career transitioner/ restarter
Learning & Development Specialist|Career Advisor,
National University of Singapore
(In her 40's)
Her story (in her own words)
I started my journey through science at 16, hoping to impact the world positively through scientific research. Ten years later, I obtained my Cell and Molecular Biology doctorate with a Dean's award from Roswell Park Cancer Centre, USA. I then embarked on drug discovery research at AstraZeneca India. However, a personal challenge (infertility) led to a career break. Following this, motherhood and relocation, I ventured back into science by transitioning into alternate careers including science communication and research administration.
However, I lacked guidance and direction on the way forward and upward in these new roles. In addition, I became aware of women’s struggles in the Science & Technology sector. The struggle to balance personal and professional aspirations, led to many women dropping off the STEM pipeline or finding it tough to break the glass ceiling and move into leadership roles. That was when my focus shifted from building solutions 'IN' science to building solutions 'FOR' people in science. I became an active proponent for women in science/STEM and ideated and co-led the first global Gender Summit in Singapore in 2019.
I also found my ikigai again after I turned 40 by reinventing myself as a speaker, leadership coach and educator specifically focused on people in science. Beyond my full-time job, I find fulfilment through supporting my peers in science to achieve their career aspirations
What sets me apart is my unconventional career transition journey, built through persistence, adaptability and a passion for making a difference. Due to my lateral career transitions (6 in total), I do not have a leadership title, yet I have demonstrated self-leadership and have navigated many challenging life situations. I have finally connected the dots after 40, made sense of my life events, and found my footing. I am finding immense fulfilment as a speaker, coach and trainer. Besides my professional journey, I am a mother of two young boys, authored an award-winning book- 'Roomies/Foodies', and have participated in a beauty pageant to break stereotypes about women in science. I have also co-authored a book in 2023 - Redefining the Rules. I have also won the 2022 Globant Techfluencer award. I believe versatility is my biggest strength, along with empathy and persistence.
At close to 45, I feel I have only begun :). I am privileged to work with the youth and help shape effective future leaders. Through my work, I envision an empowered science community that fosters an innovative and creative environment through exemplary leadership.
After going through an arduous journey trying to find my path after I went off track from a career in science due to a career break, I am elated and grateful to reconnect with myself after 10 years of soul searching, learning and reskilling through a career transition focused on helping others find their path and elevate themselves. Through my full-time job at NUS and volunteering, I continue to contribute to science by developing effective leaders in science through coaching, speaking and training.
This ability to connect the dots and make sense of the events in my life after 40 has been my greatest achievement.
Biggest challenge thus far
In 2009, I stepped out of a flourishing career in science, at the age of 29, due to a personal struggle with infertility and a desire to fully focus on my pursuit of motherhood. Though there were moments of sadness and darkness, I found joy and light through getting in touch with a creative side of mine that I never knew existed. This led to the writing and co-authoring of an award-winning book - Roomies/Foodies. Later this book became the key reason why I could make my first career transition within science as a science writer. However, I faced new challenges in my job with steep learning curves, two young children to take care of, exhaustion and fatigue and loss of confidence. This phase led me to voice out the challenges women in science face, lead the Gender Summit in Singapore in 2019, and also develop myself through learning and self-development.
My experience channeled a new passion and purpose to support other people's career journey and I started to train myself as a coach and speaker. These efforts started after I turned 40 and eventually led me to a full-fledged career transition from science into Coaching, Learning and development at 42.