Sunday, January 02, 2011

Year 2008-2010 in review

Haven't really spent time blogging. Maybe now I do not have enough idle time to permit me to, or I had lost some passion or the urge to blog. I thought it would be good to document this down - a review of year 2008 - 2010 during the beginning of year 2011 so as to remind myself what I was thinking or experiencing at those times. Some blog post are particularly nostalgic when reading in retrospect. I had a quick look into what I've written in year 2007 and year 2006 and the below are the main categories. I shall stick to the same and try to reflect what had happened in these 3 years.

I had resigned from a Top Management Consulting company and joined a SAP HCM Consulting company. The first thing that came into my mind when I first join this company was that, the people were not that (bright, driven, pro-active), afraid to voice out, afraid to challenge status quo. The company culture was also chinese oriented and also practise mickey mouse consulting. I had many months doing nothing except internet surfing until we really onboard to our first assigned project.

This time I was based in Shell for a 1.5 years project. It was a fairly easy project on hindsight and the colleagues are a young bunch and easy going folks. From here, I brushed up on some technical knowledge particularly in SAP HR / HCM / ABAP / Debugging / SmartForms as well as on the soft skills aspect such as email communication, defect communication, doing documentation, international project coordination, working with teams across the world, being a team lead of 7-9 ppl. During UAT times, it was quite stressful due to long working hours which at times crosses towards midnight. Somehow, it was much easier to stomach in due to the great camaraderie we have between the team. I realised this was something missing in my previous company and a sense of disconnect was there. We had a monthly budget for team building events and it was definitely fun and something to look forward to each month.

After this project was over, I was sent back to office to work on a smaller project. Then soon after a new version of the software my company sells was launched; and we had a really hard time trying to deliver this work. And it remains a challenge even now due to quality and immaturity issues.

Currently I lead a team of 2-6 and I have had my first experience in writing project reviews and having 1-to-1 session giving constructive feedback with my team members. I learned how to do effective coaching and gain utmost satisfaction seeing my own team members able to learn and leverage their own skillsets. I also learned that people can exceed expectations, so I should always set the bar a little higher. Having a paternalistic mindset will eventually burnt myself out. Areas that I'm trying to improve is giving clear instructions and delegate work and empower those who are capable.

My department is also expanding massively recently due to the shrinkage of Morocco's team and also due to the growing experience of the team here, the delivery results and the cost factor.

During these period I travel to Singapore on a bi-weekly basis and WFH. It is rather lonely working from home and I feel disconnected with my colleagues, but it's an arrangement that still proves to be working. Work still gets delivered. The drawback is that I tend to work till late hours having to accomplished most of the task myself. I realised I need to talk to my team members and have that human connection in order to be able to absorb better what issues they faced, what they like or do not like, whether they are bullshitting me and to generally achieve a better progress.

In May 2010, I was officially promoted to a Senior Consultant level although I had sort of been functioning in that role ever since I had joined this company.

I was attached to a 2 year+ long relationship. Someone who I had met in Shell. It was a whirlwind, confusing, nervous, emotional, passion filled journey. I'm glad I had the chance to experience this infatuation and the feeling of falling in love.

I had learned a lot about being together as a couple, the things and habits we have to tolerate, the extra efforts we have to make, the sacrifices we have to make. It's about finding a life partner and I think I am still learning about this.

We had many memorable trips together and even an adventurous trip to Tokyo, Japan, unguided!

Being in a relationship really makes one mature faster. I learned that as human, we should sometimes trust our gut feel, and do not ignore certain warning signs. Also I have learned not to be so stubborn, learn to let go, and learn to see a relationship from the eyes of others.

The stock market tanked in year 2008 due to the collapse of sub-prime loans, derivatives and especially the foldup of Lehman Brothers as well as the threat of AIG folding up as well. Many big banks in USA were merged and the bad assets were transferred to the government. Somehow this also affected Malaysia. And the stock market tanked to more than 50%. It was really nerve wrecking and a terrifying experience. We are always trying to average-down and catch the falling knife. At one point I lost more than RM30,000 in paper loss.

After that I became more risk adverse and am happy to be in cash. I could have profited a great deal during the run-up from 2009-2010 but none could be the wiser. Some key points that I learned and I hope will be of good use in future:-
1. Base Lending Rate goes up -> Banking stocks go up
2. Interest rates go down -> Inflation and even the stock market go up
3. Commodities are highly cyclical
4. Invest in what you know
5. Technical candle stick charts are good for short term trade and trending
6. Trust no one but yourself
7. Be disciplined. Set a cut loss target and an exit target. Failing to do this results in aunty investing mentality

I'm currently not holding any portfolio anymore and I'm afraid to enter the market, especially when the KLSE is at an all time high of 1500+.

2 trips to Bangkok for shopping and thai massage
Adventurous Tokyo, Japan
First couple trip to Bukit Tinggi - first horse riding experience
Trip to Malacca and Kuala Pilah
Valentine day trip to Cameron Highlands - first strawberry picking experience
NYE 2009 trip to Cameron Highlands

Sold my apartment in year 2010. Realised I could have sold it for another RM40 - RM50k if I had been more patient for a few months. Well, who would have thought that property sees a 30% run in a matter of months?

Moved into a new home. Back to staying in a landed house. This time the house is the biggest in my life. I also spent nearly RM20k to renovate the room and buying furniture. Also this residential area is gated and guarded and comes with clubhouse facilities. Begin to play badminton again after a hiatus of more than 10 years.

Now I'm driving a Year 2002 Nissan Sentra 1.6. Finally stop driving a Proton and I realised that what difference the quality a Japan made car and a locally made car is. Also the comfort and image that the car brings to you.