What’s Next? Here’s How You Can Navigate Your Career With The Help Of A Career Coach

Stuck at a crossroads in your career? Here’s how Nanthini Kunasehgar found her direction with the help of her career coach, Sarojini Padmanathan.
Career charting with a coach

Through different phases in life, there may come a time when you feel lost in planning the next step in your career – a sentiment that Nanthini Kunasehgar, a manager at the Health Promotion Board (HPB), knows all too well.

As a young public officer, Nanthini found herself at a crossroads, unsure of how to enhance her career prospects. That was until she read an email circular on career coaching for public officers. Through this opportunity, she met her career coach, Sarojini Padmanathan, and figured out the next step in her career.

How did she figure that out? In an interview with Challenge, Nanthini and Sarojini share how career coaching can enable public officers to be one step closer to achieving their career goals.

Nanthini Kunasehgar and Sarojini Padmanathan share how career coaching can enable public officers to achieving their career goals.

Dedication to a Career of Service

As with any life transition, Nanthini was riddled with self-doubt when she completed her polytechnic education, uncertain about her future career path. This pushed her into a journey of self-discovery, as she landed her first job in customer service at Singtel.

Driven to hone her skills further, Nanthini then pursued other roles in customer service at the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and in NTUC, before returning to HPB one and a half years later.

Nanthini shared that she returned to HPB because she was seeking permanent job opportunities and desired to return to a familiar work environment with new aspirations.

On the other hand, career coach Sarojini has always wanted to give back to others – a mindset that her parents instilled in her since she was young. “Service to the people of Singapore in any capacity has been my dream. True enough, I have persisted and have continued to do so for the last four decades I have been in the Public Service,” she says.

With a constant thirst for learning and a love to share her knowledge with others, she started teaching as an associate trainer with the Civil Service College – a passion she has maintained for the last three decades, whilst balancing her day job at the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Her passion and drive did not go unnoticed, as her superior nominated her to become a career coach with the Public Service Career Coach Network.

Nanthini meeting and talking with her career coach Sarojini.

Finding the Right Direction

Despite the familiar environment, switching from the private sector back to the public sector wasn’t the smoothest for Nanthini, as she grappled with the change in work processes and team dynamics.

Nevertheless, she adapted well to her new work environment, explaining that the effort she put into her work had a more significant social impact. “The sense of contributing to the greater good and serving citizens on a larger scale can be a compelling and rewarding aspect,” added Nanthini.

But taking her career to the next level turned out to be another hurdle, leading her to experience another wave of self-doubt. This ‘crisis’ became a blessing in disguise for Nanthini as she met with her career coach Sarojini, who understood her concerns. “Talking to Mrs. Sarojini about my work challenges was a relief,” she added.

“First, she created a supportive space for me to discuss my challenges and goals. It helped me see my strengths and potential, boosting my confidence.

The session also helped me set clear goals and plan my career growth. This motivated me to make some changes at work, like improving how I manage my time and communicating better with my team.

She also shared with me the importance of working to hone your skills. It inspired me to research and take up courses to work on my skills.”

- Nanthini Kunasehgar, Manager, HPB

One might wonder how Sarojini creates meaningful interactions with Nanthini and her other coachees. Nanthini explains that during her career coaching sessions, Sarojini enthusiastically shared her valuable experiences that mirrored Nanthini's thoughts, strengthening the connection between them, and encouraging her to face her challenges head-on.

One of the misconceptions people have about the Public Service is that it takes longer for a public officer to advance in their career despite the stability – a common concern many public officers have, including Nanthini.

Referencing her past coaching sessions, Sarojini added that people often focus on the possibility of being promoted to a higher position and equating that concept to career growth. This often causes many public officers to lose sight of the job’s primary responsibilities.

“The role of a career coach is not to ensure that they get their promotion. It is to check and let them assess their strengths and interests. Once that purpose is clarified, their vision is made clearer, and they work out their plans,” Sarojini explains.

Nanthini describes Sarojini’s guidance as a compass, enabling her to remain steadfast in facing challenges and unexpected changes.

A Human Compass

Having experienced career coaching, Nanthini strongly believes that a coach is crucial for her career growth. She describes Sarojini’s guidance as a compass, enabling her to remain steadfast in facing challenges and unexpected changes.

“There are moments when we believe we have everything sorted out, only to find ourselves overwhelmed by emotions and demoralised. In times like these, conversing with someone who has walked a similar path can be truly comforting. Their shared experiences offer a fresh perspective, allowing us to glean insights and valuable lessons from their journey,” said Nanthini.

Nanthini believes that she will continue to use career coaching to navigate the ups and downs that may come along the way at work and hopes that others can follow in her footsteps.

As a career coach, Sarojini believes that career coaching can help public officers keep up with the fast-changing work environment and technological advancements. This ensures that they continue to be purposefully employed.

Sarojini also hopes she can continue guiding other public officers to see the value they bring to Singapore.

“Just go for it, at least one time while in the Public Service! It is a rare opportunity not to be missed. One never knows what they are made of until they have an open conversation with a career coach.

Go in with an open mind; it would be an eye-opening experience!”

- Sarojini Padmanathan, Director, Engagement, Innovation and Professional Development, HSA

Sometimes, a little nudge in the right direction is all you need.

    Feb 22, 2024
    Jayme Teo
    Constance Neo
  • link facebook
  • link twitter
  • link whatsapp
  • link email