Going for the goal and taking risks

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By Michelle Anne P. Soliman

Malou Treñas-Del Castillo, who was then 27-years-old when she worked as a brand manager for multi-national company, came home early from work one evening due to a bad headache. She recalled receiving a phone call from a friend when she suddenly passed out leaving the other person hanging on the line. She regained consciousness unaware of what had happened.

Her sister visited that evening and asked to use her bathroom. While she was out of the room, Ms. Del Castillo received another phone call from another friend. “After a while, he [was still] talking and I realized I couldn’t speak. I was trying to say, ‘I can’t find the words to answer you,’” she recalled. However, she just kept stuttering, then she passed out for a second time.

Ms. Del Castillo was rushed to the hospital where the doctors found a growth from a bacterial infection on the Broca’s area of the brain — located at the lower left frontal lobe which controls speech and language comprehension. “It was a one in a hundred thousand case. It went to the brain, and because it was unchecked, it grew. And I didn’t know,” she recalled.

The operation to correct the condition carried the risk of her losing the ability to speak. Still, it was a success.

After the operation, she and her family struggled to pay the hospital bills, but surprisingly received help from a distant relative.

“Two days before I was discharged, a distant relative found out that I was in the hospital and sent somebody and paid the balance, without us asking [for it],” she said. “I felt so undeserving because it could have gone wrong in so many ways, but it didn’t.”

Ms. Del Castillo slowly recovered her speech and returned to work after taking a month off.

After this ordeal, Ms. Del Castillo realized the desire of wanting to give back. “There was something I was supposed to do to help other people, but I didn’t know what it [was],” Ms. Del Castillo said during an interview and lunch with the media in the Ortigas Center last week.

She then consulted a career counselor, took examinations and found out that she was suited to helping people “to find balance in their life” and managing their careers.

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Despite her success as a brand manager, she decided to leave the corporate world after 14 years to do freelance work as a career consultant, a career columnist for a lifestyle magazine, and to pursue a master’s degree in psychology and become a registered psychologist.

“I realized I knew the answers to these questions,” she said, referring to setting goals and managing one’s career. “I feel like there was a purpose in being able to speak again.”

Encapsulating everything she knows in a book was appropriate for her since this way she would be able to share her knowledge with more people.

Ms. Del Castillo began writing what would become The Career Roadmap: Your Personal Guide to Corporate Career Success in February of 2017 and self-published it in June the same year.

The 140-page guide contains four chapters: on setting one’s goals, going after them, managing one’s career, and exiting and seeking other opportunities. It also includes exercises and worksheets which the reader can use to plot goals and list their areas of focus.

She wrote the book “because in my workshops and one-on-one career consulting sessions with various employees, whether fresh grads, millennials or middle-aged persons, I realized there was a gap in information for our Filipino corporate workers. I became aware that most employees, whether fresh graduates or long-time workers, feel very nervous, unprepared and unsure of how to discern their job objective, make their resume, prepare for interviews, or even manage their careers once hired or working in a corporate job,” Ms. Del Castillo was quoted as saying in a press release.

Ms. Del Castillo took the time to answer a number of career questions from members of the press.

Why do some people feel unsettled at the beginning of their careers?

“It can happen for many reasons. There are certain skills that we’re happy to use. We’re good at it and we love it. We’re good at it but we don’t enjoy doing it and we end up doing so much of it. Ideally, most of our time should be spent doing the stuff [you] like and [you’re] good at to put you in the zone,” she explained.

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Why do people feel restless at work?

“Sometimes, there is a dissonance in values between the employer, employee or the workplace. ‘I like to feel creative but I’m being stifled. I like to feel the sense of stability and security, but you don’t have a full-time job. I like having friends in the workplace that I can talk to, but there is no team since you work individually at home.’ There’s a whole series of values and the key is knowing what those and seeing are most of those present in the workplace,” she noted.

Why is there a tendency among some people to job hop?

These people have to “[figure out] what are the things you really want and enjoy doing,” she said.

“What are the most important values? Sometimes [they job hop] when nobody takes the time to figure that out. Something will seem attractive in the other place and then you go. Then another thing is attractive then you go. Figure that out first before you jump from the frying pan into the fire. What are your top 10 values? What are the top 10 things you want to work on that make you happy and rank it. Be clear on what’s important. [You] can’t say [you’re going to] get all of it but maybe there’s a place that can give you 80 to 90% of it and to what degree, that’s the place you go to, not just because one [job] seems better than the other on one thing.”

What is your advice to those who are affected by social media posts?

“What you see on social media is the tip of the iceberg,” she pointed out. “Don’t be so affected by what’s going on [with] other people’s lives. Get to know what’s going on in your life and what’s important to you. It’s not a competition. I know it’s easier said than done, but the competition is with yourself.”

What is your advice to fresh graduates?

“Things don’t have to be perfect or beautiful. What’s important is finding what you’re good at and what you want to learn more [about], and which [job] will give you the best experience to further those goals. It’s best to be with a group of people who do similar things to what you want to do.”

Is there a time when one can say, ‘I made it!’ or just continue doing better?

“I think that we set our goals and then when we get to them, man always wants to constantly improve… If all circumstances are fine and we’ve attained a certain amount of our goals, there’s a sense of wanting to set new goals. I would say, you’ve arrived when you’ve reached those goals. But it can happen that when you reach that, then you say, ‘I feel like I should be doing something more,’” she pointed out.

“For me, I guess, I attained my goals — what I set out when I became a marketer. And then I said, ‘what’s more?’ and that itch was there since the operation. And I finally needed to scratch it. It took a while, but I guess you can arrive and say, ‘Let’s start again.’”


The Career Roadmap: Your Personal Guide to Corporate Career Success is available at National Bookstore and Powerbooks for P350. Send e-mail to Ms. Del Castillo at malou.delcastillo@thecareerroadmap.net.