Thursday, 6 March 2014

In the City

Two weeks into my my job in the City and I have to say I feel at home. I feel proud to be where I am. I'm enjoying the variety of responsibilities I have and just mainly the freedom for creativity especially in producing communications content. 

I wanted to touch on perceptions that people have (myself included) about the corporate field and the City in general. The people are supposedly robot-like and unapproachable. The atmosphere is apparently cold and unwelcoming. 

This couldn't be further from the truth.

I've visited several corporate companies as part of my training and I have to say the hosts have been some of the nicest people I've met. Everyone, from the receptionists to the senior members, is pleasant and are very friendly individuals. 

My team are a wonderful bunch and made me feel welcomed even before my first day. I love my job - and that's rare for many people, I realise that. No two days are the same and I like the ways in which I'm developing professionally and meeting new people. The commute is a piece of cake and very quick and I have a great selection of places to eat out at and shop at, all within walking distance. 

I'm learning so many different things and it's a transitional stage at the company but I'm excited for my time there.

So all is not what it seems from the outside. Corporate exteriors do not equal lifeless and mundane individuals who only see £ signs (or $ signs). I'm glad I've had my perceptions changed because I've met many incredibly talented people.

Pop by again! M x

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Don't Label Me

There's a mutual feeling, between many of us, that adverts are annoying and time consuming. Well, be that as it may, we can't avoid them and they are forever present in our day to day lives. Just as I was clicking onto a YouTube video, I was faced with an advert that could be skipped within 5 seconds. Usually, I frantically tap the 'Skip Ad' button, but this certain ad caught my eye.

It was a Pantene Philippines commercial which brought to attention gender bias in the workplace and did not just consist of clips of models flipping their shiny, smooth, luxurious hair (though I'm sure the actresses did fit these criterias). 

We are presented with a male and female dichotomy of what types of characteristics/ labels are stamped on each gender in certain circumstances and periods of work. 

> At board meetings and conferences men are the BOSS whilst women are simply BOSSY; men are PERSUASIVE but women are PUSHY.
> As working fathers, men are DEDICATED, but a working mother is SELFISH.
> Looking after one's appearance is a NEAT thing to do for men but a VAIN effort for women.
> A well-dressed male is SMOOTH whereas a female who does the same is a SHOW-OFF.

I really enjoyed the message behind this particular advert about breaking free from gendered labelling and stereotyping but I'm extremely surprised to see that it is still prevalent in workplaces today. 

I'm not here to have a moan about men and shout about how they seem to get all the benefits, but isn't it time to open our eyes and value women more for the work that they do alongside men in their respective workplaces?

Granted, women have different approaches and strategies to get work done and handle interactions with others differently, but this doesn't make it acceptable to be slotted into a certain box. Why are men's supposed characteristics the benchmark and the standard for what is to be attained or strived for? 

There is also the argument that it's only women who are attaching negative labels to other women at work but there arises another label of 'bitchy' women who are 'jealous' and can't stand seeing each other succeed. Professionally, women (just like men) can seek employment in whichever field they fancy and shouldn't be frowned upon for wanting to work in less traditional roles associated with their gender. 

This form of advertising and message about gender equality needs to be rolled out globally as it's definitely not an issue specific to the Philippines. 

Starting to work in the corporate field, I'm interested in finding out about the gender group dynamics and the perceptions about male and female colleagues amongst the team. 

What are your thoughts and experiences of gender bias in the workplace or in a personal context?
*I know there are plenty to list*

Pop by again! M x

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Elif Shafak - Honour

Wow. Never have I been more sad to end a book. I wasn't expecting a lot from 'Honour', having read quite a few books on cultural and traditional forms of punishment and discrimination against women, but I was well and truly hooked just by the first few passages. 

The story spans three generations, set in Turkey and then London. Violence is a running theme but never overpowers the journey that each character makes to become who they are. Characters include the afflicted twins, Pembe and Jamila; the London-born siblings, Iskender, Esma and Yunus each with their own quirks and an array of minor characters whose stories also hook you in.

The story fluidly moves from a village in Turkey to a squat in London to a cell in Shrewsbury Prison, all the while expressing powerful interactions between characters. Each short and snappy chapter switches between characters and countries, but manages to be compelling in and of itself. 

There's a jaw-dropping twist that will leave you wondering why you hadn't thought of it before and adding further to the tragedy. 

I dare you not be moved by such an evocative, controversial and disastrous tale of shame and responsibility. 

I immediately grabbed more of Elif Shafak's books and can't wait to get stuck in!

Pop by again! M x

Saturday, 25 January 2014

New Year. New Job.

It's been a while! Life decided to swoop in and take over but I'm feeling great at the start of this new year!
This could possibly be the best start of the year I could ask for; my last job came to an end, I got THREE interviews in one week with three giant corporations and bagged myself a new job in one of them! I'm so excited but honestly quite surprised I was accepted because I sometimes have a tough time believing in myself. 

Prior to the interviews, I had a wealth of advice and tips thrown my way about how to prepare, how to act and how to approach the interview. Some were useful and some were the usual commonsensical gibberish such as 'be yourself', 'smile', 'sit up straight', maintain eye contact'. Well those are all quite obvious and I do that in regular conversations with people anyway. 

Here, I wanted to highlight a few specific pointers for approaching interviews which helped me. Bear in mind that I'm no expert and have never been an interviewer myself. 

So what is an interview? 
Literally, it's a 'view' of you between/among the 'viewers'. It's a way of them sussing out the person they have read about on your CV. It's no use trying to mould yourself into something they would like because that will become clear quite early on. The 'view' you give them of yourself should be you at your peak in terms of motivation, drive and presentation skills. Leave behind any quarrels, worries or disruptions you've had before the interview because it may affect your answers and your body/verbal language.

Formulate questions and answers beforehand
Whilst preparing, it's handy to construct bullet pointed answers for standard interview questions. These prepared answers can be used as triggers when the questions are fired your way without having to think for too long. Read the answers out loud - trust me, this helps a lot. Practice in front of the mirror, with a friend or audio-record yourself just so you can get a feel of how you will come across and evaluate your answers accordingly. As well as this remember to...

Answer the question THEY are asking and not what you have prepared to say. There needs to be an element of improvisation to answering interview questions because not everything can be planned for fully. It's perfectly normal to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and answer clearly rather than rushing in and not actually answering what has been asked. 

Of course this is an important part of preparation, especially now that information and news is readily available. However, DO NOT make this your main task. Interviewers may ask one, maybe two, question(s) about the company but the majority are about YOU. The time slot assigned to you is your time to shine, an opportunity for you to give them the truest representation of yourself. 

Believe in yourself and you will be
This is the title of a previous blogpost. Simply put, give yourself some credit, you were shortlisted for a reason, they clearly found something interesting about you and your experiences. You were good enough to be given an opportunity and the time to prove that you are the right fit. Don't be harsh on yourself if you stumble on a question, just keep thinking ahead, you still have time to prove yourself. 

Show your personality
Throw in a bit of your sense of humour! (nothing inappropriate of course). Granted, it's difficult to loosen up in such daunting situations but once the interviewer sees a confident and relaxed version of yourself you become more interesting. Stay away from answering questions like a script - they are not looking for a robot. 

Pick me! Pick me!
Why should they pick you? Why are you the best choice? These questions should be implicitly answered when you are given skills-based questions. All the candidates shortlisted caught their attention but what is it about you that sets you apart from the others?

Don't use elaborate words
Generally, don't use words which you don't normally use because it will sound forced and not genuine. There is no correct way to speak so don't feel that you have to use complex words to seem smarter than you already are. What's important is that you are clear, concise and answer questions fully with relevant examples. If you use abbreviations make sure you explain them and explain any jargon you use that is specific to a company or field.

Listen actively
This is very important - though it's tempting to start formulating answers in your head whilst the interviewer is speaking, you need to understand them fully. They might be asking for more than one thing in one question e.g. Tell me about your last job - what your role was, what you enjoyed about it, what you least enjoyed and what your biggest achievement was. This is a loaded question and answering only the first part will not be enough. 
If you need clarification, don't hesitate in asking them to repeat themselves, use phrases like "do you mean?", "can I just ask?", "are you referring to?"

Be a S.T.A.R
Approach your answers with a STAR system: Situation - Task - Action - Result
Telling them what you've done is not the be all and end all - they need to know the context, your involvement and your approach to handling the situation. 

'Thank you' email 
This can be very short and it's a nice gesture to thank your interviewer for the opportunity. 

Well I hope that helps in some way or other. Good luck for your future endeavours! 

Apologies for my absence but I'm not the type to blog just for the sake of it, I'd rather put up relevant and helpful posts for you all.

Pop by again! M x

Wednesday, 13 November 2013


How does one small idea, worry, fear go round and round in your head and stubbornly remain?

Set the scene... 3am in the morning. 

Bright eyes but worn out body, yawns are making an appearance but slumber is nowhere in sight. All the while the mind is twisting, turning, forming and crushing fictional situations. It's as if you're living out the thoughts in your head in great detail all in the comfort of your bed. 'Screen' shopping, scrolling and double tapping doesn't bring any change so you turn to acquaintances. 

But who's waiting up at this time?

It's just you and your overactive mind continuously scripting and directing future worries. It's not all doom and gloom, happy moments pop in but are easily quashed and replaced with despair.

You'll soon see the rising sun but theatrics are taking place in your head and are not stopping for anyone.