24 Jul 2015 12:00:00 AM

Nisa Hidayah Ahmad

Interview with Nisa, Talent Acquisition Specialist in the HR Department at Standard Chartered.

With a background in Chemistry, Nisa returned to the workforce after being on career break for two years and joined Standard Chartered as a Talent Acquisition Specialist in the HR Department. While the area of specialisation was unfamiliar to her, she enjoyed the challenge of learning the ropes of the role.

Leaving the workforce

After graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Nisa began her career in the Research and Development Department in Sime Darby Plantation. In 2012, her contract with Sime Darby ended, and she decided to take a career break following her marriage. She extended her career break when she became pregnant with her first child, “I wanted to be able to breastfeed without worrying about work, and I also wanted to be there for the pivotal moments in his development”. She made the decision to stay at home in order to give full attention to her child.

After a year of being out of the workforce, she began to realise that a single–income household was unsustainable. Living expenses were rising constantly, and she was struggling to manage the household expenses. “I was aware that in order to provide my child with the best education and tools for development, I would need to start considering going back to the workforce.” She also began to miss the challenges of corporate work, and wanted to enhance her skills so that she would still remain relevant.

Returning to the workforce and finding work – life balance

In March 2014, Nisa attended TalentCorp’s Career Comeback Networking Event in order to meet employers who are open to hiring latent women talent and offer flexible working options. While she was initially intimidated by the crowd and the prospect of having a face–to–face discussion with potential employers, she began to warm up quickly given the positive response from employers and other participants. Nisa spoke to a recruiter from Standard Chartered about career opportunities in the company. Within a month after the event, she was offered a role as a Talent Acquisition Specialist in the HR Department.

Nisa was hesitant about leaving her child in the hands of a child care provider, as she was concerned that her child may no longer maintain the same connection with her. As such, Nisa and her husband worked-out their schedule in order for her to start working full–time again. They arranged for him to work from home during the weekdays, while Nisa would take over taking care of their child on weekends. On top of being close to home, Nisa’s workplace also allowed her the flexibility she needed, as they provide a mother’s room, as well as allowed her to take 15 minute breaks whenever she needed to pump her milk for her child.

Readjusting to the workforce

While her qualification background was not in HR, Nisa had a positive attitude on venturing into a role she was unfamiliar with. “It is a steep learning curve in order to carry out what I do, but I enjoy the challenge of familiarising myself with the work.” She found that her role was extremely detail–oriented, however she is glad for the support she has received from her colleagues and supervisor in ensuring that she understands the basics of the HR operations. “It was really an eye–opener to see the amount of work that the HR department has to handle on a daily basis.”
I was aware that in order to provide my child with the best education and tools for development, I would need to start considering going back to the workforce.
Advice for women returnees and changes in Corporate Malaysia

Nisa believes that women’s motivation to come to work should not only be for the money, but also to ensure that they do so to constantly challenge and motivate themselves to be the best version of themselves. After returning to the workforce, she developed the ability to adapt to a new environment with patience and an open mind, and this has helped to shape her in becoming a more confident person. She also believes that women returnees looking to come back to the workforce should always learn how to balance between their personal needs and work. “Do work with 100% productivity and put a full–stop after you finish work so that you can enjoy your moments at home.”

She would also like to see more Malaysian companies having in–house childcare centres, as it would help ease a working mother’s constant struggle in ensuring that their child is provided with the care they need. “While a mother’s room has been convenient, having a childcare centre would be better as we mothers would not worry so much about our child knowing that they are in good hands.”