Winds of change

It was recently winter in Bangkok – about a week of cool temperature and almost-chilling breezes in the mornings. I loved it. Even at the time it felt unreal. Now, thinking back to it under the scorching sun, that week feels like a dream that never happened.

Something else that feels like a dream: around this time last year I was considering leaving corporate life. Back in January this year, I had a chat with my wonderful former boss where I declared I no longer wanted to be in the corporate world.

She urged me to re-consider, that maybe it’s the role, not the life. She said not to discard the world of business so easily. I was even more convinced after the talk that I wanted to leave.

And now, fast forward 11 months later, I’m loving it. I changed role and company in August, and things just fell into place. Great manager, wonderful colleagues who are smart and funny and hard-working. The projects are varied and fun. The culture fast-moving and flat.

It’s a place where the CEO sends an e-mail himself to remind employees to do the engagement survey, where when I had a question for the CPO (Chief People Officer), I just e-mailed him – and got a reply in less than an hour.

It’s so very different from what I’m used to. And I love it.

I’m still in touch with my wonderful former boss who moved back to her home country. We exchange long WhatsApp messages regularly, and a few months ago as I was gushing about how I love my new company and never want to leave, she insightfully reminded me how quickly and completely things changed for me only some months ago, how I was convinced when we had that chat back in January that my convenient union with corporate life was over. And now that union has turned into a solid love affair.

Only yesterday, I was having dinner with some old friends who are now working in the public sector – we were scholarship students together in the UK over ten years ago. And I found myself trying hard to advocate for the corporate life with a conviction that they’re missing out.

Reflecting on it now, I am amazed. I feel like a different person. The winds of change have swept away all my uncertainties and frustrations. And in their place determination, passion and drive have taken root.

In a big way, I owe it to my current company. Being at Agoda has been like a dream that I still can’t believe came true. It’s everything I could ever wish for, and more.

Of course there are sometimes frustrations within and across teams, but we talk them out. We address each friction as it comes along. And we enjoy each other’s company (pun not intended) immensely.

To the point that last Thursday, when we had the People Team Offsite, I felt comfortable enough to share my story of depression, bipolar disorder, and institutionalisation during the personal development panel, which our CPO calls the Adversity Quotient (AQ) panel.

Photo caption: the People Team Offsite organizing committee. I’m sixth from your right, and the CPO is in white (it rhymes!)

And reception has been wonderful. Hugs, lots of hugs. Thank yous from people I’ve never spoken to before. Some approached to share their own stories. My sharing has opened doors and placed the foundation stones for relationships I never thought to build.

So for now, until the winds sweep me off my feet again, I will sit back and enjoy the ride.

Because it’s wonderful.

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