Humans of KL Piece on FutureLab mentor, Jenifer Ooi


“My background is engineering but I have a career in advertising. In advertising, you can never make someone happy. You can’t create something and confirm everyone will like it. For something that is more hard and stones such as engineering, it is either a 1 or a 0. It is definite. That’s why I find advertising far more challenging.

I’m also quite the perfectionist. I strive to please the maximum amount of people I can, that’s why it is easier to find joy in advertising.

Throughout my career, I have met a lot of people. Especially in my position – I interview many people, including fresh graduates. I think graduates should have the right to know what they are signing up for, but I’m sure no one told them. That was my observation.

For mid level or senior management who want to step up their career, there’s no one actively guiding them, telling them what they should be doing. A lot of it comes from pure assumptions, or they see someone else doing it and they jump into it. They think, ‘Oh it looks like a nice job and I want to apply for it!’, without the knowledge that I need to have so and so skills.

I find that there is a mismatch in terms of what they can offer versus what their end goal is. That mismatch is a huge gap creating a big problem in my industry. People have big aspirations and goals but they do not know how to get there. They want to fill big shoes.

That’s why I signed up to mentor someone interested in the industry. I want to tell them the harsh reality that they have to do this first. Otherwise, I would be wasting a lot of my time interviewing people, telling them they are not there yet.

When I speak to my friends, a lot of them face the same problems – there’s not enough talent out there or all these talents just need someone to guide them. Especially when someone graduates, there is no teacher anymore. Who is there to tell them, you need to do A-B-C-D-E in order to achieve F?

The most common I meet are the ones that want the highest position, with the highest monetary reward, but with the lowest possible involvement. Some want to be CEO or start a startup, but zero idea on how to do it.

They see the end goal, but not the struggle. Its painful when you speak to them.

A lot of people I speak to, they say, let them go and try, let them fall so that they learn, but why?

Why do you want to make people suffer? Why don’t guide them to tell them the next step?

Instead, we should give them positive guidance. Most importantly, tell them the reality to achieve something, rather than letting them try and fail.”

Written by:

Humans of Kuala Lumpur is working with FutureLab to feature their team of inspiring mentors. Follow us to get to know more on their mentors. Jenifer Alicia Ooi is a director of a renowned advertising agency based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

To learn more about FutureLab’s online mentoring platform or to connect with Jenifer, please visit

Photostory by Christine Cheah
Edited by Mushamir Mustafa and Amalina Davis