27 Jul 2015 12:00:00 AM

Sheymalatha Ranggasamy

Interview with Sheymalatha Ranggasamy who has completed the HEARTS Programme.

The HEARTS Programme is a skills training programme initiated by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). It was established as a means to up-skill women and increase the percentage of employable women in the labour market. For more information on the HEARTS Programme, visit http://www.hrdf.com.my

After 7 years of experience in HR and training, Sheymalatha joined the HEARTS programme in 2013 to pursue a Project Management course after taking a career break. Since the programme, Sheymalatha has been successful at integrating her existing HR experience with her project management training in order to add value to her new role.

How long were you out of the workforce, and were you involved in other activities during this period?

In terms of permanent employment, I was out of the workforce from 2008 until late last year (2013). In between, I was doing freelance training. That was how I got to learn about the HEARTS Programme, as Training Minds, the company which I was freelancing for, was one of the training providers for HEARTS. I was encouraged to join the programme for a certification in Project Management which I was told would lead to employment opportunities.

How did you find your current job?

When I finished the programme, I casually spoke to people about my project management training and through referral was approached by a HR consultancy firm which so happened to be near my house. I joined the company on a project basis but the company soon realised that I had the ability to also deliver training. My Director decided to diversify the service offerings to include training in our portfolio. From being a part-time employee to almost full-time employee, I am now a partner in the company overseeing the Training division.

Does the company provide you with flexible work arrangements?

My company allows me to work from home whenever I need to, and practises flexible office hours. The company trusts that my work will be well managed and delivered on time, regardless of whether I’m in the office. They also know that if they need me in the office, they can call me and I will come in.
The programme allowed me to see the bigger picture to ensure the success of my project and opened the door to more project-based works.
Sheymalatha Ranggasamy
How has the HEARTS Programme helped develop your skill sets?

Being a HR practitioner, I thought that I had adequate capabilities to carry out project-based work. After attending the programme however, I realised that there was a structured, technical framework for project management. The programme allowed me to see the bigger picture to ensure the success of my project and opened the door to more project-based work.

Do you have any advice for other potential returnees?

The longer you are away from work, your chances may become slimmer to return. During a career break, women should invest in upgrading their know-how in technology as well as keeping up-to-date with local news. Women also need to invest in themselves by doing something as simple as getting a new haircut, new clothes and taking care of their appearance in general so that when they present themselves to potential employers, they’re halfway there.

What changes would you like to see in Corporate Malaysia?

Spending time in London made me realise that Western society of today places a lot of importance on family by allowing flexible work such as 9-month maternity leave or 10am-2pm workdays. Family values used to be associated with Asian culture but Asian businesses now place a lot of focus on how long we work in the office. Malaysian corporations should understand the difficulties of juggling work and family life and learn that women can be just as productive if they allow flexibility.