Does size matter?

Part of the team for the anniversary celebration. Will upload the group pic with everyone when we get hold of the copies 🙂

Okay before we start, if you are rerouted to this blogpost from some ‘naughty’ websites; I suggest you click x as the content is really not what you’re expecting. Sorry to disappoint.

So, I mentioned briefly on one of the recent posts on my Instagram. If I recall correctly, it was about Nomura Asset Management Malaysia celebrating it’s 10th year in Malaysia and how I thought that working for a relatively smaller organization suited me a lot better than the flashy, goliath corporate companies. No, I am not saying that one is better than the other. Some people are built to specialize on particular divisions of the business whilst people like me enjoy horizontal growth more than the vertical.

I remember very clearly the conversation I had with my friends in uni about our future careers and everyone (myself included) were seriously thinking about joining one of The Big 4 (I studied Accounting and Finance so we see people who get into Big 4 audit firms as rockstars).  So it was all well and good until this Axiata had to come and ruin that for me.

After graduating from their leadership program, Axiata offered me an internship opportunity with one of their opcos in Cambodia. I wrote about it here. As you all know, Axiata’s mother ship is quite large and if you combine all the operating companies (this is what opcos stands for btw), the capacity is huge. But the outfit in Cambodia is quite small. I think the marketing dept that I was assigned to only have about 7-8 people and they only spent first 20 mins of my first day to introduce me to everyone in the entire firm from the CEO to the sales support team.

Throughout my short stint there, I was given various responsibilities varying in degree of exposure to the business. From contributing to annual marketing strategy and drafting marketing campaigns to overseeing the setup for marathon we sponsored. I had a blast there trying working on various things! That was when I realized that I am not the kind of person who like to be specialized in one thing. I like learning and feed my curiosity about a lot of things. Once I learnt something, I want to move on to other things instead of sticking around to further work on the subject till I become an expert. That’s right, am a Jane of all trades 😉

To those of you who are graduating soon and are deciding between which job to take or those of you who are thinking of making career shifts for this coming new year, here are some pro’s on working for relatively smaller corporates:

1. You get a more hands on experience at work
There’s no brainer right, less people means everyone needs to sort of be able to cover the work of the other team members in case they have to manage everything solo. So your learning will skyrocket within the first 6 months while your peers in large organizations might still be navigating around the system and work protocols. Also, because of the small team you will have to prep yourself to be taking up bigger responsibilities which may not be given to junior executives in big firms.

2. You can have chats with your bosses as and when you want
Lean organizations are usually flatter and less hierarchical to speed the decision making process. I like this particularly because I have opportunity to interact with the top management to voice out concerns (ie: pay raise. hehehehe) or ideas (ie: bonus raise. *wide grin*) without having to go through layers and layers of gatekeepers. Flatter corporate structure also provides excellent mentoring opportunity when you are able to get some first hand advices and thoughts from the top leaders of the industry.

3. It’s all your fault! YOU!
You learn to be more responsible as the tasks usually are assigned specifically to you and in the absence of a roomful of team members to hide behind, the shortcomings will stick out like sore thumbs. I find this quite a good learning point for you to be more independent and resourceful when seeking out answers or trying to complete a task for the first time. It can be stressful at times but seriously a very valuable learning experience.

4. It feels like family
Okay, this may be a bit of a generalization but small companies tend to have stronger camaraderie amongst the employees. I enjoy working in the office that I am now because of the people. They are such helpful and fun bunch! I’m lucky I supposed but the implementation of corporate culture tend to be more holistic when you have less people to spread it to. Also, team lunch is a lot easier to organize with 30 people compared to 300.

Okay, now the not so nice side (Let’s be real, nothing is perfect kan?):

You may have too much on your plate sometimes. Yes, you will have opportunity to handle the important stuff but that also means that when your sidekicks are away you’ll end up covering for everyone. So there are days that you’ll work extra hours. Also, you will have to be multitasking the whole time so you may not be able to just be focusing on one thing.

So, what do you think? Again, this is not to put people who are working for large corporate against people in smaller organizations but just my two cents on what are the perks being in smaller office. I used to think that with a big corporate name in my CV, I will have greater marketability in the job market but at the end of the day; the values that we created in the respective workplaces that count. So wherever you are, whatever it is that you do; give your best shot. And you may not get the perfect job the first time around but you have to be willing to try and push yourselves out of the comfort zones to continue to improve and excel. Wah, can give commencement speech already like this. *syok sendiri*

Anyway, to all graduates out there I wish you all the best in your first jobs! Just don’t come to the office wearing too tight shirts. Or you will be called Mr/Ms *insert your name here* Burstingshirt. No kidding.

Love,
Nadia Ismadi

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