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    The Accidental Manager: How A Millennial Unexpectedly Rose From the Ranks

    When an opportunity comes knocking on the door, we’re almost always prepared to grab it.

    But what if it comes unexpectedly? What do we do?

    Take it from Nicole Rose Llanes—a millennial Tenant Concierge Manager from one of our valued clients, Cove Living. She shares her story of unexpected growth, what makes up success in customer service, and how rewarding working in a startup is.

    Her Beginnings at Cove Living

    Nicole started as a Community Happiness Officer for one of Penbrothers’ clients, Cove Living, in 2021.

    Cove Living is a home rentals startup that helps solve the housing affordability crisis in Singapore. Most of their tenants are Singapore-based students and young professionals looking for a place to stay without exceeding their budget.

    Cove Living’s Philippine team consists of different functions such as finance, tech, sales, and customer service; the last one being where Nicole belongs.

    Nicole’s initial role was to attend to their tenants’ concerns and arrange the maintenance of Cove Living’s properties. Her role is similar to a hotel concierge but is done remotely. 

    Nicole Llanes with her Cove Living team.
    Nicole (middle) with the Cove Living team

    She is one of the first hires for the customer service team and has made significant contributions ever since. Nicole shares, “Since I was hired, Cove Living has been receiving lots of good customer feedback due to their smooth experience with us.”

    What Made All the Difference

    Being one of the first hires for Cove Living’s Customer Service department, Nicole understood she needed to step up and be one step ahead of everything.

    All her managers had one thing to commend about Nicole: her sense of ownership and drive to go above and beyond.

    Because of her exceptional customer service skills and strong work ethic, Nicole got promoted to her current role as Tenant Concierge Manager.

    Nicole Llanes with her Cove Living team at a restaurant with laptops.
    Nicole Llanes with her Cove Living team

    She didn’t expect the promotion at all, given her lack of management experience back then. She had no idea how to handle a team, but Nicole graciously accepted the role and is now managing a team of four concierges, all of whom are based in the Philippines.

    She is also responsible for organizing the schedule of her Singaporean counterparts to ensure that they deliver the best service to their tenants.

    Read also: What We Stand for at Penbrothers

    Nicole’s Secret to Success in Customer Service

    Asked about what made her a good fit for her new role, Nicole says, “I’m an empathetic person. I feel deeply for the person I deal with.”

    She even shared that when a person in front of her cries, she also starts to cry!

    Nicole’s ability to put herself in the shoes of others also helped her as a newbie manager. She always makes it a point to understand where her subordinates are coming from and hear their side of the story. 

    Nicole also ensures that her people are paid well and on time, and that they are provided with everything that they need. She believes that when people are compensated well and given the right tools, they tend to work better and give it their 100%.

    Nicole also takes pride in her resilience in times of challenges. She shares that her greatest achievement so far is staying in her role for so long, unwilling to back down from any adversity that comes her way.

    Working in a Startup Environment

    What has made her stay with Cove Living and Penbrothers for three years now?

    “In a startup culture, every opinion matters. It doesn’t matter how young you are, what your job level is, or where you’re from. You’re heard and valued,” she shares.

    She also loves the opportunity to work remotely. It allows her to spend more time with family and friends without the long and tiring commutes.

    Additionally, Nicole appreciates Penbrothers’ fun and dynamic working environment. Because of the positive work culture that Penbrothers has built through its engagement activities, outsourced employees like Nicole and her team helped them hit their client’s business goals.

    A meeting screenshot of Cove Living team celebrating Halloween.
    Cove Living team members celebrating Halloween virtually

    She also works closely with Cove Living’s dedicated Account Manager to ensure that her team encounters no issues with things like payroll, alongside the core HR team of Penbrothers. Nicole noted how efficient the HR ticketing system is: her concerns are always addressed almost immediately, and the processes are smooth.

    Success Comes Unexpectedly; Now What?

    “Don’t wait for the right opportunity. Create it,” said Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw.

    Such words of wisdom couldn’t be more true in Nicole’s journey. While her success seemingly came all of a sudden, her growth mindset made it happen. She earned it.

    May Nicole’s story be an inspiration to those doubting their capabilities and potential to succeed. You are able, you can grow, and you can do it!

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