20 Jul How Career Coaching Enabled My Career Progression
Over the course of 25 years, I built an illustrious career after starting as a mechanical engineer with Nokia. During those 25 years, I worked in several countries and had the opportunity to take on greater professional responsibilities and higher-level executive work. For instance, in my most recent overseas assignment before deciding to return to Singapore, I was the general manager of the Shanghai office of a U.S firm that specialised in industrial design.
Having spent over ten years working abroad, the idea of working in Singapore again was rather daunting because I didn’t have a group of telecommunications R&D professionals, who are necessary for me to move onto my next career path. When my friends knew that I was back in Singapore looking for opportunities, they sought my participation in their business ventures.
Even though I wasn’t short of options, I wasn’t sure which to choose.
Career Coaching helped me Solve my Dilemma
I came to know of the R.A.C.E Program from a career fair, where I met Dayal, my career coach whom I credit for taking my career to new heights.
After striking a short conversation with him, I sensed that he had the relevant expertise and was in a position to understand the difficulty I faced in making my next career move. I decided to sign up for the Centre of Career Excellence’s R.A.C.E program because apart from the masterclasses on people management and leadership, I saw how career coaching would be instrumental to the progression of my career.
Reflecting back, one of the main highlights of the R.A.C.E program was definitely the coaching component. Career coach, Dayal, had shown to be highly capable in helping me understand my strengths and weaknesses, and was also very knowledgeable about the IT industry.
In my first session with Dayal, we defined the course of the following sessions to effectively resolve my dilemma. We also formed a plan with specific goals; Within six months, I was to take the necessary actions to either look for a job compatible with my strengths, or join one of the business ventures offered by my friends.
The first part of the plan got me to think through my priorities and rank them according to their importance. Then I was to consider what my strengths and weaknesses were and how I could best harness them to increase the probability of success. It was after Dayal’s careful evaluation of my competencies in the first couple of months that we finally agreed that returning to the telecommunications product design industry was the best choice for me.
The results from our coaching sessions were almost immediate. Just three months into the R.A.C.E program, I was offered the position of technical advisor with Comeit Inc, an international product design company. I can’t help but think that the one-to-one coaching sessions with Dayal made an incredible difference to my career.
But as I was celebrating my good fortunes, Dayal was quick to notice that my potential to contribute to the company was being undervalued. He then offered advice on how I could negotiate for a better position. And after acting on Dayal’s advice, Comeit Inc maintained its offer of employment, only this time it was for the role of director of product.
I Learned Important Workplace Skills
Apart from coaching, the program had many other commendable merits. Namely, the Leadership & People Management (LPM) modules. I am now more efficient and effective at work because I have learned how to communicate more effectively with people inside and outside of the company.
As the world is evolving quicker than before, so should our style of communication, because businesses are often conducted by people. I used to assume that everyone should think and behave the same. But after going through the program modules, I am now more aware about the differences among people and know how to accommodate these diversities while being sensitive to their needs and habits.
How I Successfully Applied my New Knowledge to Resolve a Difficult Situation
There was a time when I applied what I had learned from one of the LPM modules entitled “Conflict Management” to a difficult situation that I encountered during work.
It was during the last day of a business trip to China, when my supervisor suddenly decided that we should meet with four of our suppliers instead of the initial plan for two. Upon being notified of his decision, I made calls to the other two suppliers which we had not scheduled with earlier, but these calls were left unanswered.
I had initially thought of explaining that our business schedule was already set and it would not be possible to spread the time between four suppliers, but if I were to just blurt out what I thought without first attempting to resolve this issue between my supervisor’s goals with the limited time we had, it would sound too much like an excuse. I had to focus on what I could do to achieve a win-win situation for everyone.
After some research on the available modes of transport, the amount of traveling time between suppliers and the length of time required for discussions, I quickly made amendments to the scheduled meetings’ agendas without compromising on our goals. This would give us sufficient time to make the unannounced visits within the time available.
Thankfully, we were able to accommodate all four meetings without any issue as the first 2 meetings concluded within the time set. We were also fortunate enough that our long-standing relationship with two of our uninformed hosts granted us an audience without an appointment.
While I wouldn’t say that it was very difficult, the immediate nature of the situation was a challenge as I had to be sensitive to the suppliers interests as well as our own especially when it came to editing the terms of the meeting agendas without having the time to consult them first all while balancing the task of convincing my supervisor of my proposed revisions.
Honestly, I don’t think I could have done a better job if I hadn’t learned how to apply the template for effective conflict management that made the resolution of this matter so quick.
RACE and Career Coaching helped me get Career Direction and Clarity
I found the R.A.C.E. program to be highly beneficial for me. As a result of the program, I gained the career direction I sought while gaining the relevant knowledge that till today, I still find myself applying in my everyday work as director of product.
Not only did I learn valuable lessons about leadership and people management, I also developed an enhanced clarity in terms of my priorities and strengths from the coaching sessions with Dayal. Before the R.A.C.E program, and in particular, Dayal’s one-on-one coaching, I was confused and misguided, but now, I am truly happy and satisfied with my career direction.
“How RACE and Career Coaching Enabled My Career Progression”
as narrated by Thomas Tang, written by Ignatius Mah.