Monday, October 12, 2009

Time for a change? Your are not alone....

Numerous times, over and over again, there is always something on and off about trying to change, such as to change jobs, careers and even way of life. For better or worse. It is not easy to change the course of life, especially when age and commitments can become hurdles.

I have been fortunate to make drastic changes in terms of careers few times over. Since 20 years ago, I have been moving around in terms of professional careers. Equipped with a degree in computer science and mathematics (operation research & methods), I have a colourful CV indeed, including a failed entrepreneur along the way. Life is a learning process, I cannot imagine to do the same monotonous job all over again.

I dare to take some risks as well as given opportunities by the bosses to explore new roles which I had not even imagined before. Last 10 years, I have ventured into broadcasting (satellite), telecommunication, engineering (civil, electrical, water, district cooling, utilities), urban planning, infrastructure development, project management and strategic planning.

Nowadays, it is a brand new challenges, new environment, new circle of friends and new level of satisfaction.....alhamdulillah.

Still, I would like love to become a full-time writer.....

This picture taken by Yahaya. On the way to Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury, New Zealand.
September 2009 while touring Christchurch.

If you’re fed up at work and fancy a new job it turns out you’re not alone, writes Eve Dugdale

Waiting to collect friends at the airport you constantly look at your watch knowing you need to get to bed and sleep before yet another tough day at work.

Worrying about the tricky project you’re handling at the office, you watch absent-mindedly as cabin crew dash past chatting and laughing on their way to board a flight to some exotic location.

Wondering what it would be like to do their job instead, you begin to curse your 9 to 5.

Come on, we’ve all experienced moments like this.

Even the most dedicated employee has times when they wish they could swap jobs if only for one day.

But according to a recent survey, a shocking 94 per cent of the UAE’s professionals would love to give up their jobs, re-invent themselves and start a brand new career.

The poll, conducted on job web site, reveals half the region’s employees would love to start a new career but they don’t know how to go about it, while another quarter said they would love to start a new career - and fully intend to.

Money, however, is an obstacle to starting a brand new career: ten per cent said that while they want to, they can’t afford to.

Furthermore, six per cent said the obstacle to starting a new career is that they feel too old, while four per cent said it is too unrealistic. Only six per cent of the region’s professionals said they do not wish to start a new career.

The survey, completed by just over 29,500 people, sought to understand from employees whether they are considering a change in their career path and the main drivers behind that change.

Laura, 34, a PR executive from the UK says she would love to try her hand at something more artistic.

But unlike the majority who took part in the survey, it’s family expectations rather than money affecting her choice of career.

She says: “I was the first in my family to go to university so for me to give up my education to pursue a career in art, which is still regarded as not a stable career to my parents’ generation, would be a big risk.”.

Laura says she can believe the findings of the survey as changing careers is a subject she often discusses with her friends.

“Many of them have been talking about trying different jobs recently - I think it may have something to do with the credit crunch and the idea that people want something more when they can’t have it.

“People know they can’t really give up their jobs because employment is harder to obtain nowadays so it’s almost like they feel denied and want it even more.”

Scandinavian, Em, who works as cabin crew says she took the job for the adventure of travelling but says it’s no longer fun.

“Because of the economic crisis, the company is pushing us more and we’re becoming unhappy,” she says. “I have a degree in tourism and I’d like to do a job related to that but the problem here in Dubai is that it’s not that easy because the salaries in that field are quite low so I’ll either have to leave or do something completely different.”

Natalie Gillam, an executive coach from NG Coaching, says she works with many people who have become unhappy at work.

She warns managers they need to be careful they don’t lose talented staff.

“Throughout the past year, many businesses have been extremely reactive to the crisis, focusing on trimming costs and protecting assets and in the process, leaving talented, innovative employees with their hands tied, asking ‘why am I here if I can’t do what I was originally employed to do?” she explains.

“The most talented people are the ones most likely to be unhappy, bored and dissatisfied at this time, when budget cuts mean that they cannot do things which enable them to feel as if they are really making a difference.

“They are also the ones that are most likely to be snapped up by other companies.”

Should you be moving on?
Natalie says it’s important for those desiring a career change to understand their motivation.

She says those considering moving on should ask themselves the following questions to help them assess whether they should be handing in their notice…

* What stage of your life are you at? Does the job you went for when you were single still suit you at the stage of life you are at now?

* Are you bored or is your job challenging enough? If not, talk to senior management and see if they can set you some new tasks.

* Consider economic factors. Perhaps the industry you work in has been left a bit shaky after the crisis or maybe your job is stalling because of new technology?

Which field has a better outlook?

* Is your work affecting your health? Are you experiencing job burn out? Do you feel overworked and stressed out? Is it all worth it?

Can the Arab world learn from China?

Coincidentally, I am now 'working' together with a China-state company, part of one of the biggest conglomerates in the world. The huge and complex networks or chains of the companies within the group somehow very much part of learning experience.

Malaysians with our mixed environment can be the bridge between the Arab and the Chinese. It is an opportunity to bridge the gap, even though, historically, Arab and Chinese have been in business since thousand years.

Different cultures and ways, challenges in communication are not obstacles in doing business. Process of adapting and understanding each other can be stressful. Everyone has his/her own weaknesses, strengths and we have to bear with some characters or attitude.

At the end of the day is the bottom line, can we deliver?

Can the Arab world learn from China?

Poverty eradication, unity and good governance are values which this part of the world would do well to adopt

  • BY Patrick Seale, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 October 9, 2009

  • Image Credit: Nino Jose heredia/ Gulf News

Anyone surfing the net, watching TV or reading newspapers this past week could not fail to have been impressed by the grandiose celebrations on October 1 of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Rarely in modern history has the birthday of a state been commemorated with such splendid pageantry and overwhelming pride.

‘China has stood up!' the Communist leader Mao Zedong declared in 1949, when he finally routed his nationalist opponents. His triumphant phrase echoed round the world. Today, after six decades in power, China's Communist Party bosses could legitimately go one better. They might proudly say, ‘China stands tall.'

Is there anything the Arab world can learn, and perhaps emulate, from the ‘Chinese miracle'?

It may be that China's most extraordinary success has been to limit its population to around 1.3 billion by insisting on a harsh one-child policy. Only a strong state, able to enforce strict discipline on its citizens, could have implemented such a policy. The contrast with the over-crowded Arab world is striking.

When Jamal Abdul Nasser and his Free Officers seized power in Egypt in 1952 there were only 18 million Egyptians. Today there are 80 million. Any visitor to Cairo cannot fail to notice the great weight of population. One unfortunate consequence is that Egypt today has to import 50 per cent of the grain it needs. Egypt is not alone in wrestling with the curse of overpopulation. The same is true for Algeria, Syria, Yemen, and indeed for almost every Arab country.

China is not a democracy, as the word is understood in the West. It remains under tight one-party rule. President Hu Jintao, the country's chief executive, is secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But nor is China any longer a Communist state in any accepted sense of the word.

It embraced market capitalism 30 years ago in the late 1970s, freeing its people to work where they want, to travel overseas, to buy property, to build businesses, to trade and make money in every possible way — and to spend it as they please.

How does this compare with the Arab world? Like China, many Arab countries are under the rule of a dominant political party. But have Arab talents and energies been freed? One can hardly say so. On the contrary, all too often they are stifled by petty regulations, incompetent or corrupt bureaucrats, and the sort of ‘croney capitalism', which allows those close to power to benefit, while others struggle to survive.

Undoubtedly, the greatest achievement of modern China has been to lift some 400 million people out of poverty within one generation. Here lies the Chinese Communist Party's real claim to the people's loyalty and its most important single source of legitimacy.

After Mao's death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping was the Chinese leader who unleashed China's extraordinary potential by loosening the state's hold on the economy. Writing in the International Herald Tribune on October 1 this year, Zhang Wei-Wei — who was Deng's senior English interpreter in the mid-1980s — claimed that China's enormous success was due to the government's focus on eradicating poverty. This, he argued, was the most fundamental of all human rights, more important than the civil and political rights on which the West has tended to focus. How does the Arab world compare with this achievement? All too often Arab leaders ignore the civil and political rights of their citizens, but — unfortunately — they have neglected poverty eradication as well. Although authoritarian, even dictatorial, the Communist Party has given China skilled, sound and effective governance. A massive stimulus package has allowed the country to surmount the current global economic and financial crisis. While much of the rest of the world floundered, China achieved 8 per cent growth this year — after averaging an amazing 10 per cent growth every single year over the past two decades.

Massive forex reserves

The figures speak for themselves. At $2,100 billion (Dh7,715 billion), China's foreign exchange reserves are the largest in the world. Its major companies are scouring the world for access to raw materials and to sources of energy in Venezuela, Brazil, Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Angola and Nigeria. Moreover, having long since developed higher education and embraced the IT revolution, China is now leading the world in the search for renewable sources of energy, such as solar power. It is the world's biggest manufacturer of solar panels.

Next year China is expected to outstrip Japan as the world's second-largest economy after the United States. It seems set to overtake Japan as the largest motor-vehicle manufacturer. A Chinese company, BYD, the world leader in electric vehicles, plans to start selling all-electric sedans in the US next year. In fact, by switching from internal combustion engines to alternative fuel vehicles, China is pioneering an attempt to leapfrog an entire generation of technology. Economically, China could well outstrip the US itself within a decade.

Of course all is not rosy in that vast country. There are doubts whether China's rapid growth rate is sustainable, and whether — as export markets dry up — it might not result in dangerous overcapacity in steel, cement and chemicals. Millions of casual workers have lost their jobs and been forced to make their way back to the countryside. The large apparatus of the Communist Party is by no means free from corruption and influence-peddling. This past summer, riots by Uighurs in China's western most province of Xinjiang have damaged the image of cultural harmony which the authorities have sought to propagate.

Such blemishes apart, there is much the Arab world can learn from China's remarkable experience, and especially the priority it has given to poverty eradication. But it is not the only aspect of the Chinese miracle to admire. Discipline, education, hard work, unity, pride in their ancient civilisation, an enthusiastic embrace of modern technology, good governance, and above all nationalism, these are also virtues and values which the Arabs would do well to adopt.

Patrick Seale is a commentator and author of several books on Middle East affairs.