Dietician / Nutritionist

Kate Saw, 5Sc2 2002

Summary: Kate Saw graduated from AMC in 2002. She pursued dietetics at USM but after graduating, had trouble finding jobs. Even though she was discouraged at first, she didn’t stop looking. One job led to another and today, she works as a nutritionist for USANA. In between though, she squeezed black heads, operated slimming machines and worked as a CEO’s assistant.

In this post, we chat with her about her journey.

From Kate: Life is not about holding all the good cards; it is about how well you play the cards you have.  When you put all the little pieces of experience together, you will see how it has shaped you.

AAN: Hello Kate, can you tell us about your life before university?

Kate: Sure! I have been an AMCian since I was 7.  At the sweet age of 18, I opted for F6, Sam Tet, not because of my favourite guy there, but because of financial constraints. Looking back, I’m glad I did F6; if not I would be buried in debt today.

Sam Tet was tough, but it definitely made me stronger. After F6 I entered USM Kelantan to study Dietetics.

AAN: Can you tell us a little more about dietetics and why you decided to study it?

Kate interviewing USANA VP of R&D at New Product Launch (KLCC, Jan 2012)

Kate: Frankly speaking, I had little knowledge of the course at that point in time. I went to classes, studied nutrition, drew human anatomy, memorized biochemical pathways, wrote about social science and forced myself to exercise as it called for credit points.

As time passed by, I began to see the beauty of nutrition. I got a sense of satisfaction from being able to help patients with different diseases. Then, the picture became clear to me.

Dietetics is all about nutritional management for patients with different diseases.

We determine how many grams of proteins, fats, carbohydrates etc. a patient has to take in order to recover. Lots of communication comes into play as healthcare depends on a team. Nutritionists, doctors, nurses and pharmacists all work together towards the same goal – healthier communities.

AAN: What about working life vs university life?

Kate: The 4 years of university life was fun and rewarding. Working life was much tougher.

When I graduated, there were limited vacancies in both general and private hospitals. In fact, you had to pray hard and pulled network strings to get a job. Guess what?

The only job I could secure was a slimming centre consultant. I was so disappointed because I wanted to work in a hospital. It made my precious Dean’s Lists achievements feel like toilet paper. My days were dark and cloudy during that time.

But I kept looking and after about six months, I finally managed to secure a job at Golden Horses Health Sanctuary as a dietician. In this job, I provided professional nutritional consultations to members, conducted health talks and planned menus etc.

AAN: That’s great! What happened after that? 

Kate:  About a year later, I was assigned to spearhead the development of a new division in the company – product line development. The products developed include organic foods, nutraceuticals, body care products etc. Developing these products involved co-branding and exclusive manufacturing (OEM). So I learnt about marketing, advertising, cost control, determining selling prices and profit margins. Finally, the division was well set up.

AAN: And we heard that you took another risk, one that led to a really good learning opportunity…

Kate: That’s right. After the product development job, the company Group CEO invited me to be her Executive Assistant. It wasn’t in line with what I thought my life would be like. It had nothing to do with dietetics or nutrition at all, so to me at that time, it felt like a huge jump. But I took it and it was an amazing experience. I reported directly to the Group CEO and learnt so many things. We dealt with property development, property investment, events, hospitality, health, stock exchange and leisure. It was a hectic job that kept me busy from day till night, sometimes even midnight.

AAN: But you didn’t stay long term in that job. Can you tell us why?

Kate: To me, becoming an Executive Assistant was not my dream. Thus, I ended up as Nutritionist at USANA Malaysia where I handled all nutritional and product issues for Malaysia. This job allowed me to travel overseas and locally to deliver nutritional talks and to attend conventions. I got to correspond and meet with international scientists, learn from them and help the public through preventive supplements.

AAN: When you look back on your journey, are there learnings you would like to share with us?

Kate: The biggest thing I’ve realized is that life is not about holding all the good cards; it is about how well you play the cards you have.  And when you put all the little pieces of experience together, you will see how it has shaped you.

If I had not worked in slimming centre, I would not know how to operate the slimming machines and the correct way of squeezing blackheads. If I had refused to spearhead product development, I would be clueless about product license application, co-branding, cost control, marketing and profit margins. If I did not work hard, the CEO would not have asked me to be her assistant, and I would not have seen how a big company manages millions of dollars, develops properties and manages hotels. It is all these little experiences that strengthen your inner self…

AAN: That’s incredible. Any last things to share with juniors?

Kate: Hang on in there, dear ones! Be brave when facing challenges. You can be more than you ever imagined.

Kate can be contacted at katesaw_23@yahoo.co.uk

 

1 Comment
  1. Hi Kate,

    I finished my SAM course last year. I plan to study Nutrition & Dietitian in IMU but my worry is hard to find job after graduate in Malaysia. Do u think N&D will be a demanding occupation in future or 5 years later? What is the most important subject for N&D? It is a hard time for me to memories the organic chemistry but i’m interested to know how to have a healthy diet to prevent diseases. My ex tuition teacher who is now working as a doctor encourage me to study pharmacy rather than N&D because N&D in IMU is expensive and not worth its price and time for 4 years to get the degree.

    I hope my comment will be reply as soon as possible.
    Thanks.

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