If you’d asked me at the start of the year if I could envision myself returning home to Singapore to work, the answer could almost be an unequivocal, not yet. Much as I was starting to think about leaving Chicago, and for that matter, the U.S., for a new job, the thought of going home so soon honestly wasn’t an appealing one. Why limit myself, was my thought, when I had the rest of the world to explore? Indeed, I am envious every time I learn about someone else heading to a new city or country to work.
So thoughts about going back to Singapore wasn’t on my mind when I started to update my resume early March, until a phone call from my mum just as I was boarding a plane to head down to Florida for a conference. Out of the blue, she asked if I would be willing to return to help my dad with his business, particularly since he was thinking of bringing the company public. Now, over the years, my parents have repeatedly – and tirelessly – asked about my returning home, but never had they asked me directly to work for my dad. A tad taken aback, I only protested and said that I would consider the offer if he had a concrete position for me with responsibilities that fit my skills. The seed had been planted. A week later, over the phone with my aunt (she heads the company’s finance department), she dangled the same opportunity. Once again, I pushed it away by arguing that he didn’t have a suitable position for available for me in the engineering firm. Another week passed, and then my dad called, and a long conversation ensued. And, to cut the long story short (because it’s getting quite tiresome rehashing my convoluted and conflicted thoughts and emotions), I finally decided to accept the offer.
So yes, I will be moving back to Singapore; I will be working for my dad; and I will be once again living in my parents’ home. It feels a little weird writing that, “my parents’ home,” but in truth, after seven years of staying on my own, and in a country where people who move home to live with their parents after college are actually looked down upon, it will be disconcerting having to abide once again by someone else’s rules. In fact, when I talked about completely renovating my old room (with my own money of course), my dad quickly vetoed a complete makeover, stating that I had to adhere to the existing aesthetics of “his home.” Oh well, so no stripping away the platform bed to make room for a king-size bed I guess. But in strange way, I’m appreciative of his distinction of the house being “his” and not “ours” because it belies the fact that he recognizes I’m now my own person, and not anymore a kid who gets to take everything for granted. It’ll make things easier too; he can’t grumble and ask why I don’t “go home or stay home or treats the place like a hotel”… heh. And yes, I have thought about moving out on my own, but I think that real estate prices in Singapore are way out of whack at the moment and I might rather hoard my cash to pursue business opportunities if they occur.
So why the decision? Truth be told, I’ve always felt guilty about the fact that my dad has toiled long and hard to build up the company from scratch only to have to face selling it in his old age because his kids weren’t interested in taking over. I had always hoped that my brother would one day ease my guilt and decide to take over, but I guess I can’t just put the onus on someone else. It’s a thought that’s always plagued me: the desire to become my own person and pursue my own dreams and the responsibility of a daughter to return to help out the family. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s not a choice that I have the right to feel bitter about. It’s not as if I have to abandon my ambitious dreams to change to world or put my life on hold while I return home to take care of my ailing parents; thank goodness they are both spry and healthy. Because in of itself, it is an excellent career opportunity – I will be helping with business development, a role that no one currently fulfils, as the company seeks to expand into a few new business areas, at home and abroad. While it certainly is a departure from my current position as an equity research analyst, it’s definitely an area I would be interested in moving towards since I wasn’t intending on analyzing stocks forever. Ultimately, my decision rested on the fact that I believe the position will help round out my skills scope and offer an excellent opportunity to learn the entrepreneurial ropes.
I believe I’m at the core an adaptable and optimistic person, so once I made the decision, I have been working hard to dispel the negative thoughts of moving back to Singapore. For the most part, I’ve been pretty successful. I’m already looking forward to the challenges of a new job, and make no mistake, it will not be easy working as the boss’s daughter. It helps too, to think about not having to suffer through Panda Express for lunch every other day – fishball noodles! Chicken rice! Zai mi fen! And while I will no doubt miss my activity filled life here in Chicago, with friends I see not just once but a few times every week, I have already started trying to pad up a new life in Singapore. Although I currently do not have any Chuck, Bruce, or Jeff in Singapore who share my varied interests like wine, climbing, and the opera, I believe I will be able to, at the very least, find separate groups of friends to partake those activities. To that end, I’m super psyched that Vincent has also been bitten by the climbing bug and we’re starting to plan a climbing and kayaking trip to Krabi, Thailand, for sometime in December. Hehe!