27 Jul 2015 12:00:00 AM


Interview with Pauline who is currently working at BASF.

Pauline was in the workforce for eight years before taking a seven year career break due to family commitment. She returned to the workforce in April 2014 as a HR Analyst with BASF Asia-Pacific Service Centre Sdn Bhd, a field that is completely new to her.

Leaving the workforce

Starting out her career in the pharmaceutical industry, Pauline had the opportunity to experience various roles in the sales, marketing and training departments. About a month after her maternity leave, she decided that she wanted to try her hand at something new. While exploring the options available, her plans suffered a setback when she discovered that her son required frequent therapy sessions which then led to her decision of taking a break to be there for him.

During her time-off, her determination saw her taking up courses in graphic design as an additional skill to be added to her portfolio. She knew the importance of keeping herself abreast of the working world hence the continuous learning and updating of her skills. While she did not sign up for any full time employment, she did earn some side income through her part-time work in selling things online as well as taking up some design work projects. When her second child arrived in 2011, she found it more difficult to cope and hence, decided to then go on a full-time break to focus on her children.

Returning to the workforce

As her children turned seven and three respectively, and her second child has also started school, Pauline then began thinking about returning to the workforce. It was not an easy decision, one that required her to thoroughly think through the support structure needed to be able to balance both work and family. Pauline was very thankful for having supportive parents who were always there for her.

Once her kids’ logistical arrangement was sorted out, she started her job search focusing on opportunities that would provide her with some form of flexibility. While she was very eager to contribute to the workforce, she knew that time management was also of utmost importance for her to help balance work and family after leaving the work force for seven years. It was not an easy journey as not many companies in Malaysia offer such flexible opportunity. Luck was however on her side when she first heard about the Career Comeback Networking event which she subsequently attended. Her effort paid off when she was approached by BASF for an opportunity in a HR Services role.

Although the role is in a field that she has no experience to speak of, she is eager to try it out as she knows that most jobs will be different now from what it was seven years ago. Pauline shares her excitement on receiving the part-time role, working on a 4-hour shift daily and to top off her excitement, she is offered a permanent employee position.
Companies should consider providing flexi work and training opportunities to women returnees so it would make it easier for women to re-enter the workforce after being away for some time.
Readjusting to the workforce

Pauline’s determination and willingness to learn is key to her being able to adapt to the working world so quickly and effectively. Initially, she was apprehensive about her ability to cope with the demands of her work as well as the expectations of her other more experienced colleagues. However, her misgivings were misplaced as she was gratified to find herself a part of a very supportive team. Their unquestioning support and willingness to share and impart their knowledge boosted her morale. She recalled of several situations where meetings were moved to the morning sessions just to accommodate her and also days when her team members encouraged her to leave when it was past her working hours. 

Advice for returnees and changes for Corporate Malaysia

Pauline believes that women should continue to stay relevant and continue to equip themselves with suitable skill sets while on a career break. As for the corporates in Malaysia, she hopes that more companies will embark on providing more flexibility to returnees. “Companies should consider providing flexi work and training opportunities to women returnees so it would make it easier for women to re-enter the workforce after being away for some time.”

Pauline is grateful to BASF for the vast learning and training opportunities available and its supportive and caring work culture. While starting on a flexible working arrangement, she is eager to build a long lasting career with BASF.