Entrepreneurship Is When Passion Meets Purpose And Determination
Having found her calling in life to inspire others, Yasmin still required the determination to achieve her dreams. Deviating from her physics undergraduate background to be a training professional, she overcame multiple challenges to achieve her dreams today. She even committed to a weekly cross-border commute to her part-time MSc TIP course – while pregnant!
Now the founder of three companies and parent to four adorable children, Yasmin proves that when passions meet purpose and determination, it equals success.
We understand you have a Physics background. Having completed your undergraduate course in that specialised field what led you to where you are today in the training industry?
YA: Towards the end of my undergraduate years, I realised my interests were less-inclined towards the sciences, and more towards people. After graduation, I made the decision to enter the hospitality industry in the sales line – a field entirely different from what I was studying in.
During my first few years of work, I had the opportunity to be exposed to many different training sessions. These sessions opened my eyes to a whole new world, and one session in particular gave me a new perspective on life that I would have otherwise not seen. It was also then that I had found my true calling – I wanted to inspire people.
And with that came my entry into the training sector – I left my job and took the opportunity to work for training companies. I attached myself to both multinational companies and local SMEs, as well as sought freelance opportunities to hone my craft. I really enjoyed what I was doing – I was always eager to learn and improve. I would spend days reading up and looking forward to work, and I’d even volunteer my services for free! It was then I realised I had become a ‘training junkie’, and that was also the first time I truly understood the saying ‘passion meets purpose’. And I bring that enthusiasm with me till today.
What was the one important lesson you’ve learned throughout your exciting career?
YA: We should never doubt where we are on our journeys. Many people doubt if they are on the right path and complain that they may have wasted valuable time being in the wrong industry or company. However, the important thing here is the experience, which is something always discounted by many.
Every experience provides you with an indicator of who you are and who you aren’t, and there’s always something to learn. Even my experiences from my first company, which lasted just over a year, I hold close to me. It was a bad experience with a group of friends who turned out to be not like-minded, but they taught me lessons which I would have otherwise not learned. My first work stint after the failure of the first company, I also realised that I was actually more driven than the founder himself – this also led me to the decision of opening up my own company again. These little steps led me to who I am today.
You mention that you relate to determination most closely as a trait for an enterprising mind – how has this trait helped you power through your challenges so far?
YA: When I first started out NeOOne, I had the intention of going big or going home. I started out with my then-boyfriend, now-husband, and we knew we were up against the big players in the market. This was in addition to the many challenges ahead of us, including getting financial support from the banks. It took a lot of determination to work hard to get the capabilities, documents, forecasting, to show that we deserved the chance.
In 2012, we managed to secure a loan and started our own training centre. And at that time, it was a massive jump from where we were – we moved from a mere 500 square foot office space to a 3,400 square foot office, and rental costs shot up. My partner and I had used up all our savings on the deposits and furnishings, and with the increase in operational costs, we had to work 20 times harder to cope. However, this was a commitment we were ready to take when we made the initial decision in the first place.
That was a really challenging time for me. But that was also what being an entrepreneur was like – to be determined enough to overcome these challenges, and to keep doing what you love. Today, I’m able to reap the rewards of my determination then. We now have a healthy staff size of 7 people, and it is also with this stability and sustainability that I was able to commit time towards pursuing MSc TIP on a part-time basis in 2014.
We also understand that you had to shuttle to school every week between Malaysia and Singapore for the MSc TIP course – even while you were pregnant! That’s very commendable – what gave you the motivation and determination to pull through?
YA: Many of my friends thought I was making a poor decision when I signed up for the course – the constant shuttling between countries on a weekly basis, and a considerably higher tuition fee compared to local programmes in Malaysia. However, I have set my sight on a goal – to get further education in a reputable school.
I was determined to pull through and was motivated by my goals. Throughout my second year of the programme I was even pregnant with my son! Despite these challenges, I continued my routine of travelling between countries, and even went for the immersion programme in the United States during the fourth month of my pregnancy. With sheer determination, I completed the immersion programme, returned to Singapore to complete and pass the rest of my coursework and final examinations, and attended my graduation in August 2016– all these before my delivery just two months later in October that year!
You are currently a parent to four lovely kids, a managing director of three companies – and you even have time to write your own book! How do you juggle these responsibilities?
YA: I see this as a form of mastery – I always liken this to roti canai (Indian flatbread commonly found in Southeast Asia) chefs. They’re able to knead the dough and douse the oil, and yet hold a conversation with their customers at the same time. With practice comes mastery and with mastery comes automation and routine – and you wouldn’t feel tired if the steps come naturally to you.
My day-to-day schedule is packed from morning till night – from business development meetings to operational overview, staff management to self-development, and I’m not even including the allocated time to my family too. My day starts as early as 6am and only slows down at 10pm every day – but I never feel tired.
How has further education in technopreneurship given you an edge over fellow peers, and in your industry?
YA: The MSc TIP programme has given me more confidence in what I do. Now, whenever I do something or make a decision, I’m aware that I’m acting based on a framework, with research and literature behind it. This helps make things more deliberate, and I have the opportunities to apply whatever I’ve learned to my work. Being a part-time course, I travelled to school every Saturday, and I was even able to apply my lessons directly when I return to work on Monday!
At certain stages too, I was better able to anticipate challenges and make more informed decisions – whenever something crops up, I know that this is not an unfortunate event, but something a start-up at my phase will undoubtedly face. This gives me more confidence, and I’m able to overcome my issues with better understanding of the situation, based on a set of established research by the experts. And with that, I’m very thankful.