A degree in Psychology need not always lead to a career in counselling or clinical work. If you’re passionate in helping people but would also like to work in a more corporate environment, then the path of this People Psyentist ® is one to consider! We speak to Evelyn Chue, Managing Director of People Psyence (pronounced “science”) about her not-so-straightforward journey in the field of psychometric assessments.
TiC: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve always wanted to do something related to working with people but my father enrolled me into a Business and IT course [laughs]. I was in Japan at that time in a student exchange programme, and the first day I came home, I was already in class! My first job was in the IT field, but I was involved in the company’s training programmes. My then-boss was using psychological models in his programmes, and that piqued my interest. So, after 4 years into my career, I decided to take up a second degree in Psychology. I’ve never looked back since!
TiC: How would you describe your work?
Our main product is Saville Assessments, which offers a range of tools such as aptitude and personality testing. We also run virtual and physical assessment centres, where corporate organisations send groups of employees to go through a combination of exercises and assessments. A comprehensive report is produced after that, which could include areas of development, strengths and weaknesses, and so on. We also have a specific assessment for teenagers aged 16 and above. It’s a simple online assessment that takes only 10 minutes. They come into the office after that and we have a discussion that can take up to an hour and a half about potential career paths, their interests, and passion. Parents can come too, but they sit out during this session, and they come in later for a summary. Most of the time, kids lie about what they want because they feel pressured by what their parents want [laughs]. So, sometimes it turns into a bit of a counselling session. Entrepreneurs, both aspiring and current, also come in to see us for a range of reasons. They either want to know what kind of entrepreneur they are – which can be revealed by assessing what their skill sets are – or for self-development purposes if they’re facing issues at work.
Interested in pursuing a degree in psychology but unsure of which path to take? Head over to the Study UK exhibition on 3 March 2018 for a seminar conducted by Dr. Judith Wylie, Psychology lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, titled ‘Are Psychologists Psychic? and Other Questions‘. Pre-register online and stand a chance to win a return flight ticket to London!
TiC: People Psyence is your first business venture. What was it like transitioning from a salaried employee to a business owner?
I was really clueless! [laughs] I realised that I had to manage a lot of things on my own, things as simple as getting business licenses and going to the bank. Prior to this, all I had to do was make a phone call and someone else gets it done. My worries are also different. I used to worry only about bringing in sales. Now I worry about that and making sure I can afford to pay salaries. I’m also a mother of 2, so I have to work harder to ensure that things at home remain the same. I have to walk faster, run faster, do faster, think faster. I’m no longer with a multinational corporation with established procedures, so a lot of things are done via self-initiative. That’s not to say that all start-ups are like this, but it takes a lot of time. But I know my own style – I need to do things at a fast pace. It’s a matter of the entrepreneur’s preference. The biggest obstacle that I’ve encountered so far is balancing between building a market presence and delivering on projects. It’s tough doing both at the same time. While I’m busy working on projects, I don’t have the time to go out and network. It’s a lot better now though – I trust my team to deliver on projects so I can concentrate on connecting with people. But it takes time to get to where I am now.
TiC: That sounds like an awful lot on your plate. How did you manage all that alone?
I have supportive parents and a committed team. If my team doesn’t help me, I would fail miserably. In the meantime, my parents help to take care of the household and the kids. So I can concentrate on my work peacefully. I can’t expand too ambitiously. Our work is project-based, so workload is not consistent. When it comes to recruitment, I have a very stringent hiring process. A new hire must have the required competency levels – someone I can bring on board immediately and run with it so that they never become a cost to the business. At interviews, I paint the picture of the worst night of being a consultant! Long hours, working on weekends, and we don’t fly business class. The last step is to meet the team over dinner or coffee. Because no matter how talented someone is, if he or she doesn’t jive with the team, it’s not going to work out. So, my team has the last say!
TiC: As a female entrepreneur, have you faced any challenges?
I’m not sure if it’s a gender thing, but some clients say things like “Are you reporting to someone else?” I guess they’re always expecting to see a male figure at the top. Ultimately for us, gender is not an obstacle, but age is. I look younger than I am so people assume I’m inexperienced. But when potential clients see that I know my stuff, they’ll change their mind. We’ve lost out on projects because our team “looks too young”. But that happens very rarely, thankfully!
TiC: Can you share any of your upcoming plans?
We’re working on something called the Employee Assisted Programme (EAP) with Ellisha Othman of SOLS 24/7 Malaysia. In my experience, some employees have underlying issues at home that affects their performance at work. So, our aim is to help the employee take care of their basic needs so they can focus at work. Together with SOLS, we can work with kids with autism, ADHD, stressed-out working mothers, and so on. Of course, the company must agree to sponsor these sessions for their employees. To avoid adding into their operating costs, we suggest things like forgoing annual dinners and channeling that budget into internal “CSR” initiatives like this. These sessions are private and nothing will be revealed to the employer unless the employee explicitly requests for us to do so. We are also in the process of incorporating People Psyence in Singapore!
TiC: Have you found balance as a working mother?
No [laughs]. The company is still very young. We haven’t come to a stage where we can pace ourselves. The kids do miss me a lot, so I try my very best not to work on weekends, or I only work at home after they go to bed. I promise myself that I work hard now so I can retire sooner. I don’t think that there’s anything working mothers can do to remove the guilt [of not spending enough time with the kids]. And the guilt will continue until we can spend quality time with them. Realistically, most of us need to work to provide our kids with a good life. Otherwise, you either have to compromise on work or your family life. That’s why I make sure I set aside weekends for activities with my kids! They will remember the times you were there for them, as well as the times you weren’t there for them. I wish bringing my kids on vacation and buying things for them will reduce the guilt, but that will never happen. Sometimes, my kids get more attached to the maid. I look at it as a sacrifice. You just can’t do everything – that’s a fact.
For readers interested in the career assessment for fresh graduates, the price is RM405 inclusive of the one-on-one session with a Psyentist ®. For more information, you can visit the People Psyence website, Facebook page, or call them on +603 2712 0055 / +603 2712 3355.
To learn more about the different career paths a degree in Psychology can take you, head over to the psychology seminars at the Study UK exhibition on 3 March and 4 March 2018. Admission to the seminars and the rest of the exhibition is free, but pre-registration online is encouraged, especially if you want to win that flight tickets for a round trip to London!