There was a time when staying in the same industry and one company called for a hearty pat on the back. Those days are long gone, with major shifts across the labour landscape over the years – the latest seen when COVID-19 surfaced, only to effect waves of change across the economy and jobs.
Today’s work culture is rife with words like upskilling, reskilling, mid-career change and being technology-savvy. One person who has taken the reskilling and mid-career career path is John Loh (not his real name).
“In today’s VUCA [volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous] world where changes are happening so fast, I feel a growth mindset is very important to continually improve and stay relevant in the industry,” said John. He has made a few strides across industries himself.
John’s entry point into the workforce was 25 when he settled into the logistics industry. However, the call for a mid-career change came at 33, when he successfully transformed and established himself in the medical device industry as a quality engineer.
His role required him to ensure that his company’s medical devices met stringent requirements and were of high quality. He also handles customer complaints.
“I like to expand my repertoire of skills, and I felt that the medical devices field is a meaningful industry as it impacts the healthcare industry. Therefore, I felt it was ‘now or never’ to do a mid-career industry switch,” shared John.
Guidance from U PME
He shares that the success of his ‘transformation’ was also helped by an individual from the Labour Movement – Herjeet Singh from U PME Centre, which is part of U Associate. The latter was established by the Labour Movement in 2011 to engage and support working professionals.
U Associate also supports professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) with their career needs through a range of services provided by the U PME Centre. These include career preparatory workshops, career coaching and job placement services.
“The experience with U PME has been really good. Initially, I approached Herjeet Singh for help and guidance in interview skills when I was shortlisted for a medical device company. This proved to be very helpful as I got the job.
“Thereafter, I approached Herjeet Singh again for coaching as I progressed to become a manager, dealing with people,” he shared.
He recalls an incident where his time with U PME Centre paid off.
“There was an important stakeholder with whom I had a challenging relationship, which affected my work, leading me to feel discouraged and lose motivation. However, through coaching and self-reflection, I learned that stakeholders’ engagement skills are important, and with the skills I had learned, the relationship slowly improved over time,” he said.
This was at a time when he was promoted to a regional manager, where he had to pick up people management skills quickly. He was in charge of two staff and multiple stakeholders in the region. He has been with the medical device company for more than 10 months now.
“Herjeet is very experienced and knowledgeable as he has real-life working experience as an HR professional. He coached me on how to manage my subordinates, effectively conduct performance appraisals and identified areas on how to be a good people’s manager,” said John of his U PME Centre guidance journey.
Herjeet followed up with John regularly to ensure he was applying the techniques shared during the coaching session, leading him to successfully transition from a single contributor in the company to an effective department head and people manager in his current role.
John’s next big step towards his career dream – to be a regional director in his field.