Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome back to hell

After a week of smooth sailing through the main roads of Jakarta, today everyone joins the 'devil' traffic once again. What took me 45 minutes to go from my home in Pejaten to my office in Thamrin, turned into a one-hour-fifteen minute journey, this morning. Darn. Why don’t those school kids take public transportation instead of private cars? That made my supposed-to-be first day in the new division ruined by showing up late to work.

I guess tomorrow I should come much earlier (I hope I will make it, considering my bad reputation of arriving late almost every time *big sigh).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Good Representative

Ooh, sometimes I hate having this oily face of mine! I know, I know. People say it’s great for me to have this kind of face because I will look old less fast than those who have normal, or worst, dry face. But it’s constant agony to have to wipe the thickening oil off my face once every half an hour and practically remove my "work of art" a.k.a. my makeup which has taken me about 15 minutes to put on before going to work. More than that, people think I don’t put on any face powder or even accuse me of not having a shower (darn!) while as a matter of fact I do.

Well, what can I say? I’m not a pretty face, I know that. I have done something to fix it but the oil keeps on coming so what else can I say? So rather than worrying about my physical appearance, why not focusing on doing my works better? After all, I have seen examples of women with modest appearance yet they manage to come out as leaders.

In my line of business, there’s Lily Widjaja, the previous commissioner of Jakarta Stock Exchange. I really admire her for achieving her success by relying on her brain and personality, not her look. Her achievement is really something, considering that in the capitalist world of business, a lot of times your appearance matters. Whereas from what I see and read on magazines, Ms. Widjaja is someone who perhaps only puts on face powder and lipstick as her makeup, and nothing else.

Plus, I grow up with this mindset that what matters most is our head and soul in living our everyday life, including at work. There’s a dress code for working which a professional has to obey, I’m aware of that too. You can’t possibly wear a sarong to the office, right? Yet I like to keep my attire simple. By saying 'simple', I mean I’m not the type of woman who wears her jilbab in a stylish way. I’m really the old fashioned type when it comes to clothing, although not that old fashioned because I wear trousers at times.

It was not until recently that my belief was challenged. You see, after my rotation period was over, I was assigned to the Investment Management division for my on-the-job training session. The division was suitable with my choice, BUT the subdivision where I was actually assigned to was way, way beyond my expectation. You see, I had educational background in accounting and finance/investment. I spent my six years of career in investment, finance, and management consulting/training. I landed my choice on the Investment Management division with the hope that I would be able to join the asset management or the products team so that I can make good use of my knowledge and little experience in finance/investment.

Yet, what was I assigned to when I joined the division? M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G. Yup. I spell it right. Marketing. Well, I was not assigned to make a sales pitch. Since my background was quite heavy on research, I was expected to make a marketing research for the division.

I thought, 'Okay, although I was never involved in making any marketing research – not one tiniest bit of experience – maybe I could learn to do it.' Still, because I’m new to this, it took me quite some time to fall in love with my new works.

Now, as I was trying to 'force' myself to fall in love with the works, one day a senior came to me and asked me to meet him in the meeting room. Can you guess what he said in that room? He said, "Metty, the director as well as your seniors want you to change your look and how you dress." Well, it was not exactly what he said, but that was what he was trying to convey to me. He – as well as the big boss and other fellow seniors – think my appearance 'did not provide good representation of the company.'

During my years of working, never had I been reminded to mind how I look and appear. To tell you the truth, the words came to me like a thunder during the day. I was shocked and frankly, stressed out. I took a day off the next day for sick reason. Yeah, I was sick indeed. Sick and surprised because my working there was not judged by the quality of my work (i.e. research), but by my exterior standing. If that’s the measure this division took, then I was a loser from the very beginning because I knew then and I know now that to give those people what they want, I would have to make quite some changes. I could maintain my jilbab wearing, but if I want to make them happy, I would have to start wearing it like most of the big artists do, while I know that’s not me and I don’t want to be like them.

The good thing was that the person who supervised me directly was not same type of person as those 'look matters' gang. She was fair, seeing me from what I produced and how good it was. She was one of the few reasons why I still wanted to work for the Investment Management division.

Yet, fate says different. Last month, an opportunity knocked at my door. A vacancy in the Equity Research division was available and I thought for myself, 'Hey, why don’t I try to apply for the position?' It was merely an effort for fun. If I was accepted, that would be great. If I wasn’t, that’d be fine too because it wasn’t at all that bad working in the Investment Management division if I counted off the "physical performance" factor.

What do you know, I was in at the new division (at least that’s what I think. The head of the Equity Research division hasn’t said a word, but my supervisor said it was okay if I wanted to join another division). What do you know, I already miss the people in the Investment Management division although I haven’t moved to the Equity Research division. I guess with all the ups and downs I’ve been going through in the past three months, I begin to form quite an attachment to the division.

But then again, thinking how I have been a lousy representative of the division and will always be, I’d better say "Sayonara, Investment Management," and "Konichiwa, Equity Research! Here I come!"