Why change in the first place?

This post is going to be about me again. My dear friends asked me to elaborate why I made a big move to leave the corporate world and also why I got into social entrepreneurship.

Sorry to disappoint (I am a woman and cannot get out of the habit to start some messages with a ‘sorry’) but my story did not have a climax. There was no big event which shocked my system and inspired me to do something completely different. The idea grew over a number of years.

I was in a promising position and on a good track before I left my last employer. Although I became fairly smart in maneuvering my time to manage both my local and global managers, the overall intensive work demand and competitiveness among peers made me wonder whether I wanted to be in such an environment for the next 10 years (not that I would be reaching retirement age in that time frame but it was commonly known that working too long in banking was not healthy).

Did I want my boss’s job or her boss’s job? No. Not really.

Would it make sense to change industry now or in 5 years’ time? In general, the sooner the better.

A banking job paid well and made me very comfortable, didn’t it? Yes, it did.

Did I have supporting managers and good teams? Was I motivated to go to work everyday? Yes and yes.

… Okie… argument started to steer another direction, what else are missing in the decision tree?

Was I still enjoying what I did? Yes but it was not as enjoyable as before.

Was I learning new skills? Yes but the learning curve was certainly not very steep.

Was I really doing something that made the best use of my skills and experience? Not sure.

I started to weigh all the different considerations. My heart told me that having a bigger challenge was important for me.

I set a goal and timeline. I aimed for a specific promotion in the following year. It was a realistic goal. I further polished my skills and worked hard. The promotion did not happen. My trusted sources shared with me that there were circumstances outside my control. Those assurances confirmed that I was capable of doing a bigger job. Did I really need that title? Not really. It sounded arrogant or sour grapes, depending on how you looked at it. I proved myself and understood myself a bit better during that course. That was good enough for me. We all deserve to be a little arrogant at times. (Deep down I knew that there were other things I could have done to make that promotion, but did those things enhance my skills to be a better person? Not at all. )

I went through the decision tree again and did more math about my finances. Of course my savings would not support me through to the day I die. I needed to earn an income but how much would I really need to maintain a certain standard of living? Was I prepared to clean the toilet at McDonald’s if I could not find an interesting job and ran out of money? (When you are in one industry too long, you would question whether your skills and experience are transferable) My brother said that Mr. M would not hire me. Anyhow, you got my point. I just needed to run through different situations in my head and get real.

In conclusion, off I went to start a new journey. I wanted to be ahead of the game. I wanted to experience things in this wild world. A year after the move, I confirm that was one of the few best decisions I have made. I have landed in a booming space with lots of uncertainty which comes with lots of opportunities.

Why social entrepreneurship?

Doing good was in my blood. I learned from the good guys. My parents brought me up the Confucius way. We are not rich in monetary terms but I have been taught to be generous and share with others. Since I was young, whenever there was an opportunity to participate in volunteering work, I was in. In the past 10 years, I have started to engage in projects or organizations in a more continuous basis so that I got to understand some of pains and challenges in non-profit organizations.

A close encounter with Dr. Muhammad Yunus fours years ago inspired me to read more about social business. With my background of studying economics and working in operations, it was indisputable to me that doing good also meant that we had to endeavor social issues with sustainable and efficient solutions. Charities definitely have a place to tackle certain social and environmental problems but there are also many areas which can be more efficiently addressed by using a sustainable business model. All these social innovations amaze me. I was naturally drawn to all the events on this topic and educated myself in this area.

In the past year, I was fortunate that I made a number of new friends who were also interested in the social space. It has been very refreshing to meet people from different disciplines and background. Their passion and expertise have been very inspirational. I feel that I have learned much more about the city and community that I have lived and breathed.

I hope my future blogs on social entrepreneurship and startups are interesting for those who have not been exposed to this area … And, for my friends who are more interested in food and travel, I hope my pictures and short notes serve the goal of letting you see and feel the beauty that I encounter along my journey.

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