Friday, 16 October 2009

Modern slavery anniversary reflection

Warning: Rather long read ahead…

I entered the modern slavery world exactly 9 years ago today. 3 years ago, on the exact same date, I joined my current company. Quite a unique incident, isn’t it?

I didn’t spend 6 years with my first employer though. I spent 5 years there, a time when I witnessed the collapsed of a major accounting firm which followed by a merger. Thereafter, I had a short stint in China and a 6 months break where I watched all world cup matches on that year before joining the company I am currently with.

Today marks the completion of my 9th year as a modern slave and due to the unique coincident, today also marks the completion of my 3rd year with my current employer. It has been a journey of many ups and downs, filled with extreme eye openers and a time where I was forced to feast on the hideous realities of the working life.

Overall, it has been an incredible learning experience…

I would term my initial 5 working years as a “Corporate Symbiosis” --- the company got me to work almost non-stop for a meagre salary while I ride on them to build my knowledge and experience reserves and finally able to put this so called “professional firm” in my CV. You scratch my back, I scratch yours kind of thing.

The collapsed of the company (some of you could guess which company is this already) and subsequently, a merger was my first eye opener to the reality of the corporate world. People being forced out, heavy dose of office politics, power struggle, people flexing their muscles in their territories… survival was the name of the game.

I still remember some antics of my ex colleagues during the first few weeks of the merger. It was really like a civil war. The battleground… pantry! It was a race to see who “conquers” the pantry first during lunch. Looking back, it was all so silly and to a certain extent… entertaining!

The decision to leave after 5 years was not easy, as I have already developed a comfort zone. Besides, I was resigning for the first time, from my first job, a lot of uncertainties. But it was something I had to do. My time as a cheap labour was over.

I then spent a short time in China earning USD, which then allowed me to spend 6 months as a leong-dei-goon (unemployed). I shall blog about this separately. It was another great eye opening experience.

There are many things that I do not like and do not agree with in the place I currently work in. However, this place has given me the platform to truly expand my career. Being part of an international conglomerate, I am able to see many things from an international perspective. One thing in particular, Malaysia is always viewed as a dumping ground… I shall let you interpret that yourself.

Being promoted to a level where I had to recruit an additional person for my team also gave me the opportunity to conduct interviews and… a quite fun experience…going through CVs. I find it absolutely astonishing that people can submit their CVs for managerial position in an international corporation with atrocious English. Do they seriously expect to get an interview?

Also, I was very surprise at the level of salary people are getting. I thought it was only applicable in my industry but after exchanging information with some of my friends within the human-resource industry, I found out that if you are earning above RM6,000 a month; you should be counting your blessings. It is a sad reflection of this country’s economic health.

The slavery and exploitation are still there, and they will always be there. Just that it is a bit toned down here. Despite all that, I must extend my gratitude to my current employer. Last year during the peak of my health scare, the company paid for it. Specialist consultations, x-rays, ultrasound scans, scope, CT scan, MRI, tests after tests… all in a private medical centre and I did not fork out a single cent.

Though I am thankful, I still believe that one should never fall in love in one’s company. A line should always be drawn between you and the company. Even if you don’t draw it, the line is already there; drawn by the company without your knowledge. And when the line is finally revealed to you, the situation is often brutal.

This is why I never refer to my employer as “my company”. Firstly, I don’t own it. But the more pertinent reason is because I am painfully aware of the fact that companies hide things from their employees. There will always be a servant and master relationship in the corporate world. Hence, it is not “my company”. I only refer to it as the-company-I-work-in, or something along that line.

Last but not least, let me conclude the reflection of my 9 years in the modern slavery corporate world with 3 points:-

Telling you boss that you are happy with your salary is the most stupid thing that you can ever say to your boss. Do note that I am speaking both as an employee and a boss. Be ready to kiss your increment goodbye if you do that. A simple smile, or a short yeah-it’s-ok should suffice when being asked about your satisfaction level towards your pay. The same goes to displaying
your love towards your work.

Being good at your work will get you noticed. Getting things done will help you climb the ladder. But to really reach the top, the skill required is to get others who are good at their work to get things done for you. That is the formula to success. In short, one must make others slave for you to move up the slave food chain.

The saying “The head you step today may be the ass that you need kiss tomorrow” is viciously real. Fortunately though, I learned this notion in a pleasant manner as I am now the ass that needs to be kissed. I guess now, I have to be careful on the people I step on. Or, best not to step on anyone at all.

P/S: A lot of people asked me about the difference between working in a “professional firm” vs. working in a “commercial firm”. I suppose there will be another trilogy ahead…


1 year ago…
Different breed, different reactionJapan got hit

2 years ago…
Let us be remindedThe price to drive

26 comments:

MKL said...

Interesting viewpoints. I learned a lot from you. So, Zewt, give me the address, I will send you my CV :P

day-dreamer said...

I have no comments about this post but I like it. Haha.

missironic said...

Thanks Zewt for the whole outlook of corporate companies work.. really an eye-opener... will b looking forward to the story during ur 6-month unemployed period.. hahaha..

ms. lili@ said...

As always i love it when you wrote on modern slavery, especially knowing that you were from audit firm before -- something i totally can relate myself to.

anyway, interesting piece.

The decision to leave after 5 years was not easy, as I have already developed a comfort zone. Besides, I was resigning for the first time, from my first job, a lot of uncertainties -- i'm having the similar dilemma now.. really want to experience something else, but am lacking of the X factor to do that. like you said, comfort zone.. first time job.. a lot of uncertainties.. sigh.

In short, one must make others slave for you to move up the slave food chain.. -- couldnt agree more!

Swee Ping said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swee Ping said...

have similar dilemma like ms.lili@. i might soon be 'measuring house' and in the dilemma to either want to experience different thing or want to take long break. 1st job, comfort zone, lack of X factor.

j_yenn said...

Yup, couldn't agree more. Just the exact same viewpoints that I've garnered so far...

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

BTW, Zewt, why don't you ask your good friend "seokthong" to apply for a job at your MNC and see if his English is good enough?

Melyong said...

Hey Zewt!

Speaking of the economy... I'm going to be thrown into the recession next year to look for a job. Going to be a fresh grad next year and I'm expecting a lot of 'cheap slavery' coming into my portfolio. lols...

neno said...

too depressing la this post for a friday..

Crankster said...

I wonder why Malaysians put up with working for so little. No wonder they can't travel the world and do things.

Their only entertainment in life is driving on the emergency lane during traffic jams.

pavlova said...

@ Crankster: love your comment about the only entertainment is driving through emergency lanes during traffic jam.

Unicorn Girl said...

Now this reminds me not to fall in love with my job cause I do not know when my job will stop loving me - so say Abdul Kalam :) !

gina said...

I think at some point of life, we would somehow go to the "kiss my ass" status. Congratulations! LOL!

Ps. I think I have unwittingly gone to "kiss my ass" status too, despite earning very, very little money. Dunno good or bad.

Huei said...

hahahah i learnt never to fall in love with your job when the boss i thought was very nice decided to close down the company within 1hr notice and only compensated us with a month of salary!

i like my job now..but i wil never love it! hahahah

eiling lim said...

I called "my company" as my "boss's company"! For me, it's still the time where I'm being paid to learn and at this moment, I have no complaints as I am enjoying a comfortable working environment loaded with indulgence!

Petite Lass said...

I like this post! The last 2 paragraphs are just so true. Now, must learn how to make people slave for me! Hahaha

zewt said...

MKL - hahaha... u sure u wanna work in this country???

day-dreamer - too chim eh? :P

missironic - haha... been wanting to write that for a long time... :)

ms. lili@ - as i will be writing about the difference between big 4 and commercial firm soon, hopefully it will give u a few pointers.

Swee Ping - ... nike... just do it... :)

zewt said...

j_yenn - reality isnt it?

anon @ 16/10 3.50pm - :)

Melyong - hahaha... welcome.. to the real world.

neno - my anniversary mah...

Crankster - hahaha... damn true. and u know what? this self curse is going to haunt us...

zewt said...

pavlova - thus malaysians strive to buy bigger cars.

Unicorn Girl - absolutely.

gina - nice feeling, isnt it? hehe...

huei - hahaha... that's exactly what i am talking about!

eiling lim - careful with the indulgence...hehe...

petite lass - it's truly an important skill hehe...

Yvonne Foong said...

I can relate with some of the points here, but I would rather remain in denial. Sounds so cruel.

zewt said...

Yvonne Foong - the world is cruel and there's no denying it... :(

April Ng said...

if u know someone is stepping on you in order to climb the ladder, how do you avoid? Do you get the things done or just die together?

I love CF world but I am not cruel enough to be cruel to people. How to survive?

zewt said...

April Ng - me being me, i will now voice out and scream and make my feelings known. as for cruelty in the CF world... yes, there is no way around it. if you want to survive, cruelty is a must. truly unfortunate.

Crankster said...

Nice to be appreciated, Pavlova. :)

zewt said...

Crankster - :)