Rising Above Adversity
My name is Hon Win Woon, and I am a little different compared to you. My tentative steps are a bit robotic. If you come closer, you will notice that the left side of my head is slightly dented and my left eye appears smaller than the right. But please don’t let that cloud your judgement about me as a person. I was not born that way.
A decade ago, I was in France celebrating my graduation and gearing up for an exciting journey where I was leaving university and just about to enter the working world. I had secured a place in the prestigious multinational investment bank and financial services company Goldman Sachs in London as a technology analyst. Pumped up with adrenaline and surrounded by an amazing winter landscape, an unexpected skiing accident took away my bright future as it left me paralysed and unconscious for eight months.
Whisked off to Geneva, I endured an emergency lifesaving brain surgery. While I survived, I was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury subdural hematoma. The internal bleeding in my brain affected my left limbs and vision, leaving me helpless when it came to eating, cleaning and moving. This marked the darkest and lowest episode in my life. In a blink of an eye, I lost my health, mobility, career, relationship and dream of becoming a successful quant.
There’s Hope Where There’s Despair
Initially, the doctors in England actually gave up on me. According to the prognosis and their experience, people with my type of injury would either remain unconscious indefinitely or lose their intellectual ability when they woke up.
I am thankful for the unconditional love and support from my family, especially my mother, who was forced to uproot from sunny Malaysia and relocate to cold England. After all the time in care and rehabilitation, God answered her prayers! Upon regaining my consciousness, I started pulling those annoying tubes, to my doctor’s amazement and kept the nurses extremely busy all day as they reconnected those tubes.
About a year after the accident, my family decided it was time to bring me home and this required my personal consent. Fortunately, I was strong enough to do so. Initially the doctor thought I was just sleep talking but soon realised my conscious request after further probing. To fly home, eight normal airplane seats had to be removed to accommodate me lying down, since I didn’t have the ability to sit at that time.
Thankfully, coming home was the right decision. I was eventually able to sit on a wheelchair and much later, walk short distances while holding my mother’s shoulder. As the weeks passed, I became stronger and more steady on my feet with minimal assistance. It took lots of sweat, tears and guidance from one of the most professional physiotherapists - Mr Soh from UM.
Seizing the Opportunity
Eight years after the accident, I was finally fit enough to work part time as a freelance web developer and debugger. In end-2019, I started exploring full time work opportunities and came across Roche.
I met their HR team during a career fair for differently abled candidates and had a very interesting chat with them. I then participated in two additional interviews. Throughout the process, I started falling in love with the organisation’s purpose and inclusive environment. Some may call it fate, others, opportunity. Who knows?
No Looking Back
In February 2020, I began working full time for Roche Services & Solutions Operations APAC as a service desk analyst in Technical Support. I have no regrets and am enjoying every second here! My team is very encouraging and treat me as an equal, so I feel respected, included and empowered. They throw me challenging assignments and questions and I am more confident since that dark incident in France.
Roche can be likened to a beacon lighting up my life and providing a purpose to my existence. Its purpose of doing now what patients need next is so inspiring and motivating. I am glad that I get to contribute and do meaningful work every day. That being said, I hope to develop into the best version of myself in my first permanent role.