My Experience as A Head Hunter…

I woke up at 6.45am Monday to Friday excited to get ready for work. I would be planning what I would be doing once I get into the office about 7.50am before everyone else. Official working hours was 8.30am till 6pm.

I would unlock the office doors and turn on the lights and then switch on my PC while I eat my breakfast in front of my work station while replying to emails or following up on a phone call with a potential candidate. That being said, I would typically leave the office at around 6pm but I’d still be making phone calls to my candidates via my car bluetooth while I drove and I would also get interrupted during my diners following up with clients about a candidate’s interview or having a discussion with them.

I remember it came to a point where my client had to tell me, “It’s Friday evening Valerie, you should be out enjoying the weekend, we can continue on Monday…” That being said, I worked through festivities and my off days. I had 21 Annual Leave days but, because I was very passionate about my role in the company, I work almost every single day and sometimes only stopping to rest at 12.30 – 1am to start the process again the following day.
I single handily brought in 11 news clients to the business within my first 5 months of working there, hence from being hired as a Senior Recruitment Consultant working under a Manager with another Consultant backing him up, my Country Manager (CM) decided to have a meeting with me and then removed me from reporting to the Manager but, instead I reported directly to the CM and managed my own portfolios.

A few months later, our CM had to leave the country as his mother was very ill in the UK. A new Regional Country Director then took over, she was very strict and was a no nonsense leader. I liked her style to be honest but, I know that many in the office were intimidated and feared her. She heard alot about me and I guess from her observation of my work, she decided to have a 1 to 1 meeting with me. When she found out that I was managing 49 roles all by myself, she asked me whether I needed an assistant, I told her I’m okay and that I was capable of handing the fulfilment of the roles by myself while my ex Manager had 2 roles 2 fill and he was still using the assistant that he hired the same time I joined his team.

Because the business plan was to expand the team sizes and headcount in the KL office, she decided to hire a Regional Trainer. She had countless interviews with different Trainers throughout 2 months plus but, she wasn’t happy with a single one. One fine day, she decided to speak to me and she shared the Job Description (JD) with me and told me to study it as she noticed that I’ve been helping my colleagues. I went home and I consulted my then BF and I decided to give it a shot. We then set up an interview date and time. After the interview with her, I had to interview with the Head of Training in the UK which I did. She then gave me a final interview and the role was mine. She then wrote an official email announcement to inform the whole company about my new promotion. I then was task to inform my clients that I won’t be able to handle their portfolios anymore moving forward. Boy were they disappointed as the Directors and Hiring Managers in the companies were very happy working with me.

I then was sent to the UK for 2 weeks to be trained to become a Trainer. After my trip to the UK offices- London, South Hampton & Bromley I came back and started training on the fly. As the company was expanding, we hired many freshies/newbies to the field. I gave them Induction Training, SOP Tech Training, 101 Recruitment Trainings and so much more. I enjoyed being a Trainer as I love sharing my knowledge and I was the go to person in the office whenever a Team Manager or Colleague needed help with something related to Recruitment. I also developed customize training materials to help individuals understand subject matters better. I worked closely with our Regional Country Manager and also Team Managers to determine who should stay and who gets the boot based on their performance in the company.

I conducted training for the KL, Singapore & China offices. I got the best treatment when I went to the Beijing, China office. The Chinese really have respect for their teachers hence they gave me a very warm welcome and it was a really good experience training the colleagues there. I even became really good friends with them.

My role was made redundant in early 2017 when Brexit was announced a few months prior. I was expecting it as my other training colleague’s role was affected a few months before mine. So, I started preparing my exit plan a few months prior. I started reaching out to my old Clients to engage them for roles that I could help with. Boy, were they glad and happy to hear from me. The Training role was made redundant when top management decided to freeze hiring rapidly when Brexit was announced and therefore, they didn’t need Trainers to conduct training for the new intake. That being said, my Regional Country Manager offered me my previous Recruitment role but because of the company dynamics and all, I decided to not accept the offer. That’s when my new chapter started, I set up my own company as I was capable enough to do A-Z of Recruitment by myself.


This is My Mom’s Journey and Battle w/ the Big C…

The year was 2015, and I had just started a new job with a huge International Recruitment Firm which I was happy and proud of. I felt that my career was on an upward trajectory. Finally a career that my parents esp. my Mom would be proud of. My Mom had been coughing on and off for about a month and I told her to see a doctor to get checked. Btw, my Mom hates seeing doctors as she always felt, some good rest, plenty of water would make everything better. It’s a typical Chinese thing.

Company’s CNY Lunch w/ the KL Team…

She finally gave in and we went to our family clinic which was just 3kms away from home. The doctor then suggested that she take a blood test as she hasn’t done one in awhile at that point. She even suggested paying slightly more to get a Cancer Marker (CEA) Test done on top of the normal blood test. So we waited a few days and the blood test results came back, my parents collected it when I was at work. They didn’t share the results with me and they left for Ipoh. My parents travel around quite abit for Dad’s work as a Technical Director and he runs his own company.

My Mom texts me on a daily basis esp. when I am home alone in KL to make sure that I was okay and we’d get into a phone call at least once every 2-3 days to keep each other updated. But, this time it was different, she hardly texted me. She was very quiet. I was at work and I felt something wasn’t right, so I rang her up. When I asked, “Is everything alright?…” Her response was, “We’ll talk when I get back to KL next week…” At that moment, I told her, “No, you have to tell me what’s going on? If you don’t, I won’t be able to focus on work and my mind will go wild…” She then answered my this while her voice changed as she started crying, “I have cancer…” When I heard those word, It broke my heart and I said this to her, “Mee, it’s going to be okay. Dad and I, we love you and you’re not alone. We will fight this battle together…” So, she was diagnosed with 3rd Stage Lungs Cancer in November 2015. It’s been exactly 5 years now. I got a Cancer Ribbon inked right next to my Hope tattoo in my left inner wrist as I needed to believe that there is hope more than ever. I had to be strong for my Mom. I continued to push through with work to keep my mind off Mom’s cancer and also I wanted to show her that I was moving forward with life for her.

Cancer Ribbon Ink done by Kevin Mitchel…

My Mom is a strong person. Why do I call her strong? She’s very stubborn as a person. I blame it on being born in the year of the Ox of the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. Btw, I’m also an Ox. But, she’s not strong because she’s super stubborn but, it’s because she’s been through alot not only these past few years but, also she didn’t have an easy childhood. Her family was doing alright until her father passed away when she was only 12 yrs old. She was the youngest child out of 5 children that consisted of 1 elder sister and 3 older brothers. When that happened, the family lost the canteen that they ran at the army camp and my grandmother had to work odd jobs to make ends meet and my Mom grew up surviving on a loaf of bread each day. She would then tutor to earn some money and later on she worked as a seamstress too after school hours. She would travel around by bicycle.

Mom while waiting to see the Oncologist in Hospital Fatimah…

She got treated in Hospital Fatimah in Ipoh the first 4yrs + under the Oncologist there. A month after we found out that she had cancer, she was to go back to see the Oncologist, while I was in KL. They didn’t tell me which Oncologist they were seeing but had informed me that the appointment was at 9.30am. I did some research by myself and I made the decision to drive 2.5hrs up to Ipoh to surprise her at the hospital. She cried when she looked up and saw me in the clinic. I know that it meant alot that I made that trip to see her there and spend some time in my Mom’s Hometown for the weekend.

She had to be on Oral Chemo and also they had to make an incision from her back to her lungs to drain out the fluids that had started to build up. This was her very first hospital stay. In the middle of 2016, she had her first round of Radiotherapy done to the back of her neck area as the cancer had spread upwards from her lungs. She then proceeded with chemo treatments which caused her to sometimes lose her balance especially after doing the 2nd or third round of chemo. She then started losing and dropping hair from the chemo treatment. As long as I knew my Mom, she was always very particular about her hair. I know that broke her heart and the decision to shave her head was one of the very first of many decisions that she had to make in 2017. Honestly, I wanted to shave my head too. I wanted to show her that she had my dad’s support and also mine and that it was only hair. I didn’t though but we ended up buying her a wig that looked like her original hair. Warm stream of tears are running down my cheeks as I’m writing this blog.

A few months later, in February 2018, I decided to chop my hair short and I donated my hair to Locks of Hope. A charity organization that made and donated wigs to cancer patients. I remember that my Mom wasn’t too happy about the chop back then as she said I looked so tomboyish. I even drove all the way to Kajang to drop off my hair there personally.

There were times when my Mom felt really sick and she had to be rushed to the hospital. Seeing her lying in the hospital bed will never get easier because it always made Dad and I feel so helpless as we couldn’t do anything to make her feel better. I know this feeling resonates with many out there who have witnessed a loved one battle with cancer. It hurts so much but imagine what the person with cancer is feeling and dealing with on a daily basis? At this point, in 2018 she had undergone many rounds of Radiotherapy and also Chemo. On top of the countless monthly CEA blood test. Her results goes up and down every few months. The highest that it was, was around 800++ That worried us so much as there were times when it was only like 60+.

To be honest, if we didn’t tell anyone of her cancer, no one would be able to tell that she was battling it. She was still walking, eating, cracking jokes every now and then. She still did some house chores when it permitted but she had to depend on my dad alot when she started to have blisters on her fingers and it hurt her alot when she was washing or cutting ingredients to cook.

When the cancer spread to her brain in 2018, she had to be put in steroid to control the swelling. She went for more Radiotherapy and Chemo as well that year. Her hair that has grown back started to fall out again but, this round she decided to wear a scarf and not shave her hair. Her vision has deteriorated as well from the treatments.

Taken on 2nd July 2019 during my ROM.

2020 arrived and this has to be the most difficult year out of the past 4 years, in March she suddenly would stare into space and she was speechless and lost and she counted on Dad and I to complete her sentences more than ever now. This was the effect that the tumor in her brain had on her. Mid of June, her Oncologist have her Immunology Treatment and just within 3 days later, she couldn’t stand or walk and she had pain in her head and back too. She then went back to see him and was admitted for a few days. A week later, she went back to see him for a follow up and he then told her that he doesn’t want to treat her anymore. We were shocked with his words. We feel that he’s being very unreasonable and that it’s very irresponsible of him after being her doctor for the past 4+ years.

A few weeks later after many calls from me and convincing my parents to get a second opinion, they finally listened and they made their way back to KL and we started to see a new Oncologist here. So far, they’ve been happy and also my Mom’s CEA readings have improved as well. It’s now in the 200++ range compared to when she just started her new Vaccine Treatment, it was 800**.

Mom has been doing more frequent PET CT Scan and also MRI and X-rays and last month, she had to be admitted into the hospital for 4 nights as her stomach was backed up with waste and she had a very bad Urinary Track Infection that Tablet Antibiotics wasn’t doing anything. They had to put her on strong dose of Antibiotic through IV. She hates staying in the hospital and she would cry and scream that they had to sedate her. It definitely was another pain thing to watch. Her scans showed that the tumor in her brain had shrunk in size but the swelling was still there and this cause her to hallucinate from time to time and also talk nonsense. It also showed that the cancer has spread to her lower abdomen and back bone and legs.

11th of November 2020, she had to be admitted into the hospital yet again as she was in pain and she’s been having diarrhea for 3 weeks plus now. It was the after effect of the Chemo that she had on the 14th of October to control the cancer. This round, she stayed for a week and finally got discharged from the hospital on the 18th of November 2020. She’s definitely happy to be home.

All this while, we’re praying hard while she continues with the treatments she needs. Her doctor have said that she will never be cancer free but they’re trying to keep it under control and to make her feel as comfortable as possible. I think everyone in the world is still having hope that a cancer cure will be available someday soon.

To those who are battling cancer or have lost loved ones to the battle. You are not alone. It is tough as hell, it’s painful to watch a loved one go through it but, we were never promised an easy life. This is part of life and life goes on. We must continue to fight until the very end. Spending as much time as possible with our loved ones especially when they need our strength to keep on pushing forward through this difficult recovery journey. They know that we get exhausted too but, they are all they have and we have to support each other through this. *BIG Hugs and give yourself a pat on the back for staying strong, the best that you can.


What’s In My Bag?…

What’s in my bag? A tittle that most female vloggers usually start their channels with or is a popular topic circa 2016. Almost every single female vlogger on YouTube has a video on it. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. ;P Anyway, here is Valerie Atkinson-Stephens’ version of it but, in a sweet short blogpost instead.

I think most of my close friends or readers now know that I’m a handbag collector. So what do I consider as essentials? What do I carry with me when I’m on the go?

So currently, I’m using my YSL Sac Du Jour Nano

  1. Handphone
  2. Small Wallet/Card Holder
  3. Car key
  4. Wet Wipes
  5. Sanitizer
  6. Lip Balm
  7. Lip Colour
  8. YSL Eyeshadow Palate (I actually don’t touch up my make up when I’m outside but, I carry it and use the mirror when needed.)
Saint approves of my bag’s content.

Do you carry more things than I do? If yes, what additional things are you carrying or do you think that what’s in my bag, is more than enough to survive dates, going grocery shopping, for a movie outing or chilling with the girls? Let me know in the comment section below. Thank you. 😀


Long Distance Relationship…

I’ve been in a few long distance relationships over the years so I would definitely say that I’ve learned alot from them. It’s definitely not easy but it’s worth it though it’s definitely not for everyone especially if you’re looking for things to be easy. If you ask anyone their opinion about LDR (Long Distance Relationship) high chances is that they’ll tell you that it doesn’t work and they’ll discourage you from starting one. Why be in a LDR then? My answer would be, you don’t always choose who you fall for and matters of the heart is something that we have almost no control over. There’s a saying, “The heart wants what it wants…”

One of the hardest thing about LDR is that the distance makes it difficult to share your bad days or your good days with your other half. So, sometimes when you really need a hug, you have to rely on your furkid or pillow instead of her/him. Of course you can call each other on Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp Call and what have you but it’s definitely still different. The human touch has magical comforting and healing powers that today’s advanced technology has not created anything that can make you feel them yet. One thing my husband and I always joke about and wish existed is a Teleportation Device. Can someone please build a working one? Thanks a million. 😀

On the upside of a LDR, the distance makes the simplest things feel blissful, being able to hold the other person’s hand, eating together, walking together, watching a movie together means so much more in a long distance relationship compared to any ordinary relationship. When you have a date and the plane tickets have been booked, the countdown starts to the very second that you greet each other at the airport again. The feeling is euphoric beyond words.

The pandemic that we’re facing globally in 2020 has a huge impact on everyone. Those that are in LDRs are patiently waiting for the borders and airports to re-open. Hubby and I are definitely waiting for the good news and expect it to be announced in 2021. *Fingers & toes are crossed. The last time we saw each other was on the 5th of July 2019 when I sent him off at the airport. 😥 I miss him so crazy much.

Back to the tips in maintaining and having a healthy LDR. I cannot stress enough on how important it is to have good communication. Communicating with each other on a daily basis is essential. Be it on Whatsapp Msg, FB Messenger, iMessage and so on. If you’re bad at communicating, LDR definitely is not for you. Failure to communicate with your GF/BF that’s in another state, country or continent is definitely the recipe to disaster and misunderstanding. When there is misunderstanding, people get hurt obviously. Key is to have open communication with each other. That should automatically be the case with any relationship.

If and when you do argue, argue healthily. How? Don’t yell as yelling solves nothing but is a source to create tension and the receiving party will surely have their guards up as they feel attacked. Just stick to the main point of the argument, and don’t bring other topics into the argument. I repeat don’t go off track and bring up other things that’s not related to the disagreement as it will only make things worse. Voice out how you feel and then hear what your partner has to say and then discuss a solution that would work for both sides and then apologize and move on from it. Also, it is important to forgive and forget. Don’t be caught up in the argument for hours or days. Afterall, time is precious and it’s already tough enough having to feel horrible while missing your partner that you can’t comfort with a hug afterwards.

Having a plan in the long run is also essential in maintaining and making a LDR work. For instance, how long will the distance last before 1 person moves to be with the other? Btw, the person who will be moving, that’s a huge sacrifice in the relationship especially moving continents or country and leaving behind family, friends and your comfort. Therefore, the person who is not moving, should appreciate and understand what this truly means and also be supportive and patient with your partner who left their lives to start new and fresh with you.

Making time to schedule in videocalls, phone calls and texting each other should be prioritize as well as this ties in with good communication. Remember, failure to communicate only kills the relationship. I’ve been in a normal geographic relationship where I felt alone despite having the BF next to me because he wouldn’t talk to me much even on a daily basis unless I were to ask questions and even that, I would almost get a 1 worded answer. That bothered me alot. I tried speaking to him about it but he just didn’t change or did anything to make it better. So, I finally had to throw in the white towel despite being together for years because that loneliness was killing me on the inside.

Like I’ve emphasize, LDR isn’t for everyone and with the pandemic that hit us all, you can’t just drive or fly to see your partner whenever you like therefore, you have to be patient in waiting till you can reunite again. Sometimes, it’s about saving up to buy that plane tickets as well. Bare in mind, the further the distance is, the more expensive the flight tickets would be. Also, those who are working, you’d need to wait for the time when you can plan your annual leave.

Honesty is definitely the best policy as well. The fact that you can’t see each other like normal couples would be able to, it takes lots of trust. To gain trust, you need to be honest at all times. Anyway, being honest is definitely easier than lying as it takes more memory space to remember what lie you told or story you made up. You’ve been warned!!

I know that technology in today’s day and age has improved compared to back in the early 1990’s as you can now Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp Videocall and all as long as you have good internet connectivity but, you shouldn’t just be lazy and rely solely on just that. A good idea is to put pen to paper and write a snail mail or send a card once in awhile. This is definitely a good surprise when you check your mailbox instead of receiving the normal bills, you get a scented envelope with your name handwritten on it and a romantic, sweet letter from your loved one telling you how much they miss you. It’s original and shows just how much thought that your partner have for you hence going old skool and writing you to surprise you. It also doesn’t cost that much to do it. Just need to get some stamps and airmail sticker from your local post office. Talking about that, Malaysia Post might have lost my letter and card that I wrote respectively and sent out in March and June 2020. 😥 That really makes me super sad tbh.

You should also not put your life on hold but do things to keep yourself busy. When you’re busy, time passes by quicker too and before you know it, you’ll be driving to the airport to pick her/him up again. You can do something you love or maybe even start a new hobby to kill time and make yourself better. I remember how I used to go to the gym daily. To be honest, I miss that. It was a good way to get fit and also de-stress from work. Btw, the gym is still close here thanks to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia. So, stay safe and think of a different hobby for now. 🙂

You should also do things together. Wait, what? How is that possible? Well, you can watch movies together on Skype or Zoom. Atleast that’s what I do with my hubby on the weekends because we have 12/13hrs different depending on Daylight Saving. You can share cute videos on YouTube or Instagram. You can even recommend a book to each other to read. There’s so many things that you should be able to do together. You just have to be a little creative.

Just because you can’t be there or she/he can’t be here doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk about your experiences or how your day went with them. I strongly encourage you to do that as it’ll make you feel closer. It’s a bonding exercise. Also, it’s a good way to de-stress over things that are making it tough for you. A way to share and spread your joy of a happy day too. 😀

Sharing your daily schedule with each other is also a good way to make plans to chat with each other throughout the week. That way, when your GF/BF is busy and doesn’t text or call, you’ll know why and not feel frustrated or abandoned. This limits misunderstandings before they happen.

Another way of showing that you’re thinking of them is, to send them gifts. With the internet, it’s not easy to do online shopping and sending them a care package or small gift. The lil surprise will definitely put a smile on their face knowing that you put the effort in thinking of what to get them and it might make up for not being there as well. The important ones of course is their Birthday, Anniversaries and Christmas but don’t just stop there. For me, I like to surprise my Hubby every few months once with a little gift from me to him. I know that he misses me like crazy so I hope that my gifts makes me feel loved, thought of and that he hasn’t been forgotten.

The last thing on my advise list for those who are in a LDR is to stay positive. It may be tough during trying times or when your whole world feels like it’s crashing down around you but trust me, if she/he communicates with you daily and puts in the effort, you should feel a form of security and yes, love conquers all. You just have to hang in there and be patient. Things will workout atleast for the better with time. Staying positive is definitely way better than having bad thoughts and worrying about bad things all the time.

13 Keys to a Healthy LDR

  1. Communication is key
  2. Argue in a healthy way
  3. Having a plan, an end goal
  4. Make time for each other
  5. Being patient
  6. Being honest with each other
  7. Don’t really just on technology
  8. Keep yourself busy
  9. Do things together
  10. Chat about your day
  11. Know each other’s schedule
  12. Send each other gifts that’s meaningful
  13. Stay positive

The most important thing to remember is, it’s your relationship. If you want it to workout, you work hard with your partner to make it work.