Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New Chapter of Life; my work life

I was retrenched from a bio-technology company and I had to leave the wonderful company on 31 October, 2016. Refer to : http://jkfund.blogspot.sg/2016/12/i-was-retrenched.html

I finally received the employment letter from the same industry as well, a Medical Equipment & Device company on 19 December, 2016. The market capitalization is 4 times bigger than my previous company. The headquarter is in Chicago, U.S.A. My past 13 years of careers are with Swiss German company.

There were just too many negative news on the media while I was searching for jobs. It was worrying, of course.

It says, "the job growth rate was slow and the job loss was aggravating in Q2 year 2016".

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) says, "Singapore economics will not get significantly better next year (year 2017)".

The unemployment rate continue to rise, lay-offs at 7 years high.

The largest hit by lay-offs are PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives and technicians).

The hottest industry right now and in the future in Singapore are: Software Engineering, Cyber Security, Financial Technology, Compliance and Healthcare.

But sadly enough, even I was from Healthcare industry, I was retrenched.

 Government has good initiative to make the engineering sexy again.

Government offers engineering fresh graduate a starting pay of S$3,800 per month! My generation in year 2004, starting pay was only S$2,750 per month. :(

It also mentioned that banking industry now prefers to hire engineering graduates, which I find it not so true! I didn't get any reply from GIC, UBS, DBS, etc. Perhaps they are looking for software engineers, IT related engineers instead?

An interesting article telling you not to quit your job at the year end.

There are many good articles published to tell you how to prepare for an interview.

Yes, asking questions at interview is extremely important. I always make sure I ask at least 3 questions during the interview. I prepared 5 questions instead and I also know the answers for all the 5 questions from the Internet. It is always important to show you are interested in the company.

"Your job to ask questions at interview too"

Do take note on these questions from the interviewer too!

How to survive in the corporate world?

Needless to say your resume is utmost important to capture the attention of human resource, recruiter, talent acquisition professional and your future reporting boss.

Where are the jobs?

I also had this wonderful book to prepare myself how to do a six-figure salary negotiation. It is a great book.

Best of all, I got the book at S$5 only. Amazing, isn't it?

Just a quick look of the book content for your reference.

 We also need the spiritual food in our daily life. I actively seek wisdom from the "Grace" book.
This was the page I randomly flipped right before I fly to Shanghai, China for my final interview. Work location is in Singapore.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Little Career Stories

I came to Singapore right after my U.S. graduate studies in December 2003.

I started to search for a job in Singapore in January 2004. I sent out about 30 resumes. My first interview was a bathroom accessories company called RIGEL. The job was a programming related to deal with the light motion sensor. Then, I also had an interview with National Instrument company for application trainer. Basically, you are teaching the Labview software for the potential clients. I also went to Chartered Semiconductor for Turn Key Engineer interview.

At the same time, I got the interview from Leica for Development Engineer position. Leica was the first company offering a firm job so I just took up the job happily in early March 2004. Indeed Leica was a great Swiss/ German company. I learnt a lot on the job, simply because I had a very good mentor, probably the best engineer in the company and he is still with the company today. I was deeply grateful that as a fresh graduate, I was given an important task to do the new production transfer from Germany to Singapore. It was a confocal laser scanning microscope project. I went to MannheimGermany extensively for the first 6 months to understand the complicated product completely and to build it/test it and qualify it all my myself. I then became a Process Engineer. I actually hold multiple jobs, namely, Process Engineer, Test Engineer, Quality Engineer, Troubleshooting/Rework Engineer and Project Engineer. I had to do all these functions and that was how I learnt a lot on the job. I now appreciate the great learning curve. That was the time I learnt how to create BOM (Bill of Materials) on SAP, CK11N cost roll up the BOM with the tooling cost, MMBE to check the stock overview/ goods movements to ensure we had good inventories, etc..

At Leica for 6 years and 10 months, I completed 12 business trips. Total duration of the 12 business trips was close to one year stay. All 12 business trips were at Germany (Mannheim and Wetzlar). Those were the days that Leica gave me winter cloths allowance (S$400 every 2 years) and daily allowance of S$85 at overseas. So, literally, I had extra S$85 (daily allowance) x 365 days =  S$31,025 given for the business trips. Not to forget that my Singapore pay cheque was untouched when I was at overseas. S$0 living cost spent in Singapore when I was away for total 12 months. I saved a lot during my first employment in Singapore. I also became the first batch of engineers going to Germany for the new product transfer (others were sent to Switzerland only in the past). Because of this reason, the HR rewarded me an additional S$3,000. The HR did not know if the Germany living cost was higher than Switzerland (as I was the first one to go to Germany). It actually turned out the other way round. The living cost in Germany was so much cheaper than Switzerland!

That's my first 7 years in Singapore.
During my two years of graduate studies in Michigan, U.S.A. (year 2002 and 2003), I was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for sophomore laboratory class, which was Electronic Circuit Analysis (ECE 210 module). The university waived my graduate school course fees completely (FREE studies for 2 years!). They also gave me a good stipend of US$4,500 per semester (one semester duration is 4 months). There are two semesters per year (Fall semester and Winter semester). So, total US$9,000 salaries per year. With this full time teaching assistantship, I was no longer allowed to work on campus. But, I did open a private tuition class on campus. I once had 10 students at my private tuition class and I charged US$20 per hour each person. So, easily, I can earn US$200 in just one hour. It was indeed good earning money especially you were still a student! My private tuition students were mostly from very rich countries like South Africa and Middle East. I should have charged them more!

Before I became a Teaching Assistant in year 2002, I worked various jobs on the campus. I started as a dish washer at the residence dining hall on the campus. I worked 20 hours (maximum allowed hours) per week. The pay was like US$6.50 per hour and you enjoyed free meal after work. It was good deal. I also worked as residence hall receptionist during the summer in year 2000. I remembered I slept at the sofa at the reception! Just imagine there was completely no one coming into the residence hall during the time from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. It was an easy job obviously. I even slept during my work! My jobs were to distribute the mails to the letter boxes (that’s how I know the PLAYBOY magazine was sealed in the special BLACK plastic bag) and to watch/monitor the students coming into the residence hall, that was it!

At my fourth year of undergraduate studies in year 2001, I realized I need to do more value added jobs on campus in order to win the recognition from the professors and subsequently, I needed their recommendation to apply for the university scholarships for the graduate program, which is Teaching Assistantship. So I started as a grading assistant. I graded papers for the professors, e.g. the homework, exam 1 and exam 2 but not the final exam paper. So, in some classes, 70% of the students’ grade falls onto my hands. It was because the final exam was only 30% of the grade. I also became a lab programming assistant at the Visual Basic programming class, answered all kind of programming code problems raised by the students in the lab class.
Thereafter, I knew to get a Teaching Assistantship, I must teach laboratory class.
I happened to have one good summer semester in year 2001 to horn my teaching skills. That was the first time I taught the electric circuit analysis laboratory session in front of a class of 18 students. During my Teaching Assistant career, I had to teach 2 classes of laboratory per semester and the lab contents were all the same every single semesters. Once you knew the materials for the first time, subsequently, the teaching was so damn easy. Just imagine at the end of the day, I had to teach the same class for 10 times. I literally could close my eyes and teach and write on the chalk boards. P-SPICE was the software simulator we used to simulate the electric circuit analysis, to plot the voltage graph, current graph, etc..

I also had the privilege to serve at the President Bush Gala dinner at our campus in year 2001. That was the craziest working day in my life. We started working at 8 A.M. all the way until the following day at 3 A.M. That included a lot of over time. We decorated the dining hall, served the dinner at night and we had to wash all the dishes and put down all the decoration too. By then, I was dragging my feet in the snow, going back home at late night (3.A.M.). That was one day in December 2001. It was a great experience and that one day pay cheque was like US$ 180 (overtime pay was included).
During the summer time each year, I would run around the professor offices and collected the unwanted textbooks at the school corridor. Professors always receive the latest edition of the text books from the publishers and they will throw away the older edition of the text books by just placing them outside the office (it is a kind of recycling). I took back all the books and sold it at www.half.com . I think the website was later acquired by eBay. For me, the inventory was free, obviously and I just need to pay UPS ground shipping cost of US$2.30 to ship the book to the buyers and I always managed to clear off all my inventories.

Those are my working experiences in the United States of America.

To be continued ... .... ( the new chapter of work life)

Oh ya, out of no where, a consulting firm sent me a message through LinkedIn, asking me to give a phone consultation for Molecular Diagnostic Market in Singapore & APAC.

I just chit chatted with the lady on the phone for a good 62 minutes and I was paid US$186 for phone consultation. Damn, US$3 per minute consultation fee is so damn cool ! Please find me more often!

I was retrenched

I was retrenched on the BREXIT day, which was June 24, 2016.

My heart was very peaceful while I read the retrenchment letter. My current role was reallocated to Manchester, U.K.. I was, at the same time, offered an internal job rotation to be a Global Product Specialist (GPS). It is a role to conduct medical instruments training for the Asia Pacific Field Service Engineers and also provide technical support to them through emails/phone calls. I went through a phone interview with the GPS Director and he was able to raise the hiring budget and match my current salary. As I had some interview appointments going on at the same time, I kindly rejected the internal job rotation offer. 

Three months down the road, I realised the job market was tough. There were many applicants fighting for a position. After a careful thought, I decided to write to the GPS Director, telling him that I would like to take up the offer that he had presented to me three months ago. To my surprise, this GPS position was put on hold until further notice. 

Without any choice, I signed the retrenchment letter. The last day of the employment was on 31st October, 2016. I was actually given 4 months plus notice to leave the company. That was very merciful indeed. Some companies even ask you to leave on the same day as the announcement. 

I was rewarded 1 month pay out per 1 year of service. I was with the company for 5 years and 9 months; therefore I was rewarded a cool 5.75 months bonus.

My employment was entitled for 10% bonus of the annual salary. It was due next year March. It comprises of 66% of company financial performance and 34% of my personal KPI achievement. They were kind enough to give full 10% bonus without any pro-rate on duration of employment. To achieve 100% of KPIs on the company financial performance was not possible at all. I did score 100% on my personal KPI achievement in the past few years. With this, I was rewarded another 1.20 month bonus.

I have chalked up 22 days annual leave, unused. Again, they did not pro-rate the annual leave based on my employment duration. I was then rewarded additional 1.00 month bonus (22 working days per month). I still have 2 days of child care leave unused. I should haven taken all the child care leave first and leave 24 days of annual leave instead!

Last but not least, they even gave me extra one-time cheque of a GOOD 5 digits sum to find a new job 

However, my company stock option (total 500 shares), given to me as performance bonus, worth S$20,000 was forfeited. That was the only negative point. If the company stock option was also rewarded, I would have more than a year wages as retrenchment package. I do not have to work for one year and still get paid! How cool is that?

So the total retrenchment package was 5.75 months + 1.20 months + 1.00 month + 5 digits sum (one extra single payment).

Best of all, the retrenchment pay outs are NOT TAXABLE!

Two days after I left the company on October 31st, 2016, they announced even greater restructure. They decided to close down the California office. They will also spin off the Switzerland site and then close it down eventually too. It is a sad change obviously. Nevertheless, I have to say it is still a great company. I love working here especially there is no manufacturing line in Singapore but a contract manufacturing partner at Penang, Malaysia that is handling all the instrument manufacturing. The relationship is just like Apple (technology company) with Fox conn contract manufacturing partner. 

In view of the new US/ Europe restructuring, Singapore HR told me that it actually creates more opportunities in Asia Pacific, e.g. Singapore too. I have yet to know any new vacancies created at Singapore office. I do not mind to return back to the same company should there be any suitable position. The HR had mentioned to me that I am able to return to the company if there is any good position that suits me in the future. I do know some companies have the policy that once you are retrenched, you are no longer able to join back the same company again but that is not the case for me, which is good.

It is because I enjoyed working here. I don’t mind to work here until age 65 with the same pays throughout! I am serious, it is a work life balance job and I can work from home anytime I want. The works are basically attending the phone conference calls and writing emails only. You can do that everywhere, even at Hawaii.

I had worked at this company for 5 years and 9 months. I completed 67 business trips.

1x trip to Washington D.C., U.S.A.
1x trip to San Francisco, U.S.A.
3x trips to Brisbane & Gold Coast, Australia.
10x trips to Zurich, Switzerland. (1x of the trip went to Dusseldorf, Germany as well)
49x trips to Penang, Malaysia. (Penang had become my second home!)
3x trips to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In average, I had one business trip per month.
Those were the good days I enjoyed a lot.
To be continued ... ...

P/S:"My Little Career Stories" : http://jkfund.blogspot.sg/2016/12/my-little-career-stories.html
"New Chapter of Life; My Work Life": http://jkfund.blogspot.sg/2016/12/new-chapter-of-life-my-work-life.html