Hafiz, Shentonista Of The Year 2017 winner, Mechanic. Shirt, jacket, and pants from Club Monaco.
Between his clean-cut boyish good looks, easy smile and relaxed demeanour, Hafiz is hard not to like. Despite having recently been promoted to workshop manager, he doesn’t think much of it when he readily works the floor alongside his team, sharing in the work as before, and taking on more roles as well. Of course, some things haven’t changed, and hearing him talk about cars and watching his face light up reminds us that the same persistent dedication to his craft and quiet confidence in his skills is still there and has always been, simmering below the surface. We caught up with the winner of our Shentonista Of The Year 2017 contest to ask about his goals and dreams, and he tells us of a furry little addition to his family, something he’s become surprisingly sentimental about, and an unexpected stroke of good luck following our first interview with him.
What’s new, or what has changed since the last time we met you?
I’ve been promoted to a workshop manager, so I have more responsibilities now. Other than that, people have been visiting my workshop because of the previous Shentonista feature I was in. My Suzuki Swift Sport group and other Volkswagen enthusiasts congratulated me on the article; I think they found out about it because my boss shared it.
What has changed with your new responsibilities, and how are you dealing with the changes?
Right now the main difference is that I have to manage the workload, to try and even it out so that I don’t exhaust my team. It’s not easy, but I understand the importance of it because I’ve been there before. Even though I’m managing them, I’m also on the floor so I do still help them out when I can so that things can get done. I’m also learning to handle accounts now. It’s still new to me so I’ve made mistakes, but we all learn through mistakes.
We hear you have an interesting story about how you and your girlfriend got together.
Basically, she saw the article and thought I was very good-looking—it must have been your Photoshop skills and good editing (laughs)—so she decided to come down and see me in person. It was only until we had already been dating for about a month that she told me that it was the feature that caught her attention.
You studied electrical technology previously. Why did you decide to pursue that?
Once, in secondary school, my entire class went on an exchange programme at ITE where we learnt about electrical technology and smart homes, and I found it really fun at that point. I didn’t think too much about it and just decided to pursue that, though honestly I didn’t enjoy it. If I had a chance, I would have studied automotive technology.
The last time we spoke, you shared about your dreams of opening your workshop in Australia. How’s that coming along?
Times change, so goals have to be modified. I’d love to open a shop in Australia still, but I think I’ll do that when I retire, rather than when I’m young. I’m currently concentrating on my goals for the near future, which is hopefully taking over this workshop. I’ve had customers who’ve become friends, and they’re pushing me to continue what I’m doing now. My family is here and I’ve also recently just met my girlfriend, so there’re a lot of reasons for me to stay here instead of just leaving everything behind.
What’s the significance of the steering wheel you brought for this shoot?
It originally belonged to a friend. He was in his Audi which I really liked, and I bought it from him just for fun at first. Then when I bought the Suzuki Swift Sport it suddenly became very personal, because it suited the car and the way I was driving. Before then, I had never understood people saying steering wheels were very personal things, and that when you found one that suited you, you’d stick with it for years. This steering wheel’s been with me since day one; it’s been through my first trip to Malaysia, my first race, and the first race I won.
Have you thought about taking part in a race?
I definitely want to experience taking part in an F1 or endurance race. It looks fun, but the g-force the body experiences is not easy. I’ve done a five-lap race before and it was exhausting, imagine these people in races going for more than 60 laps.
If you could trade lives with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
It’d have to be the late Formula 1 (F1) racer Ayrton Senna. People have described him as one of the best racers ever, because of his ability to ‘sense’ the car losing grip before it actually happens, which made him the fastest in races. If we could trade places, I’d want to know how it feels like.
What are the three things that are most important to you?
Right now, the first is my girlfriend. Then it would be my cat Luke—he’s a stubborn ginger cat which I adopted from The Cat Museum. He was just a kitten when we adopted him, but now he’s gotten fat. (laughs) The third will have to be my family.
What would be your dream car?
My all-time dream car would be the Nissan Skyline R32. It was produced in the ’90’s and it’s fast becoming an antique. I don’t actually know that much about it, I just like its form and the way it looks. I’ve only seen two of them in Singapore; one came in to the shop once and I was fangirling over it. (laughs)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Imagine yourself when you were 10 years old, looking at yourself now. Would you be proud of yourself?”
Hafiz was previously seen here.
Special thanks to our friends at Club Monaco for being a part of this project.
Also, a big thank you to all the people we worked with last year for coming on board:Club Monaco, We Need A Hero, Grain Traders, Kilo, Camp Kilo Charcoal Club, Kilo Lounge, Freedom Yoga, Gallery & Co., SEEDS and Chikuyotei.