HOW TO UPSKILL
It’s never too late to learn on the job: Here’s how one brave woman mastered new skills for a successful mid-career switch
Boost your career prospects with a timely skills upgrade
Mastering new skills is not optional in today’s cutthroat business environment. In a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn a new competency is one of the keys to success. Continual self-improvement is often necessary for getting and staying ahead at work. But how do you start to upskill when you have a full-time job to contend with? Or what if you actually happen to love your current job?
Quest for Self-improvement
Imagine this: You’re a high-flying corporate aficionado with a covetable job at a Fortune 500 company. But after a few good years making good money, you subsequently decide to leave the comforts of your stable executive position to become, of all things, a yoga instructor.
This was the scenario Audrey Ling Seah, 28, found herself in. With a role in Public Relations and Marketing for British luxury fashion house, Burberry, Audrey had a job that elicited praise and envy. But one yoga class, a few years into her flourishing career, set her on a path less travelled. She acquired a new set of skills that would see her say goodbye to power suits and pointed-toe pumps, and hello to form-fitting tank tops and compression leggings.
Taking A Leap of Faith
The decision to go rogue wasn’t easy for Audrey. “It was pretty scary,” she confesses. “For the first time in my life, I didn’t know which direction to head towards, but I knew I didn’t want to do the safe thing.” As a child she was taught about the importance of a good education and a stable career, but she also believed the perfect storm of passion and practice could lead to ultimate success. And that was what she found in yoga.
“It wasn’t a case of ‘Oh I’m unhappy with my job, I’ve got to figure out what I want to get out of the next phase of my career’. I didn’t leave because I didn’t like it ; I’ve always been into movement and dancing since I was young, and I actually trained in contemporary dance. An injury stopped me from pursuing that professionally, but then I found yoga.”
A love for the physicality and spirituality of the discipline led her to embark on a journey to New York, to undergo specific training to teach yoga to the masses. “I actually took my teacher’s training when I was still at Burberry,” she explains. “I used up most of my annual leave to train under (US yoga guru) Tara Stiles at her Strala studio, and got my certification after over 200 hours of intensive study.”
Upon returning to Singapore, Audrey taught part-time classes at a number of yoga studios while still holding on to her full-time job, before leaving to open The Moving Practice, which focuses on private yoga instruction.
A Plan for Lifelong Learning
“Of course it takes time and practice to get really good at anything – much more than a few weeks or months of training,” Audrey says of her pursuit of new skills. “And these courses often don’t come cheap, but think of them as an investment in yourself. To reach your own potential, you have to take a few risks that you hope will pay off in the end. It’s almost like a process where you have to break yourself, in order to make yourself.”
With Audrey ’s mid-career reinvention, she definitely felt a change in the way people responded to her new job. “Even if it was unintentional, I had friends who came up to me and said ‘What are you doing with your life?’ and ‘Are you doing the right thing?’” she reveals.
Still, Audrey has no regrets about taking the leap and moving out of her comfort zone. “I’m a big proponent of adapting and growing through life. I just want to keep learning because as much as I’m a teacher, I’m also a student,” she says. “There’s a lot of joy in learning and you can never reach a point where you can say ‘I’m done with learning’.”