I work in public relations at Airbnb.
I studied organisational psychology but I’ve always liked writing, and after spending six months in a human resources role I realised that writing was more my calling, so I decided to work in communications.
Do you feel that your background in psychology has helped you in your current role?
It does—Airbnb is a very people-driven company, and the reason why I studied psychology was to understand people’s thoughts and motivations. I get to meet many hosts and guests in the course of work, and finding out their travel stories and being able to share them has also been something that keeps me going.
Can you share a story that’s been particularly memorable to you?
There was an elderly Korean couple—the husband had to leave his high-flying career behind because he’d suffered a stroke, and they put their home up on Airbnb as a way to make money. He found that he enjoyed hosting and meeting people, and after he’d recovered he turned down the chance to return to his previous job, because he enjoyed getting to spend time with his wife and meeting travellers from around the world.
What’s a book you’ve read that you’d recommend to others?
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; my favourite quote from it is “She quickly discovered that the world is divided into people who know how to be comfortable by themselves on a bar chair and people who do not.” That for me is the definition of freedom; not allowing others to make you feel anything other than yourself.
What are some of your other favourite books? Do they have anything in common?
I also like Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I like that they remind me that we are all mad and sane in equal parts, and that our lives are our own to lead. For me, the lightness and freedom comes from being aware that societal values and expectations change through the centuries, and we should try to never see things in black and white.
What’s something that isn’t taught in schools, but that you believe everyone should learn?
Why you should pay your credit card bills on time, and how to make the most out of deals in Singapore.