Thank you for your consolation

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I start this thread to thank all the faceless but kind folks who poured out words of consolation after learning about my retrenchment. I don't wish to hijack the other thread which is mostly about money issues and not retrenchment.

I Wrote:To fellow engineers on this forum, I think engineering can still be financially rewarding if you are in the right industry (not Electronics in Singapore). Electronics has been in a steady decline in Singapore since the Asian Financial crisis. During my days as an engineering student, the best students studied electronics engineering because of the hype generated from the tech bubble in telecoms and IPOs. The industry in Singapore went into decline after the tech bubble burst and never really recovered. For young graduates like me then, it was terrible -> Smart competition in a shrinking pie. It was a terrible industry to work and compete in.

My point is that if you are at the right place at the right time, you can be less smart and less hardworking and earn more $$$ than someone who is very smart and very hardworking but happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. In my case, even though I got along very well with my boss and my boss's boss commented that I am an honest and diligent worker in my appraisal this year (and I got retrenched), I was not promoted all this while despite being well-liked by my superiors. I worked in a business unit in an industry which either did not grow in a "good" year or was shrinking badly in a bad year. How can my boss be promoted if the company does not grow? And how can I be promoted if my boss was not? The whole business unit shut down this round. All my colleagues and me will be retrenched.

Moral of the story: Doesn't matter how hardworking or how smart you are. If you are at the wrong place at the wrong time, failure is very likely.

BlackCat Wrote:Working in IT since 96, I've twice seen my capable colleagues retrenched (both time overseas). And in S'pore, seen the industry become more and more cut throat - to the point of any project you work on you expect it to be losing money. I've had a lot of lucky things in my life, but career choice is not one of them

Seems like IT is facing the same problem as engineers in Electronics. An over-supply of people in this sector worsened by an influx of foreigners leading to cheapening of our value. However, IT consultants seem to be doing well, especially those consulting for ERP projects.

wsreader Wrote:Sad to hear that even when someone want to create more value to society as an engineer, opportunity was taken away.

I think it is the free market at work, fair and square. The cost of doing business in electronics is high. I am not talking only about labour cost. Land cost and electricity bills make us uncompetitive. These are infrastructural costs which the government should do their part.

There has been much talk about moving up the value chain. Going high-tech. The problem is that Singapore is too dependent on foreign MNCs and we do not have our own big companies to do higher-end jobs. Cutting-edge R&D are usually done back home at the HQ of the MNC. Singaporeans working in MNCs don't get the chance to work at cutting-edge technologies. I see several talented, smart engineers (first-class honours, PHDs) doing mid-level work like technical support or even boring testing. MNCs do not mind overpaying and under-utilizing these talents because their salaries are partially paid by EDB.

I sometimes wonder why EDB spend more money on foreign MNCs than our own local SMEs.

touzi Wrote:Sorry to hear that you have been retrenched. I have lost my job twice in the IT industry since the dotcom bubble burst. The first time was under circumstances quite similar to yours -- whole department had to clear our desks. The second time was when the company went belly up and even owed me salary. Quite an experience to see the bailiff notice being put up. The 2 incidents were less than 2 years apart. While it hurts financially, due to my zero gearing I was never in a desperate situation where money is concerned. However emotionally it was difficult as weeks became months. You know you still has much to contribute, the lack of opportunity was frustrating and demoralizing.

My personal opinion is that we should not take corporate hierarchy too seriously. Frankly corporate world is full of sh*t.

It is true that if you are at the wrong place at the wrong time, the outcome could be unpleasant. However being retrenched should not be seen as a failure, especially in your case. Hope you find resume your career soon ( be it another job or starting something on your own ).

Thank you for your consolation despite me not being my usual polite self to you once. I get the feeling most of us in the tech industry will experience retrenchment at least twice in our life. This is actually not my first time.

yeowiki Wrote:Yes. The time and place is wrong for you now. But, for a diligent and hardworking person like you, it is just a matter of time to find yourself a new niche. Don't be dishearten.

Keep up your fighting spirit!

Thanks for your reply. I feel inspired nowShy

piggo Wrote:Completely agree with that. Can only stand up, and continue the race... it's experiences like these that makes you a tougher man

Thanks. I hope so.

Musicwhiz Wrote:First of all, I would like to say I completely agree that Engineers are way under-paid. I've dealt with many engineers in my line of work and feel they are very technically competent and know so much! Compared to me lah - I only know numbers, accounting, addition, subtraction.... Tongue I really respect engineers for knowing everything from civil stuff, structural works, M&E and IT-related. Kudos to all engineers!

On a related note, hyom, sorry to hear of your situation. But perservere and apply for jobs and wish you all the best for your career!

Musicwhiz, you sing music to the ears of engineers. While we engineers may not be as rich as the Wall-Street types, at least we are more respected. Having said that, my little son just told me when he grows up, he does not want to become an engineer. I ask him why? He says he does not want to be poor like me. Haha. I will not be surprised if given a choice, he will join Wall Street anytime rather than be an engineer. Maybe it's better to be rich and envied than poor but respected.

Big Toe Wrote:Hyom, you are exactly right. You cant fight a rising tide.
Many years back, I realized that what I was doing is not sustainable(Contract manufacturing/Mechanical/electronic engineering related).
That's when I figured I needed extra passive income/build an alternative active income.
The goal was quite daunting, to survive w/o a job, it's quite unthinkable at that point in time.

Looking back. I did survive. Business grew and life is better now not working for someone else.

To the folks who are really unhappy where they are now;
Quit. Do something else.

I'll be blunt(not meant to offend anyone) to say that it is a complete waste of time complaining about
bosses and colleagues and how unfair work is, and we hear it all the time. If someone really thinks he/she is worth
more, prove it, talk is cheap.

Hi Big Toe,
Seems like you were doing pretty much the same thing as me. Actually, I remembered when you first posted about how you lost your job unfairly in a big MNC on this forum. I felt sorry for you then. Now, it is your turn. Well, we all work in the same industry. So, it should be the industry's fault, not oursShy

You are one of those who made it in business on your own. For this, you win my respect. You deserve a better life.

Will reply to the rest later.
Trust yourself only with your money
(02-12-2011, 11:09 PM)hyom Wrote: Haha. I will not be surprised if given a choice, he will join Wall Street anytime rather than be an engineer. Maybe it's better to be rich and envied than poor but respected.

I felt it is not very good to educate kids to go for the hottest industry or go for where the money is. I think a person finds what he wants to do in life, is more important than to earn all the money of the world.

I can't imagine da vinci, steve jobs, van gosh or einstein wants to do investment banking just because it can earn them the most money and have good life. What things they will bring us then?

Those who think the most important thing in life is to earn money, or to be a millionaire, i just felt those people are not very deep :p In fact in the end, i realized investing is just a hobby to me, i won't do it all the time.
I will educate my kid on what to expect, the pros and cons of becoming an accountant, engineer, doctor, banker etc.. Usually young graduates don't even know what they want to do in life until they went through years of working.

To me, the most impt thing in life is to earn sufficient money in as short time as possible so as to achieve financial freedom at a age still able to enjoy it. Only by achieving that at a young age can one really pursue his own passion and interest.
Considering how we are living in Singapore with ever rising costs of living (comfortdelgro's an example)... money is quite important. Think to go with passion and interests especially in Singapore, you'll either die hungry or commit suicide... unless of course your dad left you a healthy sum to live in the delusion that not earning enough is all right. Van Gogh committed suicide, and the rest died of health complications all of which would costs enormous amounts of cash in SG to treat.

So I agree with Bibi that here, we need to earn as much as possible so that we can indulge in our passions and interests in the future. Otherwise migration is the other alternative.

dispite all the advanced education and courses I had, I seriously think that education is not proportion to paycheque.

till now, after almost 17 years in the job market, I still think that some hawkers / lorry or truck drivers, do earn more than me. Just that they have lesser income security (i.e. rainny days or traffic jam).
With a soft, gentle , and non accusing voice: "What's wrong with that may I ask?"

Meritocarcy is about abilities; not paper qualifications.

Every profession can produce "scholars" - "han han chu zhuang yuan - in chinese"

A graduate may drive a lorry or start a hawker store by walking a path less travelled. But through his/her entrepreneur skills and risk taking, he/she may start a transport company or a chain of eateries years later Wink

Of course I am speaking with vested interest. I not a graduate Smile
Just google singapore man of leisure
Hey Hyom, actually I feel that retrenchment is not really a bad thing. Rather than clinging on to a sunset industry, it's a good chance to look for better outlets. I'm assuming you have enough savings to tide over this period.

Good luck! You have our moral support!
kazukirai Wrote:Hi hyom,

It must be tough for both you and your family. But as others here have said, you can't fight the tide (in this case, the sunset of electronic engineering on our shores) so the best thing you can do is ride it. Maybe you could see it as a sign that it's time to do something else that would either a) make you happier or b) pay better, of course hopefully both.

It will be tough but hang in there!

Hi kazukirai,

Thanks for your concern. It is not tough on the money side yet. I am pretty sure if the same thing happens on other members of this forum, money should not be a big problem at least for the first couple of months because most of us here are equipped with good basic personal finance knowledge and more importantly, habits. What is tough is the bruise on self-worth. It is quite humiliating to be unemployed, even if it is through no fault of our own. I think those who have been through it will know what I mean.

The Electronics industry is certainly not sunset. It is still thriving. Look at iPhones, Android phones, tablets, e-books. Our lives have changed for the better because of electronics. The company with the biggest market capitalization is a consumer electronics giant -> Apple. Apple got rich by improving our lives. Who can complain about that? Electronics is declining in Singapore but thriving worldwide. In Singapore, the big companies are moving out, the smaller ones(mainly local companies) are dying away. The smaller ones are dying because they mainly serve the big companies.

By the way, may I know what does kazukirai mean? Any special meaning to this unique name?

KopiKat Wrote:Losing your job, especially in times of economic uncertainty, may seem like the end of the world. Especially more so if you have dependents. This drives home the importance of saving for a rainy day and investing towards financial independence.

When I lost my job during AFC, I was fortunate to be married (a good reason for you single folks out there to get married!) as we could still scrap by with 1 single income. Coupled with our savings and investments, I wasn't too pressurised to quickly find another job.

In fact, now thinking back and being able to join the dots (copy fm Steve Jobs' speech), losing my job was the best thing that could have happened to me!

For most of us, having a job means taking home a salary. Many hate working for someone else or hate the job they are doing, but the so-called meagre pay will still hold back many of us from trying to do something else on our own (without any certainty of a regular income stream) as we are slaves to the many bills we have to pay.

In my case, although I'd loved what I was doing, I'd gotten bored (perhaps mid-life crisis). I'd in fact left a more "iron rice bowl" job to try something else more interesting. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the company couldn't outlast the AFC and there I was, with a less than 1 year old kid, trying to survive on one income and the little investing skills I had (need to make up the shortfall from our single income to pay all the recurring expenses).

First, I decided to make use of this "opportunity" to try something different. Talked to a few friends and family members, and it's times like these that you realised who are the better friends or family members! One of the thing we decided to try was to start up a small food kiosk, having done a 1mth trial in an expo. We checked the rental rates from Shopping Malls to HDB shops to Coffee Shops. IMO, the rental is probably the 'killer' of many entreprenaurial dreams. The only good that came out of this exercise was I was able to confidently subscribe to CMT REIT IPO and accumulate more subsequently.

After another couple of years, I was back to square one. No job and poorer than before but a lot wiser. I decided to try something else on my own (partnering friends / family members was a great learning experience on human characters/traits). Coupled with a small kid to look after, I decided to focus on Stocks Investing. Prior to that, although I'd been investing in stocks for more than 10 years, I'm ashamed to say I wasn't doing any real analysis. To be conservative, I'd stuck to mostly "S"-Chips (my "S" refers to "Singapore" ie. SPH, SingPost, SBS, STEng,...) and I usually buy when I see it close to it's year lows. I wasn't losing $$ but I wasn't making a lot either as I'd never been confident enough to buy any single stock in substantial quantity.

To make a long story short, I subsequently stumbled on this community, realised from the many selfless gurus that it's possible to make a living from Stocks Investing (I have not heard of Warren Buffett / Benjamin Graham or any other great investors before that). The learning journey was fun, although I was still filled with uncertainty and disbelief that it can be possible.

Like some had commented here, perhaps I was lucky as that period was marked by a strong super bull run from '03-'07. The sharp correction in '08 was short but the subsequent rebound was even stronger. It'd ended recently and we're now on the downward ride of the roller-coaster. I don't know whar'll happen next and only time will tell if I'd indeed been just lucky or I'd acquire some minimal investing skillset to tide me through the rest of my life being what many termed as "society's parasite" ie no real contribution to society. Tongue

Still, no regrets (the "unlimited" free time spent bonding with our young kids, watching them grow and teaching them the right values, is priceless although I feel like vomitting blood most times) and I wouldn't do it any differently if I'd to start all over. We'd also recently removed the last safety net (no more single source of working income) plus a lot more kids now (we're doing our part to make sure our population don't get overwhelmed by new immigrants). We'll try to enjoy this new exciting ride and I'll try not to stay awake at night thinking about how to survive, relying on my limited investing skillset.

Thank you very much for taking the time to write your own experience. Must have taken you quite some time. Glad to know you have found your calling. Maybe your failed business experience helped. An investor with actual business experience has an advantage over the rest who does not.

I did not intend to offend when I wrote earlier on that investing is a not-so-useful risk-taking activity, though I really meant what I say when I say it is not useful (different from useless). Don't call yourself society's parasite. Let me put it this way. The world would be a better place if you had been a successful businessman rather than a successful investor. I shall not be hypocritical. If you are society's parasite, so am I now. Now that I am jobless, I still have to feed my family. Since I am reasonably good at making money from not-so-useful risk-taking activity, I shall temporarily devote more time to becoming "society's parasite". Please wish me every success in sucking the lifeblood out of "society" Big Grin

weijian Wrote:hi hyom,
As a fellow engineer in the electronics industry, i share your pain. I would just like to briefly share my own experience with you, hopefully it gives you a source of strength.

I was laid off in late 2008. Although it was the worst of times to be laid off, i was given a sum of money as my retrenchment benefit. I managed to use this pile of $ and invested correctly in the bottom from Jan-March2009 (on hindsight). During my free time, i also used it to read up and learn many new things (about finance - behaviorial/accounting) that an engineer would nv dream if he/she had stick to the usual routine. That period (of 6 months of joblessness) had to be 1 of the most rewarding period of my life to date. Of course, looking back, it helped as the pullback was very sharp.

An crisis may eventually turn out to be a opportunity - if one can learn to always somehow see the glass half full, instead of half empty. All the best.

Always nice to hear a fellow engineer bouncing back from crisis. Are you still working as an electronics engineer now?

Trust yourself only with your money
i really don't like the things that i do as an engineer. whether it is operation support or development. the fact is if i jump i do it for the money. when it comes to work scope there is just so much expansion of scope, not providing the adequate time and costs that the project become a disaster most of us want to dissuade ourselves from.

as an engineer i wish that there is a startup movement the likes of Boston where people who truly enjoys engineering can band together in the hopes of brain storming truly altrustic ideas.
Dividend Investing and More @
hi hyom,
i m still in the electronics industry (i have had 3 jobs since i graduated and all of them r in the electronics industry).. Once jump in and stay for some time, hard to jump out...

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