Photo by Lim Weixiang
MATURE PMES WHO FACE PROBLEMS WITH THEIR CAREERS OFTEN EXPERIENCE ‘ISOLATION’, BECAUSE THEY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO CONFIDE AND SEEK HELP WITHIN THEIR LIMITED SOCIAL CIRCLES.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF GIOCAREERS
I am the founder of GioCareers, a social enterprise which aims to build a community where professionals can network, make important connections, share experience and receive advice from industry insiders . The impetus for this endeavor stemmed from my own experiences as a PME in the workforce.
I graduated from the Engineering Faculty at the National University of Singapore and found a job as an engineer with a major pharmaceutical company. But I quickly realised that being an engineer and looking at line drawings every other day was not what I wanted to do with my life.
On hindsight, I made my choice simply based on my grades without considering whether it was something I would be passionate about. I guess like many 18 year olds back then, I was caught in the paper chase and believed that all I needed to do was get a degree and things would work themselves out.
I knew I had to get out of the engineering line, but I wasn’t sure what my next step was going to be, or how I would be able to find a job in another industry. It was a very difficult period of my life. I must have sent out more than 500 resumes and cover letters to various companies in different industries. I spent over $100,000 to acquire three Master’s Degrees because I felt they would open up doors for me as I took my time to figure out the big issues of life, passion and dreams.
Somewhere along the line, I figured out that what I was really interested in was marketing and branding, but I was unsure of how to go about building a career in the industry. When I finally got in, I realised that my Master’s Degrees served as a good talking point but they were not critical. I was glad to have enriched myself with the further education which had provided me with a broad understanding of multiple disciplines, but most of the required day-to-day skills could only be learnt on the job and through interactions with industry people.
I took a very long way to get to where I wanted to be, because I was in a sense, ‘isolated’ in my engineering role, and I believe this is a problem many PMEs today face, especially when they are thinking about changing their career paths.
GioCareers is about removing that ‘isolation’ through the building of a community. In the long term, my hope is that the community can become self-sustaining, and more professionals in Singapore would catch on the spirit and step forward to share their valuable experiences.
Additionally, GioCareers also works with companies to help them become better employers. We offer companies employer branding service, HR consultancy and training, to help them in becoming fine employers of choice, attracting and retaining talents. I find great meaning in my work now working with companies. When a company improves in providing employees a healthy and happy workplace, it means that more good jobs are now available to our community. And that is great news.
In June 2015, we have taken the first step to help the community by collaborating with NTUC-PME Unit to launch the Career Activation Programme. Mature PMEs who face problems with their careers often experience ‘isolation’, because they find it difficult to confide and seek help within their limited social circles. The programme aims to combat this isolation by building up a pool of volunteering PMEs, called Career Activists, to advise and support fellow professionals in need. Set in a small, private and welcoming setting, mature PMEs together with the volunteers interact, network and inspire one another. Following these face to face sessions, the engagement and rapport continues over a digital platform where the community resides.