Is there more to success than making it to the top of the corporate ladder? Fariza Sakina found herself pondering this question often during the pandemic. Working for a top international consulting firm at that time, she clocked in longer hours from home and recalls having to make video calls across three different time zones in some instances.
“At work, we all want to be the best version of ourselves,” Fariza says. “If your boss asks, your first instinct is to say, ‘Everything is fine. Sure, I can take on more work.’ It was an amazing company to work at, but honestly, I wasn’t good at communicating the fact that I felt I wasn’t good enough, that I felt I needed to do more just to prove myself.”
Fariza's turning point came when she started experiencing panic attacks and depression. Unsure of how to open up to family and friends about her struggle, she consulted a therapist. “It was great to be able to talk to someone completely neutral and to understand myself a bit better. Towards the end of my corporate career, my former boss (who eventually became a friend) also told me, ’Fariza, we can only take ourselves too seriously.’ That really resonated with me.”
After quitting her full-time job, she was contacted by a friend with an opportunity to come on board as a co-founder for Gigple, an all-in-one platform connecting job seekers to gigs from employers across Southeast Asia.
“A huge sector of Malaysia’s economy focuses on communications and marketing roles. Which is why Gigple connects freelancers for media and communications to good jobs," adds Fariza. "In the post-pandemic work setting, people have realised that the conventional way of working has changed. Not everyone is limited to the 9-to-5 office job and people want flexibility. Gig platforms like these are more relevant than ever because they accommodate your lifestyle.”
Fariza tells Tatler more about how the gig economy empowers working mums and her plans for the future.
"I had a conversation recently with my sister-in-law, whose son is now a year-and-a-half. She was a first-time mum when she quit her job. As a mum, there are moments when she wonders if she’s still relevant in the workplace since becoming a mum. There’s so much stigma for working mums in the workplace to be honest. If you’re working too hard, you’re not a good mum. Then again, if you’re not working, you’re not pulling your weight. How do we balance all this?"
"In my previous workplace, I had many colleagues who were also mums. You could tell how much they appreciated the days when our boss would tell them they didn’t need to come into the office. I’d be in calls with them and in the middle of the meeting you’d hear their young kids crying in the background. Honestly, if your job expects you to spend long hours at the office, there’s a lot you miss out on as a working mum. But there are so many more options available now, like Gigple, to help with that. There are so many mothers out there who are so talented, who have left their jobs to start a family. Maybe they don’t want to make a long term job commitment but at the same time, they want to do something fulfilling for themselves."
"As I’m about to enter my 30s, I just want to come a full circle with who I am. I’ve learnt my triggers now and I’m able to step out of the situation and say, this too will pass. For some people in their 20s, everything is hectic. You’re trying to be good at work, trying to have a good social life, and it’s easy to feel out of balance. I’m happy that now I feel more in control of my life. I feel like I’m finally able to take responsibility for the outcomes in my life because I no longer have to make the excuse of ‘Oh, I was busy working,’."
"Every individual is different. And the point of holistic education is you focus on the child as an individual. Kids also need to understand they can’t be good at everything. Adults need to understand that as well. I believe that if we can teach a child from an early age what their strengths are, they can build their confidence. And if you build a generation that’s confident, you raise great leaders in the process."