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Career Success
MAR 15, 2021

Searching for Your Dream Career? Expect the Unexpected

By Melissa McIvor, With Cherry Mahasupachai
iStock/tadamichi

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Most of us start with one of the obvious choices presented to children: firefighter, veterinarian, ballerina, bus driver. As we grow older, we finetune our career ambitions. We discover our talents, develop interests, learn a range of skills, and start to realize there are all kinds of jobs out there: digital marketing specialist, child psychiatrist, robotics engineer, feng shui consultant.

As young adults entering the job market, even when we think we know what we want to do, we can still find ourselves in unexpected places—and loving it.

Cherry Mahasupachai is one example. Upon graduating from Thailand’s esteemed Chulalongkorn University with a degree in economics, she fully expected to kick off a career in finance. Fast forward to today, and Mahasupachai is happily working in HR for medical solutions company Medtronic.

How did that happen?

We spoke with Mahasupachai to see how this career curveball led to positive personal and professional growth.

Cherry Mahasupachai profile image
Cherry Mahasupachai

Did you ever expect your career to be where it is now?

I never thought I’d be in HR or in the healthcare industry. As students, we study what we’re interested in, or things we might think we want to do in the future, but we don’t really know if we’ll like a field or not until we try it.

I liked mathematics, so I graduated from the faculty of economics. To me that meant business, finance, banking—something to do with numbers. But after graduation, I heard about an open HR position that dealt with labor costs, which caught my interest. When I joined the team, I found that HR isn’t just about recruiting. I realized I could use math (which I love) to understand business and help contribute to an organization. That was a turning point for me.

Now I’ve been working in HR for almost ten years. My expertise is compensation and benefits, and I was just recently offered a chance to become the HR business partner (HRBP) lead for Thailand.

And you’re happy?

Oh, yes. I realized that I like being in HR because it challenges you to understand the overall business, the way each department, project, and employee fits together. That’s how HR professionals provide the most suitable advice to leadership. HR is more than just recruitment or personnel management—we provide consultation and insight to meet larger business goals for the organization as a whole.

Healthcare, as well—it seems impossible that I could work in this industry without any medical background. But that’s given me a chance to learn how our product can save so many lives. I’m very proud that I can contribute to a business that saves and extends human life.

How did getting your MBA fit into your career?

Being in HR means being a business partner. You need a holistic view not only of HR, but also finance, sales, supply chains, etc. GLOBIS helped me understand all the functions of business and how each works together to drive a company. I have never regretted joining GLOBIS for my MBA. It was a life-changing decision. GLOBIS helped me step out from my comfort zone and speak up. Moreover, the career office helped me find a job in Singapore, which led to my position in Thailand, which led me to becoming an HRBP!

What’s the biggest success of your career so far?

I’ve never thought about “success” before . . . I guess I would say each time I receive an opportunity to try new things or take on new challenges in my career, it’s felt like a success.

After graduating from GLOBIS, I got an offer from a Japanese company in Singapore to work in regional HR for their Learning and Development Team. When I moved back to Thailand, I also had chances to support countries within Southeast Asia—Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, etc. I launched so many new projects during the time I worked in Singapore and learned so many things from each country. Some of the projects I’ve worked on were created from scratch.

I’d call all those things together a success because all of the opportunities I got led me to becoming a Thailand HRBP lead. Of course, I’m not done. Life is a long journey, and I still have so many new challenges ahead.

What are the biggest struggles you’ve faced?

The current COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge for me. No one expected it, and all the healthcare businesses were impacted. In HR, there are extra challenges. We need to think about how we can keep things running as normal while revenue decreases and still work with fixed operating costs, such as labor. We had to make some tough policy decisions to manage costs. Even though a decision had to be made, and even if that decision objectively made sense, it wasn’t easy to decide. How do you make the right decision when your decision can make a negative impact on a person’s life?

But I learned something important: when you make a decision, you need to think of the impact from every side. You need to have all of the information and really be able to see that broad point of view. You need to gauge the weight of each of option for the organization—because each option has a cost.

What advice do you have for people feeling unsatisfied in their careers?

I believe learning is a lifelong journey. It’s really important that we let ourselves be flexible and try new things as much as we can. That’s how we find out what we like—it’s how we get to know ourselves.

No matter how senior you are or what level in the company you are, there’s always something that you can learn.

In a way, I have never been satisfied with work—working makes me want to take on new challenges and learn something new every day. So to anyone feeling stuck or unsure in their career: just keep learning, think outside the box, and challenge yourself. You never know where your journey will take you.