Some entrepreneurs I know started their entrepreneurial journey from as young as 10 years old. I was not one of them. Growing up, I never had to worry about food or money, or anything in my life. While some people had never traveled before, I was already globetrotting with my family at the age of 12 years old.
But my parents were careful to teach my three siblings and I the importance of money and ethics. Having grown up in less than favorable conditions, my parents did not take what they had achieved for granted, and wanted us to know the same. In my growing up years, my parents frequently impart the importance of justice, generosity and humility to the four of us.
Though business-people themselves, they had wanted me to have a professional occupation. So I did. When people asked me what I wanted to do, I told them that I wanted to be pediatrician. And I really do. So I studied very hard for my A levels, and with an additional bit of luck, I aced all my papers.
But it still was not good enough to grant me a place to study medicine in NUS. Sure, I had admission to study medicine overseas, but I wanted to be close to my family.
In the period of time while I was feeling depressed and lost that I had no chance of becoming a doctor, I met several people that eventually changed my life. Over lunch one day, this older friend of mine asked me why is it that I wanted to become a doctor. I answered as what another person might potentially answer. Good reputation, good money, and I love children. My answer did not satisfy him.
He probed again, why did I want to become a doctor. On the verge of crying then, I didn’t understand what was it that he wanted me to answer. It took him several attempts to make me realize that it was not a doctor that I want to become. Underlying my choice to be a doctor, I realized that it was because I wanted to do something that would make my parents and family proud, and to satisfy my want to be involved in an occupation that contributes to society and children in general, and a pediatrician seemed like the most ideal choice.
Then he asked a simple question that changed my life and attitude towards life forever. “Is that the only way to achieve what you really want to do?”
In that conversation, I did not just understand, but was enlightened on the fact that you can have one goal, but hundred and thousands of ways to reach the goal you set out. It wasn’t just “If you fail, try and try again,” it was “If you fail, try and try other methods again”. There were tons of ways to reach your goal.
I guess it was then that I decided that I will be happiest doing my own business, making it successful and in turn, pleasing myself, honoring my parents and having the capability to reach out and influence the many beneficiaries that I wanted.
But I also knew that it was not an easy task. My parents were upset (to say the least) that I wanted to quit my pursuit of double degree in Biomedical Science and Traditional Chinese Medicine in NTU (prestigious course, only about 75 people in per cohort), and my dad ignored me for 2 months. (But after a lot of talking and understanding, we became closer than before.)
Still, I applied to SMU and got into the ‘general’ degree – the degree that “people go into if they cannot go into any professional course”; the Bachelor of Business Management.
I gave up the pursuit of a professional degree for something ‘general’. Frightful as I was, I bit my lip, clenched my fists and marched into my entrepreneurial journey at SMU.
Meeting Pamela in my first TWC class was the second turning point of my life. Other than my mother, I have never ever met another woman that I look up so greatly to. She first taught me that a class didn’t have to be boring. Then she taught me that what was learnt in class, can be applied to whatever business that I wanted to do. She taught me that I didn’t have to conform to societal academic norms to get myself a good grade. Finally, she taught me that women have a place in the business world too.
Somewhere along the way in my life, I was ‘taught’ consciously or unconsciously that being a businesswoman/entrepreneur would usually mean that you’ll die a lonely old woman with nothing but money to your name. I’m exaggerating, but I’m sure you get my point.
While I believe that some sacrifices have to be made, but I also believe that a balance can be reached. And Pamela is the embodiment of all that. Five beautiful children, family, teaching job, mentoring, and investing all at the same time.
To say what I have learnt in Pamela’s Technological Entrepreneurship class, a single journal would not even begin to describe the revelations I had, happiness and joy at finding like-minded, inspirational peers and invaluable experience that I had gain under Pamela’s tutelage.
In my entrepreneurial journey, I meet new people everyday, new friends and get new inspirations. But I am still but a small fry relative to what I’ve set in my mind to achieve. Am I afraid? Of course I am. Almost everyday of my life. But I am also determined.
I may have just taken my very first baby step of my ‘stairway’ to success. I still do not know what lies ahead for me at the end of the road. But I do know that I still have a lot to learn and a lot to overcome. This is where I am grateful for Pamela’s patient guidance and supervision. Thank you for giving me opportunities and trusting in me. More importantly, thank you for giving me confidence in my own capabilities to achieve my dreams.
To my teammates, friends, and people that I met along the way. You know who you are. Thank you for allowing me to make mistakes, be myself, believing in me and motivate me when I need it. 🙂 I may not be the greatest leader or most successful businesswoman yet, but I will work my ass off to ensure that I reach there. And if you are still with me then, I’ll be sure to bring you to the top with me too.