Back in October 1980, I was offered a job as an Audit Assistant with Coopers & Lybrand (C&L) when I was still in my final year at NUS. C&L was one of the so-called “Big Eight” audit firms globally. I was excited at the opportunity even when my starting salary was $950 per month. Salary was not much but I was eager to start on 1 April 1981 right after my final examinations but before I knew about my results. I did not go on post-examination holidays like what is the common practice of the current generation.
I worked real hard and in eight years at age of 31, I was made Senior Manager of the firm.
Three years later in 1992, I decided to switch profession and took up teaching at Temasek Polytechnic (TP). TP was into its second year of operation when I joined. I stayed on for another 14 years before I decided to take things slow. In the 14 years, I took up several appointments, including Course Manager and finally ending as Deputy Director of School of Business.
Both careers were memorable. Both required me to deal with people. Human relationship was key in my jobs. I only picked up people-to-people skills when I was on the jobs and this was never taught in the school systems back then. I must also attribute my maturity because of National Service. At age 20, I was commissioned as a young Second Lieutenant in the army. This was when I had my taste of leading men of my same age group. You got thrown into the deep end and you had to learn to survive. After completing the full cycle of National Service (including reservist trainings) my last rank was a Captain. It was an honour to serve the nation.
It was a dream run when I talked about my career. I must be lucky to be where I was. My path could have been very different. Rewards do not come out of the blue. I was conscientious and worked truly hard at the expense of health. I did not shy away from jobs and challenges as they were offered to me. Like the case when I spent my time in Brunei for nine months on a consulting job. Once I was given an assignment, I would put in my best effort and gave it all I had got. Until such time, when I knew I had enough and lost the passion and the drive. That was when I moved on.
This is the story of my career.