From Work-Life Balance To Financial Freedom, 4 M'sians Share Why They Switched Careers

"Closing down my business was the toughest thing I ever had to do, it was like saying goodbye to a child I raised."

Cover image via Vincent Chong & @heybaloo (Instagram)

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Whether it's crazy deadlines, demanding clients, or the lack of job progression, we all face career struggles in one way or another

Ever felt stressed at work or stuck in your career? Well, you're not alone. :)

From managing your boss' expectations to navigating a job change, all of us go through work challenges – which are essential to our career growth.

In partnership with Allianz Malaysia, we spoke to four Malaysians to find out how they dealt with their career struggles and came out of it stronger than before

1. "I was working a 7pm to 4am shift as a banker, while juggling daytime gigs as a makeup artist, and it was exhausting. I knew that I had to stick to one job and live with the consequences."

Fiqqi Abdullah, 30 years old, is a professional makeup artist who has worked with celebrities like Mira Filzah, Emma Maembong, and Azira Syafinaz. However, it took him a while before deciding to pursue his passion on a full-time basis.

"I started doing makeup when I was 17, and went into my first job as a banker after getting my diploma in banking and degree in finance. For the first three years in the bank, I worked the UK shifts; in my last three years, I did the US shift, which was from 7pm to 4am. In the day time, I would do makeup, so I literally had no time for myself.

"To be honest, I was happy working in the bank, and I loved doing makeup, but I was struggling to juggle my time between these two. It was an unhealthy lifestyle – I was putting on weight and my sleep pattern was out of whack, so I knew that I had to choose one and live with the consequences."

"Ultimately, I chose to become a full-time makeup artist. It took me six months to make the decision, but I wanted to choose something I wouldn't regret in the future.

"Since then, it's been a big change for me. I now have my me-time, I can spend more quality time with family and friends, and I can choose to work whenever I like. When I'm self-employed, I just need to do more work if I want to earn more. While doing my best, it's encouraging to see clients recommend me by word of mouth and help me grow to where I am today."

For Fiqqi, one of the common struggles he sees among young people today is financial management. Thanks to his finance background, he knows how to manage his income and financials when he enters the beauty industry full-time. However, he sees that many of the new 'Insta-famous celebrities' don't know how to manage their financials well.

"Although most of them receive huge payments for product reviews and collaboration, they still need to take care of their financials well. They also need to know that they have a limited prime time as there will always be competition."

2. "It was expected of me to become a lawyer, but my experience abroad changed my mentality entirely. That's why I followed my heart and pursued a career in insurance."

Rajaletchumi (middle) being awarded her Senior Partner title

Image via Rajaletchumi

Rajaletchumi, or Raji, has around 10 years experience working in legal firms. In 2018, she went to Auckland University to further her studies, but upon returning to Malaysia she decided to join the insurance industry.

"One thing I noticed overseas was that the youths today struggle to have work-life balance. Upon returning home from New Zealand, I was looking for a job that gave me great growth opportunities and the freedom to lead a balanced life. I wanted to do well in my career, while being a good role model for my children."

The 44-year old mother of two, now enjoys the best of both worlds. She is a senior partner of an agency representing Allianz Malaysia, and has achieved notable strides, including becoming an A4CC (Allianz 4 Crown Club) member – a high level of recognition in the insurance industry to celebrate agents who successfully help at least four people get insured every month.

Image via Rajaletchumi

"The biggest struggle for me was changing my career direction. I had just come home from studying overseas, but decided to go against the norm by joining the insurance industry. Many people questioned why I would want to be an insurance agent when I had 'better' qualifications.

"But I knew what I wanted – financial freedom and work-life balance. So, I took the chance and joined the Allianz C.E.O. Programme, building my career from scratch again. For someone who had zero experience in the insurance industry, the Allianz C.E.O. Programme gave me a structured guide and a fixed income to fall back on, so I could focus on excelling.

"The programme helped me set goals that I could strive for, while providing me with assistance and personal coaching along the way. My loved ones are a great motivation to me, and I have also met many people who helped me grow my network along the way.

"Interestingly enough, my education in law has not gone to waste. Because of it, I am able to bring my legal knowledge into the insurance community and give people a different perspective.

For those who are feeling stuck in their careers, Raji believes that you should always "dare to dream, and when you're ready, take the calculated risk to achieve financial and personal excellence by constantly striving for better performance."

3. "I was underpaid and overworked. I had to find a way to earn enough to at least be comfortable and have savings."

Natasha (right) with her husband

Image via @heybaloo (Instagram)

Natasha Gideon, 31 years old, had to persevere through rough early years in her career, sometimes having to work late and sleep in the office.

"I was barely surviving with the pay I had, not even as a fresh graduate. In my previous job as a property journalist, I would have a balance of RM500 just for petrol, tolls, and food. No money for savings. I wasn't happy. I also wanted to give more to my parents, so I decided to jump into property as a full-time real estate negotiator.

"However, I still struggled in the first few years of being a real estate negotiator, but I persevered because I saw the success it had brought my other colleagues. In fact, it's because of them that I am where I am today. Everyone understands what it's like being in the industry doing sales, most of the time it's tough! But they pushed me and checked up on me daily even though they didn't have to."

Natasha (centre) with her team at IQI Global

Image via Natasha Gideon

Natasha was recently named top sales performer in the whole central region of IQI Global.

"Being the top sales performer in my agency, during a pandemic, made all my hardship worth it.

"For those unhappy with their work, analyse your situation. If you're in a position to work towards something better, don't let fear stop you.

"If it's feasible and the only thing stopping you is fear, go back to your 'big why'. What do you want in life? You'll work towards the rest. You'll figure it out. Have faith in YOU."

4. "I went from having to close down my business and carry a debt of RM300,000, to becoming a successful insurance agent."

Image via Vincent Chong

Hailing from Johor, 37-year-old Vincent Chong used to own and run a hardware store. However, his business didn't do well and he had to shut it down, bearing losses of around RM300,000.

"At that point of time, closing down my business was the toughest thing I ever had to do, it was like saying goodbye to a child I raised. However, I had to do it to survive. From then, it was all about carefully planning an income goal to recover my losses, and that's when I found the income potential in the insurance industry."

With the full support of his agency team and the management at Allianz Malaysia, Vincent flourished as an Allianz Life Changer, achieving milestones like A4CC, MDRT, and Allianz Centurion (bringing in over 100 cases in a year).

Image via Vincent Chong

"One thing I've noticed is that people are generally afraid of change. For me in my situation, I was forced to try something totally different, and thankfully it all worked out. But I would've never known it until I took that first step.

"I am so grateful for the second chance I got with the Allianz C.E.O. Programme, as it provided me with a clear direction and progression path from day one. Mr Ong Pin Hean, Senior Advisor of Agency Distribution at Allianz Life has assisted me in many ways by motivating me, changing my mindset, and teaching me to manage my time wisely.

"Ultimately, I feel like I have evolved from a blank canvas to a colourful portrait. My advice to those who feel like they're struggling but are afraid to make a change is to be open-minded and dare to dream. Even if one door closes, another door will open, and when it does, don't be afraid to take the leap of faith."

All of us face challenges at one point or another, but every challenge can be an opportunity for us to overcome and rise higher

For some, this may mean stepping out of your comfort zone and pursuing something totally new. For others, it may require you to stay put and persevere through growing pains to achieve your full potential.

Whether you've been working for a while or you're a fresh grad, the Allianz C.E.O. Programme offers you a chance to find a fulfilling career as the best in class Allianz Life Changer

Image via Rajaletchumi

Many people are hesitant about going into the insurance industry for a variety of reasons, including the fear of not knowing where to start, a misconception that it lacks career progression, or the tough sales nature of the job itself.

However, the Allianz C.E.O. Programme is a specially crafted 24-month programme to fast track your growth and path to success.

Image via Allianz

Every participant in the Allianz C.E.O. Programme will undergo an A+ Programme Structure and Pathway. With the right foundation, you'll have the flexibility to chart your career path however you want to.

Here are the perks you'll get to enjoy as an Allianz Life Changer with the Allianz C.E.O. Programme:
- Financial assistance of up to RM12,000 per month
- Personalised coaching and mentoring by experienced industry leaders
- Flexibility to manage your own time
- You can work on the go, in the office, at home, or anywhere you want to
- Limitless potential for high income growth
- Opportunity to build your own agency team in the future

Want to find out more about the Allianz C.E.O. Programme? You can sign up your interest on this website today.

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