Last week we were so excited to announce our upcoming Sassy Mama Career Camp, a series of three mama-specific events conducted with The Change School.
To give you an idea of exactly what kind of inspiring, life-affirming expertise you can expect, we sat down with two Change School alums (and mamas), who were more than happy to tell us all about their fantastic outcomes.
Please welcome Nathy and Akiyo! Nathy is originally from Laos but grew up in France, where she worked for over eights years in Digital Marketing for HSBC Private Bank. Akiyo hails from Japan, has lived abroad for over 17 years and now runs her own career redesign and life coaching business.
What prompted you to enroll in The Change School? Which courses did you take?
I participated in a few courses including SMART Goals, The Art of Meeting People, and Back to Work Basics.
For my first year and a half in Singapore, I wanted to enjoy my time being a mum and wife while supporting my husband’s new professional challenge as an entrepreneur. After a period of settling in, I was looking forward to getting my career back on track. Then, as my child started preschool, I started re-evaluating my professional life and the next step in my career. I started job hunting for 3 months and then found out I was pregnant (I am expecting my second child in September).
So for now, I am at a crossroads asking myself: What to do now? What’s next? Continue looking for opportunities? Just enjoy pregnancy? I decided to change my priorities and reshape my challenges but didn’t know where to start.
So I enrolled in the Change School because I wanted to find clarity/ clarification in my life and make a CHANGE: starting fresh with brand new ideas!
I attended The Art of Meeting People and Cultural Intelligence – understanding cultural dynamics in the workplace.
When I tried to go back to my profession after giving birth, the first thing I had to do was meet people, and it was a really uncomfortable experience! I was out of the market for almost two years – I relocated from Hong Kong to Singapore and then gave birth to my first baby – so my confidence level was pretty low to be honest. A few months after I started going out and meeting people, I still felt ‘meeting people’ could be done differently (in a more enjoyable and authentic way!). That’s why I decided to join their workshop.
How did the Change School help you specifically as a mum? Were you out of the work force and looking to re-enter it, or were you looking to make a career change?
For me, becoming a mum has changed my priorities and motherhood is a new journey with new challenges. Thanks to The Change School GYM, I can move forward by setting new goals personally and professionally and think about the future with my ‘NEW’ constraints.
Moreover, the Change School helped me to build more confidence after being away from work for a while. It helped me use competencies I developed as a mum – like multitasking and creativity – to manage my time and prioritise.
As I mentioned earlier, I am four months pregnant now and am looking to re-enter the work force in the next year. In the meantime, I’ve seized the opportunity to give back to society and use my skills to help people. I have started to volunteer with a non-profit organisation named Elles Network that helps Francophone women find inspiration for their businesses or get into the workforce.
I was out of the workforce for two years and re-entered it (it’s now been eight months since I went back to work), yet I wanted to see more of the positive side of “networking”.
First and most importantly (for me), the Change School helped me realise I didn’t have to be in ‘business mode’. It was a relaxed environment. I could naturally be ‘me’ with the other attendees. The workshop itself was fun and not a usual ‘ lecture’-style presentation. That also helped me have more fun “meeting people”. It was also good to know that I am not alone – through the sharing before and after the activity I learned that everybody felt the same way I did!
How did the Change School help you with goal-setting? Have some of these lessons carried over to your daily life?
As a mum, I always have to deal with unexpected moments. With the Change School, I organise my daily life by setting goals. Every Monday I plan my Monday with projects and tasks and I set my goals for each day. I write down all the things I need to get done – with deadlines – so I can have a vision.
On top of that, I have learned to ask for help when I do not meet my deadlines. Thanks to The Change School, I can move forward by setting goals and staying focused. Stop procrastination!
In my workshop there wasn’t too much emphasis on goal-setting, but everyone did share their own experiences with networking, so it was pretty clear that everyone was not particularly comfortable with it and hoping to ‘be more authentic and have real communication (or connections)’ !
What was your #1 takeaway from your Change School courses?
Know yourself and be disciplined. Have a BIG PICTURE of where you want to get to!
My #1 takeaway was realising that I was not alone in feeling uncomfortable about networking. I guess this is the honest feeling as a mum, personally.
More practically speaking, another key takeaway was ‘knowing people’s patterns’, which was a really useful tool for being mentally ‘ready’ to network.
What are some important lessons you learned about networking? Have you faced particular networking challenges? If so, how have you overcome these?
Be authentic. Be social. Be open. When I landed in Singapore, I had no relatives and no connections. I had to build my own network from scratch. I have started with the French community, especially mums, to ask advice for baby food and baby care.
In Singapore, there are a lot of opportunities (for example: events on Meetup, Peatix and Eventbrite) to meet people but the big challenge is finding the right communities where you feel comfortable mingling. Be ready to help each other without asking for something in return.
In networking I learned it’s good to be genuinely curious about others. Treat others as you want to be treated.
With regard to particular networking challenges and how I’ve overcome them, Cultural Intelligence is a key. There was a time when I was puzzled and confused by both business manners and small gestures. But once I learned the reason why and understood the cultural background, things were much easier and less confusing.
For example, there is a great amount of variation in cultural business practices among the different countries of Asia. Even in Japan, where I’m from, local culture and people’s characteristics differ across regions, for example.
Be open to the differences; my ‘common sense’ might not be someone else’s ‘common sense’… have a fun with it!
What advice would you give to mamas who are nervous about re-entering the workforce?
First of all, be true and honest to yourself. Take your time to know what you really want to do and what you do not want to do. And when you are ready to start your new journey, write down your personal and professional goals with deadlines. Then, ask for any advice, help and feedback from your friends or other mums.
It’s normal to feel nervous; you are not alone! Do warm up before making the jump if you feel uneasy about going back to work. Consider attending small workshop or talks that appeal to your interest.s Still feel uneasy or feel something is not working for you? – it’s worth checking what’s really makes you feel that way.
Thank you, Nathy & Akiyo! And mamas, don’t forget to check out all the info about our upcoming Sassy Mama Career Camp events happening on May 13th, 20th and 27th. Spots are limited and going fast!