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CEO Dialogue 2014 - Post Event

 Survival working life without a timetable

Survival working life without a timetable - Article Image 1 What should you be doing What should you be doing when you’re still in school, ask the three senior executives
(from right), Dr KC Lee, Manjit Gill Singh and Gillian Tan. Far left is moderator and SIM GE scholar Christina Ong
(University at Buffalo)

IN SCHOOL, you live according to a timetable. Your days are structured around lectures, tutorials, assignment deadlines and exams . But when you go out to work, there’s no timetable to guide you. So how do you manage your time productively to ensure you’re meeting the goals that your employer sets for you?

The solution, suggests Dr KC Lee, CEO of SIM Global Education, is to participate in internship. Get involved in part-time work even if the pay is low or non-existent, Dr Lee advises as he outlines the benefits of gaining work experience while you’re still a student. By doing so, the workplace would not come as a cultural shock when you have left campus and embarked on a job.

Dr Lee is speaking at the CEO Dialogue, an annual event helmed by SIM GE scholars, where students listen to words of wisdom from chief executives, ask questions and take away guiding insights. Besides Dr Lee, the other two speakers that evening of November 11, 2014, are Gillian Tan, general manager of food-service paper packaging company Huhtamaki Singapore, and Manjit Gill Singh, managing director of Vigers Real Estate.

Gillian obtained a Bachelor of Business from SIM-RMIT University and an EMBA from SIM-University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Manjit graduated with an EMBA from Buffalo.

The speakers also discuss why we choose to work in certain places and why we want to leave our job. “When I started work,” says Gillian, “what drove me was survival. I’d got to feed my family, so I had to take on any job.”

Gillian shares her storied job experience and tertiary education since leaving secondary school. Click to read more at SIM Achievers.

Know where you’re heading

With growing affluence and higher education available to more people, we do not need to face such stark survival choices. So, when we are distressed in the workplace, our initial thought is to quit. “You may know why you want to quit, but do you know where you want to go after that?” asks Dr Lee. Know your destination and the direction you’re heading, Dr Lee says, with more than three decades of work experience under his belt.

No matter how young you are or think you are, it’s never too early to start planning your long-term goals and visualise your destination. As the old Taoist masters would say, if you don’t know your destination, you’ll never arrive.

Quoting management guru Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, Dr Lee says there are really two kinds of strategy when you’re mapping out your life. One is intentional strategy where you sit down and deliberate on goals and how to achieve them. Along the way, however, things happen and you need to revise your strategy, a kind of mid-course correction where you adjust your original plan to take into account new circumstances and development. (See boxed story below.)

Dr Lee urges young people to be bold, to try things. Who knows, you may develop new interests because you dare to try.

Another practical advice, from Manjit, is to develop your basic skills when you’re still young.

“Don’t worry about which industry you’re working in,” he says. “If you don’t like the job, you can always quit later, after you’ve acquire skills and experience. When you’re well-equipped, you will have the confidence to seek out the job you like and do the things you like to do.”

Survival working life without a timetable - Article Image 2

Some of the scholars, students and alumni after the dialogue session