Feature Story – Suriani Abdul Kadir

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Suriani Abdul Kadir

This lady sits patiently at her desk. Poised and ready to greet the faces that walk through the door, every day. Some faces bear hopeful smiles, others have creases that reveal anxiety. But with years of experience, she knows how to carefully observe and listen attentively.

There is one thing that she’s noticed – no matter what the faces express, the voices all echo the same sound- that of love and concern. So she does her best to answer all of their questions, to calm their nerves and to infect them with the same joy and optimism which she feels. Anyone who’s ever met Suriani Abdul Kadir, knows that no matter what time of day it is or what day of the year it is – she is always waiting to greet you with her inimitable smile.

“I have learnt to be grateful for everything in my life – for every experience and everyone that I am fortunate to meet and to know.” – Sue Kadir

A smile that instantly communicates an open heartedness and willingness to help others. So why is she always smiling? Is her life perfect? Suriani answered, “No. My life is by no means perfect. And like everyone else I have to deal with my share of ups and downs. But I have learnt to be grateful for everything in my life – for every experience and everyone that I am fortunate to meet and to know. I don’t take anything for granted. I truly believe that just a simple smile could open doors and hearts. ” As I spoke to this vivacious lady I discovered that beneath that gentle smile was an independent, resilient person who is determined to define her own life and to find happiness at work and at home, no matter what!

“Studies show that …workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do…” (Dept. of Economics at University of Warwick)

If you’ve ever had to start in a new school, you will know how equally thrilling and nerve wrecking this experience can be for both parents and children. However, if you are fortunate enough to encounter a person who sincerely listens and understands your concerns and who is willing to patiently explain everything to you – this could make your experience a positive and happy one.

And this is exactly how you feel when you meet Suriani Abdul Kadir, the Assistant Registrar at Jerudong International School. Everyone from parents, teachers and students to cleaning and maintenance staff know Suriani as the “smiley lady” or as Sue, as she’s also affectionately called.

Sue started working at JIS five years ago as a Learning Support Assistant. As a Mum with three children she felt that she would fit well into this role, especially because she also has a child with special needs. Sue’s enthusiasm and friendly personality got her the job. Once at JIS, she thoroughly enjoyed being in the school environment. Sue explained, “I love meeting people and at JIS I have the opportunity to meet so many students and people from all walks of life.” Sue later applied for a permanent role and did a short stint as Secretary of the Physical Education Department, before moving on to her current role as Assistant Registrar. Her face lit up when she was asked to describe this role, “I help with admissions and registrations. I meet parents and answer questions about the school and respond to enquiries via phone and email. Being at the school for a number of years means that I know the teachers, I understand the curriculum and school policies and I’m able to offer parents and students comprehensive information.”

According to Sue, “In order for me to do my job efficiently I have a rule that I stick to. And that is, every day when I arrive at school, the first thing that I do is to leave any personal worries that I may have at the gate. I do not mix personal issues with my professional role. At work I need to be able to give 100% of my time and attention to each person that I meet and to my duties at the office.”

Sue admitted that she gets a great deal of job satisfaction from her position at JIS. She is someone who takes pride in being efficient and professional. Prior to joining the staff at JIS, Sue worked with various companies and gained 12 years of secretarial experience.

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Sue Kadir with James Dickinson (student) and Mr. Richard Humes (JIS Deputy Principal)

Sue explained, “My late father was the person who taught me about the value of hard work. I worked with my father for about two years on and off when I was younger. And I learnt about being professional in business by observing his example.” And it is not at all surprising to discover that Sue is also super organised and meticulous when it comes to details- both at work and at home. She said, “Apart from working full time, I have to take care of my three children and make sure that I spend time with them. I also do a bit of catering so to be able to fit everything in, I have to be very organised. I start my day at 4 a.m and sometimes finish at around 8 p.m.” Having such a hectic schedule might make many of us quite tired and grumpy.

So what keeps Sue smiling? “That’s easy. First of all I love my children, they make me very happy. And, I really enjoy doing my job. My colleagues Anne and Jennifer are very supportive and understanding and we work well as a team. And sometimes parents surprise me with travel souvenirs and recently, one parent even baked me a cake! Those unexpected kind gestures always make me very happy!”

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” (Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi)

When she’s not at work Sue’s happy to spend time with her children and family. “I have four sisters and one brother. My brother is quite a joker! And every Thursday night my mother and my siblings and I get together with all of our kids for family night; and on Saturdays we meet up for movie night. We have a great time! For me, my family comes first. My family has always been there for me and has always supported me and I treasure those times that we spend together. With family you can just relax and be who you are. When I have time, I also get together with my friends for coffee and a chat.” One of the most important priorities for Sue as a parent is setting the right example for her children. She wants to teach them to value everything that they have and to be thankful.

Sue went on to explain, “I was 23 years old when my father suddenly died from a heart attack. He was just 46 years old. I realised that life can be short and unpredictable, so I have learnt to be grateful for everything and everyone in my life.” Sue treasures old friendships and embraces new opportunities. In spite of enduring certain hardships in her life she has consciously chosen to continue to have an open and positive attitude.

She’s determined to make the most of every opportunity at home and at work – that’s why she’s always ready to help out at Football Fun Day; happy to assist anyone in need; and willing to give her honest advice from a mother’s perspective to anyone who seeks it.

Once you’ve met Sue you will never forget her kind smile or her genuine willingness to help you. When asked how she’d like to be remembered, Suriani answered “as the lady who put a smile on the face of everyone she met.”

This article was published in the Apr-Jun 2015 issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!