The dots always connect when you look back. And then you know why life was laid out the way it did for you.
I happily straddled between corporate leadership and active volunteerism/social entrepreneurship until Dec 2013 when I took the last corporate paycheck as managing director in a bank consulting arm of a UK-listed company to fully embrace the privilege of living out my aspirations to serve through coaching, volunteerism and social entrepreneurship. I was ready to understand how little I need, and how much I could give with all that I have been given and learned.
I am most humbled by a fortuitously illustrious professional journey - a sort of a readiness lap in uncovering all that I can be, and more. I was most recently Managing Director (Indonesia, Malaysia & Singapore), Omega Performance Inc, a Washington DC-headquartered strategy and performance-improvement consulting group for banks and financial institutions. I also double-hatted as the Asian Lead of the Global Corporate Responsibility Board for Informa Plc (parent company of Omega). Prior to that, I held key leadership roles with multinational organisations such as Pearson Plc, New York Institute of Finance, The Terrapinn Group and United Overseas Bank.
I was bitten by the entrepreneur bug at the peak of my corporate career as a Group Managing Director of an e-learning company (yes the dot com era!). I founded and became Founder/CEO of a Singapore-based education consulting/technology company, Knowledge Director Group, and Inventor of award-winning cutting-edge rapid authoring technology to create game-based and interactive learning content (I still hold the inventor's rights!). As CEO, I was also Principal Consultant for three high-profile education transformation projects with Singapore (FutureSchools@Singapore), Taipei and Kaohsiung (School of the Future) governments. This 8-year (ad)venture ended its course as a collateral damage of the colossal collapse of my marriage*.
"I know now, with rock-hard certainty, that my purpose is to give my gifts away. Why else would I have been given all these opportunities in life? "
Wander. Wonder. Inspire.Love.
Wisdom begins in wonder and whispers to me in my incessant & intrepid solo travels which have taken me trekking to the base camp of the majestic Mount Everest (scaling from the less-popular Tibet access), the summit of the holy Mount Sinai in Egypt, Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka and the ancient trails of Machu Picchu in the Andes; and exploring the depths of the all-giving Amazon, the faraway lands of Siberia on Trans-Siberia, the allure of the timeless Nile on an ancient felucca and the nourishing Ganges in a whitewater raft, the endless mystery of the deserts of Sinai and Iran.....and most recently, I checked off the 7 continents on the bucket list with a 2-week expedition to Antarctica in March 2018! (Read my reflection of Antarctica here)
And with wisdom, I always find Love. Love in the motherly eyes of a doting Mayan woman as she put out her cleanest-prettiest bedsheets for me..... Love in the skilful hands of Sri Lankan village woman as she plucked the vegetables from her garden and cooked me heavenly meals after meals with all my dietary preferences.... Love in the simple words of a beautiful Nubian captain who shared his life story with me on the Nile.... Love in the assuring smile of the Tibetan guide who encouraged me on when I was hit by the almost crippling altitude sickness......Love in every hello, and in every goodbye... and Love in this intrepid solitude of exploration.
Blessed to wander through this wondrous world
Blinded by the divine spectacle of this creation
Bestowed with the beauty of strangers' smiles
Bequeathed my heart, a pinch here and a sprinkle there
Belonged to one I no longer am - a lover of the Infinite, yes!
(Anthea Indira Ong, 2010)
"At over 80 countries and 250 cities/places, I am determined to keep the number of countries wandered bigger than my age!"
"The further out I explore, the deeper within I go."
A dedicated practice of silence (meditation) and yoga has been my healing and my courage for the last 16 years. My life has never been the same since that first taste of this new knowing of the integration of my body, mind and heart. These innerscapes have been no less spectacular and unravelling as the outer ones. An overriding realisation through this journey is that life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. Loving my Self has been my greatest romance. And this romance raised me - still does - to new heights of learning and being.
"All I understand and everything I know, I know because I love."
If you have time, I would love to share my poems, proses and songs with you, my Infinite Thoughts of Being on Facebook. I hope to sing for you with Saffy (my blue guitar) one day!
We will need to be Facebook friends for you to read my writings and songs under My Notes. Or you can view a sample of these on my Medium page.
If you are interested to know how I see death (and hence, life), please read my Eulogy. Or how the 9-year cycle of Becoming Circa 2008-2016 was for me.
*If you need help sleeping, here's a chapter of my work-in-progress memoir about the pivotal point in my life (so far), Lost. And Found.
Please support my first book 50 Shades of Love - a tribute I made to five decades of an ordinary life made extraordinary by people, pain and passion. All net proceeds go towards supporting refugee children and women, starting with the Rohingyas in Malaysia and Bangladesh.
El Peten, Guatemala, 2013
Mt Everest Base Camp (Tibet side), 2010
Mt Sinai Summit, 2008
Anthea Indira Ong
Copyright Anthea Ong. All rights reserved.