A Singapore Sling

Australian Women in Security Network

A Singapore Sling

Author – Samantha Humphrey

A change is actually as good as a holiday.

At 45 years of age and a mother of 3 gorgeous girls, leaving the country I grew up in, the city I love, my beloved rugby league team and those aforementioned kids to take on a new career challenge wasn’t something I thought I would ever consider let alone actually do. But I did.

Like many of us have, I was experiencing a really tough time, I ‘fell over’ so to speak and was just picking myself up to even start dusting myself off when I received an email about a role that someone had recommended me for. That someone had put my name forward and felt I would be a good fit and I guess the rest is history.

So, after getting through the myriad of interviews with both Australian, Brazilian and Singapore based Leadership members, I was to my disbelief – ON MY WAY to Singapore to live and work. I had 3 weeks to pack up my life and I had never even been to Singapore to holiday let alone what I was about to do….and never mind the kids, what on earth would I do with my baby dachshund puppy (His name is Bear and I am slightly obsessed with him)?

I’ve been here 6 months now, without my kids. I have travelled back twice for short weekends, but I’m here and at 45 (nearly 46) I am still learning, I am still growing and I am still a chick with an overriding passion for all facets of Financial Crime Management that’s now been completely re- invigorated by the environment here in Asia.

I am learning new cultures, meeting incredible people, travelling to amazing places and mastering the western blonde hair versus humidity challenges faced here – it’s a daily struggle and one that I don’t seem to be winning. The hardest part for me, was believing in myself. I had lost so much confidence in myself as a person over the previous 2 years that I doubted every step I took. I specifically doubted the decision to leave my children (Twin girls 12 and my oldest girl 19) I think upon landing here in Singapore I cried almost every day over my children and my heart actually ached. I considered going home until I received a message from one of my younger children, my daughter Lili.

I had messaged my daughters one evening, sobbing over Facebook and severely homesick. I was about 2 months in to this journey, and I had sent a message to tell them I was sorry for leaving them. I never expected that what I got back would completely change my outlook and give me the courage I needed.

One of my youngest responded first, her words –‘Mum, we miss you, that’s for sure, BUT you have raised strong independent girls, not sooks and you make us proud with what you are doing. We are okay and we will we see you as often as we can, we want you to be happy, we love you and we are okay as long as you are okay, you’ve always taught  us that…go for it, you deserve it! (Followed by about 58 emoji love hearts and kissy faces) – I cried for 2 hours after reading that. The other two daughters said almost the exact same thing in their responses.

What was I doubting and why was I doubting it? It was the limitations I had placed on myself. That’s all it was. And If I didn’t start to peel off those limitations this might all have been for nothing.

You might be asking why I left my daughters at home. The answer isn’t a simple one but at the same time it is. My husband and I had separated 18 months prior. He is an amazing father, he is an amazing support and an amazing human being, my daughters had their school, their friends and their lives and after discussing the opportunity with them, getting their full and unconditional support, my ex-husband and my children convinced me that this is what I needed, what I needed to get back on my feet and what I needed to be able to return stronger than ever and you know what? They were right.

Am I still experiencing conflict over that part of the decision? Yes, at times, but living and working here in Singapore and travelling the globe for my clients is not just for me, it’s for my family too. My daughters aspire to be something more. They tell me that. My daughters tell me that they are proud of me. They tell their friends with pride that their Mum lives and works in Singapore and that they now have this awesome place to come visit whenever they want and that their Mum does this fraud stuff that stops  money being stolen…..They make me strong.

So I’m here and that’s the short of it. I love it here. I love the people, the food, the shopping and the home that I have started to build here. The way that the cultures combine here to work is incredible. Business is done a little differently and although there are Expat Clubs and self-help websites for expats like me, I’m finding out for myself. It’s more interesting this way.

Financial crime is financial crime, no matter where you are. Business and culture is where the challenges are and this is what keeps me engaged. It’s brilliant. Having to work differently, live differently and understand the emerging opportunities and challenges is where the heart starts racing for me….and it hadn’t raced for quite a while.

So, each day, I figure out what anti-humidity product will go in the hair to get it through to at least 10am before it flops, and I look forward to seeing what the day throws at me. Singapore is a beautiful place and it has a rather chilled essence in my opinion. There’s no real need to rush unless you feel like it. I’ve noticed a ‘hurry up and wait’ culture in places, but it’s almost charming. I’ve also noticed that no one cares that I’m a woman. I’m good at what I do and I get it done, that’s all that matters to people here. People here don’t care if you don’t know, they help you. They are happy to help and never make you feel less because you don’t understand something.

And lastly, I’m starting to realise that I will be okay and because I will be okay, my kids will be okay too. I could earn all the money in the world, have the greatest title, the most beautiful home, cars and all the trimmings but my greatest success story are my daughters and their strength as young women in the world we deal with today. So if you are ever in Singapore, drop me a line, I’d love to show you around!