Intel Engineering Manager Su Ching Fong on the Challenges of Leading from Home

Su Ching Fong, a Pahang native, has always found joy in delving into new worlds, being creative, and problem solving. She channeled those passions into pursing a computer engineering degree and found a perfect outlet working in tech. “I feel like there’s always something new in engineering. Even though I’m in the same domain, trends are always changing and processes are constantly evolving.”

From the very start, her career has been one of continual development. After only nine months in her first role as a product development engineer, she relocated to the United States for six months. Since then, she has been growing her technical engineering career between Malaysia and the United States as an expatriate. After ten years serving as an individual contributor, she stepped into a managerial role—a move that coincided with her return home permanently.

She says all of these experiences have come with different discoveries, “When you work alone, you’re largely limited by your own bandwidth. Working with a team brings greater capacity and talents. And I have found that being in a managerial role allows me time flexibility and the joy of enabling more people towards success.”

When it comes to her motivation and drive, Ching Fong follows what she’s always loved doing. “I’m an engineer, and my role is to solve problems. Oftentimes, the bigger the problem, the bigger the impact—and successfully solving them is what keeps me going.”

Moving through uncertainty while working from home

“When news of the pandemic first came about, I was both worried and, to a degree, fearful. But the company reacted swiftly with transparency and decisiveness. The clear communication was assuring because it helped me plan and quickly refocus on the problems at hand.”

Ching Fong currently helms a team of about forty people, and she acknowledges that working from home definitely affects team communication. But while driving a sense of togetherness virtually is more challenging, she also sees it as an opportunity to train herself to listen better, learn, and be creative.

From hand-delivering team jackets to arranging virtual team events for her group, Ching Fong discovered little gestures can go a long way in fostering team spirit. She is continuously trying different means to energize and nurture togetherness—while acknowledging the importance of caring for herself as well during this period of global uncertainty.

Finding silver linings

As was the case for many others, Ching Fong found the first few months a struggle, having to juggle her workload and adjust to working from home while caring for her kids. “Personally, the challenge was to establish a routine and foster self-discipline, while taking care of my emotional wellbeing,” she says. But the experience has brought about newfound meaning and purpose.

“I once had an employee who wanted to work from home to care for her child who was transitioning into primary school—and she was ready to resign just to do it. The management at that time provided the support that enabled her to work from home. I can personally relate now, having spent all this time with my kids! Having more time with them allows me to further engage in their development, and I’m definitely more fulfilled now as a working mum.”

With a disciplined, flexible, and supportive work culture, Ching Fong finds being able to manage her own time while meeting deliverables both encouraging and liberating.

“In general, the company’s structure and system processes allow me to just focus on my job. It was also really helpful that we were provided a budget to optimize our home office with things like a proper work chair and table.”

Continuing the journey

Ching Fong believes that as long as one is persistent, one will eventually find the right formula to their personal success. What’s important is doing the right thing and staying focused on what you want to achieve. She also encourages others to move beyond the fear of asking for help and support—especially during challenging times.

“Just as there is no one size that fits all, there are no limits or constraints on where you can go and what you can do,” she says. As for others working on growing a thriving career during the pandemic, she offers this advice: “Hang in there, make your decisions, communicate your priorities, and journey on.”

Looking for a career where you can achieve balance between work and family? Check out open opportunities in Intel Malaysia here.  

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