How did Singapore’s Phua Chu Kang become colleagues with Christiano Ronaldo?

Our case study today is about someone who made a very successful career transition into digital. This candidate does not have any digital experience and was working in a traditional industry as a contractor for the last twenty over years.

Yet he recently landed a high profile, high visibility role in Singapore, as the brand ambassador for a leading e-commerce company.

Phua Chu Kang's path to a digital career

Phua Chu Kang’s path to a digital career

Let’s take a closer look at his profile and what we can learn from him:

His Name: Mr. Phua Chu Kang (Also called PCK)

Born in one of the most well-known Singapore comedy series as the lead character, he always appeared in a huge wig over a handsome face with a huge mole. His signature yellow boots are classic although recently he seems to be wanting a new pair in a trip to ION Orchard.

For ten years from 1997, Mr. PCK was a contractor and boss at PCK Pte Ltd. He later spun off PCK Sendirian Berhad.

So how did this candidate become colleagues with Ronaldo?

In case you don’t know who Ronaldo is, he plays soccer sometimes, but he is most well known for a song staying at top of charts for longest ever in human history, called Baby shark du du du du.

Christiano Ronaldo as the ambassador for Shopee, South East Asia ecommerce

Christiano Ronaldo as the ambassador for Shopee, South East Asia ecommerce

Mr. PCK’s competitors are strong, and the strongest competitor of all, is the very well-loved Granny Liang Popo. She is good friends with ah bengs, gangsters in Singapore, and even capable of bank robbery!

Granny liang popo is a bit mature at 85 years-old, but it’s not a problem since she’s always in search of a new life and keeps coming back to the real world.

Lastly, he has failed many times in interviews because of language skills. In fact, all Singaporeans had problems with that, they refused him to represent Singaporeans in the Amazing race because he speaks Singlish too well. It is so unfair because Singlish is the most effective language, speaking which, you will be able to speak Mandarin, English, Malay and a few dialects all at one go!

So, a humble career history as a contractor and part-time singer, a scary high benchmark set by a colleague who sings way better, a Fierce fierce 85-year old competitor, plus unappreciated language skills, how did Mr. PCK complete his career change?

1. Plan early, start small

PCK knew that he hit a career bottleneck. He was already the best contractor in Singapore, JB (and some say Batam). So you see, he ran the company till 2011, but he already started the singing career in 2003 in “Don’t pray pray, fight sars today”, although all he did was teaching people how to wash hands. This brings us to our second point:

2. Create mini-projects to accumulate experience

PCK did multiple mini projects, even worked as a singer in the train in 2009, poking people to give their seats to someone else. Even though such mini projects don’t pay very well, it’s important to explore without expectations, because they give us experience in the new domain, and lead to recognition from the industry. For example, after specializing in hands washing, he got the project to sing “Singapore be steady” when COVID-19 hit. All these mini projects built his career capital and he could overtake the competitors.

Also see my article on How to take stock of your career capital.

3. Point 3 – Embrace your true identity

PCK did not do laser surgery to remove the mole, he also didn’t bother to trim his long pinky nails since it is functional for him. He knows who he is and lives to that truth. For example, he is right not to become an investment banker, because he would be forced to give up his current fashion sense.

Okie, so these are the three things we can learn from him: Plan early & start small, create mini projects for experience, and embrace your true identity. Let’s wish PCK all the best in his new ambassador career, and hope he will get less annoying songs in the future.

Watch my video here:

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MEET YOUR COACH

 Yolanda is a certified transformational coach, entrepreneur, and multi-award-winning writer. She holds an MBA from INSEAD, served director/VP level BD roles in Fortune 500 MNCs and tech unicorns. 

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