[Viewpoint]Pulling through together

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[Viewpoint]Pulling through together

Another year is coming to an end. The longer I live, the more often I look back on my life. At year’s end, I have to reflect on regrets and remorse.

Around this time 25 years ago, I was a senior in college. These days, many executives agree that female candidates tend to be smarter when they interview in the hiring process. However, when I was looking for a job, not many companies were willing to hire women. Some did not even accept my resume, and those that actually hired women preferred English majors.

As a political science and foreign policy major, my future was gloomy. And I received an offer from Cheil Worldwide at the end of December. Finally, I found a job. While there are dozens of women working in my division today, being hired meant so much to me 25 years ago.

While I was lucky to find work, working at Cheil was not so easy. In fact, seniors I worked for in my first year later told me that I was a timid girl with a small voice who blushed whenever I spoke. So they thought I would not last long. However, the shy girl later was promoted to an executive position. What propelled me to the position today where I am today?

Of course, I was always diligent, never slacked off and did my best. I worked through the night many times, and I was sitting with coworkers, not my family, on Christmas and other holidays. So I thought I deserved my success. However, a moment came that I realized I am not solely responsible for my career success.

Some five years ago, I was in a serious slump. Of course, I had experienced similar professional low points before, and they were like a common cold to me. After getting through a slump, I felt better and got back on the cycle. But this one was quite serious, shaking me completely to the core. I was spending meaningless days without passion or confidence in my work. I even considered quitting my job.

One day, a client invited me to a lunch. I had only met him a few times at presentations and had the impression that he was stubborn and strict. However, he shared words of comfort, encouraging me not to give up. He said we all have ups and downs during the sometimes two or three decades we are productive at work.

That was the moment I realized how I managed to still be walking the path I chose over 20 years ago without getting discouraged on the way and rise to the level of executives.

I could never do it alone. When I was shaken and lost, when I felt alone and fearful, there were people around me letting me know that I was not alone.

They stood by me and patted me on the back so that I could bring myself to get back to work.

That day, I made up my mind that when any of my juniors were discouraged and lost, I would stretch out my hands and offer my support just as my seniors did for me.

Japanese poet Hisashi Honda said that poems are related to the heaven and earth in which he grew up. They reflect each tree and each bird he saw. From the moment a new hire joins a company until he is able to pull his weight, seniors and juniors support one another. Each conversation and each encounter contributed to what you are today, whether it was encouraging or critical.

No tree grows by itself and no flower blooms by itself. Poet Do Jong-hwan wrote, “There is no flower that blooms without shaking.” This is a great comfort to all of us who are going through a hard time.

The writer is the senior vice president of the Creative Division at Cheil Worldwide. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Choi In-a
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