Investment banker turned purpose-finder, lifelong learner and entrepreneur
It only dawned upon me during my second year working at a reputable and inspiring investment bank (full of talented, kind and crazy-smart people) that I had no idea who I was. I had majored in Philosophy at Georgetown University and had been trained to think critically on every aspect including my being. I found myself doing just the opposite. Where was my “psychological gymnastics” as Professor Nancy Sherman would say? Nowhere to be found.
I remember sitting in my mentor’s office discussing Camus’s The Stranger (the French version, of course) when he abruptly interrupted me, saying something:
"Why are you even here? You are not meant for finance. Go and fly."
I remember contemplating if I had finished my tasks of the day but later realized he was referring to something bigger.
All around me I saw similar existential questions mainly at night. In the morning, I saw no one doing anything about it. After two years at any corporate-level job, most of my friends resonated – they shouted through endless banter and long nights to control the emptiness: what is our purpose?
That conversation with my mentor was the most important piece of advice, and in hindsight led me to where I am today. Quitting meant crossing comfort zones into boxes of discomfort, struggle, newness and most importantly – enjoying that process.
I spent some time in Asia trying to learn about how we are wired, acquiring accurate self-awareness and how to make the process permanent – maybe even translatable into a career one day.
I wish I could say it was reading a book that gave me the ‘aha’ moment but it was even simpler than that. Honesty.
I was honest with myself about what I enjoyed: I started helping students with an emphasis on holistic education. After a few months, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
That led me to starting Ascend Now in Singapore, which does just that: helps students discover their purpose. We support students globally across Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and the US.
Our main focus with students extends beyond test scores and results; it is founded upon the premise that learning about oneself is the most useful knowledge one can acquire.
Only then does the world really open, and you can fly.
Founder & CEO of Ascend Now