Have you ever felt that some things in life were meant to happen exactly the way they had and that even if you had the power to change the past, you wouldn’t have done it any other way?
I’ll bet that many would feel this way about a past love, a lost friendship or an emotional experience, but how many of us, perhaps only the fortunate ones, can say the same about a job?
When I was graduating from university, I was already on the lookout for my next big career shift. I was doing Mass Communications, I was excited about the many possibilities of having a career in the media or something related to what I had learnt in school. At that time, I had little to no idea what being a Public Relations professional meant, let alone being prepared to become one.
As fate would have it, I was newly acquainted with a number of friends then who were either on the media side or doing PR with an agency. Through their conversations, I thought, “Wow, okay, this sounds pretty interesting — the whole dynamics of media and PR and the people.” The opportunity to join The Hoffman Agency coincidentally became available at this time during my search and I thought, “Okay, let’s just give this a shot and see where the winds take me.”
Stumbling into my Family away from Home
Fast forward, I lucked out and managed to land myself a job with The Hoffman Agency right before officially graduating from school. The first big milestone I had with my new HA family was our formal graduation — not just me, but two others from the team. Bhav and Mesh were both in my class (no idea before), and we popped a little champagne in celebration of that.
This was just one of the many connections and milestones we started developing within the team. There were barely 10 of us (I think fewer) in the office when I first started, but we were a powerhouse of equal parts crazy determined and utterly positive people. The victories of getting the best clients, the late nights to nail mad deadlines, the morning rush to be on top of everything, the stocking of our magical (no, not really … we were spoiled solid by Janice.) pantry.
It wasn’t just about doing our jobs right, but the way HA worked was to constantly push each other’s boundaries and do things even better. Despite the mad rush, we (the newbies then) were assigned a mentor each to learn the ropes and regardless of how busy she was, Shirley still gave me 101 percent of her attention (and grilling T_T) to make sure that I was well-prepared and ready to take on the world of PR with HA (*ahem* world-class) standards.
Ups and Downs
Making the workplace a fun environment isn’t a tall order, but having a team who gives a hoot about how you are coping with everything is a blessing.
Being in PR isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Like any other job, there are times where the pressure builds up, clients get anxious and expectations become overwhelming. Through all these times of “not-so-chirpy-and-sunshine-with-rainbows,” I have never had to deal with it alone.
I remember having one of these incidents when a client shared some unkind words with me, and I was in shock. I just quietly put down my phone, and without so much of a cue, I looked to my neighbor — Bhav (my little char siew bao) — and she knew that I wasn’t okay. She didn’t probe, but just walked over, gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be okay.
There are many more instances of these throughout my time with HA, and it is always the people who make things right. These were the small gestures that serve as the foundation of the camaraderie in The Hoffman Agency.
A Word of Appreciation and Gratitude
The camaraderie doesn’t end when you leave HA. To illustrate this and the whole idea of predestinations, take a look at this mind map.
That’s me in the middle — the center of this retelling of how my HA family not only took care of me during my tenure, but even after I left, the connections continue to stem. Right after I left HA back at the end of 2011, I was asked to help out at a media interview with one of HA’s clients — and because of this collaboration, I was given an opportunity to interview for a job with them, later on joining as a corporate communications specialist. My new boss then, a PR veteran, also turned out to be my ex- mentor’s ex-mentor. Mind blown yet?
Even today, more than four years since I’ve left the agency with many of us moving into different roles in life and at work, the sense of familiarity remains. My list of people to be grateful for goes on, but here are some notable mentions — for those of you who had to put up with me then (and sometimes still):
- Mo, relentlessly patient, brilliant and all-round fearless leader. You always knew what to do when I had no idea at all;
- Mayda, our No. 1 Mommy who took care of her fledglings and not being judgmental about all our weird cubicle decorations;
- Mesh, taking all the nonsense from me seated behind her, especially on days where I was too caffeinated and kept disturbing her for no reason;
- Idran, who kept using my mug (*lol*) but makes up for it by being a super chill and good boss to me;
- Shirley (mentioned above as well) whose crazy energy levels can only be matched by a 20-year-old;
- Amrita, who levels Shirley’s crazy with her sunshine-like disposition;
- Bhavna, yes my little CSB, remember the crazy dance moves we documented on my blog post? I still have the pictures somewhere;
- Janice, dear Janice, making sure that our lives are in order — that we are well-fed, maintained and functioning like normal human beings when things get crazy;
- … and all the other Hoffmanites (ex and present, in Singapore and beyond) whom I have the privilege of working with — thanks to every single one of you.
Once a Hoffmanite, always a Hoffmanite. Congratulations The Hoffman Agency Asia Pacific on your 20th anniversary — here’s to many more.