Interview with Hajah Norbasirah




Courage, conviction and a diligent work ethic is what motivated Hajah Norbasirah Binti Haji Metussin – a mother of three young children to start her own businesses.

How did you get the idea to start your business?
When I was younger I always had an ambition to one day own a business. After completing my course at IBTE, I worked for two years with BIBD and then for one year with the Ministry of Finance. During that time I gained experience, knowledge and made connections with many people. Eventually I thought, “Why not start my own business and work for myself?” So in 2012, I started Des Star Company. I deal with real estate and my job includes organising and arranging car and home insurances and liaising with lawyers and contractors. Then in 2013, I came up with another business idea of starting a boutique, which also offers wedding planning services. My bridal boutique is a one stop shop which offers couples services such as designing and setting up their wedding dais, customising bridal gowns and groom suits, and making wedding gifts – all at affordable prices. As a mother of three young children – six years, three years and three months old, I believe that owning and managing both businesses works well for me because it gives me flexibility. I’m proud and happy to be a working mother – I put effort and hard work into a job that I am passionate about, to support my family.

What role did your training and education at IBTE play in helping you to establish your own business?
The approach to teaching at IBTE is to make students better businessmen and businesswomen in the real world, and the teachers and classes definitely helped me from a practical perspective. I was able to get a much better understanding of the professional business world. I definitely gained all of the essential knowledge that I needed to start and manage my own business. Each of my instructors were instrumental in guiding and motivating me. However, two instructors who stand out in my memory are Cikgu Iswandi who taught Marketing and Cikgu Hajah Zaiton who taught Management and Secretarial Studies. I still remember listening attentively to Cikgu Iswandi’s explanations about business strategies and he also gave examples of case studies which gave a clearer understanding of how different businesses work; and from Cikgu Hajah Zaiton I learnt short-hand, typing, the importance of time management and other organisational skills which now help me to run my businesses efficiently. At IBTE, the instructors take great pride in their students and their work and recognise that their student’s success is also their success.

Photo courtesy of Hajah Norbasirah

What advice would you give to students who are thinking about following your career path?
It’s not easy to manage your own business, there are challenges but you cannot be afraid. You have to be determined to work hard to overcome them. For example, as a Wedding Planner I need to carefully listen to my clients’ expectations and be willing to work round the clock to make sure that they get exactly what they want. Sometimes that means going the extra mile, but I know that satisfied customers are great for business! I believe that where there is a will, there will always be a way! Young people today just need to be brave and come up with new business ideas instead of relying on government jobs. Students who want to start their own business need to firstly gain experience working in other businesses; and they can then use their knowledge and experience to establish their own companies. What is most important, is that they remember to pray every day and this is something that really helps me.

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This article was published in the IBTE Special Issue (Oct-Dec 2016) of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!