You know… its strange. 5 years ago, I was a fearless young man, all geared up for the challenges of a regional role. I joined a joint venture start-up pharmaceutical distribution company, and pulled together an impossible implementation of a completely new IT infrastructure, which was set up within 9 months. The blokes in one of the Joint venture partners didn’t believe it was possible, and was waiting for me to fail. I didn’t know what was the word “fear”, and I was extremely gung-ho. I knew exactly what I wanted, and was extremely driven. I was taking care of 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Then, 2 years later, I was caught in a political cross-fire, and had to leave the company. My world shattered, and everything came crashing down. My confidence was all but destroyed, and of course, in times like those, I turned humbly to God, the author and finisher of my faith. Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. I placed my trust in the Lord, felt convicted to give back to God a month of the 3 months severance pay as tithe for the church building fund. I did this before I had found another job. It was scary.

In the days that followed (and all within 3 months! I didn’t encounter a single day without pay!), God opened the door to a huge apparel sourcing company (lets call it TFL), taking care of 8 countries, largely in South Asia and a spattering of outlying areas like South Africa, Mauritius, etc. Life returned largely back to normal, but I had no idea that I would transfer back to the pharmaceutical distribution space in a sister company (lets call it TOUGH). This, I did in March 2009. The role was a country role in the Logistics and Distribution space. In terms of workload, this move quadrupled my workload several times over, even though it was only a country role. On top of the additional workload, I had to learn a completely new business from scratch, and boy… was it tough. It still is tough, and there is still so much to learn. But I learned most of all that I really don’t like the 3rd Party Logistics business. I hate it.

As things would have it, TFL decided in August to privatize TOUGH! In a swift move, I’ve come back under the TFL fold. And, as part of the integration, I go back to a regional role. This time, overseeing IT for a completely “new” business structure in TFL, taking care of the explosive growth opportunities in Asia.

But this time around, I find myself a bundle of nerves. I’m like an incoherent and incompetent vessel void of confidence. Why? I don’t know really. Perhaps it was the company culture in TOUGH where confrontation is the order of the day. Would you believe, the company looked for the ability to push-back and challenge as qualities it would want its managers’ to have. It went completely against what I believed in and what I am. The bible teaches us to be meek and humble; to turn the other cheek. But when I do that, I get pushed around. So, I had to make do. My bosses say I am too soft. Softness equated to weakness.

Anyways, the more i learnt about the business in the last 2 years, the more I realised I didn’t know. But, the interesting thing was, my bosses continue to feel that I was doing well even though I don’t feel the same. I was most at ease with the IT infrastructure discipline, but the role has always escaped me. So, I remain embedded in the business, managing all of IT in the country.

Come January, on top of Singapore, I will also oversee Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and The Philippines. 5 countries. There is much to learn still, and I am hopeful. I will continue to trust in the Lord for his provision and grace. As I journey in this, I have really learnt that I am truly dependent on Him alone. The business is huge, and the essence of leadership is responsibility. I feel the weight of responsibility, and I am a reluctant leader. But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is where God has placed me, and I need to wait upon Him for his direction.

Thank you Lord.

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3 Responses to Reflections

  1. JoL says:

    Many of Jesus’ disciples were “reluctant leaders”. But keep your eyes & heart on Him and I truly believe you’ll be ok. πŸ˜€

    Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas in advance!

  2. Paul says:

    Thanks Jo. πŸ™‚ Appreciate your confidence.

  3. Leong says:

    Great to read about your Brompton tour. Did you buy it from DigiNexx or elsewhere? Thanks for the details on the Lojel suitcase to fit it. I used one of your pic in FB to promote this bag for people who have been flying around with their bike. I am checking out a Carryme bag. I guess it may have to be custom made canvas!

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