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Navigating Career Priorities and Adversity: Insights from Mentorship Masterclass #2

Updated: May 1, 2023

Many of us are familiar with the unsettling feeling of uncertainty or fear as we navigate challenging situations in our lives and careers. During such times, seeking guidance from a trusted friend or advisor who has faced similar circumstances can provide invaluable counsel and comfort based on their own experiences.

In today's precarious economic climate, these anxieties are ever-present, making the support and mentorship of a trusted mentor even more valuable. The Mentorship Masterclass #2, a significant event for our current mentee cohort, offered a unique opportunity for participants to gain insights and wisdom from esteemed panelists. The panel featured distinguished leaders such as Sonia Gupta, Managing Director at Accenture; Winnie Chan, Founder and CEO of Bynd Artisan; and Ong Ai Hua, former Asia Pacific Company Group Chairman at Johnson & Johnson, who candidly shared their personal stories and advice.

A prominent theme that emerged from the session was the importance of understanding our own goals and interests, not only in our careers but also in our personal lives, and using these as guiding principles in the choices we make throughout our professional journeys. It's worth noting that gaining clarity about our aspirations, both professionally and personally, is an ongoing process that may evolve as we progress through different stages of life.

Developing patience with ourselves

While the expectation of achieving early success has become widespread in light of high-profile examples like Mark Zuckerberg's rapid rise with Facebook in his twenties, the mentors at the Mentorship Masterclass #2 urged participants to embrace their own unique journeys. Winnie, for instance, shared that she didn't start Bynd Artisan until her forties. The mentors highlighted the importance of not getting too fixated on a linear path to "success", but rather being open to new experiences and opportunities with enthusiasm. They emphasised that these varied experiences can help build valuable skills and knowledge that will serve us well in our careers, and that understanding our strengths and passions is crucial, as they provide us with the energy we need.

Throughout our careers, it's inevitable that we will encounter detours along the way. Some of these may be planned, such as taking on an exciting new opportunity, while others may be setbacks or hurdles that catch us off guard. Instead of getting discouraged, the mentors encouraged participants to give themselves permission to fail and view these experiences as valuable learning opportunities to better understand ourselves. These moments of setback can contribute to our overarching goal of finding our purpose in our professional lives.

Bringing energy and purpose to our work

Gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves, including what energises us and what depletes us, has another valuable benefit: it allows us to bring that energy to our work. This enables us to identify new opportunities that align with our interests and strengths, and gives us the motivation to wholeheartedly pursue these opportunities.

For those in leadership or management roles, having this internal compass is especially crucial. It enables us to recognise and nurture the strengths and interests of the individuals we lead, as Sonia shared during the Mentorship Masterclass #2. Helping others discover their unique superpowers is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

The advice shared by Ai Hua, to "live like it's your last day", may sound clichéd, but it carries profound insight. It reminds us to cherish the present moment and give our utmost effort at work, in order to derive the maximum value from our experiences. This perspective serves as a powerful reminder to approach our work with passion and purpose, making the most of every opportunity.

Balancing work and personal life

Finally, our careers hold significant importance in our lives, as we spend a substantial amount of our waking hours at work or thinking about work. However, we also have other priorities to juggle, such as friends, family, and personal passion projects. These priorities may require varying levels of attention at different times, and it's important to acknowledge that as humans, it's not always possible to give our all to every aspect simultaneously. Throughout our careers, there will be times when our work feels like our true calling, and other times when it's simply a means to support ourselves.

During the Mentorship Masterclass #2, the panelists candidly shared how challenging it can be to be fully present and professional at work when dealing with personal issues. However, they encouraged participants to do their best regardless, as others would notice the effort. They also highlighted the importance of confiding in trusted peers and supervisors for support and practicing self-care and self-awareness as key components of a sustainable career.

The Masterclass served as a timely reminder that in the face of adversity, escaping is not the solution. Embracing detours and reflecting on why something may not be working out can set us up for long-term success.

The YWLC expresses its deepest gratitude to the mentors for their candid and personal sharing of experiences and insights, as well as their frank advice. Appreciation is also extended to the mentee cohort of 2023/23 for their enthusiastic participation in the session.

Don't miss out on the chance to participate in an empowering mentorship experience. YWLC Mentorship Programme 2023/24 is currently accepting applications on a rolling basis. Apply now at before May 31st to join the next cohort of mentees and unlock new opportunities for growth, learning, and connection.


Organising Team: Eileen Teoh

Author: Allison Lee

Editor: Rachel Tan

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