Mother, doctor, hotelier, teacher, student. If you wonder how some people can do it all with hair kept in place and a smile, talk to Dr Angeline Yong.
“I have always been able to multitask — it’s in my character. Friends say I’m addicted to the rush of adrenalin that comes from getting things going. I get bored very easily, but I’m not a jack of all trades and master of none. I don’t like to touch and go. Over the years, I have been able to train myself to go into more than one thing, but in-depth as well,” says the Singaporean consultant dermatologist.
Medical training reinforced her innate multitasking ability by building up her stamina. “When you start your career, you do house calls. You don’t sleep for 36 hours, I’m very used to that. You’re on your feet flat. This is nothing.”
Yong’s “nothing” can easily make someone else pant. Her day begins with a stop at a kindergarten, where she drops off her six-year-old son, before heading to the National Skin Centre to meet her first group of 20 clients from 8am to noon. Then she breaks for lunch.
“I’m pressed for time now, so I don’t go out. I compress my lunch into five minutes. There is a cafeteria downstairs and I’m easy … I can eat the same thing the entire year. I streamline a lot of things and cut out excess decision-making. After awhile, certain things go on autopilot, like dressing. I love the days when I wear scrubs — it’s straightforward and automatic.”
Meal over, she expresses and stores breast milk for her 10-month-old daughter, clearing work in-between so as not to have to take work home.
Yong, who is doing her Master’s in Public Health at Harvard University, also tries to fit homework modules into that hour-long breather. Following that is another round of client appointments until 5pm. Twice a week, the dermatologic surgeon does operations.
“When I’m on something, I give it my full attention. I’m very focused and don’t get distracted. Yes, I have multiple activities in the day, but I tend to do that in pockets,” says Yong, 38, whose day does not end after the scrubs come off.
Once home, maternal duties dominate until she puts the children to bed. “It’s a constant, but I do enjoy it. If I stop doing things like that, I would probably find I have not been productive and have not achieved very much.”
Work is hard to juggle, she admits. With her third hotel, 88 Armenian in Penang, officially opening on May 19, it has been a stretch. But coping is all about “channelling the adrenalin in a different way and finding different outlets for creativity to flow through”.
Yong, who interned for six months as a reporter with The Straits Times before medical school — journalism was an alternative career plan — used to run cross-country, climb and trek. Today, that boundless energy is being poured into family, healthcare and hotels. She took over ownership of Lotus Villa in Luang Prabang, Laos, and Noordin Mews in Penang, both in 2012. And 88 Armenian, which sits in the heart of the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site, began welcoming guests last month.
For the full story, pick up a copy of The Edge Malaysia (May 20, 2019) at your nearest news stand. Save by subscribing to us for your print and/or digital copy.