At a young age, growing up in Klang, Lam Ka Jhun was captivated by the world of environmental science, a fascination fuelled by witnessing the adverse impacts of palm oil issues in Indonesia.
“That experience sparked my interest in the subject,” he recalls.
Following his passion, Ka Jhun navigated a challenging journey from Malaysia to Australia, transforming from a budding scholar studying environmental science and corporate sustainability into a sustainability consultant who guides companies in developing climate strategies. Today, he holds a pivotal role at Visy, a Melbourne-based company, where he spearheads recycling and carbon reduction initiatives.
The Melbourne Experience
Adapting to a new home was challenging. From adjusting to the chilly climate to pining for the genuine tastes of Malaysian cuisine, Ka Jhun confronted these hurdles with determination, drawing strength from his tight-knit community of friends and family he had in Australia. Despite the initial shock of culture change, he discovered a harmonious fusion of Malaysian warmth and the Australian emphasis on well-being and happiness.
“I appreciate not needing to drive everywhere; I often walk or take the tram, which saves me money,” he shares, emphasising Australia’s well-structured public transport system.
While many would find solace in hobbies or activities, Ka Jhun finds his in the simplest pleasures. “Although it may sound old-fashioned, I genuinely enjoy grocery shopping. On weekends, I love to take walks and sometimes grab a hot chocolate on my way back,” he admits.
Work-Life Balance: A Tale of Two Cultures
Although Ka Jhun’s professional journey in Australia was rewarding, it was not without its challenges. Transitioning from Malaysia’s intertwined work-life communication methods to Australia’s distinct separation was a learning curve.
“In Malaysia, personal and work communications often mix on platforms like WhatsApp. But in Australia, there’s a distinct separation,” he explained.
Ka Jhun appreciated Australia’s emphasis on a healthy work-life balance, reflecting, “The work culture here emphasises a family-first approach, and employees aim to return home to their families as soon as their workday concludes.”
He also pointed out that cultural nuances were something he encountered at work and personal interactions. “Simple things like accents, jokes, references, and conversational topics differ,” Ka Jhun observed. Adapting his accent and understanding Australian humour took time. Still, he emphasised the importance of engaging in conversations based on local topics without losing one’s identity.
A Conscious Embrace of Home
As he built his life in Melbourne, Ka Jhun has maintained a strong and unwavering connection to his Malaysian roots. He adeptly balances his media consumption to stay informed about developments in his homeland, all the while keeping close and constant contact with his cherished family and friends.
“Technology has been a blessing in that regard,” he confesses, valuing the virtual reunions during important family events he cannot attend in person. Ka Jhun adds a hint of Malaysia into his Australian life, even recommending his favourite Malaysian delicacies to friends curious about his homeland.
Despite the distance, Ka Jhun never lets himself become a stranger to Malaysia. He returns at least once a year, making it a point to attend family events and significant celebrations.
“My parents and siblings are in Kuala Lumpur. I come back often for gatherings, especially during Chinese New Year or Christmas time,” he explained. The pandemic presented a challenge, but technology bridged the gap, enabling him to stay connected.
Guiding Future Trailblazers
For Ka Jhun, open-mindedness is paramount for Malaysians contemplating moving abroad. He encourages embracing the opportunities to learn from individuals around the globe while staying true to one’s roots. He shares, “One of the biggest privileges for me, being based overseas in a cosmopolitan city like Melbourne, is the chance to speak and learn from people across different parts of the world.”
Reflecting and Giving Back
Living in Melbourne has provided Ka Jhun with a broadened perspective. He explains, “Being overseas has broadened my perspective. Every country and system are unique, but I’ve learned to appreciate Malaysia more, especially its peace, food, and diversity.”
His sentiments align with his appreciation for the MyHeart platform, an initiative fostering connections between overseas Malaysians. “Many Malaysians overseas still want to contribute back to the country, and I’m glad to be one of them,” he asserts.
For those considering moving abroad, Ka Jhun has advice from his own journey. “I think it’s really about being open-minded because it helps us become more globalised,” he reflects. Living abroad has not only shaped his perspective but has also ignited a deeper appreciation for his homeland.
He concludes, “Cultural norms and values may be different, but kindness and competence are universal.”
To connect with Ka Jhun and other Malaysians abroad, join the MyHeart community today.