Silent Talents: Syed and Kai Kee, our exceptional Deaf colleagues at the SATS kitchen

Silent Talents: Syed and Kai Kee, our exceptional Deaf colleagues at the SATS kitchen

Within the SATS Group, a diverse workforce of more than 45,000 individuals come together to feed and connect communities. It's a mosaic of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, ages, genders, disabilities, religions, and cultures.

Amongst this ensemble are Syed and Kai Kee, two of the 16 Deaf employees at SATS Inflight Catering Centre 2, who have proven that hearing loss is not an impediment to excelling as members of Asia's leading aviation food solutions provider.


Syed Al-Aminur Shah, Chef de Partie (Pastry) and Khor Kai Kee, Catering Assistant (Vegetable Preparation), SATS Inflight Catering Centre 2

Syed is a Chef de Partie at the Pastry Kitchen, crafting cakes and other pastries for inflight meals. He had initially wanted a technician role, having an interest in repairing machinery, but fate led him to the kitchen, and he has stayed in his role for 28 years now.

In contrast, Kai Kee is relatively new to SATS Catering, having joined less than a year ago. “I saw that SATS is open to hiring people with hearing loss, so I sent in my application,” she enthusiastically shares.

As we meet them for the first time, we observe a dynamic duo who have shared a special bond at work. For them, SATS is more than a workplace – it's a safe sanctuary where they earn their livelihood through hard work, undeterred by their hearing and vocal loss.

Rising above the challenges

The journey that Syed and Kai Kee took hasn’t been without its hurdles. Navigating any workplace as a minority presents its challenges, particularly for those who communicate differently.

Syed opens up about the common misconceptions he faces: “Some people think a Deaf person like me cannot work. But I just brush it off, because I know I am earning an honest living to provide for my family.”


Syed Al-Aminur Shah, Chef de Partie (Pastry)

Kai Kee echoes the same sentiment, acknowledging the occasional confusion with instructions she receives. “Sometimes I get confused with the instructions because I am new and cannot communicate the same way the others do. But I am learning every day, and I won’t let anything hold me back.”

Despite moments of frustration, Syed and Kai Kee have found ways to adapt to their work environment – thanks to their supportive colleagues who are open to finding creative ways to work with them.

Communicating in silence

Syed and Kai Kee may not be able to hear sounds or speak words, but they have mastered a special way of communicating in the workplace – a method that is inventive as it is effective.

“We rely on handwritten notes and charades or acting it out to convey our ideas,” Syed explains. It requires patience and creativity, but they have made it work. Their colleagues, too, have wholeheartedly embraced this unique style of communication.

During our conversation, Syed and Kai Kee write their responses to our questions. With cheerful demeanour, they even elaborate on their answers with the assistance of a colleague proficient in sign language – giving us a glimpse of their daily interactions with their coworkers.

Witnessing Syed and Kai Kee’s ability to overcome communication barriers reminds us that understanding can still prevail even in the absence of sound.

A culture of inclusion


Over the years, Syed has earned a reputation as the cheerful Chef de Partie who happens to be Deaf but consistently delivers exceptional work.

Kai Kee’s enthusiasm for learning has been a valuable addition to the team as well, as she regularly volunteers to assist in other kitchens. “I feel valued and included because the team is patient with me as I learn the ropes of the job,” Kai Kee shares.


Khor Kai Kee, Catering Assistant (Vegetable Preparation)

For Syed, his 28-year journey with SATS has been marked not only by professional growth but also by meaningful friendships. Finding himself a workplace where his hearing loss isn’t viewed as a limitation, Syed cherishes moments of celebration with his team – whether it’s for a promotion or a festive occasion.

Alongside Kai Kee, they exemplify how diversity enriches rather than hinders success at work. Suffice it to say that these two remarkable folks have found a place where they can bring their whole selves to without reservation.

Their advice for other Deaf individuals hesitant to enter the workforce is simple. Syed encourages perseverance: “Just work hard and stay focused. Never let anyone tell you what you cannot do.” Kai Kee emphasises self-belief: “Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you, too.”

As our chat draws to a close, Syed reflects, “As Deaf individuals, we face our share of obstacles, but we never let our disability define us. Instead, we use it as motivation to prove ourselves.”

Here’s to Syed, Kai Kee, and all our colleagues who defy the odds, shatter barriers, and inspire us to reach for our dreams. They remind us that with personal determination and a supportive community, anything is possible.


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