EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE TO REACH THEIR FULL POTENTIAL | KELY

Fion Leung

Fion Leung

Co-founder & CEO, Time Auction

"When you feel stuck, just do one small thing every day. You'll be surprised how far you'll get in just two months, three months, or even a few years."

After graduating from university, I worked as an analyst at a global investment bank. Every day, I worked from 9am to at least 7pm. I felt such enormous pressure. Every Sunday, I dreaded going to work the next day. Tuesdays were the hardest. I just didn't have the motivation to work. I felt stuck - I wanted to get out, but I didn't know what else to do.

I started volunteering after work. I felt that volunteering with young people suited me pretty well. While taking a course to learn programming, I met Suetyi, who was also working in the finance industry. We talked about how great it would be to mobilise people to volunteer more in the community.

We decided just to do it. Together, we launched Time Auction on the side as a platform to match willing volunteers with nonprofit organisations in need of volunteers. Through the platform, volunteers could exchange their service hours for a mentoring session with successful industry leaders. The side project made our already-busy lives even busier, but it didn't matter, because we were doing what we loved.

These mentors' sharing didn't only inspire the volunteers, they also inspired me. One of the mentors, who had a high-paying job at an investment bank, resigned from his job to pursue his passion for cooking and spent a year learning to cook in Italy. I had been struggling with the decision to quit my stable job, but I realised that the concerns I had were actually very small. I told myself, if you have a dream, go for it! In 2017, I quit my job and took on Time Auction full-time.

I see people who spend 80% of their time at work, but they are only happy when they travel or when they get a raise. Is it possible to be happy in a job? I realised that income isn't the only thing, you also have to consider your interests and passions.

In the first two years of Time Auction, we had almost no income. My strategy was to keep up the momentum by giving myself small tasks that would move me closer to my goals. One day, a mentor who had previously shared his experience at one of our events told us that he wanted to fund our work. Because of that, we were able to get the seed funding we needed, and we've been able to grow the organisation ever since and Time Auction is now a registered charity, with 6,000 volunteers participating. Whenever I feel frustrated or uncertain about the future, I choose to face it by taking action. Even if you can't yet see the way forward, you can still take a small step every day. If I could give some advice to my younger self, I would tell her: "Life isn't a straight line. Just keep moving towards your goal and opportunities will reveal themselves."

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