Career Advice From Corporate Dads to Their Kids

By Stephenie Pang   •   8 min read
Unapproachable big shots at work? Imposing figures who control the fate of your career?

We tend to forget that there’s more to our male bosses, than these one-dimensional constructs we hold. These career giants are also the ‘Daddies’ and ‘Papas’ to their lovely children. In honour of Father’s Day, TalentTribe brings you advice from corporate fathers to their little ones that will warm your hearts.

Adrian Tan Ingeus - TalentTribe Adrian Tan, Director of Operations at Ingeus Singapore

1. Control the fate of your career – with your own hands

“Don’t see yourself as a wage seeking employee.” Take on the mindset of an entrepreneur, and run yourself like how you would run a business.

Develop your own competitive advantage, build your professional networks and constantly identify new opportunities for yourself. These are tips I’ve taken away from The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman, and I’ll encourage you to read it too.

2. Don’t fear pitfalls. Search for it.

You cannot control the roadblocks that will constantly come to you in life. But you can control what you take away from each pitfall. Take on a growth mindset, and see every pitfall as a lesson to be learned. Do better the next time a similar opportunity arises.

Instead of fearing and avoiding pitfalls, constantly push your boundaries in the things that you do. Search for new pitfalls because this means that you’re constantly identifying new ways to grow.

“It’s not easy. And it’s tempting to sit and lay back. But given that we only live once, we can choose to live or to exist. I would encourage you to choose the former.”

John Chee UOB - TalentTribe John Chee, Vice President of Regional Training and Development at UOB

3. The world is a lot harsher than what you perceive.

“There will be people with different intent, some more right than others. In your work life, keep focused on the right goals.”

4. You will be remembered by how you treat others.

You may have the world – its titles and achievements.But when your colleagues reminisce about you after you leave them, what they recall is not just what you have done for the organization. But how you’ve treated others in meetings, in times of stress and your relationships with others.

5. Your reputation is what others say of you. But your character is who you live with, and what your family sees.

Treat juniors well because they could be your peers. Treat superiors well, accord respect because it is the right thing to do. Treat the “Ah-mas” who keep the place clean well, because they are also someone’s mum or aunt. “Your reputation is what others say of you. But your character is who you live with, and what your family sees.” Be the same person at home and in the office. Fathers Day (John Chee UOB) - TalentTribe Steven Pang Randstad - TalentTribe Steven Pang, Vice President of Global Client Solutions APAC at Randstad Group

6. Don’t get distracted by the money or lifestyle.

Don’t choose your first or second job based on money (salary) or lifestyle (work-life balance). That will come in time, when you have experience and a valuable network of contacts.

Instead, work your ass off in something you have a passion for. Feed off the opportunity to learn from exposure to a company with good processes; good leadership and good training and development programmes. That is gold.

7. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

No one owes you a living in life. You just have to work for it. Don’t rely on blind luck to be successful either. Remember: The harder you work, the luckier you will get.

8. Take hard hits early.

Go try new things when you are starting out. Work for a startup. Or better, create your own startup with your mates. Make mistakes and take the hard hits early. If you are successful, you would have achieved something special at a young age. If you fail, treat it as a humbling learning experience. You are still young enough to recover from it. David Teng APac Energy Rental - TalentTribe David Teng, CEO at APac Energy Rental 

9. Never shy away from asking questions.

Working hard is important, but that alone isn’t enough. Ask questions when you’re at doubt. Take on the mentality of an ever-curious. Never make the mistake of turning away jobs because you don’t want to do it. Because here’s the truth: Every time you’re doing something (and giving it your best), you are learning something. As you enter your career, always try to acquire new skills or knowledge. It will be beneficial to you when you go to your next job.

10. Don’t fret if you don’t know where you want to be.

When I first started, I too, did not know what I wanted in my career. Honestly, there’s no such thing as having a very clear path of where you want to go. This is what usually happens instead. You’d want to do something, but realise that it doesn’t work out. That’s when you have to make the decision to move on, and take on the next challenge. Even if things are going well, don’t be too complacent or comfortable in your job or you’d be stuck there forever. Always go out there to embrace change and new experiences.

11. Be an inclusive leader.

Include your peers, seniors and bosses on what you’re up to – so people know what you’re doing all the time. There is nothing worse than doing things on your own, without people actually knowing that you are doing something. By sharing and including others, you get to learn from them as well. Yes, there will inevitably be conflict of ideas. But it is all part and parcel of getting your work done. Take any differing opinion head on, and learn from constructive debates. If you include your boss on what you’re doing and ideas you are embarking on, you can even become the leader of your leader. And failure to do so would just mean that you can never stand out and be different from others. Fathers Day (David Teng APac Energy) Daniel Chia Carlsberg - TalentTribe Daniel Chia, Head of Human Resources at Carlsberg

12. Getting a good qualification doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

Focus on your soft skills, like confidence level and EQ. Work on your presentation skills and eye contact – these are important touch points to building your professional image. Here are some immediate tips you can use.
  • For a good eye contact: Don’t just stare into the eyes of the other party. Look at their chin or forehead instead.
  • For impactful communication: Be loud and clear, so that your messages can be heard or understood. If you find yourself mumbling or rambling on, correct it. 

13. Have a mind of your own.

When I first started, I tried to be a ‘Yes’ man where I would try to please everyone – which is basically impossible. That made me quite mediocre at work as the decisions I’ve made were not the best. More often than not, you’ll realise that it is not possible to accommodate everyone’s demands. You’ll eventually have to make difficult decisions where not everyone will like you. Don’t be too hard on yourself – as long as you believe that it is the best decision and it doesn’t do harm to anyone, take a leap of faith and do it. Oh Kheng Huat Keppel Logistics - TalentTribe Oh Kheng Huat, General Manager of Strategic Business Unit at Keppel Logistics

14. Keep learning – and here’s a practical perspective why.

The minute you stop learning, you would be doing yourself a disfavour in 30 years time. Think of it this way. Even if you aren’t promoted, your pay increment may be on a 3% CAGR over 30 years. And here’s what happens: You will eventually be priced out of the market for the current skills that you have. Easily, your employer will be looking for someone who is cheaper, and has more skills than you. Never stop learning – it isn’t a choice. Otherwise, the moment you step into your mid-life crisis at the age of 45-50, you may just find yourself to be totally irrelevant. 

15. Don’t be a one-trick pony.

Be versatile. Jobs in 10-15 years’ time will be totally different from what they are today. Yes, it’s important that you give your best in what you’re doing right now. But eventually, you’ll need to be versatile. If you’re in Finance, don’t just stick to Finance jobs. If you’re in HR, don’t reject any non-HR related tasks. This mistake may just come back to haunt you in the years to come. Because in the next 10 years, jobs that have never been available will start emerging. Think, perhaps, drone pilots. Whatever you’ve built your niche in may just be irrelevant in the future. And the only way to safeguard your future is to really keep an open mind, and be able to up-skill and cross-train. Press on, I’m rooting for you! Fathers Day (Oh Kheng Huat Keppel Logistics)

Stephenie Pang

TalentTribe Writer

Stephenie is the Co-Founder of TalentTribe Asia, and the Editor-in-Chief behind the TalentTribe Blog. Starting out as an entrepreneur since her university days, Stephenie understands the struggle of having to rise to the occasion, despite being fresh to the field. She loves uncovering tips to help others become smarter young professionals, and pave a story of their own. Stephenie has been featured on various publications, including E27 and Vulcan Post.