“My personality is negative reinforcement. You tell me I can’t do something and I’ll want to prove you wrong.”
Ever wondered about the person behind the friendly voice on the Saturday Kids hotline and hello[at]saturdaykids.com?
Jose with Lan Tian (our Ops Manager) at Google attending the Code in the Community Graduation ceremony in 2018
Meet José (pronounced ‘ho-zeh’), our customer experience rockstar who handles communications with the parents of our Saturday Kids tribe. As kids have some of the happiest hours of their week with us, José ensures parents’ levels of happiness aren’t too far off!
Unexpected introvert, new husband, seasoned marathon runner, full-time vegan – get to know the man with the enormous responsibility of putting a smile on parents’ faces amidst navigating the creative chaos that is Saturday Kids.
What’s your story, José?
“I moved here from the United States. I was working in New York as a shipping manager and in customer service for a clothing brand, and going to school at the same time. My typical day would start at 6am, when I’d go to work and then go to school after that.
I then moved to Singapore for my now-wife who is working here. It was pretty crazy – my friends were like ‘what?!’. I had been living alone and had my own apartment, had my own career, and I was basically my own man. Then I moved here and I couldn’t find a job for 2 years. It was like a forced sabbatical.
But I wouldn’t give up those 2 years of not having a job; I learned so much more about myself and what I can do.
Besides that, I run marathons and I believe that suffering is key to making you appreciate what you have.
Jose with his Marathon medals & beautiful wife!
You don’t know how far you can go until you’re pushed to your limits.
I didn’t know I could run a marathon and do all these this stuff until I tried. David Goggins, whom I follow, has a saying, your mind tells you you’re done at 40%. So when you’re tired and about to quit, you’re really only at 40%. That’s what I tell myself.”
What’s a day in your life like?
“Working with parents. I tell parents all the time, our instructors’ job is to make the kids happy, and my job is to make you happy. To make sure that everything is smooth and all your concerns are addressed.
A typical day would be handling emails, calling parents, manning locations, other back-end things to be done like scheduling and making our workflows better and more efficient. Ultimately my work centers around designing and delivering an awesome customer experience from end to end – from reaching out to leads, registration, managing post-camp feedback and everything in between.”
What do you love about your job?
“You get to help people.
José and the Saturday Kids team
I was asked during my interview whether I think customer service is a dead-end job, but actually it depends on how you view it.
You could be the CEO of a company and it could still be a dead end job.
Even if sometimes it feels I’m bending the rules just to help them, it’s nice when you hear parents say their child really loves coding and the backstory about how you helped them.
There was a kid who was born deaf who really loved coding, and he’s still coming back to us. It’s a privilege to be able to help a kid develop that.
I learn so much about my job. Sometimes you get over-protective parents, parents who push their kids to take our classes, parents who are supportive… you get to see the different kinds of parents. I don’t have kids, so this gives me an idea of what kind of parent I want to be. I always have these conversations with my wife now about how I would want to be as a parent.
You wouldn’t know you could learn this stuff through this job if you just look at it from a purely customer service perspective.”
What do not many people know about you?
“I’m actually a certified personal instructor. When I didn’t have a job, I was like, I gotta learn something. So I took a course, I passed the test, got a card – so I’m a certified personal instructor with ACE!”
. . .
At a recent team huddle, José likened Saturday Kids to the protagonist in the Dr Seuss story, Horton Hears a Who!. Horton, an elephant, accidentally discovers the Whos – a physically miniscule and vulnerable community – and agrees to protect them. As the community is too small to be seen or heard by regular animals, Horton’s neighbours mock him for believing in what can’t be proven. [Spoiler alert!] It takes a near mishap for them to realise that the Whos are real, and thankfully they band together to save them from destruction. Kind of like how at Saturday Kids we sometimes feel like we’re in the minority in preserving kids intrinsic curiosity and love of learning, rather than prioritising external results.