Be Strong Working Mom!

About 6 years a go I wrote my thoughts on working mother struggle to balance motherhood and work. I wrote it when I just had my second daughter. I am sure that many working mothers in Indonesia face the same problem. In Indonesia, women are allowed 3 months maternity leave (there are no official paternity leave). So, come the third months we must make a tough decision on how to take care of our baby when we go back to work. Some are lucky enough to have their family, usually the grannies to help look after the baby. But, for those who live far from their parents like me must seek other help such as hiring a baby sitter or a maid. That was the choice that I made. But, I have a friend who prefer to put their baby in a day care. Each method has its pluses and minuses, and I would not go into details about them, because either way it is a difficult choice.

Today, I read an article about a member of parliament in Kumamoto, Japan that is barred from bringing her 7 months old baby to the parliament. So, it does not just a challenge in emerging economy like Indonesia. It is a universal challenge for working mother all over the world.

I can really relate with Ms. Yuka Okata struggle. There were times when I have to bring my girls to my workplace because of so many reasons. But, I was lucky that my colleagues and workplace is quite understanding. Nowadays, two of my friends often bring their babies to campus. But, in other situation where the workplace does not allow for this option, then juggling between work and motherhood can be a constant struggle for the mother, baby and the family. This will also affect the employer.

Other countries offered better solutions. If you read on to the story from the Telegraph, member of Senator Larissa Waters in Australia is allowed to bring her baby and even breastfed her baby girl inside the Chamber. During my IVLP trip to America, I got a chance to speak to a female senior faculty at MIT. She said that in the US there has been a move in the university to allow female faculty member to take longer maternity leave. At the same time, female lecturers are given longer period to obtain their tenure to allow them to focus on raising a family. Swedia, is at the front of this issue because parents are allowed 480 days paid parental leave and 60 days are reserved for the father.

Other solution that would also helpful is to provide more childcare units. In Indonesia, it is still very scarce.

I just hope that working mother are not left alone making the hard choice to care for the child or continue working.

Until that time comes, let us working mother encourage each other and stay strong!






Why Change is So Hard?

As a human we don’t live in an empty space…We live in our environment. Unless you are an exceptional human being, most people tend to conform with their environment. It does not mean that we are happy with it. Most of us just don’t wanna face the hardship of changing. We fear the unknown. Its a natural trait.

Last year I had an opportunity to teach Change Management course. One of the book that I used isΒ  Cadle and Yates. One of the things that they proposed is a Change Equation that goes as follow:

D x V x F must be greater than R

This equation means that for a change to happen the Dissatisfaction (D) of current situation times the Vision of what could happen (V) times the achievable First Step (F) must be greater than the Resistance to Change.

Lets take an example. Say that you are unhappy with your current job. But, you would not change to another job if the level of your dissatisfaction of your current situation is great enough, or if you don’t have ideas whether other jobs would be better (more beneficial) for you, or if you do not think that the first steps on the way to get the new job is easy enough.

Now, that is only you against yourself. Consider if the change involve several people, an entire organization or even an entire country. We can now see, why Change in a certain environment would be difficult. Some people may be dissatisfied with the current situation, but then again some might not. Some may have different visions. Finally, some may willing to go the extra miles to get to their vision. Some may not.

But should we do nothing?

One of my lecturer once said, you probably cannot build an entire wall by yourself. But you can certainly help by putting one brick.

I guess, if we cannot change others, at least we can change ourselves. For the better of course.

Stay positive!


A New Chapter

30th October 2015 marked the last day that I served at the faculty office. The past four years are full of challenges for me. I studied about management in my first and master degree, but to put the theories into practice certainly require patience and perseverance. So, I was really relieved that I managed to do the job. Perhaps not to the best standard in every aspects, but I knew I gave it my best shots.

The past few weeks I have been busy preparing reports for my successor. Then, cleaning up all the files. Scraping through the files I found hundreds of meeting invitation. Which means most of my time was spent in between meetings πŸ˜€ I also found so many documents that can be sorted into dozens of classification. As I sat there sorting and organizing, I really felt that I have learned a lot.

Now, I will return to my main job. A lecturer. Returning to my department I must first clean up my old office. It has been neglected since I spent most of my time at the faculty office. I was really amazed as I went through all those files…I truly am a keeper. I found examination papers, assignments from 2006. Piles and piles of them. I felt so bad to throw them away. But, with limited capacity, I must gave priority for new things.

Pile of very old exam papers and assignments!
Pile of very old exam papers and assignments!
More old documents
More old documents

So, here is to a new beginning.

Back to where I came from :)
Back to where I came from πŸ™‚

I wish I can be more organized. I wish I can balance work and life (read: family) better. I wish I can be a valuable human being πŸ™‚

Why do people choose to be a Lecturer or professor?

I came across an interesting question at Quora today:

Why do some people prefer to become professors or faculty when they can have a better life outside academia?


It is such a valid question. I sometimes ask myself the same question. And it was really encouraging to read some of the answers. One of the best answer can be found in this link:

I also particularly love this quote from an anonymous

A famous professor once said: when I was an engineer I was happy one time a month, when I got my paycheck. When I was teaching I was unhappy one time a month, when I got my paycheck.

Create Good Karma

If you cant move the entire mountain, do you give up and run away? Or do you take one small step at a time to climb the mountain until you realized that you get to the other side without actually move the mountain.

If you are on a ship going somewhere and suddenly you realized that the captain has lost his compass. He no longer knows which direction to go. What do you do? Just go with the flow wherever it takes you even with the risk of sinking in the storm? Or do you try with your fellow passengers to save the ship no matter how difficult it is?

Every little step count

Every little effort will make a different

Because every thing that you do will get you somewhere, rather than keep you standing still

Life is about moving. Its about creating Karma.

So keep on moving and create good Karma.


Lesson learned from Being an Administrator

This past few weeks I have been very busy at work. And finally, I got the time to write something in this blog.

Since I had a permanent post as a lecturer in April 2006, I have never felt such hectic schedules that I had now. Being an administrative officer is world apart to being a lecturer. If you are a lecturer then your main job is preparing for your class, doing the class, mark the assignment and exam. You read lots and lots of paper, conduct research then write papers. In between you may also work with industry, government for some community services. But mostly, the key person is YOU.

But, as an administrator I experienced managerial works that I have never experienced before. Working with 7 staffs with different background, motivation and capabilities present a whole different story. It taught me so many things. It became less about my ability, but become how I manage the staffs.

Here are what I noted so far:

1. State every thing clearly

Sometimes I would say something or delegate some work to the staff. I thought or rather assume that they would get what I mean. But, the results can be quite different than what I expect. Since this thing happen quite a lot, there are only two possibilities: I am not clear enough or they could not follow my instruction. For example, at one time I told one of the staff: please take this letter to this department. It is quite simple and I did not think anything could go wrong. It turned out that the letter did not get there until later in the afternoon. So, whose fault it is? Mine, of course. I forgot to tell the person that the letter is needed urgently. I should be clear about the time πŸ™‚

2. Don’t forget to monitor the progress

When you delegate a task, you want to ensure that it is done correctly. But because one task usually relate to another task, sometimes done by a different person or even different unit, the end of one task does not mean the entire mission is accomplished. So we should really be thinking about the overall target rather than just one simple task.

3. Not every body enjoys their job

Confucius once said: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life

In reality, not everybody get a job that they love doing. Every body may have different motivation or attitude about working. This is actually the real challenge. Some one who really loves what they’re doing will put their heart on the job. This usually means doing the job to a good quality. Creating a master piece out of the ordinary. Sometimes even go the distance to get the job done i.e. benchmark with others when they have some problem, work overtime to meet the limit, etc. Be creative about their work i.e. how to get the job done quicker, more accurate, etc.

In a less than ideal world, some people may not be “in love” with the job, but they are responsible enough. This type of worker may care less about the quality of the work but they will get the job done.

The problem is with those who do not enjoy what they are doing and only want to get the job done often with low quality. How do you then motivate them to either “love the job” or at least be responsible about it? This is something that I am still trying to learn.