Sep 17, 2010
I Wish you Love...
A post dedicated to my Forever Boss, Miss Ong Su-Chzeng. A lady who till today, earns my deepest respect for being boss and friend and confidante.
There is so many things I could write about her and how she inspires me but I am just sharing some thoughts here. And photos of my time as her staff.
My friendship started with Su in the year 1995. She was the Regional Director for Publications in JF Tokyo. And was to leave Tokyo to start a new division in Singapore's office. She interviewed me over the phone. Read about her again here.
Su has high expectations of me and my work with Publications. But she was also like any loving mother who nurtures her child to the fullest potential. Working for her meant long hours in the office. She would expect me to start my day at 8:30am and go home by 8pm. In the beginning, it was difficult to juggle my time as a career woman and to be a wife to Benny and a mother to Natasha. We had no maid working for us back then.
Su taught me many life skills which at the time I was working for her, I found to be too intimidating but now, I realised she was moulding me to what I am today.
She would send me off to our Asian offices in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, and also Indonesia. I travelled frequently to these countries to access the work flow. And all these time, I travelled alone. I had to learn the local language(some how), figure my way around the local transport system in that country and find my way to and fro the office and to the hotel I was staying. Su allows a day or 2 extended in my business trip each time. So I could go shopping, unwind and enjoy the company with the office staff outside working hours.
She used to tell me :
"Gina, work is important. During office hours, we WORK WORK WORK! But after office hours, cast off your work shoes and hats and let your hair down. Go and drink, have fun and enjoy the company of new friends!"
She taught me how to drink for business and for pleasure. But I usually don't drink at any business meeting. She taught me what to say and how to say in meetings with 'serious' officials.
I remembered my first maiden trip to Hong Kong. I was literally scared of my wits because I have NEVER travelled alone. Somehow, Su senses that. She booked a flight on the same plane with me. Told me the day before we leave :
"Gina, I am on the same plane with you to Hong Kong. But I will be in the Business Class, you are at the Economy Class. When we land, you go your way, I go mine. I will be staying at Furama Hotel and you will be staying at the Esceislor Hotel"
In a subtle way, she is watching me from afar. Some people find this an intrusion of privacy, others would have felt that the boss is not trusting her staff to do the job. But to me, I find this most encouraging. Here is Su, standing at a distance..watching and waiting. If I needed help, she's nearby, like a stone's throw away. In a reassuring way, her presence made me feel so much at ease.
At work in the Hong Kong's Jardine House, it was all work and no play. All too business like. But after that, she would chase me out of the office and say :
"Gina, go and figure out the MTR and find your way back to the hotel. I will meet you at 7pm at my hotel's lobby and we will go for dinner together"
I remembered in the next trip I made to Hong Kong a few months later, Su would make me change hotels in a matter of 2 days. Why? So I learn what to say to the hotel staff who are trying so hard to please me to make me stay back. Telling white lies here and there. Sometimes we need to lie a bit here and there. But lies that are said shouldn't get people into big trouble or problems.
I never could understand the rationale of changing hotels. Why make yourself comfortable in one and next day, you have to pack up and leave for another hotel further down the one you are staying? Only to find out years later when we were on a holiday in Genting Highlands, we had to change hotels due to run-down, poorly run or disorganised tour agency who took us for a ride!
My time in Jardine Fleming was 42 months or slightly over 3 years. When I tendered my resignation, Su had mixed feelings. Because one part of her wants to wish me success, another part of her wanted me to stay on. The year I left JF was also the years for many "Bear Runs" in the Stock and shares industry. She was tasked by our HQ to pick people to retrench and she had a talk with me and ask me to help her to choose who should go.
We sat down, and run through the short-listed personnel. And couldn't decide who should go. Because everyone was important to the department.
In the end, I offered to leave. And I gave her the excuse that Benny was earning well and he could support me. Though I was about to give birth to Melody, I needed to have an extra income too. I told her I could easily find jobs anywhere, its only whether I would want to work or not. An act of courage, Su thought I was being too modest and she started calling all the software companies to take me as their staff.
It is through this, she found a job for me. After my maternity leave, I would work at Quark Media House..the company that distributes Quark Xpress software in the region. I met my Irish Boss who heard so much about me from Su. And all he was interested in was how Melody look like, asking me for photographs of little Melody.
Like a chip off the old block, I would think that my Irish boss was like Su when she first interview me. She only ask about Natasha and photos of her. And everything outside work, just only interested to find out more about me!
I knew for sure, this is the place I should work after Su, after JF.
The day I left JF was a sad day in JF. Su and I couldn't bring ourselves to say Good Bye to each other. We were moping around in the office. The office staff thought she was cold towards me , after all, she often praise me in front of everyone.
The next day, Su went into the office, at 8:45am. The time she would often be in the office. Jennifer, our department's secretary would put her cup of coffee there..warmed for her. But somehow, Su felt it was cold, not the coffee. But her desk was empty. And she would often looked up and across the room and she would see me sitting at my desk. But I wasn't there. Not anymore.
It suddenly dawned on her that I was gone from the office. Su rang me later that day just to tell me this:
"Gina, my desk is empty. You always knew when I was sad and you always surprise me with little things. Now you are no longer here with me. How am I to go thru every day..."
It was the start of my long emails to her. Every other day, I would send her an email about life, about things and we kept in contact all these years. My friends wondered why I kept in contact with my ex bosses..all of which ended up as good friends. I believe that when you work someone, you don't just work for money or to gain experience. But along the way, you should find a friend in the many many streams in your life.
In one of the many inspirational notes I used to write to Su, this was one of her all time favourites.
I have in my hands two boxes
Which God gave me to hold
He said, “Put all your sorrows in the black,
And all your joys in the gold.”
I heeded his words, and in the two boxes
Both my joys and sorrows I store
But though the gold became heavier each day
The black was as light as before
With curiosity, I opened the black
I wanted to find out why
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole
Which my sorrows had fallen out by
I showed the hole to God, and mused aloud,
“I wonder where my sorrows could be.”
He smiled a gentle smile at me.
"My child, they're all here with me."
I asked,"God, why give me the boxes,
"Why the gold, and the black with the hole?"
"My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings,
the black is for you to let go."
I later crafted the two boxes. And painted one black and the other gold. One Christmas, I gave these 2 boxes to Su and printed the above poem in a nice fancy paper for her.
I continue my notes to her via email for many years that followed. Then when I started blogging, I started writing these again. And I would send her an email to read my blog if I wrote about her. There is so much I have to say but for now, this is it. I would write again, maybe in a few day's time.