It has been two months since my wife started her new job in a completely new industry. This is after almost two decades in the MICE or related industry. Her new role is in digital and real estate. For more on the background, you can refer to earlier articles below.
So far, she is very happy and have little complains in her new job. Her direct/dotted-line bosses are all very “humane”, easy to talk to, reasonable in their demands, and work hard themselves to earn respect. Colleagues give similar feedback about the bosses, and this is good assurance. I consider her ex-boss as “mentally ill freak”, who has no capability but makes unreasonable demands. Therefore, in my view, this is the most significant improvement.
Transition from a smaller to a larger MNC also means more exposures to trainings and more cross-country dealings. This often translate to tele-meetings before sunrise or after sunset. No matter what, it will never be as bad as her previous job where she may have to work up to 18-20 hours a day until 2-3am (no joke), during days of events.
Despite the many odd hours call now, she is flexible to plan her own 8-hour work day, and can go offline early or start later, without anyone micro-managing her, as long as the job is done diligently.
Products and industry are new, and hence a lot of reading is necessary outside office hours. This is something she has not done for years, so needs time to learn and adapt! The in-house training helps! It equipped her with product knowledge and familiarize her with company culture quickly, and also allows her to know more people within the organization quickly.
Colleagues, as like the previous job, are so far nice to her. And fortunately that up to now, there isn’t excessive workplace politics to bemoan about. Clients are from different industry, but not a concern. This is because her previous job requires a lot of interactions with clients in diverse industry from all nationalities globally.
While all is good so far, she still has much to learn and still require time to settle down.
THE CORE BUSINESS SKILLS WILL NOT CHANGE
Initially, my wife is worried to transit into a new industry. From my own experience, I told her not to worry. While my industrial background is Marine/Offshore Oil and Gas, there are many times, that I need to venture into other industries. The business and people management skills are not so much different. Most important of all, is to have the correct attitude!
After starting her new job, my wife told me that the coordination aspect, whether internal (colleagues) or external (clients) is more or less the same. The planning and the scheduling, and the dealing with multiple parties and get things aligned before executing is also more or less the same. The only thing that has more challenge is the product knowledge, but it can be easily familiarised with more reading, more talking to relevant people and more work on job execution.
Hence, despite the new industry, correlation from previous job is probably still say fifty per cent.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
People who have an open and positive mindset to receive and learn new things will definitely have a better edge than those who are negative, pessimistic, and always complain, worry, lament, speak ill of others etc.
The “Attitude” must be; to learn, to take action, to fail, to gain experience, to improve the next time we take action again. And repeat this process until you become better and better.
The right attitude definitely helps to transit into a new industry better and faster.
LEARN NEW KNOWLEDGE
What is the most unfamiliar in a new industry, is likely the market, product and customer knowledges! These knowledges are important to have, whether you are in frontline, operation or backend support employees.
For instance, I have known HR, Finance or IT personnel who have totally no clue what the company is selling, what is the company turnover or how many employees the company have, and who their major clients are, even if this information can be readily found online or within the intranet. This is so wrong!
Having good market, customer and product knowledge in the shortest possible time will help you to settle down faster and accelerate your career progress. Beside company training, reading up online outside office hours is a must! Yet, even this extra effort can only give you surface knowledge and not in-depth ones.
GOOD INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
Aside from self-reading and researching, the fastest way to learn new knowledge is by conversing with experienced people who have good knowledge in the same field. It can be your superior, subordinates, colleagues, customers, suppliers or business associates.
To begin in a new industry and settle down fast, the effort to read extensively is very important! Then you need to ask relevant questions and listen, and learn from colleagues, clients or suppliers on the job. To know the market, the fastest way is to know your customers well, be close to them and serve them well.
Good interpersonal and communication skills leading to the ability to establish good relationships and friendships across all stakeholders are key elements of success in a company!
The country of origin of my wife’s previous company and her new company is the same. This helps in the transition! Both have international offices in the same countries she dealt with previously. Hence, there are a lot of similarity in terms of mindset, the pace of work and communication.
No culture shock for her!
SME vs MNC
Sometimes, transition from local SME to MNC or vice versa can be more difficult than the transition to a new industry.
Most, (but not all) local SME employers are very cost conscious and wanted maximum output from an employee with minimum input to the benefits of the employee. And no matter if the market is good or bad, working hours is usually longer. That being said, you may have more chance to do cross-department duties and learn more. You are also more likely to have direct contact with the company head. Decision making is also generally faster and company can be more flexible towards their business partners.
In most MNC, you will encounter matrix organization with direct and dotted line reporting. There can be constant organizational changes. Don’t be surprise that your subordinate can suddenly become your boss or vice versa! And to make a single decision, you have to discuss with many parties to be aligned and approval is slow. Apt in corporate politics and interpersonal relationship skills are part and parcel of promotion and survival.
Europe Vs US
Most of us know that there is a big difference between Asia to Europe/US companies’ cultures. But not many are aware of the big cultural differences between European and American firms.
European firms are generally more traditional and conservative. They prefer to focus on their core-business and core-expertise, rather than randomly pursue businesses “where the money is”. Europeans also like to plan way ahead of time and hate last minute arrangements. They also prefer to hire those within the same industry and who have worked for companies in the same country of origin. Typically, you can easily find staffs being 20, 30, or even 40 years in the company. Europeans also tend to be more biased towards their own countrymen and for employees who has worked a long time with them. And yes, there is work-life balance!
American culture is different. In general (I think), they are more dynamic and pace is faster, although they can be less organised at times and have more last-minute meetings. Workhours are longer and they are very results and figures driven! If you perform, you get rewarded accordingly. If you don’t, out you go. Hire and fire is commonplace. Age is no barrier for promotion or assuming big roles. Loyalty without performance offers no safety net! American firms also have lesser qualms hiring people outside the industry to stimulate creativity.
My wife is definitely lucky to find a new job so fast during this unprecedented time. It is “double blessings” that she has transited well in her new job for the last two months.
To me, I also feel that the finally change of luck now is perhaps also due to her ability to endure, preserve and overcome “bad luck” in her previous jobs for close to two decades. Back then, while she encountered more unfair bosses, unfair demands, unfair workhours, and unfair remunerations, she has little complains, and always just do her jobs.
It is me who always complain about her jobs and gave ultimatum for her to resign and find new opportunity.
Afterall, life is not all unfair.
Your so called “bad luck now” maybe is because you have been lucky for a long time already, and you probably fail to notice or just take it for granted. And your so called “good luck” now is perhaps you have already suffered and work hard without complaints for a long time, and the “wind of change” has finally come!