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Why I’ve Stayed In My Company For 9 Years While Everyone Else Is Job-Hopping For “Better Prospects"

Staying in The Smart Local for 9 years 

It seems just like yesterday when we were talking about “The Great Resignation”, or “The Great Reshuffle”. While those buzzwords have slowed down on social media and news headlines, it’s still a trend that’s permeating every industry. Just ask the ordinary millennial or Gen Z if they’d stay in a company for 9 years – you’d probably get “no” as an answer. 

An outlier in a sea of millennials jumping ship, Kimberly Wong (Kim) has stayed loyal to the same company for 9 years. She’s currently the Group Editor overseeing publications under The Smart Local (TSL) media group such as Uchify, Zula, and Must Share News, but you’d be surprised to know that she joined the company with zero experience in the industry.

This post is done in conjunction with The Smart Local’s 10th Anniversary happening on 25th October 2023. Find more TSL10 content below: 

Going on a date in Paris for $100 Dorm room tour for $100 Reviewing a cafe for $100 Jinjja Chicken giveaway

Starting as a sub-editor with no journalism background 

staying in the smart local 9 years - work tripKim on a work trip in Japan. 

Kim previously took up a Diploma in Hospitality and a Degree in Marketing and Management to appease her parents. She tried her hand at writing in previous work stints in corporate events and as a social content strategist at an advertising agency, where she stayed for 1.5 years. But she always knew that journalism was something she wanted to pursue. 

As fate would have it, her best friend shared her a job listing at TSL one day. The company was still a young and dynamic company then, and she wanted to try something new and fun. Despite having no journalism experience, she submitted a 3-paragraph elevator pitch about herself when sending out her job application. It worked, because she got an offer shortly after. 

TheSmartLocal Office Tour with Bellywellyjelly - PrettySmart: EP 33play buttonTheSmartLocal Office Tour with Bellywellyjelly – PrettySmart: EP 33

“The company had under 20 employees then – and we all worked out of this cosy loft shophouse office in Balestier,” she tells us. She was so sold on the job that she rejected an offer from another publishing house to take it on. 

It proves that her dedication and passion for the job paid off, because she was promoted to editor in 2019. 3 years later, she was promoted to start Uchify, a home and living content site under TSL Media Group. And now, she’s the Group Editor of a few different publications under the brand.

staying in the smart local 9 years - work anniversaryImage credit: Kimberly Wong 

“I’m very grateful that TSL took a chance on someone inexperienced like me, letting me grow into the editor of one of the biggest online lifestyle publications in Singapore,” she reminisces. “It’s been hectic learning all the ropes on the spot, but very fulfilling at the same time.” 

Not spared from imposter syndrome 

staying in the smart local 9 years - group stillImage credit: Kimberly Wong 

Having worked with many batches of talented aspiring writers over the years, Kim has watched them blossom at The Smart Local under her mentorship. But alas, imposter syndrome is something anyone knows all too well, and Kim isn’t spared from it either.

“I had some bouts of imposter syndrome thinking I didn’t deserve the job or have the right skills to lead a team of writers,” she opens up. “But I’ve always received reassurance from my team members and bosses. Receiving thank you letters from the writers I’ve mentored has made the journey all the more amazing.”

staying in the smart local 9 years - interns and pikaKim with her first few batches of interns. Image credit: Kimberly Wong 

When she first started, she was mentoring 2-3 junior writers. She now manages a small team of 8, but she’s helmed those double the size of that in the past. With her new role as Group Editor, she’s also in charge of the operational management, productivity, and morale of all the editorial titles under TSL. 

The importance of having a good boss

Image credit: TSL Media Group 

Having a boss or mentor who is nurturing and understanding is a rarity these days, and that was one of the reasons why Kim stayed loyal to the company. This was important to her, especially coming from an agency background, where politics and working late into the night are all too common. 

“Everyone’s always watching their own backs, so it’s hard to trust your superiors,” she shares. “While I had an amazing circle of friends and a boss that I keep in touch with to this day, it was hell, especially outside my department.” 

And through staying in touch with her old colleagues, she’s also heard a lot of horror stories about toxic work situations with bad managers. “I have heard of bosses who shout and undermine your ability, bosses who belittle you and play mind games with you. I wouldn’t be able to handle that,” Kim says. 

“My boss is empathetic, and TSL is the first place where I’ve really felt valued and heard,” she adds. Coming from a cut-throat ad background, she appreciates the fact that her boss pushes for an environment where there’s zero politics. Staff aren’t expected to work past 6 or answer work messages off the clock. 

The company even has a “whistle-blowing” policy in place, where anyone can report misconduct or unfair treatment by other colleagues anonymously to HR. 

Staying in the company for 9 years instead of job-hopping 

“I’ve watched the company grow from a small start-up to what it is today, so it’s a little more sentimental for me,” Kim tells us. “I do wish to continue to help my boss, founder Bryan Choo, see the success of his brainchild.”

staying in the smart local 9 years - video stillImage credit: Kimberly Wong 

At a time when job-hopping is more common than job loyalty, Kim does see some proof in the popular sentiment that you can rise the ranks faster and get better pay when job-hopping. But still, she chose to stay in the same company for 9 years. “My situation is rather unique because I have a lot of financial commitments and a family to support, so I pride things like stability and flexibility over things like title and money,” she explains. 

That’s not to say that she hasn’t been approached by other companies for a job. The only difference is that she doesn’t feel the need to jump ship as she still enjoys what she does. Perhaps it’s the ever-changing job scope that keeps her going. “I’ve been routinely presented with new challenges throughout the 9 years I’ve been here, and it’s been getting more challenging every day,” she tells us. 

She does hope to start her own craft business one day, but she’s still growing in her role. But for now, Kim feels that her skills and contributions to the company are acknowledged. She successfully pushed for flexible working hours for her team and has even won an MVP award, a recognition given out each year to staff who have made valuable contributions to the company. 

Balancing work & being a mum of 2 

Kim has taken maternity leave twice and has negotiated “work from home” and “work from abroad” arrangements with her boss who has been rather understanding and flexible. This was in 2018 before remote working became the norm, a testament to the amount of trust Bryan had in her. 

staying in the smart local 9 years - kim and ellieKim and Ellie, her daughter. 

“When I first became a mum, I couldn’t bear to leave my baby in childcare. Finances were tight, so I told him that I either wanted to work from home, take some time off work, or quit if those 2 options were out of the question,” Kim says. “In the end, he let me take an additional 1 month of no paid leave off from work to spend time with my daughter before I came back. That’s something I’m still grateful for till this day.” 

There’s a common misconception that having kids will be a roadblock to a woman’s career. But her career trajectory proves that wrong. After she came back from her 2nd maternity leave, she was promoted to become Group Editor of TSL. 

staying in the smart local 9 years - ellie shoot

Her eldest daughter Ellie is now 5, and Erik, her son is 3. “Juggling work and being a mother was hard, but I had a good support system at home, and hours were flexible in the office”. 

Remote working from Thailand 

Image credit: Kimberly Wong 

5 years later, Kim now has a remote working arrangement many Singaporeans would be envious of. Due to her husband’s business, she and her family moved to a quiet city that’s about a 3.5-hour drive away from Bangkok. 

Image credit: Kimberly Wong 

She counts herself lucky, as not many SMEs would allow the flexible working arrangement. But it was also her track record at work that helped her convince her boss that she’d be able to perform her duties remotely. 

However, she does recognise that not everyone can have that privilege. She explains: “I think my scope played a huge part. As a Group Editor, I don’t do that much of the day-to-day execution but the management, forecasting, and brand direction.”

staying in the smart local 9 years - ellie and kim workKim and Ellie. 

And if you were thinking she’s just lounging on the beach all day, that’s not the reality of remote working. Working remotely whilst taking care of a house in the countryside is no easy feat, she admits, especially in her new role with a tonne of new responsibilities. 

“I usually check in with my team during the day and do more of the heavy lifting at night after I put my children to bed,” she tells us. “My work hours do stretch beyond 9 to 6, but I have time in the day to run ‘life errands’ like pick my daughter up from school and cook their meals”.

Besides that, she also comes back to Singapore every few months to see her family and have some face time with her team in the office.  

Staying 9 years at TSL through a purposeful routine    

The town hall steps at the office, where employees go to have group discussions. Image credit: TSL Media Group 

Despite a challenging job scope, she wouldn’t change it for anything. “Now that working from home is becoming more normalised, I’m glad to have been given the opportunity to continue my journey with TSL, even from Thailand.” 

Understandably, staying at a job for nearly a decade isn’t something most in our generation would do for career progression. “You’re bound to feel stagnant doing anything if you do it enough, the trick is mastering your craft and getting used to a purposeful routine.” 

Kim believes in the importance of making the best of every situation and counting her blessings. While it’s true that she might have been able to get a higher pay or better title elsewhere, she’d have to sacrifice other more important things such as quality time with her children and a life abroad, among other things. 

“I do believe that intention is everything, and if you stay thinking you should be entitled to certain things, you’ll form negative thoughts that will erode your happiness. I try to take it day-by-day and make sure I do what I can to the best of my ability for the company. That has made all the difference in my mindset and morale at work”.

staying in the smart local 9 years - TSL media groupTSL Media Group has since expanded.Image credit: TSL Media Group 

Most people are concerned about having their career progression impeded by staying loyal to a company. But as evidenced by Kim’s story, that’s not always the case. There’s always room for growth, especially in an SME like The Smart Local. Now in its 10th year, the company has expanded its presence in the region, setting up bases in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Manila

As Kim joined while it was still a small start-up with 20 employees, the company has since grown to over 200 employees regionally and is still progressively hiring. But one thing’s for sure, she continues to be one of TSL’s most valuable employees, leaving a mark on her team and the company as a whole.

Read more perspectives about life in TSL: 

Remote working during the pandemic Lyf Funan “workation” Remotely managing a team of 10 across SEA Are robots taking over journalism? 

Cover image adapted from: Kimberly Wong 


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