Took me several years to accept that it is okay to work for the family business.
In places like Japan or Italy, business get passed down through the generations. People are proud to take over businesses from their parents. Here in Singapore, I’ve always felt that there’s a stigma around doing the same.
My dad is 100% owner of a business he inherited from his grandfather. Without going into too much detail, he is the sole distributor in Singapore of several German and American brands of refined chemical products. We serve customers from malls, to factories, to households. It is a medium-sized company. Growing up, as an only son, I was told that this business will be mine. I would respond that I am not interested in it and that one day I will start my own business. It didn’t help that I went to HC where it wasn’t particularly helpful for my peers to know that I’m from a privileged background. I played it down and made sure my peers knew that I will be getting a job like everyone else when I graduate.
After NS, I went to study Systems Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Penn. After which I went to work in Silicon Valley for two years before doing an MBA at Columbia. Then I got a job as a strategy consultant. Several years ago my dad had a small stroke. He was comatose for a week. He was able to make a full recovery from that incident but he told me that since I wasn’t interested, he was going to wind up the company. More than 100 families will be affected, included those who have worked for my father for more than 30 years. I ruminated for a day or two and decided to quit my job and come home.
Today, as a man in his 30s who have rejected the idea of inheriting my family business my whole life, I am the full owner and CEO of an SME which I grew by more than 40% in the last two years.
I still feel bad that I never quite earned my position at this company and would rather have started one on my own. But the more I start to change things in my dad’s company, introducing technologies and workflows that make it easier for our employees to do their jobs, I am starting to accept that just because I’m privileged doesn’t mean I can’t still provide a service to my customers and employees. I still get “looks” from my friends that I haven’t done enough to earn what I have today, but I guess I’m going to have to learn to live with it.