Ong Su Yin

Interview with Ong Su Yin, Client Account Staffing & Operation Lead at Accenture Malaysia
 

Suyin started her career in Accenture in 1994 as an Analyst in the Talent & Organisation practice. After twelve years, life-changing events compelled her to take a career break in 2006 after she had worked her way up to Senior Manager level.
 

In search of work-life balance

Suyin joined Accenture as an experienced analyst, working her way up to become a senior manager over 12 years. While her career advanced, Suyin’s personal life also went through a number of transformations – she got married then gave birth to her first child in 2002. Basking in her new role as a wife and mother, she looked for ways to balance work and family.

At that time, Accenture in Kuala Lumpur did not have flexible working arrangements yet nor extended leave for new mothers. However, Suyin felt that she needed to spend more time at home after giving birth and so requested for a four-month extended maternity leave from the Country Managing Director. He was quite good as he listened to the rationale and approved this. This actually set the path for many new mothers in Accenture as there were many who followed suit after this. Today, this is a fairly common practice that is available to Accenture women.

Upon her return to work, Suyin faced the nearly impossible challenge of balancing her career as a senior manager and her new personal responsibilities. She relates an incident that required her to juggle three tasks at the same time:

  • “I had to go to the immigration bureau to renew my passport.”
  • “Whilst waiting for the passport to be completed (because it was a long wait), I had to attend to a teleconference with the clients in the nursing room.”
  • “All these while breastfeeding my baby as things were not going too well at the project then.”

To top it all, her role entailed a fair amount of travel, something she had always loved doing. However, the scenario and priorities changed drastically with a little one to look after.

“That year was tough but I managed to juggle things around. However, when I gave birth to our second child in 2004, I knew I needed to take a break. I still tried to balance work and family.”

In 2006, when her second child was two years old, she finally decided to take a career break.

“It was a tough decision because I loved my work. But for me, being hands-on in bringing up my children was a priority.”

Never a dull moment

During her years away from Accenture, Suyin’s desire to continue sharpening her skills led her to venture into entrepreneurship. In 2007, she established a learning centre which operated for two years. During this period, she worked as a learning coach for several training centres, Accenture being one of her clients.

On the birth of her third child in 2008 and with the demands of a growing family, Suyin once again decided to take a year from employment, fully dedicating her time to being a mother of three kids over the following years.

Return to Accenture

Despite having left Accenture in 2004, Suyin managed to stay connected with her colleagues. When a senior role as an Asia Pacific Client Resourcing Liaison for a Business Human Resources account opened in the company in 2009, she was referred by a former colleague through the Accenture Alumni Referral Programme and became a top choice for the position because of her deep understanding of the account’s portfolios and business dynamics.

Five years after, Suyin continues to work in the same capacity as the Client Account Staffing & Operation Lead, collaborating with project leads and Human Resources partners to lead staffing requirements. Her work involves the gamut from planning to sourcing and arranging for employee trainings as required by the client.

Although the work offers great flexibility on most days, it still presents a different set of challenges on occasion. Because the role requires her to deal with colleagues from other countries as far as the United Kingdom and United States, Suyin leverages a lot on online tools to interact with her virtual team. She also adjusts her work schedule from time to time to be able to talk to her colleagues live through teleconferences.
On the whole, however, Suyin describes her transition as smooth and she received the full support of her colleagues and family.

 

I saw the offer as a great opportunity because of my familiarity with the output-oriented role. The best part of it was it allowed me to work from home on a part-time basis.
 
Ong Su Yin
Sharing her experience

In hindsight, Suyin was glad that she maintained her professional network. Knowing that there are countless women who go through the same dilemma, as a mother and career woman like her, she advises them to “look out for what other companies are offering in terms of support for women employees. This is especially important to help them balance their work and personal commitments.”

“Make the best out of the work arrangement that the company offers. If the company doesn’t have it yet, pluck up your courage to go and ask or suggest your boss for it. You will never know whether you will get it. But it is better to try and know that you tried your best. If the current company can’t offer you for whatever reason (sometimes it will also depend on the company’s business situation), you can always look for another one like Accenture.”