Stay focused, be organised and make me-time to be a hands on mother and a successful corporate honcho, at the same time: Zakiah Halim, Head, Mediacorp Malay Community in conversation with Shruti Gattani
They say, ‘You can be a good mother and still follow your dreams. Only if you so desire’. Zakiah has been following her much-rewarding path for more than two decades and effortlessly carrying out her motherly duties at the same time. In lieu of Mother’s Day, this powerful woman enlightens us with her successful mantras, dos and don’ts, and strengthens our beliefs that every mother is a working mother.
1. What’s the hardest thing about being a mom? What’s the best thing?
I have 4 children. But the trickiest part is that they are all very different in terms of personality, demeanor and interest. So as a mum, it’s important to understand that every child is unique. But that’s also the fun and exciting part as you uncover, understand and bond with each and every child. And as they go through different phases of life, it gives a mother the biggest joy, seeing every step and celebrating every achievement. All this, gives me every reason to feel warm and wonderful to be a mum.
2. They say a mother’s advice is the best one. Do your children come often to take your advice and what kind is it general.
You kind of decide for the children when they are much younger but as they get older, they pretty much make their own decisions on things like choice of clothes, friends, schools or even activities they would like to take up. We have our fair share of disagreements occasionally, but I guess that’s part and parcel of every parent-child relationship. Good advice can come from all directions, but mum’s advice are the ‘best’ simply because a mother sincerely wants only the ‘best’ for her child. No one can beat mum’s love and concern and her greatest love for her child.
3. You have many responsibilities and roles at the same time; how do you manage to find a balance between work, family and other commitments?
Try to stay focused and be organised. Don’t dwell on things that may cause stress or guilt. Some days, family wins. Some days, work triumphs. So be it, tradeoffs are inevitable. Leave some me-time for yourself to stay sane.
4. Do you believe that it is possible for a woman to dedicate her life completely to her career without neglecting her family life?
I think regardless men or women, if you are going to COMPLETELY dedicate your life to your career, there’s a huge chance that you might leave little time for the family.
5. Did you face difficult situations while trying to manage and conceal all your responsibilities?
Difficult situations comes in odd shapes and sizes, and in varying degrees. I would try to stay cool and level headed to understand the issues.
6. What is your opinion concerning the place of women in today’s working world? As inequality at work still remain between men and women, what should be done for women to be taken more into consideration?
I think there are enough surveys to suggest that a significant percentage of women do feel that they are underrepresented in many leading positions or in top corporate jobs. There may be a hint of truth, if you were to look around. To fellow women, let our actions speak for themselves. Be confident and prove our worth to be noticed.
7. What would be your advice to young aspiring girls, yet to enter the corporate world and motherhood stage?
• First and foremost, be comfortable with yourself and who you are. I can’t emphasise how important it is to hold yourself high in esteem and do not allow your self-esteem to be easily wounded by others.
• Secondly, do not get sucked into the ‘material world’. You do not need to have the latest ‘it’ bag all the time, to keep up with your peers. You can reward or pamper yourself once in a long while, but do not spend beyond your means.
• Thirdly, avoid getting the wrong ‘Mr Right’. If you heed the above advice, I think there’s a good chance that life will be all right.
You’ll feel a lot more blessed, happier and naturally enjoy motherhood and everything that comes with it.
8. In your many achievements, you added one more by launching the first Manja Raya collection by MediaCorp.
It’s an exciting time and we sense the adrenaline rush in us, as we explore into new territory. This is a whole new ball game for us in media to go into the business of fashion industry. We look forward to forging a great partnership with MODESTyle, who helped us produce and design this dazzling collection. With the festive season around the corner, I am sure women are going to love our affordable and contemporary, yet elegant Hari Raya collection.