Sunday, September 30, 2012

Liza Goes To Oxford - When feeling lost, step back and restrategise

I must admit, September has been horrible. Most of the classes this semester is scheduled in September and what's worse, one of the classes was in Singapore. Balancing between work, study and personal life seems to be too overwhelming for me this September.
One thing is this Business Simulation. I have tried my very best to contribute to the team. This is not something I do on day to day basis, hence I might be slower than everyone else. Though I graduated in accounting field, that was more than 15 years ago and I have never practised accounting. I felt like I did not contribute enough and tried my best to bring some values to the team, but ended up feeling more stupid than before. Just when I thought I have prepared enough, there are still big gaps that need to be filled. I don't think trying to catch up at my own pace even an option. Believe me, I am trying to move as fast as I can, and it's not easy for me. I deal with human capital issues on daily basis which does not have direct involvement of financial statements or decisions on selling price or how much we need to spend on marketing and which area we need to embark in. Suffice to say, our team did not do too well and I can't help to put the blame on me for failing to give good financial advise. Of course we have a long way to go before all this will end in January, which to be honest, I don't know if I can endure this till that month.
I feel totally messed up which means only one thing, I have to take a step back and restrategise. Started by clearing all my study related filing. Once that is done, I started looking into my schedule to see how else I can use my time more effectively. This is my current daily routine :
Wake up at 5am
Bath and get ready to work. Solat. Make sure kids are ready for school (I am blessed my better half helps to prepare breakfast for kids, thanks Sayang)
Off to work at 6.30am
Back from work latest by 7.30pm.
Bath, solat, prepare dinner, send kids for mengaj
Study with kids at 8.30pm
Kids ready for bed at 9.30pm
Fold clothes at 10.00pm
Clean house, laundry, prepare tomorrow's clothing for my better half
Off to bed by 12am

New routine which I have to implement immediately. This is taking into consideration how I am falling behind in my studies as well as I have not been exercising at all in 2012. Bad, very bad. Don't even ask me what's my weight now. Changes captured in caps.
Wake up at 5am
Bath, EXERCISE and get ready to work. Solat. Make sure kids are ready for school.  FOLD CLOTHES.
Off to work at 6.30am
Back from work latest by 6.30pm. TO UTILISE FWA
Bath, solat, prepare dinner, send kids for mengaji. Clean house.
Study with kids at 8.30pm
Kids ready for bed at 9.30pm, LAUNDRY
Prepare tomorrow's clothing for my better half
Off to bed by 12am
I knew it's not gonna be easy but never thought it will be this tough. At times, I feel like giving up but thinking what kind of values will I be showing to my kids if I give up now just make me sick.
Let's see if this work. Well, it will work if I want it to work. Discpline, diligent and tawakkal to Allah. Insyallah, all is well.
Signing off,


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today, I wanna write about my dad

I have the sudden urge to write about my dad, a man I fondly called Abah.
I remembered I saw this picture of Abah totaly bald. I asked my Mom why did Abah go bald. He looked so different. And my Mom told me, he went bald cause he was fulfiling his nazar to Allah. If my Mom delivered a girl, he will go bald to show how grateful he is and that's exactly what he did.
That was the moment I know how much my Abah loves me.
You see, how I was brought up, takde feeling2 punyer. My Abah is not the type who shows how he feels. He hardly show affection explicitly. No hugging, no saying I love you, no none whatsover. He has his own way of showing his love.
My Abah climbed his was up, by himself. He had a humble beginning. He only completed his study up to standard 6 and due to family obligations and extreme financial constraint, he had to work to support his sibblings. But that never be an excuse for him to succeed. I remembered my aunties telling me my Abah is very hardworking, doing all sorts of kerja kampung. And he is very discipline and diligent in his work.
When Abah started working, he took night classes so that he can sit for SPM. Later a diploma and soon enough a degree. It was not easy. He had to work, take care of us and at the same time study. One thing about my Abah, he don't spend time with friends, lepak at mamak stalls or just hanging out. His journey has always been home and work, no diversion. If he goes out, it's only with my Mom. Nothing else.
Abah taught me about discipline. About how important time management is, not to be late in anything. And how crucial to complete what we started. Abah taught me I can do anything if I put my heart and my mind into it. And also about respect to elderly. I remembered one time I was reprimanded and later a pukul session just because addressed adults as korang. Lesson learnt, to really watch my language.
I know without Abah's persistent teaching me about discpline, I will not be the person I am. A person wh hardly is late for anything, a person who will never say bad things to elderly and a person who diligent in following through. I can't take credit to any of those, cause my Abah inculcate that in me.
I have always been Abah's football buddy, both in front of TV or at the stadium. I remembered riding motorbike with Abah, just the 2 of us, to Merdeka Stadium to watch Selangor matches. We will then have supper at Jalan 223 at the Nasi Lemak panas place. I remembered Abah took me to Wembley when I was 14 to watch Liverpool play. Abah has 2 sons, but I am his football buddy. How ironic.
I know Abah loves me, he may not show it, but I know he does. I know how he nearly died waiting for me outside of labour room everytime I delivered my kids. I know he loves me, he took care of me after a major surgery in 2003, making sure I eat right and not allowing me to even stepped out of the house. Yes, Abah loves me, he just have a different way to show it...
I just feel like writing about Abah today. Cause Abah will always have a special place in my heart....
Signing off,

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Liza Goes To Oxford ~ Why MBA Liza? Why?

When I shared with a few friends I got accepted to do MBA in Manchester Business School (well, initially I rold some friends, while others got to know cause someone who was processing my claims just decided to be the broadcaster), the reactions received were mixed. Some were so happy for me, it's not easy to get accepted to such school while others said "La, tak habis2 lagik nak belajar. Ada masa ke"
Well, let me tell you why I decided to do MBA.
  1. Meeting my personal KPI
I was raised by my Arwah Wan. One thing she has always taught me, is to have a dream. Infact, she enrouraged me to dream big. She kept telling me there is nothing that I can do. The moment I entered college, I have this personal KPI ~ to complete Master by the age of 35 and pHd by 40. It's pretty obvious I started my Master when I am 36 therefore no way I can complete by 35, and the domino effect will caused for the pHd target to be further delayed. However, I believe that is better than not doing at all, then, it will continue to be just another dream (same category as loosing weight, by the way)
      2. Self development Self esteem
Let's not play this cliche game. Some may say, MBA is good for self development. Yada yada yada. No one, at least no one in the right mind does MBA purely for self development and nothing else. Of course it will be tied back to other agendas like career progression and many other reasons. I for one, do this for my self esteem. I have never considered myself as a smart person. I have always feel I am no where as smart as my peers. Yes, I looked down on myself. However, after one and half semesters, I realised I may not be the smartest but I am not that dumb either.
     3. I want to make my parents proud
There have been many many occasions I let down my parents, particularly my dad. I know how disappointed he has been but being a dad, he still accepts me for the way I am. He did not get to celebrate my first graduation, I hope I can make him proud by taking him to UK and witness my graduation in 2014 Insyallah. I pray for him get to see that, praying very hard.
       4. Setting the tone for my kids
My kids are the most important element in my life. I want to set the right messaging and examples. I want to tell them how education is very important and there is no such thing as too old to do what you want to do. Of course, Baby just have something to say about this. One day, while she was observing me working hard to complete my assignment, she candidly asked me, "When I'm old like you Mama, do I still need to study hard like how I am doing now".
      5. I want to be less stereotype
I am one of the culprits, as much as I tried to refrain myself from doing so, who just automatically stereotyped. One recent example is this accounting module I just completed in Singapore. When I was told I need to be part of the Singapore cohort for Accounting, I was super worried. What if I am not smart enough for this cohort, what if they demanded too much from me (with the reputation of being kiasu) or what if we just don't get along. Boy, was I wrong. Despite accounting module was so taxing on me, I enjoyed the Singapore cohort. They are nice and open to share ideas and input. One of them even taught me how to have a Dropbox without making me feeling like an idiot. I am so glad I came to Singapore and meet this awesome people. I do hope our friendships will continue from here. Yes, you don't know what you don't know
Yes, I have concrete reason why I am doing MBA. I know my status as a wife, mother and employee. So far I don't think I have neglected any of those responsibilities. It's al about balancing and juggling. If I want this so badly, I will make it work.
While typing this, I know I have made a wise decision to still continue chasing my dream. Insyallah, by 2020, I will be known as Dr Siti Norliza Mohd Sahar, and I am pretty sure my dad will be beaming with joy just uttering that name tagged to his name. I know it's not impossible...
Now, to sustain the momentum and continue working hard...Insyallah, it will be a fun ride.
Signing off,


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Farewell my dear friend, you will be missed.....

I have so many weaknesses. One of this would be I don't deal with death very well, no matter who died. It can be those I barely know or those who I love dearly. Yes, that's one thing I am still struggling with.
Today, while the whole nation celebrates Hari Malaysia, I received a sad shocking news while having lunch with my family.
Andy : K Liza, Fadz meninggal
Me : Fadz? Fadz yang mana?
Andy : Fadz CSS....
And the rest became so blurry...
I can't claim I know Fadz very well. I can't even say she is one of my closest friends. However, one thing I can say is...I have nothing negative to say about her cause that's who she is, a nice kind person.

I still remember when the first time I was introduced to her, her first day reporting for duty. Being a typical HR person, I asked her where and what did she studied. She said she has degree in IT. And my immediate response...why she chose to be an EA...She just smiled to my question.
She was located at the top floor, under this division called TMO. My interactions with this division was quite limited hence I did not get the opportunity to get to know her well. We do see each other but not as often as we want to. It's more casual chat, the hi and bye at the corridor, escalator or elevator.
When she was transfered to another division called CSS, that's when the opportunity to get to know her was given to me. We worked as a team in organizing our company's family retreat. I remembered very well her commitment to execute tasks given and not forgetting she is a person who knows how to have fun.
My fondest memory of her would be when Ramadhan comes. She will send this email asking if anyone would want to be part of Quran recital organised by her dad dedicated for those who are no longer with us. She never failed to keep me in the loop and I will always be part of this.There was this one time I forgot the names of my Arwah Atok and Nenek and Wan (full name of course) and she said to me it's ok. She still have email from last year and will just use. Yes, one of her traits, resourceful.
When she sent me the invite for her wedding, I know I must make it a point to attend. Nice people deserve to be treated nicely. She has been nothing but nice to me despite various stories flying around about me. She treated me with great respect and kind. I don't see many people of that kind, and genuine at the same time. I came quite late and managed to still make it for the wedding. She looked so beautiful and glowing. She waved at me from her pelamin and when I hugged her, she thanked me for coming and asked me whether I have eaten. I just smiled and told her how beautiful she looked that day....
And today, I bid farewell to this amazing individual. I told another friend, I did not get to meet her at all from the day she got pregnant. Our interactions were mainly on FB, and her favourite phrase... Bertabahlah. The day she passed away, I saw her BBM status, Highest BP 210/144. I wanted to send her a message asking her to take good care of herself, I forgot and I regret for not doing it immediately...
Fadz, my dearest Fadz....You will be missed. You have such kind and pure heart. You have always been the bersangka baik person, regardless what kind of stories you hear.
You inspire me today...How I should reflect and be just like you.
I want to be remembered just like all of us remember you. And the day I die, I want people to remember all the nice things, cause there is nothing bad to remember...
Al-Fatihah my lovely Fadz. May you, baby and husband be reunited in Jannah.....
Signing off,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I will not stop complaining......

I am a Malaysian. Born in Bangsar, raised in Kuala Selangor (lived with my Arwah Wan) and Kelana Jaya, got married and live in Puchong, USJ, Kelana Jaya and now Bangi. Everytime I moved from one location to another, it's for various reason. Either rental was too high, safety issues or the most common one, traffic.
I complain. In fact, I complained alot. At times, I am one of the few people who actually took the trouble to send complain letters or emails. I complain about many things. About how I feel things can be more efficient, how I suggest better ways of doing things, how I think some people are just not doing enough to provide good services for paying customers. The latest, I sent a long complaint email to PLUS for the traffic fiasco last Tuesday due to the rain which I feel it's because of PLUS failure of having a structured backup plans. To cut things short, yes, I complain.
But, when I complain, I do it because I want things to be better. When I go for my kids PIBG meeting, I complained because I feel kids, not only mine, deserve to get the best from the school and teachers. When I attend events, I complained to organisers so that they can do better in future events. I can say with convictions, never once I filed any complains because of hatred or some personal attack to anyone.
To me, when we want to get better,  we need to do 2 things ; we need to have the courage to complain and have the guts to accept complains. When we are at the complaining side, please remind ourselves to give constructive complains, make sure our nawaitu is for things to get better not to just complaining for the sake of complaining. And if you are at the receiving ends, learn to give some discounts to complains received. Some complains have no basis so give more discounts to this. Some are clearly done with malice intentions, further reductions need to be given here. But there are some provide really good feedback in form of complains and they share their thoughts because they care...
If we keep on giving 100% discount to all complains received, we will not improve. And worst, if we ask the complainants to go and fly kite. We can never go forward...and yet we aspire to be a developed nation.
I used to hate receiving complains. My first job was in a call centre. I get cursed, shouted at and at times forced to listened to usage of vulgar languages on daily basis. My second job, I received complains right to my face! There was once I attended a dialogue session with unions and one hostile attendee throw paper to my face asking why his claims were rejected. I was angry, sad and humiliated. But, this experience taught me to be more patient and persevere to all this behaviour. And now I know all this were to prepare me for bigger task ahead.
Now, I have to listen to complains about my country. This can be from my fellow Malaysians, or non Malaysians who have lived here or even those who decided to complains based on what they hear, not necessarily from their own experience. I am no longer upset, or ask them to go somewhere else if this place is not good enough for them. My other theory, it's the aging factor I am going through causing me to be more patient. Yes, my country may not be perfect but this is home. And just like how we clean or renovate our own house to make it a better home, we need to do the same for our country.
Even if one day, I decide to explore opportunities in other parts of the world, Malaysia will continue to be my home. And no matter where I will be in future, I will still want to see my Malaysia be the champion in many many areas.
And because I care for my country, I will not stop complaining :)
Signing off,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Liza Goes to Oxford ~ Business Simulation Rocks

We are now embarking to what I intially perceived as a scary experience. Why? I went through business simulation exercise under this leadership development program where I work. I did not like it, in fact I felt it was too extreme and was not managed well. And with that pre-conceived judgement, it causes me not to look forward to this module.
First challenge already slapped us all on the face. The simulation consisted of 5 person in a group. And this 5 individuals that already have a day job while juggling to complete the MBA program. It's a no brainer scheduling will be the top utmost critical issue. We had our first meeting, which clearly showed to have everyone in the same room at the same time will not be easy, one of us was not able to attend the session. Next session was done using the google hangout. That's when we encountered the next problem, technology may not want to cooperate with us, my unifi was up and down. And one of my team mates accidently muted me resulting to her not able to hear me. On the flipped side, after being the only female student in my current MBA cohort, finally to have another woman in this group is just an awesome feeling!
Yesterday was however, a different experience. And different in a pleasant manner. We spent 7 hours to working on several decisions for our company. Like production and sales quantity, areas to sell, marketing expenditure and strategies with ultimate aim to maximise profit and share price.
From the 1st simulation experience, I have observed points which I feel are the key takeaways :
Generation gap
Gen-Y have this nature on the tendency to take risks and promoting a more agressive approach. I deal a lot with Gen-Y on daily basis as it is required by the roles I am playing in my day job. So, what I saw yesterday was not something unusual. Even in our office, we have different blend of generations. We have the baby boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y also the latest, Gen-Z. So, we all work together, agreeing to disagree. Give it sometime, I think we will get the hang of each other in our simulation group. We will eventually understand each other better and learn to respect each other's approach.
We don't know what we don't know
This simulation also see we need to explore to know if things can be done or not. As we don't have the visibility of other groups' strategy, it's more like a trial and error while we try to read the trends. We win some, we loose some. It's still a long way to go, the simulation will end in January. As long as we keep an eye on the ball, remained focused, we will do just fine.
Different folks different strokes
Each of us came from different background, doing different things. It can be in human resource, finance or project management. We bring different experience and expertise to the table. We bring different views and try to contribute different thoughts with the same end game in mind - to create more value to the team and ultimately win the simulation. It's important to see the value in every input and if we look deep enough, it will be adding value to the team. As reminded by our professor, Frank, the loudest may not necessarily win, infact, study has shown, the loudest usually lost.
I personally need to step up to the game. I don't have that much exposure in finance but it will no be an excuse for me not to contribute. I chose the role to be the Financial Controller cause it will then force and push me to learn more abour finance in decision making. To give advise from finance perspective requires me to have knowledge in that. More readings, more practise and more learning, obviously.
I will be writing this journey from time to time. I want to document this MBA, the journey which I have dreamed of for many years and finally have the guts to do it.
Signing off,