From maritime dreams to retail expertise: 43 years with IKEA 

Steven Goh’s dedicated journey at IKEA is a testament to life’s unexpected turns. Living in the bustling port city of Singapore during the 1980s, Steven Goh was initially drawn to the allure of the shipbuilding industry, envisioning a career in welding amid the backdrop of the region’s booming maritime trade.  

However, when a spate of shipyard safety mishaps made the news, his family became concerned. And it was their worries that prompted Steven to change course and steer away from the hazards of the shipyards and to the blue and yellow shores of Singapore’s first IKEA store.  

With youthful ambition and a thirst for adventure, Steven embarked on his IKEA odyssey, joining as a Warehouse Assistant shortly after completing his National Service – the mandatory two-year conscription required by all Singapore male citizens.  

Back then, the idea of a career in sales wasn’t entirely out of the picture, said Steven. “Actually, I almost became car salesperson,” said Steven, laughing, who said he was influenced by his sister’s success in that industry. But then, he adds with a wry smile, “I didn’t even have a driver’s licence back then!” 

Singapore’s first IKEA store, then a little outpost replete with “Viking branding everywhere”, as Steven recalls, was in a low-rise building in Singapore’s Sixth Avenue and it became Steven’s professional harbour – a launchpad for a storied career that would span four decades.  

Witnessing IKEA rise from a single store to a network of three, Steven’s own career grew in different directions with the business – from warehouse floor to design management and sales recovery. He fondly recalls tales of appreciation from customers, like the time a customer brought a home baked sponge cake during Hari Raya, the Eid al-Fitr celebration marking the end of Ramadan.  

“I am grateful when customers show their appreciation for me even by going this extra mile,” said Steven. 

Reflecting on his IKEA voyage, Steven’s memories are punctuated by the warmth of office parties, attending the weddings of co-workers, being featured in memorable IKEA catalogues (it was a thing back then) that also featured the Singapore team on the cover, and meeting IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad twice.  He fondly remembers donning the old uniform that featured IKEA’s Viking mascot and forging lifelong friendships along the aisles of flat-pack wonder.  

And it would be the aisles of IKEA that would also see Steven’s love story unfold. A chance encounter at the checkout counter would blossom into a lifelong partnership with his beloved wife. Steven considers himself “the luckiest co-worker at IKEA Singapore” because he also won the heart of his wife who was working as a cashier at the first IKEA store at Sixth Avenue. Today, his wife and him cultivate a haven on the rooftop garden of his building that is now bursting with long beans, ladyfingers and even a papaya tree.  

“On weekends, we also watch movies together with our senior citizen discounted tickets. Some weekends, my family and I would also have breakfast together at IKEA.” 

Steven remains a beacon of wisdom and inspiration for generations of IKEA enthusiasts. His sage advice as the longest-serving Ikano Retail co-worker, encapsulated in the four “P’s – Passion for the job and people; Positivity in attitude; Patience to learn and improve, and Planning career and time well – serve as a guiding compass for newcomers navigating a career in retail. 

The luckiest co-worker at IKEA Singapore

Steven Goh IKEA Singapore