Last week I received an invitation for an interview. SMU magazine, Blurt! wanted to feature me inside.
Since the past 2 days I was so busy with the Goal Setting, therefore only today I finally got the time to answer it. Here are some of the questions (and my answers of course !)
1. It seems that from the beginning, with engineering, you chose to enter a mainly male dominant industry. Why was that so? What was your initial experience like?
I studied Electrical & Electronics Engineering (EEE) in NTU. I guess the reason why I chose to major in engineering had a lot to do with my background. My father is an engineer. And so are my uncles, aunties, and relatives. Having the opportunity to see how my father worked probably influenced my decision too. And since I was a small kid, when people asked me what I want to be when I grow up, my most natural answer will be, "I want to be like my father. I want to be an engineer." So, I guess being brought up in such a family influenced me when I was choosing which major to take.
Having said all that, I was never really interested in the engineering field. I took the subject because of the very simple reason that, having a background like mine, engineering seemed to be the most natural choice I should take. Having studied engineering for 4-years has helped me to think more logically and to be a more systematic person.
2. Why did you leave engineering and move on to finance?
I knew that being a fresh graduate, I would probably be earning around$2,500 per month. Minus off the mandatory 20% contribution to the CPF, it would leave me with only $2,000. Minus off another $1,000 for my living expenses (food, accommodation, transportation, hand phone bills, etc) what is left with me is only $1,000. I had the intention to send at least $500back to support my parents, so that would leave me with the remaining of$500.Assuming that I would set aside $500 every month to pay for my outstanding study loans, I calculated that I would only be able to pay off the entire loan of $40,000 (plus interest of 4% p.a.) in a period of 10 years.
By that time I will be 32 years old with no savings at all, no car, no house.Nothing! So, at that time I knew that I could never achieve my goal to be successful while I'm young if I choose this path of a normal 9-to-5 job.
I chose to keep my dreams intact and change my career path after graduation, from doing a normal engineering job to something that could allow me to attain my goals in a shorter time-frame.
3. What setbacks did you encounter while trying to enter the finance industry, especially as a woman? Did you experience gender discrimination?
In the finance industry, I'm required to meet many new people who are potential customers. A few of these potential customers are my own friends, some of them are referrals from my friends or existing clients,and the rest of them are strangers, people whom I've never known or met before.
As a woman, one of the setbacks that I encountered while trying to enter the finance industry is the difficulty to be taken seriously as a professional by a certain type of potential customers, especially those who didn't know me personally.A couple of them are only interested in getting to know me better, to become friends, or just to chit-chat. They may have no interest with the financial services or products that I'm promoting at all. Of course, I don't mind to be friends with my clients. In fact, most of my clients are my friends now. However, I always build my business professionally, and I make sure that all my potential customers know this.
4. How does it feel to be a woman in finance world? How different do you think it is from any other industry?
Personally, I never thought much of how will it feel differently whether I'm a woman or a man in the finance world.Fortunately, Singapore is an advanced first world country, where gender discrimination is almost non-existent, compared to other developing countries.
I guess most of the industries in Singapore, especially finance, will allows your results to speak about your qualities as a professional businessperson.I believe most of my clients, business partners, colleagues and staff,look up to me because of my achievements and track records, rather than my gender.
5. There’s this perception of men being aggressive in the finance world. How did you handle your superiors/colleagues acting like that? Did you have to change yourself because of such an environment?
I believe both men or women can be aggressive. Again, I guess it depends on the individual more rather than his/her gender.When others display their 'aggressiveness' still within a healthy context, I will view it as a good opportunity for me to be more competitive. I'm a strong believer that a healthy competition will improve productivity.
However, if others are being aggressive in ways that are beyond the healthy boundary (i.e. in ways that are no longer legal, moral or ethical), then I choose not to be involved with such people.It is definitely easier to achieve success within the boundaries of morals, laws and ethics rather than to risk ending up in jail, or worse,facing your conscience. When we work hard towards our dreams every day, we want to be able to go home and have a good night's sleep. We do not want to be haunted by our own conscience for doing something against that small little soft voice inside us.
Well guys..., that's not all !! think still got another 7 - 8 questions more that I have to answer ;)
After I answer it, I'll upload the reminding questions and answers in my next post
Take Care all ! :)