If they can do it, so can I!

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Eulyn K., Scientist, Singapore.

She has  more than 8 years of research & development (R&D) work experience in a well-known FMCG company specialized in skincare/cosmetics industry & also in an established Singapore’s research agency specialized in manufacturing industry. She has experienced working in Japan, USA, China and Singapore managing and leading research initiatives.

She hopes to inspire and empower people to live their dreams!

Q: What made you choose your profession? Were there any particular events or people who inspired you to take this path?

It is every parents’ dream to have their child to become a doctor. I grew up with that mindset. I remembered my parents told me whenever I was doing my homework at my study table, “Study hard. When you grow up, you can become a doctor and earn lots of money.” Does that sound familiar to you too?

Driven by my parents’ dream, I studied real hard for example completing the assessment books on a daily basis.  I remembered during my Primary School Leaving Examination preparations, I completed almost all the books that bookshops in Singapore had to offer. As a result, I had to review all my assessment books by identifying the questions that I went wrong and painstakingly handwritten those questions on blank A4-sized papers. Then, I would bind it like my own assessment books and attempt those questions again.

As I was working towards that dream, of becoming a doctor, I realized that I don’t think I can be a doctor. This was because I have a strong imagination and can strongly relate to people. This means when I see someone who has injured his leg with blood, I could imagine and feel his pain. This was definitely not a trait of a doctor.

I started to evaluate my dream on why I wanted to become a doctor. I knew I have always had the keen interest on science. My teachers always put on my report cards that I was inquisitive and curious In the table below, I stated the traits of a doctor that I was strongly passionate about and I did a reframing exercise based on my strong interest in science.

Traits of a doctor that I admired: Reframing exercise
Able to save and improve human’s life/health Try to explore alternatives on how I can improve human’s life/health based on science.
Wear a smart white labcoat that exuberate a sense of credibility and respect Identify occupations that can wear a white labcoat

It was only when I was in junior college that I knew exactly what I wanted. That was a research and development (R&D) scientist in biomedical engineering. This was literally close to my parents’ dream of me being a doctor and I was happy in a job that I am passionate about.

If you asked me how did I manage to convince my parents? I realized that as I grew older, my parents gave me the opportunity to explore my own dream. I remembered during my college and university phase when I had to make choices on courses to take, my parents always told me, “Choose what you enjoy doing & make sure you can earn a good living out of it.” That’s it.

Of course, I had to prove to my parents that I am mature and responsible in making my decisions. This is where I have an open communication with them and rationalize the decisions that I made. It is through years of experiences that they began to be confident with me that I can make my own decisions.

The point that I want to say is that parents have a strong influence in our dreams especially when we are young. Their dreams often provide us with that motivation and a sense of purpose. As we grow up and realize that their dreams are very different from what we want to be, you should start to evaluate and do a reframing exercise like I did. Consider factors like your interests, strengths and opportunities that are available for you. Once you have evaluated, talk it out with your parents and people who are pursuing your dreams. It helps to gain perspectives from them who have many years of experiences. Trust me.

Remember it is important that you have a strong passion of what you are doing. This is because it is that strong passion that keeps you going.

 

Q: What are the biggest challenges of your job?

1.Be brave in getting out of comfort zone

In R&D, we need to work on areas that are still not developed yet. We need to understand the established technology areas and be brave to come up with new ideas. We work on ideas that people have not done so that we can come up with new discoveries.

2. Actively aware on new developments and always think on how to make it better

A R&D Scientist need to LOVE reading science journals and papers about the area of expertise. However, if I were to read all these, my eyes will definitely pop out one day! The most effective way is to network with people who are in my area of field. Networking can be done through conferences and seminars. I even make lunch and coffee appointments to discuss. That is how I get myself constantly updated by talking and exchanging ideas with people. I will always question myself how can I make it better. That’s how a scientist can innovate.

3. Have a strong sense of judgement

In R&D, we have to design many experiments. We learn from the results of the experiments. All experiments (both failures and successes) generate learnings. There can be a huge chunk of information to analyse resulting to different of opinions. This is when I need to have a strong ownership of my part of work. I have to rationalize with my team members and convince them why certain approaches have to be taken. This often requires skills of strong communication and analytical skills to justify based on technically sound reasons.

 Q: What are the biggest rewards?

The biggest reward for me is being able to work through a concept idea that was generated from pages of my lab notebooks into the actual product. It provides me with a sense of satisfaction when I received feedbacks from our consumers that they value and love our product/technology!

Q: What is something that you wished someone would have told you when you were younger?

Read stories  and biography books about successful people. Successful people are not successful instantly. They often went through a series of setbacks but their strong passion is what keeps them going. By reading about them, I learnt a lot from their experiences on how they grew from ordinary to successful people. That’s where I have this principle in life that, “If they can do it, so can I!”

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