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Insight from our Singapore Back to Work participant, Michelle Wong



1. Why did you apply the Ambition’s Back to Work program?

I was considering going back to work after my career break. I decided to apply for the Back to Work program as I thought it would be useful in helping me prepare for the challenges I’d be facing ahead. The workshop topics were particularly attractive and practical, for example, preparing for interviews and how to update my CV.

2. How did you think of the program overall?

It was an excellent program in my opinion. It has helped me in so many ways to get into the right state of mind for a new career challenge. If I was to put a list together, it would go on forever.


3. What did you learn?

I learnt how to become more adaptable, open-minded and how to be prepared mentally for the challenges, or more specifically, the hardship ahead.


4. How did the Back to Work program help you with getting back to work?

  • The story sharing by fellow participants of the program helped me realise that the challenge I was facing was shared by many other capable women out there. It comforted me and boosted my confidence as I realised that I wasn’t alone on this journey
  • The workshops provided many useful tips and practical skills e.g interviews, CV writing, explaining the reasons for the break and reasons for wanting to come back to work. The lessons learnt were put to use when I sent my application and went for an interview for my current position;
  • The networking amongst the candidates, the Ambition staff, their clients and the guest speakers is priceless. The networking opened doors for many of us, whether it was for a job or for knowledge, or experience, it has contributed to my personal growth and exposure.


5. Can you tell us more about your new job now? 

I am currently the Vice President in Business Integration and Portfolio Management for IT in SGX. It is a refreshing role and a challenging one as it is completely different from my previous work experience as a Restructuring Management Consultant. I welcomed the opportunity to learn about information technology which is driving global growth and revolutionising the way corporates and individuals operate and live. In my current role, I oversee governance, planning and reporting for business-driven IT projects throughout the Singapore Exchange.


6. How did you find the transitioning from an extended career break to resuming back to your career?  What are the main challenges?

To be honest, it certainly was not a walk in a park. The main challenge, in my opinion, is my own mindset change. Many of us feel uncertain, unsure and lost when we first explore the option of going back to work. There was a lot of questions in the beginning  -  am I still employable? Have I lost my touch from my last position? Will employers be receptive of returners or discount us? Should I take a pay cut? How do I stand a chance amongst all the younger candidates or other candidates that haven’t taken a break and the list of questions go on. Overcoming all those questions and clearing up the uncertainty was only the first step towards finding the focus to prepare for job applications and interviews.

When I first started my new job, there were many things to adapt to – new environment, new colleagues, new work culture, new IT systems to catch up on. To me, it is important to be prepared mentally for the challenge and to stay focused on the reason why I wanted to return back to work.


7. Are there any pieces of advice that you can share with our future Back to Work program participants?

Don’t give up. Stay focused and keep trying. Keep improving to increase your odds, such as taking up a course or qualification, networking, learning how to use LinkedIn etc. And when the going gets tough, remember- you are not alone. Stay in touch with your fellow participants, they will be an invaluable source of support and friendship.

If you're interested in joining our Back to Work program or know someone who might be, please click here for more information.