I was having dinner with the Chief Executive of a statutory board which contributes about 4% of Singapore's GDP in an interesting and fun way, when the dinner conversation started revolving around his life's journey (a personal one, of course, which I will not elaborate). He really impressed me with his honesty in sharing about his career and how he got to where he is today.
However, my hospitable dinner host got me thinking - what skills do I have, and what path has my career taken me these few years since I have left university?
Now that the Singapore government has decided to focus on SkillsFuture and emphasise vocational skills (and of course the life of the mind is also not downplayed), this is a good time for me to do some personal reflections on my personal blog about what real skills I have.
When I thought really hard about it, I am really only good at writing, editing, and proofreading, teaching (and to be really frank, that is when I am in a good mood, and bother to apply pedagogies which should be second nature to me), and presenting in general.
That's about it.
Read, write, teach, and speak.
What a thought.
It kind of humbled me, as I drove home listening to Kiss 92.
(Nowadays, I find that I reflect a lot while I drive, which can be quite therapeutic.)
Yes, I can play a bit of piano and my guitar is quite rusty, but those are really hobbies, rather than skills. That kicks football, bowling, and badminton out of the park.
So when I focus on real skills-wise, I realise that I can do things relating to reading, writing, teaching, and speaking.
For content knowledge, I am a bit knowledgeable in a few areas, but on closer reflection, things are not really what they seem.
While I love economics and am good at it, I am really only good at Microeconomics and in particular have a deep and abiding knowledge in a narrowly defined area... A levels.
My most successful blog has been one about A level economics, which is a really, really narrow area and is a real specialisation. It is quite unlike university economics, and is quite different from economic history, my other academic area. I am specialised in a specialised area of economics. Adam Smith would be proud.
While I love economic history as well, and am better versed in the literature than my friends, it is actually quite humbling to say that I am better than friends, but not as good as an expert.
I am basically an educated amateur!
I was thinking seriously about doing a PhD in economic history or political economy but the opportunity cost is too great for me, at the moment at least, and certainly in Singapore.
I am not poor enough to qualify for subsidies, but not rich enough to take the plunge to do a PhD in the social sciences, which apparently (according to my research as well as well-intentioned nagging from loving friends and family) is not as good as the pure sciences but not as bad as the arts and humanities.
If I can get a scholarship, that would be wonderful - but what happens to life after the PhD, now with the infamous (or famous) academic supply glut? Am I really a potential researcher extraordinaire, or a wannabe? Should I stick to the skills and knowledge I already have, or stretch myself to reach "the pinnacle of academic achievement"?
Incidentally, my friends and loved ones would rather that I take up a Masters in Management or MBA so that I can continue to have a bright future, like the one I have at the moment - which by the way I must say is quite nice.
I love what I do at the moment, though I am reflecting on my skills and content knowledge.
While currently I do not see poverty, I appear to have a paucity of abundance.
However, is this an illusion, and if I pushed my imagination and ideas hard enough, I could find that actually abundance was there all along? Or is it reality that my skills and content knowledge are really specialised?
Despite all these, I am really quite successful in my early career and personal life, and am quite happy to have a nice blog, with hobbies that make me happy.
And I really love reading, writing, teaching, and speaking.
So maybe that is all that really matters for me.
Anything that interests me!