I’d like to have a sense of value and fulfilment professionally; getting up each day knowing that what I do makes a positive difference.
Donning a white coat with a stethoscope in my hand… That’s how I pictured myself from the age of 10. Many years have passed now, and I’m not a medical doctor. However, part of that vision materialized…’donning the white coat’. How? You may ask…. Well, I studied biochemistry and worked for a decade in a laboratory environment in research and development.
I earned my Honor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Putra in Malaysia. My first job after university was as a Development Engineer in a pioneer company dealing with fuel cell technology. This job was actually extremely challenging for me because it was my first professional job and in a start-up, so everything from procedures to calculation modules to equipment and laboratory set up was completely new to me even though I was in charge of putting these things in place. There was a very steep learning curve for me because I was surrounded by engineers, which is not my background. I also had to make substantial adjustment to the research process. Even though that experience was very difficult, I realized research was my passion and my gratification was priceless.
I had a few jobs after that and progressed career wise in different industries, and now I have thirteen years of professional experience. My three main takeaways from my professional career, in no particular order are to be passionate about what I do; to never fear the unknown, as change is the only constant; and if I make up my mind to achieve something, I will achieve it.
I arrived in Eindhoven in September 2016. From the start of my career journey to my arrival in Eindhoven, I developed in my management and leadership skills from beginning as a junior chemist to eventually leading projects and a team in a department. I also developed in my working relationship with customers, clients and intra-department staff, especially to achieve the group KPI and project targets.
For me, the transition to the partner of a ‘knowledge worker’ has been a journey of discovery. From being an independent workingwoman, to being a mom and a spouse in a different country is a big change. I have arrived at the realization that I want to and am able to achieve more. There are a few reasons I want to do more: to challenge myself professionally and intellectually, to maintain a robust financial balance by leveraging a dual career household, and to be a good role model for my daughter and show her that she can create balance between work and family and continue to achieve in more than one aspect of her life.
Honestly speaking, I feel that I am in a bit of a rut. In terms of looking for a job, I would love to have advanced further in this aspect, but it is a challenge as I take care of my daughter full-time. With a small baby, I also feel that I haven’t been able to expand my social network either. As an international, I see that most locals have a strong network and would like to also have this feeling. However, I do realize that I also have limitations, such as the culture and having a young baby.
During the Women for Women program, I discovered that restarting a career can be complicated if your previous experience is in a niche field. Sometimes people assume that I want or should go back to my own field. I often feel that people assign that choice to themselves instead of listening to what I want, so unfortunately, my experience does not always aid me. Some people even suggest that I complete a PhD since I haven’t found a job, so I can see the mentality of hitting a career roadblock and trying to overcome it with education that may not necessarily guarantee the results for which I am looking.
In the Women for Women program, I have actually realized that my path has more hurdles than what I had expected. I am trying to take a step back and digest this to look for a way to progress and to find an opportunity that matches my experience. I know there are a lot of opportunities out there, but now it is a matter of finding the right one to restart my career. I have the key but am looking for the right lock.