Moving on: Age is not a problem for a career switch

Losing your job at 60 could mean an early retirement.

But not for Becky Chang. She lost no time in hunting for a new job.

When her former company, a port and shipping agency operator, started trimming its workforce in recent years, the business unit manager had an inkling that she would be let go next.

Soon enough, the company announced that her division was closing at the end of January 2020.

Having worked more than 30 years in the shipping industry, Becky could've called it a day, but she didn't want to stop.

"I really loved what I was doing," she shared with AsiaOne. "I'd say shipping is in my blood."

As she began looking for a new job, Becky had concerns about her age.

"If I were to start writing my CV and send them out, I don't think that companies reading my CV would be excited. The minute they see your age…"

So Becky took a different approach instead. She tapped into her network of contacts that she had built over the years.

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She got a recommendation for a job through a business associate last March. He sent her a newspaper clipping of Moovaz, a local start-up specialising in international moving services that was founded in 2017.

"I didn't know much about the start-up company at the time," Becky said, but she seized the opportunity and went to meet Moovaz's co-founder and one of the company's team leads.

During the interview, Becky shared with them her vast knowledge of the shipping industry, and what she could bring to the table with her experience.

Having worked in companies both big and small, she had handled different aspects of the business including freight management and logistics, shipping operations, and customer service.

She has also built good relationships with agents and vendors which could bring in more business. With the network she established locally and regionally over decades, Becky could provide or identify better business partners for Moovaz.

Although she wasn't familiar with some aspects of the relocation industry, she saw similarities with the shipping business, such as arranging to transport clients' belongings to the new place they're moving to.

"It's kind of the same, you just have to gel them together," Becky said.

The interview went well as she ticked the boxes of what Moovaz was looking for.

While some may expect a pay cut when offered a new job, this is not always the case.

When Becky went for the second round of interviews with Moovaz, the start-up was only offering half of her previous salary.

Confident in her abilities, she convinced them with the message, "Invest in me," and managed to get the same pay when she was hired.

She joined Moovaz as a pricing and procurement manager in April.

Never too old to learn

To help Becky transition into her new role, Moovaz enrolled her in Workforce Singapore's Professional Conversion Programme for Logistics Executives.

While some may baulk at heading back to the classroom, Becky had no qualms about it.

"By the time I hit my 40s, no company sent me to attend courses anymore," she shared. So when given the opportunity, she was game for learning something new.

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She took a nine-month course at the Supply Chain and Logistics Academy (SCALA), where she attended classes, worked on assignments and presented them for assessment.

However, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic meant that classes were conducted online instead of in person.

Juggling work, classes and family can be tough, but Becky, the mum of two adult children, took it all in her stride and saw it as a matter of time management.

Though things at work might be hectic at times, she found it fruitful, adding, "A positive mindset is important."

Becky earned an advanced certificate in logistics planning and operations last December.

Moovaz, which fully sponsored her course, also received government funding for her salary and course fees through the Professional Conversion Programme.

Challenges of a new environment

PHOTO: AsiaOne

When she joined the tech-driven company, Becky said she had trouble adjusting to the fast-paced environment and learning how to operate the data management software that Moovaz is using.

"In meetings, they talked so fast and clicked here and there. I was just there staring at the screen."

At first, she had to jot down information on her own to-do list.

But with her colleagues' demonstration and guidance, Becky got the hang of using the software after a month and appreciates how technology helps the team with their work and communication.

Nowadays, she even gives suggestions on how the software can be enhanced so that Moovaz can improve its workflow.

In a company staffed by many in their 20s and 30s, Becky also admitted that before joining, she had worries about fitting in with her younger colleagues.

"When I started the job, I told myself that I shouldn't be looking at things like that."

Becky embraced the new environment and said that her colleagues made her feel welcome. She realised that age is not an issue at work because everyone in the team treats each other with respect.

"I enjoy working with them. I almost forgot I'm 60."

Becky's passion for her work shone through in this interview with us.

Be it relocating or shipping, she said: "Every day is a learning curve, every day you learn new things."

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At work, issues may arise in different ways, Becky added. By solving problems you acquire new knowledge and learn how to handle similar incidents in the future.

Mentioning an instance where a job resulted in service failure, she said she shared with the team lead that they should learn from the experience so they'll "never pay twice for the same mistake".

Becky is generous in sharing her wealth of knowledge with the younger ones - whenever they ask her a question, she doesn't just give them a 'yes' or 'no' for an answer.

With decades of shipping experience under her belt, Becky is thorough when guiding her colleagues and interns so they can get a better understanding of their work.

Acknowledging that she tries to go the extra mile to mentor others, she said: "I take pride in what I do."

Word of encouragement

For jobseekers who are considering switching careers to different industries, Becky urged: "If there's an offer, it is an opportunity and you should just take it."

Facing a new job with a positive attitude would help you to reframe and resolve issues that arise, she said, adding that learning something new is always beneficial, and she believes knowledge gained would never go to waste.

Age shouldn't get in the way of you carving out a new career as the government is supporting the creation of jobs in various growth sectors, with more incentives to help mature workers.

"Even if you learn from the young ones, there's nothing to be shy about. There may be something you're saying that they're learning from," Becky shared.

"It's a win-win situation."

This article is brought to you in partnership with Gov.sg. For more information on jobs and assistance schemes, visit jobsgohere.gov.sg. Get connected with volunteer Career Advisors – industry professionals with sector experience and networks – for sector- and occupation-specific career advice, at go.gov.sg/vcai.

lamminlee@asiaone.com