Another Perspective to this Statement
Recently a reader of a main stream English language newspaper wrote a letter to the editor of that publication extolling the benefits of being in the civil service. His letter when published in the newspaper’s Letters page was titled: Good to be in the civil service.
Pension after Retirement
The main thrust of the writer’s case is that there is a pension to look forward to after retirement. He also cites the case of a friend who resigned from government service to go into business with a like-minded colleague. This business arrangement unfortunately ran into serious problems and the friendship too suffered as a result.
The letter also cautions others to ‘ think twice ‘ before resigning from government service. The writer also mentions that his friend is bitter about the decision he made and wishes that he had thought twice before resigning. Now he is apparently paying the price for that decision by continuing to work even at the age of sixty five because he has no pension.
Another Discerning Look at the Issue
I would like to offer a different perspective to the issue.
As most people are aware, venturing into business is always going to be a risky proposition. The percentage of those who actually succeeded is very small. This is a worldwide phenomenon.
Much too often, individuals go into business without a proper preparation and the necessary due diligence. They are all fired up with their ability to sell or market a product or service and are less likely to listen to sound advice from those in the know.
Civil Service Has Lost Its Lustre
The Malaysian civil service was once one of the best in the region. This was so especially after independence and till the late seventies. Many well qualified candidates chose to be in government service and only opted for the private sector if that was not possible. These civil servants performed at a professional level on a consistent basis and were generally highly regarded.
Over time, many changes took place. The mix of factors, political and otherwise, has to a lot to do with the slow decay and decline in the civil service. Quality candidates these days choose to look for opportunities in the growing private sector. More MNCs are now operating in Malaysia and these companies are on the look out for candidates of calibre.
Prepare to Forego Challenges and Promotions
One friend who left government service in the seventies put it quite bluntly: ‘ To get this pension, one should be willing to forego the challenges and the development of one’ latent potential.
One must also be prepared to forego promotions when less deserving candidates are fast tracked because of other unknown considerations! In addition, in order to get this pension one must endure mind numbing boredom, mediocrity and bureaucracy for years ‘.
In Life, Love and Career Situations There are No Guarantees
Yes, of course, do think twice or even thrice. Once you have made that all important decision, do not ever look back with regret. Instead look forward with confidence. I too was offered this advice by a good friend when he heard that I was contemplating resigning from government service after having put in 19 years.
That friend meant well. However, I chose to go ahead because to me that was a major decision I was prepared to make after all the relevant factors were considered. This is because I truly believe that in life, love and career situations there are no guarantees.
Courage and Confidence come from Within
President Ronald Regan once famously remarked after a space tragedy in the United States: ‘ The world belongs to the brave and the bold ‘. Courage and confidence unfortunately cannot be purchased from the neighbourhood convenience store! These qualities come wholly from within.
Before embarking on that significant and life changing move to the private sector, one must prepare adequately for it by continuous self education…as a life long pursuit and passion. You should also carry out a proper and realistic audit of your strengths and weaknesses and determine if you have what it takes to not only survive but make it in the private sector. There must also be that willingness to ‘ stretch ‘ yourself and the ability to work long hours as well as work smart.
The key to continuing success in the private sector is your ability to give your employer even more value on a consistent basis.
Give Your Employer Even More Value
The key to continuing success in the private sector is your ability to give your employer even more value on a consistent basis. Additionally, it is also your willingness to undertake urgent assignments and projects as required by your employer.
And when you do so willingly and with competence and flair, you will be noticed and recognised in an appropriate manner. And when there are promotions to be made, you will be on the shortlist.
In the private sector, as I discovered, you are measured among other factors, by Key Performance Indicators ( KPIs ). If you meet or exceed these KPIs on a regular and consistent basis, you are quick to be recognised and rewarded.
Deliver Excellent Results on a Consistent Basis
Unlike in the civil service where so much emphasis is placed on your entry level qualifications and you are then placed in a special salary grade, the private sector is focused more on your ability to deliver excellent results on a regular basis.
I am pleased to report that many of my friends and colleagues have made the transition to the private sector with considerable success. A few have, I admit, faltered because they lost focus, grew careless and impatient and subsequently gave up much too soon.
Quick to Recognise and Reward
In my case, I worked for two major international accounting institutes for over 18 years. I certainly enjoyed the challenges that came my way. My bosses here in Malaysia as well as those in London were very supportive throughout my years of service.
So too were the members and students of these international accounting institutes. Both these bodies were also quick to recognise and subsequently reward me with perks, privileges and significant salary increases on a regular basis.
Enjoyed Teaching at La Salle Brickfields
I must admit, however, that I did enjoy teaching at La Salle Secondary School, Brickfields, in Kuala Lumpur for 15 years.
The teaching chores, the camaraderie and the fellowship with teaching colleagues, the wide variety of extra mural activities with students, and the La Sallian traditions and ethos were a real delight.
Relished the Excitement, Professionalism and Satisfaction
What I particularly relished was the excitement, professionalism and satisfaction of embarking on new challenges and worthwhile initiatives while in the private sector. There was none of that repetitive, boring and soul destroying bureaucratic activities on the other side of the fence.
For sure, there were risks to be faced and I had my share too. But in such times, one should remain resolute, flexible and be prepared to think out of the box in facing such situations. It was, for me, an adrenaline rush of a delightful kind.
In short, even after thinking twice, leaving for the private sector was the best career decision of my life. If you can make it in the private sector, managing your finances in the post retirement phase should be a cinch …if you are disciplined. Moreover, it is merely a case of ‘ cutting your coat according to your cloth’.