Reflections with Jael Chng

By Ryan Tan and Denzel Chen

Our world is going at a faster pace than our brains can keep up. As youths like me are entering the workforce and beginning our career journeys, I’m thinking aloud for us: how might we keep up with the constant changes that are happening? How will our careers look like in the future? We were intrigued to find out more about My Working Title™, a young Singapore start-up who wants to inspire and empower people to actively and adequately navigate our careers.

Interviewing Jael Chng, the founder of My Working Title™ (in the centre of the group), we’ve learnt that, according to research, millennials are said to be cycling through 15 jobs in the future. 65% of primary school students will be having job titles that are not invented yet. Through the many conversations that Jael and team had with youths, parents, educators, HR professionals, youth leaders, government officials, CEOs, etc. they discovered that there are gaps – the external environment is moving at a relentless speed. At the same time, people are trying their very best to keep up with it – hustling all day, every day.

Another gap that the My Working Title™ team noticed was this – career progression isn’t as it used to be anymore. In the past, with a fixed structure, careers were like climbing a ladder. However, with a flattened matrix, that ladder changed into a rock climbing wall. Scaling it is a total different ball game entirely.

After taking these findings and digesting the reality of situation, the founders decided to create a “solution”. The “solution” comes in the form of a movement and a company that wants to see people be the boss of their careers, because with that, people can gain more control and co-create with companies and the government as nobody really knows what the future will be. It is for us to create it. At My Working Title™, the team encourages people to create their unique blend of Purpose, Passion and Pragmatism as they design their careers.

About Jael Chng

Jael is the founder and Chief Problem Solver of ‘My Working Title’ – she is an entrepreneur, facilitator, speaker, consultant and educator. She is a creative-analytic that enjoys designing solutions, challenging and inspiring people to stretch their potential. Her working titles are Bao-Ke-Liao (Dialect for: do everything) founder and Potential Activator. 

Jael became an accidental entrepreneur.

An acquaintance suggested she struck out as an entrepreneur and mooted an idea of Career Development for youths. Initially she gave that person 10 good reasons why she didn’t want to be an entrepreneur. However, this need resonated with her as the future of work for youths has been on her heart for the last few years. As she shared this idea casually with friends/ex-colleagues, to her surprise, they said “I want to join you in this.” Together with some independent consulting work that came in that same week, she decided to take a mini-plunge to test the market. She gigged and prototyped for about a year before she went full on to become a “full-time” entrepreneur. The rest they say, is history in the making. 

She spent her first 10 years in advertising and marketing roles while volunteering to mentor youths. She was a pioneer of social media marketing before it became a legitimate job title. Subsequently she headed the communications department at Halogen Foundation Singapore, a youth leadership and entrepreneurship organisation for 4 years. After which, she gained new skills in design thinking in a management consulting firm. Having accumulated experience and knowledge in advertising, marketing, design thinking, learning and development as well as other fields/functions, eventually allowed her to merge her interests, personal beliefs, and experience to create My Working Title™.

About My Working Title™   

My Working Title™ is a career design company and movement that inspires and empowers people to actively design their careers – “Be the boss of their careers” in short. Why? So that people can thrive and survive for now and the future.

With today’s high flux environment, many people are seeking clarity about their careers. My Working Title™ creates experiences for people to discover possibilities by playing, planning and prototyping. Through that, people can discover their unique blend of purpose, passion and pragmatism.

Since their launch in September 2017, they’ve shared their career design model, tools and experiences and it has spread to 13 countries and have clients that include LinkedIn, Workforce Singapore Group and the National University of Singapore.

Their creations include:

  • My Working Title™ Generator
  • My Working Title™ Career Design Model
  • Career SUPERDRIVE™ Board Game
  • Career ROADTRIP™ journal
  • Career ROADMAP poster
  • Career Design Playshops
  • Career Design Play stations

The Approach at My Working Title

“We started My Working Title™ as we have many people coming to us and asking us about what they should do with their lives. On an individual level, we feel the pain, struggles and confusion of people as they navigate their careers. “What do I do? What should I do? – these are common questions we hear. On a company level, we see the challenges companies and HR departments are going through in the midst of a rapid and disruptive business environment. On a country level, we know that Singapore is at an inflexion point of change, and we need more entrepreneurial problem solvers who will drive change.” 

Through our conversations, I found out that one of the key things that the My Working Title™ team challenges individuals and companies with, is about their WHY. Why do you do what you do? What drives your why? And that’s when I realised that discovering and understanding your WHY essentially is discovering and understanding your Purpose.

In their Discovery model, Discovering your Story is about your purpose. What is your dream? What do you work towards? What are your guiding principles?

These are big questions. Not one that you have a standard 10-year-series answer to. Not one that you can pinpoint now even. Yet, it’s a quest.

Purpose is for us to discover. What we find is unique to us. Even the timing. Keep a lookout for themes, what moves your heart, what gets you going. It will come.

This word is loaded and polarising. Passion – some seem to know what their passions are and judge others who don’t. Some spend their lives finding it and struggle when they can’t find it. Some say, it is overrated, in whatever you do, apply passion.

The My Working Title™ team takes an open approach to this – some people “find” their passion faster, for some people Passion “finds them” and for some people, they can bring Passion to what they are doing.

The word passion comes from the Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Passion can be the pain you feel, and a solution you want to bring to it. Passion can be what challenges you, intrigues you and motivates you. Passion is what you are willing to prioritise and sacrifice for. Passion is the fuel to your Purpose. 

To discover your Passion, it includes taking time and experiencing life to Discover your Story and also your Self  – your interests, talents (tapped or untapped, infancy or maturity), your strengths… Once again, it is a discovery process.

Jael has met people who are stressed because they can’t “find their passion”, who know their passion but “can’t find it” and also people who are happy to do their jobs and pursue their passions on the side. Her team helps to debunk myths, process with people their thoughts and work through to find their unique blend of Purpose, Passion and Pragmatism at where they are (as it will change with different life stages/circumstances).

They aim to be a voice of optimism realism and not idealism cynicism – not to be a voice that crushes dreams, nor do they shy away from giving pragmatic points of views for people to consider. They don’t dismiss passion nor do they encourage people to prioritise it as the only goal. The discovery process is unique to each person – by all means, discover your purpose, passion and also consider pragmatism.

In speaking with many Singaporeans, especially youths there seems to be a constant oscillation between “chasing my passion” and “being pragmatic”.

The Singapore narrative has been this: study hard, get to University, graduate and you’ll get a good job. Start small, climb steadily and you will cruise when you are at a high position.

This narrative is shifting. More youths have been asking Jael – do we need to finish university? Would it be better to work first or go University first? Adults have asked Jael – I just got retrenched (at a high position), what do I do next?

To add to that, there are career myths too – “If I find a job I love, I don’t have to work a single day.” “I have to find a job in what I studied, if not the time is wasted.”

To the My Working Title™ team, Pragmatism is the execution of our Purpose and Passion. Discovering one’s Story and Self needs to be met with Discovering one’s Situation.

What’s in our hands? What are the cards we’ve been dealt with? What are our financial needs? What is the market demand? What are the skills and experience gap? How can we fill that gap?

What choices can we own and make? What future can we create? 

After hearing so many youths and adults who feel resigned to fate, immobilised because of choice paralysis, shift responsibilities to others than themselves, the My Working Title™ team hopes to empower people to drive their own careers – to breakthrough their own barriers and be proactive in designing their careers (and lives).

Speaking with Human Resource Professionals, Jael shares that many companies are trying to keep up with the changes and are trying to figure out how to even map career paths anymore. With leaner budgets and a workforce that is less permanent, the social contract between employers and employees are also less strong. With that, it is key that each person drives their own careers and not assign the responsibility to the employers fully. Therefore, the My Working Title™ team also encourages people to design their careers with smart prototypes.

“Smart Prototyping” as Jael mentioned, is about testing out possibilities in a low risk environment. Instead of taking “S$250,000 of your parent’s money to set up a cafe and risk losing it in 6 months, why not test out the concept in a Pop-Up store first?”. Instead of sinking in large amount of money or time/effort, test the market first, and build as you grow. In doing these experiments, you will find out what the market want/needs and you will get a better idea to build your business.

“Smart Prototyping” sounds like an opportunity to discover, learn, design (and re-design) to execute our career goals.

We’re glad to hear that Jael shares that adulting is hard, yet at the same time, she also reminds us that never before, the youths have access to a global audience and have more resources to create the future than ever.

As shared earlier, 65% of future job titles are said to be non-existent anyway, so what are we to do? This is why Jael and team called the company and movement My Working Title™. If you dig deeper, working titles are secret code names used in the movie and publishing industry. Applied to careers, they can be titles people are prototyping. It is a key to unlock our potential as we discover also, our career strategy.

The My Working Title™ team wants to empower people with their thinking model to create possibilities, an approach they hope people can apply throughout their careers, especially in the years ahead. 

Feeling the passion of Jael and her team, we hope you’re inspired to find your unique blend of Purpose, Passion and Pragmatism, create your Working Titles to strategise your career. You are the boss of your own career.

Top Professional Competencies for Careers Today and in the Future

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 3 skills are

  1. Complex Problem Solving
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Creativity

Building on the work of David Guest (1991), Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO) and McKinsey & Company that proposes professionals to be “T-Shaped”, Jael sees the future professional as a 3D (three-dimensional) person – one that has depth in related skills and expertise in single field(s), have collaborative skills and also be able to solve complex problems with 3D contextual awareness.

Words of Advice 

“Don’t be so obsessed with finding the right answers to the right questions; sometimes there is no template.”  

On a leaving note, an advice Jael gives to aspiring entrepreneurs and youth in general is this – look for problems and opportunities which you can discover/create solutions. It doesn’t need to be perfect or “right”. With new things, sometimes there is no template, you will need to create and adapt as you go. Whether you start a business or work for other companies/organisations, it’s not about all about following what’s the SOP (standard operating procedures), it’s also about creating one when there’s none. That’s a common complaint Jael hears from employers.

Be less afraid to fail, be more adaptive and create the future. Carpe Diem or in Singlish “Mai Tu Liao”!

If you want to find out more about My Working Title™, you can visit their website, follow them on Instagram and sign up on their mailing list to find out what’s next.