Crafting a life around creativity, innovation and enterprise with a healthy dollop of purpose
For as long as I can remember I've wanted to do ALL the things. Growing up and throughout my education I hated having to narrow my focus - every decision I made was around what would give me the most variety. Unfortunately, once I left the world of full-time education, this technique failed me and I fell hook, line and sinker for the glossy brochure promising me myriad opportunities if I took up a grad scheme in the City. Over six long years, what started off with a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction slowly became an all-consuming cloud of misery and apathy. Every day at work felt like I was fighting a battle against myself and life felt like wading through treacle.
In 2015 I left my job in search of something that would make me feel alive again. Reality meant that I continued to work freelance while I explored other areas but, despite my best efforts, it still weighed me down and I struggled to keep positive and motivated. In the meantime, my husband and I made the decision to move overseas for a while and, in November 2015, we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - an opportunity to start afresh.
When people ask me what I want to do out here, I jokingly say 'ABF - Anything But Finance'. The truth is, I hate that question and I don't have an answer to it. Making change is hard - there are no easy solutions; it's a slow evolution. I've slowly come to accept that doing ALL the things is a huge part of who I am and I try hard to embrace that every day. Rather than trying to find one thing to focus on, I need to craft a life around the things I love. Yet the blank canvas that I now stand in front of is as terrifying as it is thrilling. Today is about picking up the paintbrush and making the first small strokes.
I am beginning to have a clearer idea of what tomorrow looks like - a patchwork of projects woven together. One of my biggest challenges is drawing a line under what I used to do. Even though I know that I have plenty of other skills, it's hard not to feel defined by your CV. This website is a first step to shouting about them. It's a place for me to showcase the things I love to do and can do well, and to highlight the things I'm interested in. Perhaps there's something I can help you with? Or perhaps you've got an idea for a project we could work on together - I love collaborations!
things i do
I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I think it has something to do with being half-Malaysian Chinese - it's in my blood! I can happily spend hours in the kitchen, reading a cookbook from cover to cover or sussing out the best places to eat. For a while I thought maybe I'd only enjoy cooking for friends and family, but I kept coming back to the idea of food-related projects. I decided to find out whether I loved food as a job and worked for several months at a street food stall in London. The verdict? Yes I do. I work methodically in the kitchen and keep calm under pressure and I turn out some pretty tasty food (even if I do say so myself). I cook everything from Modern British to South East Asian with a healthy dose of baking thrown in for good measure and I love a new challenge. I'm about to embark upon some professional study at pastry school.
Done: I worked for Sambal Shiok at Street Food Union in London.
Doing: Studying the art of patisserie at The Pastry Institute of St Honoré.
Can Do: Cooking, developing recipes, exploring places to eat, writing about food.
I've always loved writing, whether it was long letters to friends or short stories at school. I'm still working out my niche for writing regularly, but over the years I've always had an outlet for my words. While attention to detail is often not my strong suit (I'm more of a big picture kind of girl), I am a self-confessed grammar fiend with an eagle eye for rogue apostrophes, misspellings and the like.
Doing: Exploring subjects through writing and finding an outlet for writing consistently.
Can Do: Writing, editing, proofreading.
Tribes & Communities
When I took my first steps towards leaving my job, I joined Escape the City as a Founding Member in their new Bank HQ. The support of that community was (and still is) absolutely key to helping me make a change. More recently, I became a member of Rebel Book Club - another great community of inspiring people. I know first hand how powerful belonging to a community is - the more time you spend with people on a similar path to you, the more supported and inspired you feel. A good tribe is there to cheer your successes and pick you up when things get tough. Leaving behind this community was one of my biggest concerns about moving abroad. Now that I'm here, I'm trying to meet as many people as I can and maybe start a community here myself. I recently joined as a member of KL's Impact Hub.
Doing: First steps towards building a tribe/community of changemakers in KL.
Can Do: Conceiving, designing and running events, community builder/member.
In a nutshell, I'm fascinated by how we choose to live our lives. My own experience has shown me how important it is to take charge of our own destiny. Beyond choosing how we spend our days, I strongly believe that we all need to be more conscious consumers. That means thinking more carefully about the things we buy and the things we consume, where they come from and how we dispose of them. I'm particularly interested in education and raising awareness in this area.
Done: I co-presented and devised a mindful personal finance workshop called 'Let's Talk About Money'.
Doing: I founded an ethical fashion brand, Aglow.
Can Do: Projects about conscious living and consumption.
I'm so excited by the new generation of startups - purpose-driven entrepreneurs who are focusing on building something that they're passionate about, rather than the most lucrative exit strategy. I love bouncing ideas around with people and helping them to talk through the things that are holding them back. My background in finance means I have a good understanding of business models and strategies. I also really enjoy putting together websites for people - I'm not claiming to be a developer, but I can throw together a pretty decent, simple site and have played around with Squarespace, Wix, Strikingly, Shopify and others.
Doing: Supporting early-stage entrepreneurs.
Can Do: Idea generation and analysis, getting started, getting unstuck, sustainable business models, getting your business online.
I hold a degree from University College London in French and Italian. I've lived, worked and studied in both France (Lyon, La Rochelle) and Italy (Bologna, Milan). As a native English speaker, I've always wished that fewer people wanted to practice their English with me! Each time I have the opportunity to speak or write in French or Italian, I vow to seek out more of them. I've been meaning to learn another language for a while and now that I'm living in Asia, I'm hoping to improve my Cantonese beyond being able to order a bowl of Wanton Mee.
Done: Surtitle translation for the Royal Opera House.
Can Do: French and Italian translation, writing or speaking.
My latest stories published on Medium
They say that the people you admire or are jealous of give you a good clue about what you want to do. Here are a few companies that I think are awesome (and maybe wish I'd started myself..!)
I'm always going on about how awesome these guys are. I honestly wouldn't be where I am now without them.
Tribewanted is an inspiring community of doers at locations around the world. Getting to their co-working spot in Bali is on my Asia bucket list.
There's some controversy over the effectiveness of TOMS' one for one policy, but all credit to them for daring to think differently and rethinking 'for profit'.
I love the story behind Pip and Nut - it's a great example of how to start small. As a recovering Skippy addict, their peanut butter is my new favourite.
The business philosophy promoted by these guys is spot on for the 21st century - another great example of an inspiring community,
I'd love to hear from you if there's something I can help you with, if you'd like to collaborate or if you just want to say hi. Drop me a line below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.