Working mothers are a resilient group, accustomed to balancing work commitments and life or family commitments.
Women are largely underrepresented in science fields. In between trying to cope with workloads, they still have to take care of their own needs and in most cases, the needs of a family.
Women often fit the stereotypical feminine traits, who are meant to be just housewives taking care of the household. Nowadays, many modern women are out there to break the stereotype.
Adzizah Suzianah Akul is a divisional engineer (DE) by profession, who has been working at the Malaysian Public Works Department / JKR (Jabatan Kerja Raya Malaysia).
On a daily basis, she performs engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing the construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities, such as roads, railroads, bridges, dams, pipelines, power plants, and water and sewage systems.
Juggling motherhood, a professional career, and a hobby is challenging enough for the body. In this modern world, career-life balancing has become the dominant factor in women leaving the field, as they feel they cannot fulfill the roles of mother, wife, and professional adequately.
Working mothers are often feeling overwhelmed during the transition from motherhood to working mothers. However, DE Adzizah Suzianah shows otherwise.
DE Adzizah Suzianah shares her experience in being a mother, a leader, and a cycling enthusiast.
As a working mother, divisional engineer, and spouse, what is your daily routine like?
My typical routine on weekends is really hectic. On a daily basis, I go to the office around 8 AM and finish work around 5 PM. Normally, I have site visits from Monday to Thursday and arrange my meetings/conferences on Friday. Sometimes, I have technical meetings, monthly meetings, as well as staff meetings.
On weekends, I cycle with my family along the cycle track along Tanjung Lipat, Kota Kinabalu. I am also a bowling enthusiast. I am quite competitive as well. Occasionally, JKR will organize a weekly Bowling League among the JKR employees.
How did you pick up cycling? How do you fit exercising into your busy schedule?
I’ve been cycling for a very long time with the JKR Cycling Community alongside Kelab Berbasikal SPED KK which from time to time organizes fun rides or cycling tours. My staffs and I keep our bicycles in my office, so it is easy for us to just get my bike ready and go.
Despite my busy schedule, I have to manage my time. Without proper time management, things cannot be done.
Why do you think a work-life balance is important for working mothers?
Work-life balance for working mothers is very important.
When you have a good work-life balance, you’re more likely to have the mental and emotional energy to give your children the loving attention they need to develop, learn and thrive.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance will positively affect not only health and relationships. Well-balanced family life can also help you enjoy life, manage stress, and prevent burnout at work.
Women are traditionally responsible for the family and the household, how do you manage your many roles in life?
In the male-dominated engineering world field, women and men should be equal because we also have the same expertise as men. Our voice should be heard as well.
To be able to juggle my work, family, and personal time, time management is very important to me. When my work is overloaded, I have to be able to plan my capacity.
When meeting the District Officer, having to visit the sites, and receiving an urgent call from the office come together, I have to get to know my resource availability, for example, my staff’s availability. I also have to delegate tasks evenly to my engineers and split my tasks into subtasks. I will jot down my to-do lists in my phone or my journal.
Basically, my work life has been very tiring having to handle a heavy workload. So, time management is crucial. Establishing my priorities is also very crucial. Apart from managing my work, sometimes I have to sacrifice family time. I’m lucky enough to have my very supportive partner as he takes good care of them when I’m not around.
What advice would you give to other working mothers looking to exercise while also having other commitments?
Maintaining a balance between your personal and professional lives for working mothers can be a challenge, but it is manageable. In my opinion, I think all women should be encouraged to speak up. Women are more productive, efficient, precise, and better leaders.
As a Divisional Engineer, I strongly encourage a working environment that enables flexibility. For example, I would focus on my work, get it done, and meet deadlines. However, I would also organize mini celebrations, “makan” gatherings, or cycling sessions with my staff on alternate Fridays after working hours.
Creating a culture is important. We should make the peers value healthy work-life balance and make working mothers feel comfortable at their work.
Currently, JKR is promoting women to become leaders. We hope that in the next 5 years, women engineers will be increased by 30%.