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Norma Sit, 60, (centre, pictured with fellow Haggai facilitators) was a prideful corporate overachiever till she had to leave the digital payments platform she built – and the prestige that came with it. She looks back on investments that have given the best returns on value of self and others. All photos courtesy of Norma Sit.

Norma Sit had all the markings of a successful woman in the finance sector: The “It” handbags, the designer shoes and the luxury watches. Plus the trophies and column inches in the newspapers dedicated to her contributions to the industry and to the arts.

The overachiever’s ascent up the corporate ladder included rungs from the most desirable employers such as Singapore Airlines, the Singapore Economic Development Board and Visa International.

Out of 700 applicants, Norma was among those cherry picked as a cadet AO (admin officer) when Singapore Airlines was looking for its future batch of corporate leaders.

Along the way, she became a multi-hyphenate.

“Please help me transition to a path that builds treasures in heaven.”

She had a contract to author seven books, including chick lit novels (literature that mainly appeals to young women) and a series on financial independence for women. 

She also made brief forays into an art school for children, and started social enterprise Youth Life Ownership, which helped the disadvantaged climb back onto the first step of hope.

Then she founded digital payments platform, Numoni (pronounced “new money”), to serve the unbanked 80% of the world.

All these efforts brought more media attention and accolades.

What broke this prideful corporate overachiever who ran on her own smarts for 28 years?

But it was also during this period that God started bringing her back to Him bit by bit. She had walked away from Him at age 24, and led a self-described “backslidden life” for almost three decades.

Now approaching her 60th birthday, Sit’s career path could not be on a more different trajectory.

Vision while brushing teeth

Towards the end of 2016, she had a vision while brushing her teeth. She had been asking God what He wanted her to do with her life.

“I asked God, ‘What am I doing on this pebble path when the streets of heaven are made of gold?’

Norma (third from left) was no stranger at addressing international economic forums and championing opportunities for women in business.

“Please help me transition to a path that builds treasures in heaven.”

Shortly after, the business started to have “a zillion problems” which she, as CEO, tried to resolve.

“It was like having a rotten egg at every corner – all at the same time.”

“I did a paper on the Christian history of Singapore and realised how blessed Singapore is.”

Eventually knew she had to leave the company she built. 

God indeed led the multitasker down a dramatically different path.

Sit got ordained in 2020. She started hosting equipping sessions on Thursday nights with international guest speakers. 

She is currently working towards her PhD online with a private Christian university, Biola University (it has campuses in the US and in Chiang Mai, Thailand). She has just finished the first semester and hopes to complete the course within five years.

“I am loving the work and am fascinated by some of the subjects like honour and shame, the history of missions, and culture and anthropology.

“I did a paper on the Christian history of Singapore and realised how blessed Singapore is. And how selected and marked out for blessings we are, that we may bless others with our contributions and the Great Commission.”

Sit sat down with Salt&Light to share about banking on life’s truest values. 

Were there times in your finance career when there were tempting offers?

I’ve had people come to me and say: “All you have to do is make a proposal to the board. Whether the proposal goes through or not, I will pay you $10,000.”

I even had somebody say: “If you propose this and it’s accepted, we’ll invite you to come on our board. We are going to make a lot of money together. And we will pay you half a million dollars.”

Even in my backslidden state, I figured that if somebody priced me and thinks I’m worth half a million dollars, I must be worth a lot more than that. I didn’t bother to look at the company anymore. Because when a company has these practices, there’s probably a lot more in the company that is worse than whatever they’ve just tried to do. 

I didn’t want to be bought by a bribe. I didn’t want to be bought by people.

Can you tell us about the significant church service in 2015?

The preacher spoke about Jacob returning to Bethel and stopping at Shechem. And how there were all these foreign gods in the house, and they had to be buried (Genesis 35:4). 

The Lord said: “Anything that consumes your mind takes away Christ at the centre.”

He said that his daughter was crying at night. And nothing would stop her. As he went to check the living room, he saw a bunch of books on the bookshelf (on topics contrary to the teaching of Christ). He threw them down the rubbish chute … gedok, gedok, gedok (the sound of books tumbling down the chute). And then his daughter stopped crying.

I knew that God was speaking to me. I had bookshelves and bookshelves of similar books. You name it, I had it. 

I tried to justify them: “God, all these books cost thousands of dollars. I can use them for research.”

And the Lord told me: “No. These books consume your mind. And anything that consumes your mind takes away Christ at the centre. You have to throw the books away.”

The message just shot right through me. The preacher ended the message by saying: “Come home to Bethel, come home and set up the altar.” 

Basically I heard: “You’ve come back to church. But you haven’t come back to a point of surrender.”

I thought maybe I heard wrongly.

“You’ve come back to church. But you haven’t come back to a point of surrender.”

But I went back to church the next week.

The preacher hardly repeats his sermons. But that week he repeated: “The foreign gods in the house have to be buried.”

I had spent the whole week thinking: “Should I burn the books? Send them to the incinerator? Sell them?” 

But the Lord was basically saying: “Your job is to just throw. Your job is not to worry who takes the books after that.

“Jacob buried the idols. He didn’t worry about five people who came along and found those idols and decided to make them gods of their own lives.”

So I got two huge jumbo courier boxes and filled them with all those books. With my helper, I carried them downstairs and left them by the rubbish chute.

After coming back to Christ, you also bought back the rights to some books you had authored. Why?

My publisher had given me a contract for seven books, including two chick lit titles that I had written under a pseudonym.

I had published two books in the Gorgeous, Sexy, Rich series on financial independence for women. And then I was supposed to write a third.

“I don’t want somebody in hell to say, ‘I’m here because of your books.'”

But I just couldn’t get it out.

Now I know why: Because my views on marriage, my views on relationships had changed. I’m so glad I didn’t write it.

Yes, the books talked about financial independence for women. But there were practices that did not recognise the Cross so interweaved into them. I was into these practices when I had written the books.

I bought back all the rights to the books, and bought up whatever printed copies I could and had them pulped. 

Because I don’t want to go to heaven and then somebody in hell says: “I’m here because of your books.”

Some readers wrote to you asking for advice. How did you respond?

At the time I wrote the Gorgeous, Sexy & Rich series, women would come up to me and ask: “So and so wants me to go with them on a holiday and we’re going to travel first class. Do you think I should do it?”

Norma competing in the Lion’s Den in Lyon, France. Numoni was one of five start-ups selected to present their ideas to investors at the World Entrepreneurship Forum 2014.

I would say: “If somebody is willing to pay for you to travel first class on a holiday, they have priced you. And if they are pricing you, are you going to be bought? What are they buying? And if you go, then you have agreed to be bought. 

“If I were you, I wouldn’t. Because I value myself more than a first class ticket.”

So you need to understand your own value. If we want to do anything that has a dollar value, either earn it or don’t bother with it.

In one of your videos, you spoke about how professional women wield handbags as a symbol of power not unlike how “a judge may whack the gavel”.  How has this changed for you?

The clothes, the watches and the handbags are the signature of a female professional in Singapore.

When I was in the finance industry, we were dressed to whack somebody on the head. The handbag is part and parcel of the uniform. You carry an expensive handbag to show that you are “in the club”, to show that you can afford them. 

Norma today with her dogs, sporting what she calls “gardener nails”.

I used to collect handbags and watches. Mine weren’t half as expensive as the women I know who would carry a $50,000, $60,000 or $100,000 handbag and had a quarter of a million dollars sitting on their wrist. 

Looking back, it’s actually quite ludicrous to spend $6,000 on a handbag or $1,000 on a pair of shoes when there are people and children starving around the world. If you think about it, why are you stepping on $1,000? But, during that time of my life, that’s what I did.

“They are no longer things that give me a position or a status.”

Those things don’t really matter when we walk in Christ.

It’s not that you don’t see that some of these things are pretty and beautiful. Yes, I still have them and if I need to wear them, I wear them. But I am no longer hung up over them. They are no longer things that give me a position or a status.

Last time, I felt that I had to belong to “the club” because all my women friends are so beautifully dressed, beautifully made up with beautiful nails. A picture painted on one nail could cost $10, $20, and you paid for it because you felt you had to do it. Now I’ve got gardener nails..

I never used to go out without proper make-up as I was so self-conscious. But now, I just do what is necessary to be presentable. 

Tell us about your Thursday equipping sessions over Zoom. And one guest in particular – “Thai cave rescue” survivor Adul Sam-on.

The task of saving this group at one point was a near impossibility. People were wondering how it was going to get done. And everybody was praying for the boys to be rescued, and the safety of the rescue divers.

“Waiting to be rescued, I sang How Great is Our God thousands of times”: Thai cave survivor Adul Sam-on

As I watched the news unfold, I became convinced that Adul has a call on his life. Just as how the Lord had saved me many, many, many times.

(When rescue divers reached them, Adul – the only one in the group who could speak English – was the go-between for the divers and his 11 soccer teammates and their coach.)

Norma (second from right) strongly felt that “Thai cave boy” Adul Sam-on’s (centre) story would help young people. She arranged to have him share on the Thursday evening series of equipping sessions she hosts on Acacia Mission’s video platform. Also in that session was Adul’s uncle, Pastor Go Shin Maung (left, with Mrs Go). On the extreme right is Khun Arunee, a Christian leader in Thailand whose father was the founder of Bethel Theological Institute in Chiang Rai.

It took me two years to locate Adul. I went to see him in northern Thailand in the beginning of 2020, and met up with his church.

“With rising suicide rates and more young people giving up, I wanted them to see that life in itself is so precious.”

We were trying to arrange for Adul to come to Singapore to speak to young people in church camps. Then Covid happened.

I felt very strongly that Adul’s story would help our young people see beyond exams, beyond the next new model of handphone.

With rising suicide rates and more young people giving up, I wanted them to see that life in itself is so precious. You need to hold on to it.

Adul was stuck in a cave. He was hungry and cold. Nobody knew exactly where he was. And, when all hope was gone, how did he keep that spark of hope alive?  Because when people in hospital beds, for example, say “I don’t want life anymore”, that is when they die. 

(Editor’s note: Read Adul’s story with Salt&Light here, and watch his interview with Acacia Mission here.)

Currently, the series of talks is focusing on the intercultural appreciation of other religions and faiths to help us understand where others come from. We should not go out and just share the Gospel without understanding others and why they believe what they do. Respect is the core.

What is the latest chapter in your life?

I was introduced to Biola University by a missionary who attended the same church that I did when studying in Melbourne. The Lord spoke to my heart and so I applied to do my PhD there. Given my age, I am grateful to be accepted.

So perhaps the runway ahead of me is longer than I think!

“There is no day I want removed from my life. All the years, including my backslidden years have a purpose.”

But then the Lord did everything in three years.

Van Gogh painted 800 pictures also in a few years.

And so, sometimes it is not about the length of time, but doing His will, on purpose with purpose and for His purpose. And also waiting for qarah moments (qarah is Hebrew for being in the right place at the right time) set up by the Almighty. 

I am super happy to be 60. There is no day, no year I want removed from my life. All the years, including my backslidden years have a purpose.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)


What broke this prideful corporate overachiever who ran on her own smarts for 28 years?

This corporate bigwig was so brash, her husband almost walked out. Instead, God stepped in

About the author

Gemma Koh

Gemma has written about everything from spas to scuba diving holidays. But has a soft spot for telling the stories of lives changed, and of people making a difference. She loves the colour green, especially on overgrown trees. Gemma is Senior Writer & Copy Editor at Salt&Light.