Inside Aperian Global: Mui Hwa Ng
In our monthly interview series, Inside Aperian Global, you will get to know the passionate people that drive Aperian Global’s mission, values, and day-to-day operations. Aperian Global’s employees will provide you with a sneak peek into their work lives and share stories about themselves. This month, we asked Mui Hwa Ng, our Director of Consulting in Singapore, a few questions.
Mui Hwa, looking back to the beginning of your career, what led you to the cross-cultural consulting industry, and in particular Aperian Global?
This is my second career. I enjoyed an exciting career in advertising across Singapore, HK, China and London for 12 years. Then in 2000, while I was living in London, I stumbled upon the cross-cultural world when I gave a presentation to a group of advertising executives who were moving from the UK to Asia. It became clear to me that this was an extension of where my passion has always been – in the area of understanding minds and shaping behaviors.
I was introduced to Aperian Global because Darcy Roehling, Managing Director of Global Mobility, reached out to me on a facilitation job. As I get more involved, I am continually awed by the caliber and passion of the people. I consider my role here a privilege.
Originally from Singapore, you ventured out into the world to live and work in China, Hong Kong, and the UK. Eventually, you returned back to your native country. Tell us, what was that experience like after being away for almost 17 years?
My years away were the most enriching years of my life. It opened my eyes to the world; it was humbling to see how different we all are as human beings and yet similar in many of our needs and wants. Coming back to Singapore, I experienced culture shock. The country had moved on rapidly and I quickly had to learn new places, behaviors and expectations that had evolved in the years I had been away, even though I had visited Singapore very regularly during that period.
Initially, it was fascinating to learn about new things. Then I realized that I had to reintegrate into old social circles, create a new social network, and allow myself and others to get to know the “new” me. It took me a lot of concerted effort over two years to unlearn my own prejudices, and deal tenaciously but sensitively with the biases others had of how I had changed. I had to adjust and rebuild again, even when I felt out of place at times.
It’s not only you that changes in your international life, but also the very place you are going back to. What are your top three pieces of advice for all those repatriating in the near future?
I would say:
1. Be aware that the places and people back home have changed just like you have. Values, beliefs, expectations and behaviors may be different from when you left. Give yourself and others the space and time to learn about each other.
2. While the period away may have exposed you to many new and exciting things, talking about them too much will alienate those who have not had those experiences.
3. Be open minded and do not judge those who seem to be “stuck in the past”. Be humble about the fact you had a chance to see more of the world than they may have had.
How did the time abroad influence your future career back in Singapore and what are the added benefits of bringing these experiences back with you?
The impact on my career was tremendous. I have acquired skills and knowledge consciously and subconsciously. It allowed me to leverage these skills and knowledge to work with a wider universe of business partners successfully in many areas – communication, negotiation, conflict management, collaboration, teamwork, leadership skills, and knowledge sharing, among others.
Tell us something we don’t know about you yet.
Even though I am quite extroverted in the way I interact with others, I find my best moments in the quiet of nature – forests, oceans, mountain tops and sitting by rivers. These are the times I feel great joy and gratitude about my blessed life.
Aperian Global supports repatriates to prepare for the challenges that can arise when returning “home”. Learn more about our suite of solutions specifically designed for repatriating employees and their managers:
Leveraging Your International Assignment