Finding Her Way Back Into Work

Singaporean who benefitted from the network.

Have you had to experience a career transition?

For Susan Bek, it meant giving up a vibrant career in the field of engineering to move to the United States with her husband in 2004.

While she continued to work overseas, the lack of opportunities in engineering in New York city saw her pursue alternative jobs, including her passion as a yoga instructor.

Returning to Singapore in 2014 proved to be a culture shock as Susan experienced challenges in adjusting back to local culture.

“In many ways, Singapore was far ahead of the United States, and I realised just how much things had changed in the time I was away,” said the 54-year-old.

A change in personal circumstances also meant that she had to opt for a steady, salaried job instead of continuing her yoga practice.

While she could count on her network of friends to help her find jobs, they weren’t quite the right fit. Susan had a managerial background, but she was looking for a role that was less stressful, yet suitably challenging.

Tapping Available Resources

To find a suitable job, Susan kept a lookout for resources and leads. Among them was a two-day Executive Workshop organised by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).

“I was very keen to take advantage of the workshop for us older professionals. It was a very encouraging experience and I learnt a lot, especially in getting motivated by the trainer. From there, I realised that there was a lot of work I needed to do, such as how to revamp my resume and my cover letter,” she said.

Further recommendations from her personal network, this time through her sister-in-law, also saw Susan get in touch with NTUC’s U PME Centre in late 2016.

“The career consultant I met was very experienced. Some of the things she told me, I already knew, but some of them were new to me. It was good to be reminded of how to tackle interviews. The face time was also an opportunity for me to practice my interview skills and get to know more about the different working environment here,” she shared.

The Right Fit

Through an internal referral from her career consultant, Susan found out about a customer relations officer position at the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA). She applied for the position and began work in April 2017.

The job may see her looking after all aspects of SCCA’s operations and even support its events, but it is something that Susan enjoys.

SCCA Executive Director Mel Nirmala shared: “Susan has been a great support to our business. I realise that Singaporeans need to be blind to age and be open to skills. We are a diverse group in our office and Susan is the oldest but that doesn’t mean anything to any one of us as her past experiences have only encouraged positive learning as a team!”

The Back Story

The origin of Susan’s role was also the result of a network in action. Having known of the Labour Movement’s pool of talent, SCCA, an NTUC U Associate, had shared its job opening information with its contact in NTUC. This was subsequently passed down through the network to the U PME Centre.

Commenting on the working relationship between SCCA and the Labour Movement, Ms Nirmala said: “Our working relationship goes beyond just NTUC. We have been part of many other initiatives and it was fantastic to have support from NTUC as part of their measures to help Singaporeans reskill and find employment.”

Good to Know

To find out more about e2i’s Executive Workshops, click here.

To find out more about NTUC’s U PME Centre, click here.


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