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IMU Alumna and Her Entrepreneurship Journey

22 Sep 2016

During the recent alumni gathering in Ipoh, our alumna from Nutrition and Dietetics (N&D), Lee Bei Ning shared briefly about her ups and downs of being a freelance wellness consultant. Since then, we have reached out to her for an in-depth story about her entrepreneurial journey and what inspired her to go down the unbeaten path. Read on to find out how she stay motivated to excel in her chosen field.

Are you from Ipoh? If you are not from Ipoh, why did you decide to work in Ipoh?
I’m originally from Ipoh. Both my parents and fiancé are also living in Ipoh. The greatest reason for choosing to base my career in Ipoh is because I truly believe in staying close to family is far more important than anything else. There is nothing more valuable than having those we love to be by our side through thick and thin.
Describe a little about yourself – your interests, your hobbies, etc
I would say I’m someone who loves freedom. I like to be in charge of my own life and time. I love to plan on my own and spend my time just the way I want. But yet, I realised life isn’t just about ourselves. As I grow older, I have the desire of bringing more value to the others by helping those in need through my knowledge and abilities. I want those that I know to live healthily and well. Even though I’m not a good cook but I love to learn everything there is about food. I enjoy preparing meals for my loved ones and seeing them finish the food that I’ve prepared gives me a great satisfaction.


When did you complete your course in IMU?
I completed my course and obtained my degree in 2014.
Why did you decide to study N&D when your father is a cardiologist?
My initial plan was to become a medical officer like my father. But, I always had the thought that helping others to stay healthy can be done in so many different ways, especially when there are so little advocation and education being done to teach people on how to live well through our daily diet. Thus, when I found out about N&D course offered in IMU, my decision changed, and I signed up for the N&D course without hesitation.


What did you do after graduation that led you to become a freelance wellness consultant?
I tried a sales job for a few months in a food ingredient company. I wasn’t satisfied with whatever that I was doing as it wasn’t anywhere near to my mission in life, and I have asked myself many times what is it that I really want in my life. I am glad to have a loving and supportive fiancé who encouraged me to pursue my own dreams. Thus, I worked out a strategic plan with guidance from some great leaders who have experience in the home service line and knowledge on traditional Chinese Medicine. Alongside with advice and support from my father who owns a clinic for many years, as well as a few other healthcare professionals from different sectors.
How has IMU prepared you for work environment?
IMU‘s learning experience was a memorable one as it has taught me to be confident yet flexible when I’m faced with uncertainties, and to have the guts in trying out new things without fear.
List 3 significant skills/ competencies that you have developed throughout your journey as an IMU N&D student
a) Understanding the importance of setting goals and objectives in whatever plans that I have and focus on the outcome that meets with the objectives. As long as my goals and objectives are met, it’s ok to have some minor mistakes in between as that’s how we all learn and grow. b) Be ready for when things do not work out as planned. c) And the most important of all – lifelong learning. The world changes with each passing day, there is a need for us to continue learning new things about the world and to renew our knowledge to keep up with the standard.
What are the strengths of IMU curriculum?

I love the practicum sessions (during the last year of the degree course) where we were being placed in real settings such as the hospitals, health clinics, food services departments, dialysis centers and etc. That’s when I learned how to apply knowledge into real situations and it really made me think how to convert my knowledge into practical advice for our clients.

Describe your “typical” day as a wellness consultant
In the mornings, I usually get down to some planning and communicate with the stakeholders on where our next wellness programmes are going to be held. Occasionally, I’ll need to do some shopping and prepare ingredients for a cooking demo. Some of my clients will request to for the cooking demo to be done during the day. Thus, I will have to get everything ready at the stakeholder’s home, including setting up a place for cooking demo, health check stations (for basic health screening) for blood pressure tests, weight taking stations and etc. One-on-one counselling sessions are done for clients who have gotten their blood test results. Most of the time, we share on knowledge about nutrition through talks, discussion groups and cooking activities.


What’s the biggest challenge that you faced in getting your clients to follow your recommendations?
The biggest challenge is at the initial stage, where I need to build trust between the clients and myself, and educating them on the importance of taking care of their own health independently. I always believe that if my clients trust me and know that I’m there to help them, they will be more willing to listen and accept the advice given to them.
How do you build rapport and trust between you and your clients?
We have a mini ice-breaker session that helps me to understand them better before we start any formal session. People like to feel that they are being cared for, listened to and loved by others. By communicating first with them to understand their needs before giving any advice that may be irrelevant to them goes a long way.
Your greatest achievement so far

Becoming a trusted healthcare provider among my friends and clients as many of them call me to ask for health tips and advices, and giving my support to friends that needed me throughout their pregnancy and even after they have given birth are my greatest milestones to-date.

Your motivation to excel in this field
To be the spark of change that is needed. And the best way to help the world to become better is to start living well. Going back to where I belong, to love the people around us and empower them with the knowledge and skills for them to live well too.
Your future plans
Getting more people to join my movement. It is very difficult as the initial stage is not profitable. It’s all about entrepreneurship and many are not willing to take risks and make changes to become true entrepreneurs because most people are trained to think like “professionals” and “employee”. Many only have the mindset to work for others.


Describe a memorable moment in IMU

The most unforgettable experience in IMU is that we were given a task to discuss a case study with pharmacy students. The inter-profession learning experience was awesome even though initially we, the dietetic students had a different opinion from the pharmacists. But in the end, we all learned that patient care is our priority in managing all the cases and we eventually worked things out together.

Your advice to a student who may be interested in following your footsteps
Be passionate enough so you can overcome whatever obstacles.


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