An A-ha moment

If you’re a fan of Oprah (or like DH, a silent reader of his wife’s O magazines), you would be familiar with Oprah’s A-ha moment. It is a particular moment in time when you suddenly grasp a big answer to something that was missing in your life, or rather, something you didn’t even know was missing from your understanding of life. I’ve been reading a lot of celebs recounting their own experiences in a column in the magazine and I’ve always dreamed of having my own. Well, I think i finally had my first one yesterday.

If you’re one of my (two) blog readers, you would have noticed my glum thoughts on finding my dream career, cause, obviously, I don’t think I’m in it yet. This has been a permanent pattern in my working life as I struggled with working within a public or private sector, being a working mom or staying at home for my son, or making the decision to try and climb the corporate ladder as best as I can. Recently I even found my old blog on Friendster (remember that?) back in 2005-07 which I excitedly reviewed back only to discover the topics of my old postings to be almost identical to the ones I’ve written in this blog. Jealousy of other girls’ pregnancies? Check. Wondering about my future in the world of investment and finance? Check. Talking about celebs? Well I haven’t written about it here but I still follow them on my Twitter account, so the exposure is unfortunately still there.

Getting to the point, I suddenly reached an epiphany when I was reading the Bloomberg magazine while taking one of the designated 10-minute breaks that my computer tells me take (Scirocco program). I read with interest the term patient capital, another social investing style but as a subset of private equity (instead of microfinancing businesses which is increasingly becoming more debatably commercial). The article was about Acumen Capital, a NY-based fund started in 2001 with US$40mil capital. It was founded by Jacqueline Novogratz, who operates it as a PE firm instead of a nonprofit. They raise money from investors and invests in companies that bring affordable water, energy, healthcare and housing to those earning less than $4 a day. The patient in the term refers to the fact that investors would have to wait several years before getting a return on their investments.

And I thought, this is it! This is what I should be striving to do (or at least to be moving in that direction). It’s the perfect way of practising my CFA charter, applying my financial and investing skills, using my people skills in finding investors/raising money; while fulfilling my dream of doing something big and contributing to society. I could start a patient capital fund similiar to Acumen Fund in KL and select investments in companies that produce goods and society which benefit the poor and needy in Malaysia (thinking even bigger, maybe Southeast Asia or other emerging countries). As they say – why not? And if not me, who? If not now, when? Cheh got carried away pulak.

Anyhow, I think this is definitely my long-term drive in remaining in finance. Subsequent to current circumstances, I would need to find experience in private equity, relationship building, social investing, sales or investor relations to have a proper foundation if I want to do this in the future. This is definitely an A-ha! moment for me… the day I realised that I can stay within this sector and utilise the skills I’ve developed, yet move to a subsector that’s more… me, and for a vision that’s bigger than anything I’ve ever dreamed of.

Everything starts with a dream, right?

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