Panthers of ISKL #172: Uma Esvaran – The Committed Panther

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POISKL - Uma Esvaran

“What’s truly remarkable at ISKL is the diversity of people, hailing from various ethnic backgrounds and countries, who bring unique perspectives and contribute valuable ideas that have played a crucial role in shaping the institution itself and the strong relationships among colleagues.”

Meet Uma, the secretary to the Elementary School (ES) counselors who’s been a staff member at ISKL since 2004. Hailing from KL, Uma was part of the DEIJ team last year and loves running and hiking in her free time.

Here is Uma’s story:


Do tell us more about yourself.

Hello, Panthers! I wear the hat of secretary to the counselors here at the Elementary School (ES). My roots trace back to the heart of Kuala Lumpur, where I was born and raised.

My educational journey kicked off at Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Hulu Kelang, and ISKL’s move to Ampang Hilir brings back some vivid memories from my seven and eight-year-old self. Back then, I’d eagerly await my school bus in front of the Sri Raja Rajeswary Temple. When those buses decided to be fashionably late, our playground became the temple compound (it was basically a jungle back then)!

Fast forward to 1983, my family packed our bags and headed to Bangi, where I stayed until I ventured into married life. Mom kept the home fires burning as a housewife, while Dad showcased his culinary wizardry as a chef at The Regent Hotel. I’m the eldest of four siblings, and my high school days unfolded at Sek Men Bandar Baru Bangi. During that time, I dabbled in Indian classical dance and even flexed my muscles in cross-country athletics, although, sadly, those passions didn’t stick around for the long haul.

I embarked on my professional journey with a Diploma in Accountancy and Secretarial and Business Administration. However, being the eldest in a middle-class family meant that my parents had to put the brakes on my education. I ventured into the working world, navigating through roles at various companies, including a stint at a law firm in the conveyancing department and as an accounts executive at an automotive air-conditioning manufacturing company.

The plot thickened when I got married and relocated to Selayang. During this time, I would drive past ISKL and couldn’t help but imagine myself being a part of this incredible institution.

Fate had its own plan, and a few months later, I spotted a job vacancy in the Star newspaper in December 2003. It was for the position of Campus Supervision Coordinator. I jumped at the opportunity and was invited for the first interview. The excitement mounted as I was shortlisted and called back for a second interview in February 2004, which included a chat with ES Principal Susan Napolielo and the dynamic Charlotte Diller, who now serves as our Tech Director. Well, folks, I made the cut and started my adventure here at ISKL!

Fast forward to 2008, and I snagged a promotion to my current role as the secretary to the counselors. It’s been quite the journey, and I’m here, still serving with all my heart.

When and why did you join ISKL?

Since I began my career here at ISKL in 2004, I’ve come to appreciate the stability of this organization. What’s truly remarkable is the diversity of people, hailing from various ethnic backgrounds and countries, who bring unique perspectives and contribute valuable ideas that have played a crucial role in shaping the institution itself and the strong relationships among colleagues.

What is your most memorable moment so far at ISKL?

Every day at ISKL is a treasure trove of memorable moments. Countless memories come to mind, from the eerie ambiance of the Melawati Campus, where mysterious noises seemed to echo when I stayed back after 6:00 pm, to the grand International Fest celebrations.

I’ll never forget when a student went missing, sparking a two-hour search by the administration, only to be discovered hiding in a cabinet! And then there were the post-work outings with teachers to the nearby Roti Canai shop, just across from campus, which always added a sprinkle of joy to our day.

Perhaps one of my fondest memories is our tradition of “Slow time,” where we took turns hosting a potluck once a month. It became a cherished tradition amongst the Student Services team, fostering camaraderie and creating lasting bonds.

Can you tell us about your job role – what are your daily activities?

In my role, I am the second face that new families encounter when they are accepted into the school community. The first face, of course, is always the Admissions team. On the flip side, I also become the last face they see when they end their journey with ISKL.

In addition to supporting the counselors and the Student Services team, I am responsible for managing PowerSchool data for ES, ensuring that this critical aspect of our educational system runs smoothly. It’s a multifaceted role that allows me to engage with families throughout their journey at ISKL.

Can you tell us about anything exciting or interesting happening at ISKL that you’re a part of?

Being a part of the DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice) team last school year was an eye-opening experience for me. It provided a unique opportunity to explore and reflect on myself differently. It’s incredible how such initiatives can challenge our perceptions and encourage personal growth.

Can you tell us more about your hobbies and interests? What do you do after work?

I have a genuine love for running, although I haven’t been able to be as consistent as I’d like due to time constraints. Hiking is another passion, and I try to escape into nature whenever possible. Daily, I make it a point to incorporate yoga and meditation into my routine, finding peace and balance in these practices.

Who or what inspires you?

ISKL itself serves as a profound source of inspiration for me. I always take great pride in stating that I am a part of the ISKL family. Throughout my journey here, I’ve worked with nearly three principals, including Bill Powell, Paul Chemelik, and Norma Hudson. Each has brought unique human values and unwavering commitment to our mission and vision.

The current Head of School, Rami Madani, exemplifies these values, leading us with dedication and a clear vision for the future. Being part of a community with such strong leadership and a shared sense of purpose is a privilege.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

At times, I’ve observed that the school operates at a fast pace, leaving little room for pause and reflection. The landscape of managing issues continually evolves, with shifting needs and perspectives. Problem-solving skills are constantly adapting, and staying aligned with compatible technology and the ever-changing demands of managing people’s needs can be a dynamic challenge. It’s a testament to our collective resilience and commitment that we navigate these shifting terrains with determination and adaptability.

What does ISKL’s vision, “Know yourself, care for all and create a better world,” mean to you?

ISKL’s vision, “Know yourself, care for all, and create a better world,” holds a special significance for me.

“Know yourself” resonates deeply with my personal journey of self-discovery and growth, both professionally and personally. My involvement with the DEIJ team and my commitment to practices like yoga and meditation reflect my ongoing effort to understand myself better.

“Care for all” aligns perfectly with my role as a welcoming face for new families and my interaction with the diverse ISKL community. My experiences working in different positions and participating in various school activities reflect my genuine care and respect for all individuals.

“Create a better world” speaks to the core of ISKL’s mission, and I truly believe in the school’s ability to impact the broader world positively. My dedication to ISKL and admiration for its leadership emphasize the importance of working collectively to bring about positive change.

In summary, ISKL’s vision encapsulates my own values and experiences within the school community, emphasizing self-awareness, empathy, and a commitment to making the world a better place.


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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