Rethinking Success in an Post-Pandemic World

By Sharyl Chin

For Genevieve Tan, a Nanyang Business School graduate (class of 2018), passion equals success. For some, success comes in the form of a comfortable salary, while others see it as doing what one loves. To some, seeing passion as success may be a platitude, but she is not alone in preaching this mindset. 

Genevieve prides herself in staying true to what she is passionate about, rather than simply following the common path. Such passions range from being a freelance emcee, actress or host, to being an entrepreneur and TikTok creator. When sharing her eventful journey of how she got into making these interests part of her career, the 22-year-old remarked that the road was not all sunshine and roses. At times, it came with heavy-handed judgment from loved ones. 

Being in her final year of study during the crux of the pandemic, Genevieve was apprehensive about graduating in an unstable job market. Despite this, she did not shy away from taking on what her peers saw as risky decisions. 

One instance was when she embarked on an internship with the Changi Airport Group (CAG) at the height of the pandemic in 2020, which many peers claimed was the “worst choice to make”. The opportunity came when a friend referred her for it.  

Initially doubtful about venturing into the aviation industry during the COVID period, she states that having an open mind made all the difference. She chose to view it as the universe offering her new opportunities for growth, and she now cites her time with CAG as one of her best experiences ever. 

When faced with judgment from friends and family who caught wind of such decisions, she refused to let it drag her down. Some believed that joining CAG was the wrong decision to make, and others said she was “crazy to do this”, but she viewed these words as motivation to push on instead. 

Image Credit: Genevieve Tan

“I had a different perspective about a life beyond academics. So, to me, whatever I want to set out to do, I will do it. You can’t faze me or tell me not to,” she added. 

Some memorable aspects of her internship were learning the ins and outs of both marketing and retail business through crafting campaigns for iShopChangi and Jewel Changi. This dual knowledge prepped her in finding her true passion in the fashion industry, where she was offered a marketing role with Love, Bonito. Jumping at the chance to enter a field of interest, Genevieve now describes her job as a blend of everything she loves – content creation, marketing, and hosting. 

Despite loving her job, she initially did not consider this path. Originally envisioning a career in media, Genevieve saw herself fitting into companies like The Smart Local. Nevertheless, even if given the chance to do what she originally pictured, she affirms that what she has today is everything she wanted. 

Career switches are steadily becoming prevalent in the pandemic period. A 2022 study by the Institute of Policy Studies found that the pandemic has caused younger respondents to be more open to alternative paths to success, with 69 percent of respondents having considered a career switch. 

“I want to see my work tangibly impact others, and Love, Bonito’s campaigns about empowering women through fashion resonated with me especially while I was in university. Fashion will always be in demand too so looking back, it was a perfect match.” 

Beyond academics, Genevieve also manages her business, Kairos Frames. Established in late 2020, it is described as a project to help people preserve their memories with loved ones. Utilising her craft skills, she creates personalised Spotify photo frames and niche products such as customisable Monopoly sets and cereal boxes. 

Although the process of freelancing and being an entrepreneur was very new to her, this did not dissuade her from taking nearly every job as part of her learning experience. 

“I love pushing myself out of my comfort zone because I take pride in growth, even if it does not look like a viable path to others,” she added. 

Juggling a seemingly endless list of responsibilities is tough, but she does it with utmost enthusiasm. During her time in NTU, planning a 2 to 3-day school week enabled her to strike a good balance with her commitments. Now as a full-time employee, Genevieve aims to carve out some time every week for her external projects.

Image Credit: Genevieve Tan

Citing everything she does as part of her personal branding, she believes that if the passion is there, success will follow. “Success is whatever I view it as. I don’t see that my accolades determine what I can do.” 

One major challenge Genevieve faced from juggling so many commitments is learning not to overdo her workload. Realising the importance of taking a break when at max capacity aided in managing expectations from stakeholders, and to take better care of herself mentally. 

Discussing the alternate possibilities of her projects not being as successful as they are today also does little to deter her. “I always celebrate what I have taken the courage to kickstart and if it goes further, great to that. If not, the small wins are sufficient too.”  

Acknowledging that her journey may seem like a hefty load to some, Genevieve advocates that the only way to find one’s calling is by being open to opportunities and going beyond the four walls of the classroom.  

“Society provides a lot of different comments on who you should be when you graduate, or what you should strive for. But only you can answer to what you can or should be.”  

Her stint in university concluded after her convocation ceremony in July this year. When asked if she feels worry or anxiety about the future ahead, she affirmed that so long as she follows her heart in the next phase of life, success will be within reach. 

As Singapore slowly reverts to an endemic world, success is not as uncertain as before. What we used to think of as success in the past can be wildly different today, if we have the courage to take the leap. 

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