– A Malaysian Chambermaid to CEO
Sandra Anne Ghouse is a woman who believes that the quality of life is very important in life in order to be happy. And what determines the quality of our life? From being a Chambermaid to a Director, Sandra Anne Ghouse shares her story.
Sandra in her early life was very timid, and believed that she could not be successful as she felt that she was a very average person. This was because every time she looked at the successful students, she believed that they were born clever and capable, and she, being an average student, did not stand a chance.
First Job in 1986
She wanted to join the hospitality industry to work in a hotel, but without a degree, the only job she could get was to work as a chambermaid in a hotel, cleaning hotel rooms, with a salary of 200 Malaysian Ringgit. From there she started working her way up and saving money for her A levels.
Sandra then took on a part time job as a telephone operator in a company whilst waiting for her results and started working under the business owner who was from rags to riches, and she owes most of her success today to him.
He taught her to see life in a different perspective. It changed her mindset from staying an average person to ‘Nothing is Impossible’. It was his strict training in her early career that laid the strong foundation of who she is today.
One day, he unexpectedly pushed her to train other secretaries on time management. The one-on-one classes grew to four people, to seven and then to 25 people, to train many people throughout the country. That is where she found her voice and discovered that she was able to make presentations, and developed training and development programs.
In her words,
“If you just set your mind to something, it doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter whether you have a degree. But if you set your mind to wanting to ask questions, to be curious and to learn, in terms of what you want to achieve, nothing is impossible. And that’s where I’ve actually come up with a formula called THIMERS, which are the resources in order to be able to achieve a better quality of life”
Formula for a better quality of life
T – Time
H – Health
I – Intelligence
M – Money
E – Emotions
R – Relationships
S – Spirituality
Time Management is very important to her. In her view, a president of a country has 24 hours, and a housewife also has 24 hours. The question is how do we see and manage time so that we can achieve what we would like to achieve. In her words,
“Unfortunately, I think a lot of children in school are not taught time management. They know the timetable, they are told when to attend classes, when the exams are. But no one teaches them how we can actually manage our time, so that we can be effective in school, so that we have time to do our revision and our homework, and we still have plenty of time to play games, have fun, and spend time with our family. If we learn how to live a balanced life and how to be productive at a very young age, I’m sure we will have less of a struggle as we grow older.”
She advises everyone to not take their health for granted too, but to pay attention to what our body is telling us and to stay healthy. At the same time, invest in learning more, be curious, and understand how to connect the dots – not just memorize and regurgitate without understanding why and how things happen. It is also equally important to maintain a high EQ, to be able to control ourselves, and also to manage the emotions of other people. And with spirituality, it helps them to know who they are, form their values, which at the end of the day will determine how they choose to live life.
With these seven elements (THIMERS) together, and continuously learning on how to implement them better, how to manage them better, that is where the quality of our life will also grow and improve, and not deteriorate.
Story of Entrepreneurship and Social Work
After working with the company for 26years where she had worked her way up to Director level, together with a client she started a wellness center especially for women called Fleur De Vie, which means Flower of Life. It was a very challenging experience for her, in terms of retailing, marketing, operations management and competition. When she realized that they did not have a fundamental retail element in place to make it lucrative i.e. a good location, she eventually had to close down the business.
She then started her own training business, which is something she knew how to make it work and where the margins were. But it was still a one-man show and it was very challenging as the market was very competitive. There were moments when she was so alone and lost, with heavy bills to pay, and yet managed with the help of friends to sail through the rough tides and survive.
The training industry in Malaysia is very saturated. During the pandemic, she reached out quickly to the government agencies, and announced that they can conduct online training. This gave them a flow of business, and miraculously connected to people who are in the digital space too and who wanted to take training online. This has opened many new doors and opportunities during this pandemic.
Sandra has worked with refugees, most of whom have never held a pencil in their life. They have never been to school. She and her team were able to teach them in a few months on how to become successful micro-entrepreneurs. They teach them how to be curious to learn and to find opportunities, how to increase their knowledge, how to take their talents to the marketplace and make something out of their life.
She is a mother of two, a businesswoman, and also into a lot of charity work. She is also the Vice President of Membership of the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs in Malaysia. She was also one of the top finalists nominated by Empretec Malaysia for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Women in Business Awards (WBA) presented to women entrepreneurs by UNCTAD’s flagship Empretec program 2020.
Sandra advises women to prioritize their NOW. Many women feel that they need to be submissive, to be a nice person or else they won’t be taken into the successful groups at all, and they are also expected to be a yes person. This is where she believes in training more women in becoming confident, becoming courageous to learn and grow, to take responsibilities, and boost their self-worth. Having said that, Sandra herself says that her name means ‘helper of mankind’, and due to her upbringing she has always carried the nickname ‘public service department’ which also often led her to sacrifice her own gains in order to be a nice person and to serve others first.
Sandra, being a humorous, happy, energetic, and rigorous personality, has been and is still passionate to change lives with her formulae to improve the quality of lives of all those around her, especially women. She believes that God has given us all talents and we actually can use our talents to help people heal, grow, become stronger and lift each other.
Age is not a matter according to her. She is ready to help people who are also above 60 years old to make changes in their life.
At 52, she has no plans to retire, and still sees projects to work on for the next 50 years. Her dream is to start a University of Life, where she would like to teach the children her formulae, so they can build a better life for themselves. And Entrepreneurship being such a powerful opportunity for a lot of people, she would love to take her developmental programs to more countries.
We are really proud of the impact you are making in the lives of people, and we wish you all the best. May your efforts have an everlasting impact on people by improving their quality of life.
This article was originally published by UNCTAD Empretec Social Media. Team SheSight acknowledges the contribution of Ms. Anjali R Nair towards this article.