When I was nine years old, my teacher started a mini library at school and my friend Alicia and I were entrusted with running it. I turned it into a whole operation where we charged a fine for late returns! Suffice to say, we were found out and promptly reprimanded.
Around the same time, I joined the brownies (cub scouts) and as I graduated into secondary school, I embraced the Girl Guides. I made Patrol Leader two full years ahead of my entire cohort.
Looking back, I realise that I always wanted to shine, stand out (it’s the Capricorn in me) but I never wanted it alone. It was always with the intention of having a tribe alongside me, next to me – a reflection of wanting the greater good, a deeply rooted tenet of my Asian values.
My husband says I collect projects everywhere we go – people I help through mentoring be it formally or otherwise. For as long as memory serves me, I’ve always found it gratifying to help others – the mentor in me was born long before I was even aware.
Stepping into your leader role isn’t always easy. I once had to give rather harsh feedback to a counselee of mine – contrary to everyone else’s opinion. I was confronted by multiple people in a bid to soften my comments.
She’s now a senior executive at Sony. We learned from it and she even got the little details right, down to drafting my emails with a signature small letter n for Natasha. I live for those transformations.
Sometimes you give in to servant leadership too much and inadvertently allow others to take advantage of you. What saddens me most about that is how often it’s done by other women. I personally feel we have a moral code to do good to and for each other.
A colleague I once coached, down to building her project plans, proofreading countless emails and introducing her to my network sabotaged my friendship with her as a springboard to building an inroad with a fellow colleague. That hurts me still today.
For me, the defining moment in my career came serendipitously when I moved to Scotland in 2013. Suddenly, I was jobless (by choice) for the third time in my life but I knew it’d be different this time around because I was never going back to the corporate rat race.
I couldn’t hide behind the success of my 20-year corporate career anymore and without that, who was I? I had no idea how I wanted to show up in the world anymore.
My husband encouraged me to explore every option I wanted and I’m thankful for this blessing everyday.
So I travelled extensively. I even went to Kathmandu alone and lived out my personal eat-pray-love story. I started a line of clutch bags using Harris tweed, tartan and vegan leather. I even did a masters of science degree (which I ended up loathing).
Through this winding journey, I realised that I missed the people – the women I surrounded myself with.
I had time to process my consulting career and realised how hard and how different promotion to senior leadership was for women.
At my old firm, the men were primed for promotion in their privileged boys’ clubs while women often waited. The biases and unspoken rules were different for us.
I was sick of that.
That’s how The Careereist was born.
I want to show women who feel they’ve come to a cross-roads in their careers, how to harness their executive presence, to emphasise both their fierce, masculine and emphatic, feminine leadership personas.
I want women to radiate a power glow from deep within.
My entrepreneurial journey has also taught me so much about starting and running a digital, online business.
It feels like daily, I’m reading about women who crush it in their startups but that hasn’t been my journey from the get go. I’ve chosen a deeply analytical path to discovering what works versus simply going with the flow of getting things done.
Women don’t share their stories and experiences about failure enough for fear of judgement and being type cast.
For 18-months, I blew through £50K on things I thought were helping me build my business when in reality, I was like everyone else, just drinking from an overflowing fire hose of options – each with a slightly better promise than the one before.
So I did what I do best and I distilled that entire journey – the pain, tears, questions, triumphs in building a digital business into a detailed value chain where women can then build their own unique business lifecycles within.
This is my story. This is my time. This is my legacy.
At the end of the day, I think back to how I’ll answer the question of “what do you do, mamma?” when my two-year old daughter, Ava, asks me.
This is what runs through my head when I stroke and kiss her as she falls asleep each night. How do I share my legacy of giving back, paying it forward for all the amazing mentors I’ve had, of how important it is to own your story, to stand in your power even when no one is watching.
This is what drives my vision for The Careerist – to build a better future so women are part of the majority statistics – senior leaders, funded businesses and sustainable startups. I vow to keep the power glow going for us and all our daughters in this female sisterhood.
Join our free community of female powerhouses, The Careeristas today.