The Fastest Two Years of My Life
February 25, 2017

This frame is from a video I made three years ago. It was for my MBA application, and watching it again reminds me of how eager and determined I was about going back to school. Which is funny because the vow I made to myself after finishing college, apart from getting a haircut, was to never set foot into a classroom again. I guess I was wrong.

The past two years as an MBA candidate have been quite enlightening in terms of self-discovery. I never knew I could enjoy learning as much. And I don’t think anyone else did, either. Credit to my parents for not laughing when I told them I wanted to pursue postgraduate studies. Maybe they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I had a better chance at winning Miss Malaysia, really.

Education is such a different process when it’s driven by personal motivation. Assignments become much less of a chore, and readings make more sense when you have some work experience. At the tender age of 33, I was re-discovering the joy of learning. And I am grateful for that -- better late than never, I suppose. Although I do wonder how life would have turned out if I had this much drive in college.

As an engineering undergraduate, I often question if I will ever need stuff like object-oriented programming in the future. This was compounded by the fact that I was never good with subjects that require the left side of my brain. (Or is it right?) At least in business school, you know some of the lessons can come in handy when you argue with the people from Finance at work someday. If you can’t beat them, confuse them.

In May, subject to outstanding library fines, I will be making my second walk as a graduate. These past two years have certainly been the fastest in my life. Everything seems to have been sped up, somehow. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Maybe I was having fun. That’s right… school is now fun. What have I become.

A Decade of Growth
February 03, 2017

Ten years ago today, I reported duty as an analyst in the Petrochemical Business Unit of our company. I was 23, eight months fresh out of college, and had absolutely no idea what to expect. I did have some experience working at the computer lab in college, but ‘business analyst’ sounded way bigger than ‘printer fixer’. I was sure the problems at the new job couldn’t be fixed by simply pressing the restart button.

As I try to reflect on that very first day of work, I realise how little of it I actually remember. I’ve always had this habit of not documenting milestones properly and in hindsight, I wish I had captured the day better. I would love to relive the thrill and romance of that maiden step into my working life. Not sleeping well the night before, arriving early into an empty office, addressing the lady boss as ‘sir’... I could vaguely remember any more than these first day jitters.

My poor recollection aside, the past decade at the Twin Towers have been full of wonderful memories. I’ve been lucky to have made friends with some of the nicest people, worked with some of the brightest minds, and visited some of the most interesting places in the country. I even met my wife here. It makes no premise for a record-breaking 7pm Malay drama, but Fattah Amin and Neelofa are more than welcome to play us on TV.

To commemorate my tenth year with the company, I’d collected my name cards over the years and (had my wife) arrange them nicely into an RM 9.90 Ikea frame. It’s nothing fancy, and this is about as creative as I go. But I do feel that it gives a nice snapshot of what I’ve done over the course of my career so far. I’d moved four times over the period, and I hope I’ve left a positive experience with each of my colleagues. (Except those who support Man United.)

I could only offer my humblest gratitude to PETRONAS for shaping my adult life. I am a second generation staff, and I was under the scholarship programme for my undergraduate studies. Therefore my relationship with the company began way before 2007. I’ve learned so much from being a part of the organisation, and I am keen to learn more. The late Yasmin Ahmad summed it best in a corporate video she made for us some time ago,

“Give me the wisdom not just to take, but also to give. With integrity, humility, and compassion.”

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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