Aida works in the Real Estate Industry, and has been active in social engagements for a good period of time. We would like to thank Aida for taking out time and speaking to Corridor.asia. The idea of this meeting was to understand the women lifestyle in Malaysia from the perspective of a Malaysian Woman striving to become a better version of herself as she gains more experience every year.
Here is the question and answer session for you to enjoy. Happy Reading.
Q1. You have acquired qualification in Hotel Management and Tourism. What inspired you to choose this degree programme and how did it lead you to the professional career you have taken up?
Ans. When I finished my high school, my father advised me to graduate with a business degree but I wanted to study something more specific than Business Administration. I was interested in travelling and dreamt of owning my own hotel someday. I chose this degree programme for myself, which gave me the exposure and understanding of people from different backgrounds and cultures, and it broadened my vision.
After having working experience in the same field for a few years, I felt like doing something different, so I thought of going into marketing communications, event management and then finally decided to venture into Real Estate, even though I had no knowledge or concrete experience of it. However, the interest had come about back when I was doing my A levels. I had read a couple of books by Robert Kiyosaki called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and “Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant”, which had inspired me to go into business and become a real estate investor. I figured that starting this as a real estate agent would give me some perspective and I could gain knowledge from various people I would meet within the industry. I am grateful to my boss back then who was willing to invest in my abilities and gave me an opportunity to learn on the job, and since then there has not been any turning back. My background knowledge of people and places helped me settle well and I could enhance my skills further such as negotiations, problem solving and managing people’s requests effectively.
Q2. Negotiation Skills are considered to be very important in twenty first century? Did you develop them with some professional training or you had them naturally?
A2. It wasn’t so much of professional training but it came from learning from my seniors and peers’ shared experiences, as well as naturally through listening skills, rapport building and empathy. I was also able to hone them further on the job by paying attention to clients’ expectations and bringing them to the outcome that is best for all parties involved.
Q3. You have been associated with Health Tourism as well. Please tell us more about your experience.
Ans. Well, Malaysia is among the best Medical Tourism destinations in the world and has received many awards in this field. In fact, Malaysia has won the highly coveted “Health and Medical Tourism: Destination of the Year” title for the fourth time last year at the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) Medical Travel Awards 2020 in London.
KPJ Hospitals offer different medical services and owing to my active interaction with expats I was appointed as the Health Tourism Coordinator to arrange the required services requested by tourists/expats. It ranges from knee replacement to plastic surgery, weight loss to oncology treatment, cardiac procedures to health screening and COVID tests. Medical services are not limited to adults, as I have also been arranging paediatric consultations and health care for children too. It includes providing the clients with relevant information to their medical needs and arranging appointments with doctors at the clients’ requested time.
Q4. Malaysia is a tourist destination and you have been closely associated with expats. Which three destinations would you recommend strongly?
Ans. KLCC is a must-visit, as one would want to visit Eiffel Tower if you are in Paris. A couple of days in KL to see the city life would be great. I love Penang and Malacca for their heritage and culture. These three destinations would give a nice mix to the general idea of what Malaysia has to offer; but of course, I would recommend visitors to stay longer because there’s just so much more to explore and experience!
If one has time then the legendary Langkawi must be visited for its beautiful islands. The islands on the East Coast, too. And certainly Sabah and Sarawak, if you are staying in Malaysia for an even longer time.
Q5. Have you ever been to Pakistan or considered visiting it?
Ans. I never had a chance to do so, but I would love to visit it. I have heard a lot about its beauty, food and culture from my Pakistani friends and others who have visited Pakistan.
Q6. You do a lot of voluntary work and organize social activities. Tell us more about it.
Ans. I am associated with InterNations, an online global platform which has different chapters all over the world and Kuala Lumpur is one of them. There are different activity groups under each chapter. The Changemakers Group is one of them and I am the Consul for the group, which takes the role of a coordinator. As a Consul, I have to host different volunteering activities, keeping in mind interests of different people. Ideally these activities are conducted every month, but recently due to COVID-19, a lot could not be done.
We have initiated a wide range of projects: Our previous volunteering activities include painting of an old folks’ home and a children’s shelter home, celebrating Eid with the underprivileged children at the shelter home, New Year’s picnic with Afghan refugees, food donation and book donation drives, community gardening, Social Impact Night, Christmas Shoebox event, volunteering at Zoo Negara and SPCA, volunteer work for Kechara Soup Kitchen and Kedai Jalanan UM (pop-up store for the homeless). We have also worked with The Lost Food Project on several occasions, whose mission is to collect food from supermarkets and channel them to various different charities. My favourite activities that we’ve done so far are volunteering at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary and an overnight volunteering trip the Turtle Sanctuary in Melaka because I love animals and travelling.
Q7. How do you manage your professional and social commitments?
Ans. The volunteer activities are usually reserved for weekends, but it is not very difficult for me to arrange and organise everything as my phone is an important tool for me, so I manage by using it constructively.
Q8. As a woman in professional field what challenges do you face?
Ans. I feel safe at my workplace and feel that the working environment is encouraging and allows me to be productive. I am grateful to be recognised and acknowledged for who I am and what I do. Occasionally, challenging situations do arise while dealing with a few clients who appear to take advantage just because I am female, but I try my best to remain firm and professional in order to avoid any undesired behaviour.
Q9. Do you think Malaysian culture encourages women to follow their choice of career and aspirations?
Ans. I think things have changed drastically for last many years and that glass ceiling is not a great problem any longer, or rather it is not as difficult to break them as before. Women are now not at a disadvantage in many fields and they get opportunities without an appalling gender bias. Some women may still be at a disadvantage in certain fields or at certain stages in their careers, but I believe being empowered to do something about it and rise above the challenges is becoming a culture that Malaysian women are eagerly embracing these days.
Q10. How do you handle conflicts?
Ans. I do not react instantly. I take a step back, think through the situation and try to understand other person’s side. I convey my thoughts if my reflective analysis makes me think that I am right. I am open to accept other person’s point of view as well and try to resolve situation in a calmer way without getting into arguments. I refer reaching a solution that is agreeable for both.
Q11. Do you set goals for yourself and where do you see yourself five years from now?
Ans. I don’t make long term plans. I set mini goals which are achievable for me. I continue seeing myself reaching my mile stones. I see myself in the same field with more success, and hopefully I’m able to invest more into properties and other financial assets.
Q12. How do you define success? Do you consider yourself successful?
Ans. Success for me is enjoying what I do and doing it well. It is following my passion, having inner peace, and taking care of myself so that I can take care of others. Success for me is not just about money or status you acquire, but it is how to make a difference and leave a positive impact, even if only one person is influenced.
I would consider my satisfied clients as my success, the testimonials they give when they are happy with my service is rewarding for me. The impact of the service I am able to render, no matter if it is small, makes me feel happy. Through the activities I do through InterNations – if our volunteers and I can help people get things done or lessen their burden is a success for me. It makes me feel good knowing our charity partners and the people we’ve helped have benefited from what we set out to do. I feel proud of myself, but would like to do even better.
Q13. How do you deal with stress?
Ans. I sit back and relax for a while and try not to think about the problems and after a gap, when I revisit the problem, I try to approach it with a different perspective and not letting myself influenced by negative thoughts.
Q14. How often do you have a holiday? Would you like to share a memorable holiday?
Ans. My work schedule allows me to have frequent breaks, so I used to travel at least twice a year before COVID-19. I have travelled quite a lot since young, but I remember my first time travelling on my own in 2009 to Sweden, where stayed with my relatives for about three and a half weeks. Being able to spend that much time in a place allowed me to explore the various local destinations without having a firm schedule or routine, unlike a tourist who has to follow a regular travel mode which includes staying in hotels, having a set itinerary, following bus schedules, etc. And because my cousins are Swedes, they took me to interesting spots where tourists don’t usually visit and have me experience the local life. So this relaxing retreat is quite memorable for me.
Q15. Do you enjoy shopping and what kind of stuff you generally like to buy?
Ans. Yes, I like to shop a lot, but I am not conscious about brands. I love street shopping and collecting things which have a cultural significance and I am fond of collecting souvenirs.
Q16. Do you invest time in reading? If yes which book would you like to recommend?
Ans. Yes, I enjoy reading a lot. I would recommend, “How to be Like Walt”. It is an inspiring biography of Walt Disney, but it is also a great business and motivational book. He was truly a unique character and had amazing qualities such optimism, imagination, creativity, leadership, integrity, courage, perseverance, commitment to excellence and hope for tomorrow. Walt’s life challenges us to dream bigger, reach higher, work harder, risk more and persevere as long as it takes. He was also one of the best salesmen in the world and he relies a lot on qualities such as honesty, enthusiasm, confidence, courage and persistence. There are so many lessons to learn from him that apply to everyone’s life, through this book.
Q17. What advice you would like to give to the women who want to join the Real Estate Field and those who wish to join social service activities?
Ans. The ones who wish to join this field first need to know the reason what drives them to join it. They have to plan well for their finances as the income would be commission based and also time management is an important aspect to be considered. It greatly helps if you have a mentor from the same field.
For social work as well, one has to recognize her passion and the interest. I knew I was interested in doing something that can make a difference and eventually realised that I had a passion for causes relating to animals and children. Finding such interest/passion based activities will enable you to give your best. I am pleased to guide those who need further advice. Those who are keen to join the InterNations KL Changemakers Group can go to www.InterNations.org where we currently have over 2,400 members.
Q18. What advice would you give to the readers to make their life happy and contented?
Ans. I would say follow your passion, enjoy doing what you are doing and strive to do it well. Challenges are a part of every field, but when you know why are you doing something and who you are doing it for – whether it is for yourself or your loved one -, it helps you to face the challenges bravely while staying true to yourself.
Q19. How do you want to be remembered?
Ans. I want to be remembered as a smart, creative, resourceful and kind person who left a positive impact on people.