Hobbies can offer valuable life and work lessons. For Karen Loo, taekwondo has taught her life lessons such as the importance of perseverance, respect and teamwork.
We speak to the vivacious and friendly senior administrative officer at Alexandra Point to find out more about how her experiences have shaped her into who she is today.
A day in the life
Looking for a new challenge after leaving her previous clerical job of six years, Karen joined the Frasers Property family in 2007.
As a senior administrative officer, Karen performs a variety of tasks which includes managing Mr Low Chee Wah, the Head of our Retail and Commercial Division and Richard Ng, Executive Vice President, Head of Asset Management, corporate calendars, meeting or appointments. She also maintains files, travel arrangements, and prepares documents for important company events such as the Annual General Meetings.
“A lot of my work revolves with coordinating with different parties, which means that I must be meticulous about all the information that comes my way.
Having no prior experience in the real estate or commercial sector, I was very fortunate to have my colleagues, who are other administrative officers in the team take the time to teach me the ropes.
With their guidance, I quickly familiarised myself with the industry jargon and the major events of a listed company. This is important when it comes to preparing documents for events such as annual general meetings. It was a steep learning curve but making mistakes at the start also ensures that I learn from them and so that they are not repeated.
A strong foundation
Karen and her Taekwondo buddies
Outside of work, Karen believes that hobbies are not just a way to pass time. Her involvement in Taekwondo has given her a sense of resilience, developed her time management skills and taught her the importance of hard work.
Karen’s passion for the martial art started when she was 18, and it took her less than two years to earn a black belt, the highest rank for the sport. Since then, she has also gotten herself certified as a trainer.
“Having a good attitude is an important characteristic to have, not just at the workplace but when dealing with hardships in life. Taekwondo has also taught me to be humble. As my job requires me work with different kinds of stakeholders and to approach them, this in an important characteristic to have.”
One aspect of taekwondo is the poomsae, which is a set pattern of both offensive and defensive techniques that a practitioner executes for a panel of judges to grade. Poomsae competitions are usually separated into an individual and team event.
“Teamwork is everything. Things are done much faster and without hiccups when we help one another at the workplace. When I was on maternity leave, we had a part-timer come in to take over my duties. Having my team around to guide her gave me a peace of mind while I was away.”
Learning as we grow
Taekwondo is not Karen’s only hobby. She has also recently regained a liking for the latin dance Salsa. This interest was formed during her school days where she would participate in overseas dance performances with her school. These days, Karen keeps herself active by joining Zumba sessions with her friends whenever she has time after work.
“Dancing keeps me relaxed and I’ve made a lot of friends along the way. It has given me a carefree outlook in life, and enables me to express my creativity. It has helped me approach situations differently.
There is always more than one way to get things done at work. It also takes a level of creativity to solve certain problems that I may come across. Being shy is also not an option for someone in my role. We must have the confidence to ask others for help, and to look at different ways of solving the problem.
For example, making travel arrangements for senior staff may not be as straightforward due to conflicting schedules. However, I’ve learned how to manage the different needs of the managers and work with the travel agencies to find an agreeable solution.”
Learning from experience is one of the most fundamental and natural means of learning. Over the years, Karen has learned from her mistakes and has honed her general coordinating and time management skills.
“When I first started at Frasers Property Singapore, I was a workaholic, and would try to get everything done as fast as possible. Over the years, I realised that stressing myself out and rushing through my to-do list does not produce quality work. Therefore, I have learned to pace myself, and to take little breaks throughout the day to reset and recharge.
Also, one of the perks of working with the same boss for 11 years is that I’ve familiarised myself with his working style. This helps me to anticipate his needs and makes work easier for the both of us.”
One day at a time
A family adventure at Hong Kong Disneyland
“The beliefs that we hold change how we manage our day-to-day experiences. Therefore, I believe that we should take it one day at a time. I have grown so much since joining the company, from a being a single working adult to being a mother of a 3-year-old daughter, with another baby on the way. I’m excited to see what else is in store for me.”
Our chat with Karen has taught us that not only do hobbies provide a variety of benefits that can extend into the workplace but that her positivity is infectious!
It is no surprise that she continues to stay in touch with her taekwondo master and friends from her salsa sessions, up till today.