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'Iron fist' lady retires

Solomoni Biumaiono
Wednesday, November 07, 2012

After working for 43 years, Manorma Singh has finally called it a day and retired at the end of last month from Vodafone Fiji.

Singh who is 63 years old is one of the three pioneering employees at Vodafone who had worked uninterrupted for the company ever since it was established 18 years ago.

She was the executive PA for Vodafone Fiji chief executive officer, Aslam Khan for the last 18 years and she was farewelled by the company on Wednesday.

Looking back through the 18 years of service that she had worked for Vodafone, Singh does not have any regrets and in fact it was one workplace that she enjoyed the most.

"Well my advice is hard work, loyalty, dedication and honesty. These are something that people need to have in order to ensure they enjoy their work," Singh says.

In this day and age where there is a greater mobility of workers, Manorma is one of the few workers who were cut from a different cloth with loyalty as their creed and the size of the pay cheque is besides the point.

Throughout her career Manorma has only had three employers. One was the Fiji government, another was USAID and third was Vodafone Fiji.

She first started off as a fresh—faced 20 —year— old civil servant and worked in various government departments for 19 years before she joined USAID where she worked for six and a half years before the agency closed its doors and then she joined Vodafone Fiji in 1994 when it first started in Fiji.

Manorma was employee number 32 at Vodafone and she is one of the three remaining pioneering staff members who had 18 and a half years of unbroken years of service. The other two are CEO Khan and the Group chief technical officer Raj Deo.

She joined Vodafone as a personal assistant and through the years was promoted to executive assistant and human resources coordinator of the company.

Manorma was also the first director of the Vodafone/ATH Foundation which helps the poor through many projects.

Vodafone CEO Khan paid tribute to Singh saying she operated with an iron fist and maintained high standards and ethics.

Singh laughed off the description but pointed out that someone had to play the role.

"Somebody has to be the iron fist, you cannot be nice to everybody you know they take advantage of your kindness and you need somebody like that in order to get work to be done," she says.

The company's board chairman Lionel Yee also paid tribute to Manorma's years of service with the company.

"I think the company had been lucky to have had your services. Loyal, reliable staff like you don't come easy these days," Yee says.

Manorma remembers the early days when the company started off with 15 employees and when the company was based in the Suva central business district and says through her years of service, she does not have a single regret.

"Because the job was very challenging, it was not a monotonous job and also because of the people you work with and if you have a very good job, you won't leave. I guess he was one of the best bosses I have come across. I enjoyed every moment of it and I plan to migrate overseas and spend time with my two grandchildren and two children who have been away overseas for quite a while now," Singh says.

She plans to migrate overseas alongside her husband Gyan to join her son and daughter who are both living there with their two grandchildren.

"You know like people who say, they are going to greener pastures, it is not. I am going simply because my family is over there. I am just taking a well deserved break," Singh says.

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