The Balancing Act Episode #2: From stay-at-home mom to leading a culture at Sleek
Welcome to The Balancing Act, a special collaboration between Sleek and Parents in Tech that features our fellow Sleekers on topics ranging from creating work-life balance, balancing career ambitions, and striving in the tech industry – while being a parent!
In this episode, join podcast host, Qin En, as he explores the career journey of our Head of People and Culture, Aisyiah Mohd.
Listen as Aisyiah shares how she left her stable job, stayed at home to care for her children, and then went back to work as an “accidental leader.”
Continue reading to learn more about some important talking points shared and listen to the podcast.
“Cultural shock” at the startup world
1. From civil service to stay-at-home mom
Aisyiah’s career journey started with an “iron rice bowl” in civil service at the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). She then left her stable job and stepped into the private sector to work with a MNC, regardless of those saying that she’s making the “biggest mistake in life”.
After that, she made an even tougher decision for her family to step down, and be there full-time for her children. Looking back, Aisyiah is proud to say that she truly enjoyed her journey as a stay-at-home mom for six years.
2. Returning to the workspace with full support from the family
The opportunity to join Sleek coincidentally came during a time when her kids became less dependent on her. Aisyiah decided it was time to return to the workspace and took a shot at a space she was not familiar with, an early-stage tech startup, when Sleek was only about 10 months old.
Having not worked for years, Aisyiah was naturally anxious about stepping back into work. But her family were there with her, supporting her all the way.
3. “Cultural shock” at the startup world
Aisyiah experienced her first startup cultural shock being told that there is no need to worry about office attire when working in a startup. She would be fine with any comfortable clothes, according to Sleek’s co-founder Julien.
Another concern Aisyiah experienced was in the working hours as she still wants to be with her family for dinner and weekends. She asked if she could have flexible working time. Aisyiah expected a difference in benefits from the companies that she used to work with. She was surprised to find out that Sleek, though only a startup, offered such flexibility for employees right from the start.
Constant self-development makes her ready for every opportunity
Aisyiah is a person who loves change. She switched from a customer-facing role to an internal HR role at ACRA. After discovering her interest in HR, she took a step further to get a diploma in HR management.
Aisyiah initially joined as an administrative role at Sleek. Five months later when there was an opportunity for a promotion to be a HR manager, she took the challenge to sign up for bigger responsibilities, on top of her other responsibilities as a mother. And she was blessed with the support from all her colleagues in the management team and her family. Aisyiah is lucky to have seen the company grow from 13 people when she joined, to 300 people today.
Creating the supportive environment for parents and everyone to be successful at Sleek
It is important to build trust first. Aisyiah achieved that by having open communication with the team. Employees at Sleek can be very transparent with their needs and open up to share their ideas or struggles. During the COVID-19 pandemic when everyone felt anxious about the sudden work-from-home (WFH) setting, Aisyiah and her team took the time to speak to each and every employee about how they were coping, about family issues and so on. And the team came up with initiatives to help them, for example, changing the health benefits, allowing employees to purchase WFH setup and exercise related activities.
Moreover, Aisyiah believes in being a leader at home first than at the workplace. She learned to lead by setting a good example from parenting her kids. She also fostered empathy first at home. And she understands that communication goes both ways. Whenever she asks her kids to do something, she explains why they need to do it. And she applies the same open communication at Sleek.
The commitment to have open communication and dedication to speak with employees , one-on-one helps to foster a comfortable and open culture at Sleek.