14 Jul 2015 12:00:00 AM

Aznida Salwa Raja Azmi

Interview with Aznida, Senior Business Development Executive at Atlas Hifi Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd

In 2003, Aznida decided to take a career break to prioritise the birth of her first baby, as well as focus on her other familial commitments. In 2014, she re-entered the workforce as a Senior Business Development Executive at Atlas Hifi.

Leaving the workforce

Aznida left the workforce in 2003 to focus on bonding with her first-born child as well as to help her family. She planned on leaving for only one or two years, but her career break was extended due to her father’s passing. She also gave birth to two more children, and wanted to give more focus on ensuring that she was there during the developmental stages of all her children. She ended up being out of the workforce for a total of ten years.

During the ten year period, she continued her education and pursued a Master’s Degree in Management. She also joined several women organisations such as Women’s Institute of Management and Gorgeous Geeks to keep in touch with current industry trends and technological developments.

Returning to the workforce

She decided to rejoin the workforce in 2014, owing to the fact that her children have all grown up, and she was able to send them for after school programmes. She also missed being in the workforce and wanted to increase her business knowledge and skill sets. “I wanted to build my own skills based on my interests so I decided to apply to Atlas Hifi to gain more knowledge and experience”. The company was also accommodative for her caretaking needs, and hired her as a home-based employee. They allowed her the flexibility to permanently work from home three times a week, even though work from home was not the norm within the company’s culture. However, due to the nature of her work which deals mostly with digital media, she does not need to be in the office on a full-time basis.

Be open to opportunities and knowledge so you do not lose your momentum when you want to make a career comeback.
Re-adjusting to the workforce

Considering that she was one of the first employees to be hired under a work from home arrangement, the initial communication process needed to be determined with regards to workflow, office hour communication as well as work processes. She was given a laptop which had access to the office network and database. She also had to ensure that there was a constant flow of communication with her supervisor during working hours. While working from home does afford her flexibility, she believes in crafting specific hours for work, and then disengaging to allow herself to tend to her personal commitments.

Advice for returnees and changes in Corporate Malaysia

Aznida believes that working from home is beneficial, especially for women who have caretaking needs. However, guidance should be given to companies to ensure that there are effective communication practices and technology to support the work processes for employees working from home.

She advises for women thinking of taking a career break to constantly keep up with the working trends. “While on a career break, do not stop your learning process. Be open to opportunities and knowledge so you do not lose your momentum when you want to make a career comeback. Keep yourself updated with technology to stay relevant in the industry.” She also advises potential returnees to manage their expectations and re-familiarise themselves with their respective industries, as the nature of work is rapidly changing. She believes that constant networking, building self-confidence and having resilience when applying for jobs are key success factors which will help women ensure a successful comeback to the workforce.