These Malaysians Took A Leap Of Faith To Change Careers & Pursue Unconventional Passions

"We'd taken this huge risk and it seemed like it could all collapse around us..."

Cover image via Tiger Malaysia

Hands up if you've ever felt pressured to study a certain university course or take a career path that isn't 100% what you want

Image via Tenor

Perhaps you've dreamed of owning a cafe, becoming a musician, or being a chef. But if you're Malaysian, your parents probably suggested to get into fields like business, accounting, medicine, and law instead. Sometimes it can be hard to say no, especially when your folks are investing so much money into your education and are honestly concerned about your future prospects and employability

The problem with this is we’re seeing graduates regret their university studies. It's a trend all over the world and it can be disheartening. Is the result of unhappy graduates an unhappy workforce?

Sure enough, according to a recent report by Jobstreet, 70% of Malaysians felt unhappy about their careers

Image via Jobstreet

The report, which was released earlier this year, revealed that only 30% of Malaysians were happy at their jobs, while 42% of respondents admitted to being unhappy, and 28% felt neutral. Overall, Malaysians averaged a 4.65 out of 10 score for job happiness.

It can be hard to break societal norms or go against your parents' wishes to pursue a passion

But what does it take to overcome your fear and chase your dream?

We spoke to Tiger Beer's 'Uncaged' heroes who defied the odds and took a chance on their dreams. Here are their inspiring stories:

1. Im Cheah left her stable career in advertising after 15 years to start a new business creating premium bacon desserts and snacks

Image via Tiger Malaysia

Im had been struggling to find a sense of contentment in her comfortable job as a Creative Director. She got a wake up call one day, when her brother passed away from cancer. It was at this moment that she realised life waits for no one.

So Im took a chance to finally pursue her passion of starting her own food business. "The most difficult part was to make the decision to leave my comfortable job and step into the unknown. Not a day went by that I didn't question myself if I made the right decision," recalls Im.

She started small, creating bacon popcorn for her son's birthday party. From there, her ideas and creations grew and quickly caught on!

"The best thing about my job now is, it doesn't feel like a job! I guess that's what it feels like when you're doing something out of passion. Sometimes I work 30 hours straight but it feels great because I was creating something so unique for the people out there who appreciates what I do."

Together with her husband, Im is now the proud founder of Bacon It - a premium food company that specialises in alcoholic-infused desserts and snacks, with a healthy helping of bacon!

Image via Tiger Malaysia

2. Herukh Jethwani broke the traditions of Indian cuisine with innovative food fusions

Image via Tiger Malaysia

Food has always been a passion for Herukh. After high school, he decided it was time for him to pursue his real passion, food! He enrolled in university to study Culinary Arts and earned himself a degree in Hospitality and Tourism from the University de Toulouse in France. When he came back to Malaysia, he had a big, bold idea...

"It took a lot of courage to open an Indian restaurant which served pork, it's not normally what people expect when they think of Indian cuisine! In fact, we were the first Indian porky restaurant in Asia, so it took some time to really convince people that our concept was gonna work - after all, if it was good then why hadn't anyone else done it before?" says Herukh.

Image via Tiger Malaysia

His concept was viewed as 'out there,' especially for a cuisine that relies so heavily on tradition. "When we first opened, we had no customers. It was tough. We'd taken this huge risk and it seemed like it could all collapse around us." But Herukh and his wife stuck to their guns and continued to believe in their food, no matter what society's expectations were.

The couple are now the proud owners of three businesses, including Fierce Curry House and Meat The Porkers. Each eatery is known for its innovative and creative menu items.

At Fierce Curry House you can get Hyderabadi Dum Biryani and a one-of-kind North Indian tapas menu, while Meat The Porkers is famed for their Siew Yoke Biryani.

Image via Tiger Malaysia

3. After Jun Chan obtained a degree in mechanical engineering in the US, he did a complete 180 and decided to follow his passion for food by going to culinary school

Despite having promising career prospects in mechanical engineering, Jun felt frustrated and wasn't happy - he felt that he had a different calling and purpose elsewhere. So he took a risk and finally decided to focus on what he really wanted to do - cook great food. He left behind engineering went on to get Le Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu, a prestigious culinary school in London.

"My parents were not impressed," admits Jun. "Coming from a traditional Asian family, they would've wanted me to either be a doctor, engineer or accountant. Plus, I had graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and was already a Professional Engineer-in-Training."

Finally, Jun invited his parents to London to try the food at the restaurant where he worked, and they were convinced. With his parents support and acknowledgement, Jun returned to Malaysia to share his vision of soul-food, blending it with local street food favorites.

Image via Tiger Malaysia

Jun is now the proud owner of his Malaysianised ramen bar, Bowls of Steel. His handmade, healthy ramen bowls with a Malaysian twist include unexpected dishes like Eggplant Belacan Tempeh Ramen!

What's Jun's advice for taking that leap of faith? "Follow your heart but be practical. Do your research. Learn, unlearn, relearn."

Image via Tiger Malaysia

Inspired by these success stories? Then it's time to uncage your tiger and follow your passion!

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