’s. Most of my friends are working for the government,” said Marketing Executive Noor Hafilah Mohamed Salleh.

“In terms of career development, at McD, it doesn’t stop at one stagnant position all the time,” she added.

Hafilah said working at McDonald’s helped opened her eyes to a harsh reality – the level of commitment by each and every staff despite some of them suffering from financial hardships.

This commitment, coupled with strong teamwork, are what drove the company forward to this day, said the 30-year-old.

“You don’t see McDonald’s as a career until you experience it,” Hafilah added.

First opened in 1992, McDonald’s Brunei has expanded from one branch for two decades in Gadong to two outlets in 2016. The second branch at Jerudong Park Playground includes a drive-through service, one of the first in the sultanate in recent times.

The company is set to open its second drive-through restaurant in Lambak this year.

The Bruneian