Interview with Ms Nancy Lim

Interview with Ms Nancy Lim, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore SPA Institute


Ms Nancy Lim, founder of Singapore SPA Institute

On one of my trips to Asia I had the pleasure to meet Ms Nancy Lim, the founder and CEO of the Singapore SPA Institute and further more the current president of the Spa Association Singapore (SAS). With her rich industry experience and personal passion in education, Ms Lim has actively contributed towards the shaping of vocational training for the spa and wellness industry in Singapore. In the year 1997 she participated in establishing the Spa Institute, which was firstly focused on providing consultancy, training and assessment in the spa industry, with a particular focus on spa therapists’ knowledge and skills. The Singapore SPA Institute (SSI) was founded in 2009 with the merge of the former SPA Institute Pte Ltd (established in 1997) and the newly acquired Spa Continuing Education Training (CET) Centre based on the WSQ (Workforce Skills Qualifications) framework. The Singapore SPA Institute was created with the main goal to provide quality WSQ training and assessment for the spa industry.


So here is what Ms Lim and I talked about:

1) Why did you feel the need to create and open the Singapore Spa Institute in 1997 and 'expand' and upgrade it in 2009?

Ms Lim: Our goal was to be Singapore’s leading SPA training and education institute, providing quality training and education that are benchmarked against the most widely recognized professional certification systems in the world. And I can proudly say we succeeded.


2) What type of education program do you offer at SSI? Did you follow an already existing example when you were creating the program and in which fields do the SSI programs stand out?

Ms Lim:  Our programs at SSI offer national training standards and qualifications for the spa industry which leads from Certificate to Diploma level.  When creating our program we focused on our own ideas, so all our programmes are developed by SSI.


3) How many students enrol in your programs every year and which program is the most popular among them?

Ms Lim:  We enrol more than 600 students per year. Among all our programs the Certificate in spa services is the most popular program and with which the students becomes a certified therapist.


4) Do you have foreign students signed in your programs? Can foreign students study at SSI?

Ms Lim:  Yes, we welcome students also from other countries, but the majority of our students come from Singapore.


5) Asia is very well known for its outstandingly kind and friendly people and this also applies for personnel working in spa, wellness and tourism sector. Are friendliness, guests relations and etiquette also an integral part of SSI programs?

Ms Lim:  Asia truly is well known for its hospitality and so yes, guest relations are an important part of our programs. All students are required to complete a core unit:  Interact with Guests to obtain a full certificate.


6) Which positions or fields of the wellness and spa industry have the largest deficit of qualified personal, in your opinion?

Ms Lim: In my opinion, and I am talking here about Singapore and Asia, it’s the Body and Spa Therapists.


7) What are SSI's plans for the future?

Ms Lim:  Well, there are quite a few plans we have:

  • meet industry need for trained and qualified workers under new legislative requirement for licensing,
  • raise skills levels of the current spa therapist workforce,
  • build a pipeline of skilled workers for the industry,   
  • raise the professionalism of the local spa industry to benchmark against international standards,
  • establish training roadmaps, career development and paths for the spa workforce.


8) What do you think is the biggest difference between Asian (Singapore) and European spa/wellness tourism?

Ms Lim:  I would say that there are more Day Spas in Asian and there are more Destinated Spas in Europe, so I see that as the main difference.


9) What are your predictions for the future of wellness and spa tourism?

Ms Lim:  I see the future in more International Spa Chains which provide complete full range of services.


10) What are the biggest challenges in the spa and wellness industry considering the future development?

Ms Lim:  The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is in training a skilled workforce as the biggest problem I see is definitely lack of a well skilled workforce.


11) Where does your passion for wellness and spa come from and where and how did it all start?

Ms Lim:  Since 1982, I felt that majority of people are getting more stressful to cope with day-to-day lifestyle.  There is a need to help and share these stressful people to live happier and stay healthy.


12) How do you incorporate the wellness philosophy into your everyday life?

Ms Lim: My motto is: Be happy!


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