In Pauline Leow’s own words, she is truly “a force to be reckoned with”, especially when it comes to lifelong learning. Along with lecturing at Republic Polytechnic and other business schools in the day, she attends night classes for the Law Juris Doctor Programme at the SUSS School of Law, and also takes Bahasa Indonesia lessons over the weekend.

What spurred this spunky marketing professional with 25 years industry experience behind her, to become a bonafide lawyer?

Finding a mission-driven purpose in work
Her previous stint at SAFRA National Service Association, exposed her to groups of NSmen and retired servicemen who step forward to contribute across various programmes at SAFRA. This exposed her to “purpose-driven” work. Inspired, she decided to pursue her passion in animal welfare. Pauline quit her job at SAFRA and took up the post of CEO at the Cat Welfare Society (CWS), an animal welfare group.

As a way of helping her secure additional income to supplement her new work at Cat Welfare Society, Pauline decided to “reinvent [herself] as a trainer”, specialising in marketing and sales. She used her SkillsFuture Credit to take the WSQ Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment Course at the Institute for Adult Learning. Factoring in the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy, she ended up not having to fork out anything out-of-pocket for the qualification.

With her newly attained certification in 2017, she went on to set up her consultancy company Kagin Pte Ltd. She secured local and overseas training engagements overseas and also worked with a local youth theatre group to aid them in areas like sponsorship and budgeting. "I found meaning in sharing my knowledge and passing on my expertise to a new generation, equipping them to be industry ready,” Pauline shared.

Finding strength in new purpose
While gaining a footing in adult education, alarm bells rang for Pauline’s health - she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. She relinquished her CEO duties at CWS during the strenuous 15-month treatment period, but continued her teaching work with Republic Polytechnic. After chemotherapy concluded, Pauline started to look at different avenues to contribute [or] help someone in need.”

In 2018 Pauline started to volunteer with the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA), conducting art and craft sessions engaging children and their families in the Transitional Shelter programme. Pauline also volunteers at AWARE, helping the charity in its fundraising efforts to fund the Sexual Assault Care Centre. Through her volunteer work, Pauline was able to see how youth, children and families at risk have benefitted from qualified legal advice, support and help.

That ignited a newfound purpose in her to acquire knowledge in law, with the aim to help non-profits and better the lives of those who are unable to afford legal representation. Pauline applied, and was accepted into the SUSS Law programme in Jan 2020.  Pauline was able to draw on the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy once again to help her offset a large portion of her tuition fees each semester, making it significantly more manageable.

Pauline’s current goal is very simple: “To get myself qualified, take [and pass] the bar exam… and jump straight into pro bono work”, particularly in Family and Criminal Law.

A Never-ending Journey
Pauline now adds ‘intern’ to her prolific list of roles, she has just completed a 6-week volunteer attachment at Law Society Pro Bono Services. “I was probably one of the oldest intern while serving at LSPBS. The opportunity to work with lawyers who volunteer their time to give legal advice to those in need has strengthened my conviction to take on this career path,” said Pauline of her latest learning achievement.

Pauline opines that planning, and the willingness to invest time, are important ingredients for a successful switch, “To others like myself who have spent decades in the workforce, if you are thinking of upskilling, or a career change, my advice is to first think about what new area of work you want to do. Identify where you lack the knowledge and invest the time to take up a certified course to close that gap. The only way forward, is to invest the time and make a move.”

Wise words indeed.

This story was first published on SSG's Facebook page on 16 Apr 2020. All information is correct at time of publishing.

24 Mar 2023