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ALL IN THE FAMILY

I am overqualified!

/ 05:22 AM December 15, 2017

A big thanks to those who supported the launch of “All in the Family Business” last Sunday. It was a pleasure to reconnect with friends and meet readers for the first time. Get the book at National Bookstore (contact Jeanette Escuro at 0915-421-2019).

A male reader, 24, says: I have been with the retail family business for one year. I am bored. My father asked me to read your columns. You said that to avoid the three-generation curse, the younger ones should first train outside, then return and grow the company. I have a business degree, and I worked for a bank before I joined our business. I am overqualified. My father is nice but I’m not growing in the business.

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My reply

What does it mean to be overqualified? You can have excellent credentials, but they may not be pertinent to your current function. Or you can have extensive experience, but it does not help you do your job well.

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Randstad Singapore country director Jaya Dass tells The Business Times (BT): “Being overqualified is not as common as many people may think.”

“The candidate with a master’s degree may not have the experience or leadership skills to implement their knowledge … The candidate with experience may not have the drive or ambition to go much further into the role.

“If you’re not in the top 10 percentile of talent, you’re not overqualified, whether through experience or qualifications.” Do you fit the bill?

Genuinely overqualified workers “may have had different expectations of the role when they came in but they won’t be stretching their skills and would be able to do the work with their eyes closed.”

Ask for more responsibilities. You did not state your role, but you can improve company systems, expand products, mentor employees. Your bank job is more structured, but professionalizing your family business is a challenge that you should not look down upon.

Hopefully you are not the stereotypical millennial: impatient to start at the top, and sulky because you are not yet there.

You’ve only been in the family business for a year, so prioritize its welfare instead of yours (personal growth comes later, when you have proven yourself to be an asset).

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People who think they are overqualified “need to prove first of all that they can be trusted to deliver whatever they have on their plate well before they ask for more challenging tasks.”

“If they have the mind-set that the work which they are doing is beneath them and make little effort to value-add, then such people are unlikely to go very far, no matter how ‘overqualified’ they are.”

Value-added

How do you prove your worth? You did not mention your function, so I cannot give targeted suggestions. Let me offer a real-life case instead.

John Cheng, who runs business development and trading at Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory in Singapore, is part of the third generation. His grandfather founded in 1947 the company famed for its rock sugar, and his father helped to diversify products.

When John’s older brothers joined in 1996, they took the company international. Like you, John majored in business and worked for a bank for a couple of years after, studying systems and techniques, such as Six Sigma, that he used in the family business.

“This in a way equipped me with the foundation and helped me in making many decisions to manage the family business right,” John tells BT’s Narendra Aggarwal.

John, who started in the business at 26, says: “It is a never ending journey that is not guaranteed and requires hard work and perseverance … You need to carve a niche for yourself, thinking out of the box to generate fresh ideas … [Get] mentors and a good team.”

With your father as mentor, work toward personal and professional growth.

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TAGS: All in the Family Business, Book launch, National Bookstore
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