Stepping beyond the comfort zone

Gloria Loh Hua Boey

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Starting a new career can be a challenging experience for anyone. But to give your business up and start a new job in a new industry at the age of 39—that’s a truly daunting task indeed. That’s what Gloria had to face when she decided to give up her florist business and look for a new beginning.

Running a business for years had taught Gloria a lot, but she soon discovered that a career in retail held many new challenges. The processes for staff and stock management were new to her and she did not feel confident enough to handle IT and new technologies.

Gloria knew she had to upgrade her retail skills and learn new ones to progress in her new career. Armed with a sense of confidence and an eagerness to learn, she soon landed herself a role at a leading children’s clothes and toys brand.

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In her new role, Gloria continued her journey of learning skills as diverse as inventory management to consumer behaviour. She realised that the way people shopped had changed a lot—instead of relying on salespersons, customers did their research online and she had to be knowledgeable enough about the products to answer questions and address complaints. She also made the extra effort to familiarise herself with IT systems and overcome her fear of technology. To build her skill set further, she also took a course to help her stay calm in stressful situations—an important soft skill for sales professionals.

Gloria realised that lifelong learning was not just about taking courses, but having an open mind to learn from any and every source. She began to observe others in customer-facing roles and took note of every little detail that made customers happy, so she could adopt these practices herself.

"When I buy things and I get poor service, I would never return to the shop. So when I expect a certain service standard from others, I need to have high expectations of my own service standards too."

Five years into her new career path, Gloria is now a Senior Supervisor but she feels that there’s still a lot to learn. In fact, she’s currently making the most of the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy, as well as her SkillsFuture Credit, to pursue a Specialist Diploma in Retail Management—a 6-month course to help her master the skills she previously learned. Building a career from scratch despite all the obstacles has given her immense confidence, but it has also taught her not to be afraid of challenges, and to step out of her comfort zone to chase her ambitions.

"A lot of people refuse to do any work that may be ‘out of the job scope.’ I see it differently. Most of the things I’m doing are in my Area Manager’s job scope. This way, I get to learn more. People who get ahead are the ones who dare to step out of their comfort zone. If you fail, climb up again—it’s not the end of the world."

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