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Why Multinational Companies Need You: A Beginner’s Rulebook

by FutureLab | 26 Sep 2018

When MNCs grow internationally, the question of whether to depend on ERP systems at their new branches is a much debated one. With far lesser employee numbers in these new areas, MNCs are often at a loss whether to rely on its otherwise costly ERP or strategically hire an outsourcing provider in its place. Outsourcing providers, on the other hand, are usually shy to approach large MNCs. One assumption is that they (being global corporations) need no local support at all; let alone sealing a deal with them. However, reality is far from what meets the eye. Here’s why: Everyone wants to economise, and MNCs are Top on That List  Enrolling ERP systems in foreign locations is an expensive affair, especially if you are servicing small number of employees. MNCs understand that outsourcing providers operate in huge scale and provide foolproof service both in terms of quality, data security and timely pay. Hence their only alternative is an outsourcing provider – who can provide unified HR and payroll solutions for a good price. International Banking and Payroll Delay  Rolling out salaries through international banks to employees stationed in other continents can be very tricky. Often these transfers are carried out at the risk of random deductions and hidden charges. Penalties and service fees are other hurdles that MNCs need to negotiate during every pay cycle. This, in turn, spills over to other non-pay related factors like insurance, severance and medical benefits. If MNCs take a long time to address these glitches, it can have serious ramifications on employee morale and performance. Single point of contact  MNCs based in operating markets like, say, the ASEAN, would prefer a single contractor based out of a single location rather than multiple offices. That said, they are also happy to receive communication in one language even though payroll, processes and paperwork are carried out in other local languages. Business Standards and Corporate Laws  MNCs listed under exchanges either in the Eurozone, Americas or Eastern regions are bound by regional business laws. Corporate laws like the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002, for example, controls financial dealings of all MNCs listed in the USA. What applies under this Act must be implemented in the company’s financial transactions even if the company operates in Asian markets. Payroll providers are well aware of such requirements and even help meet domestic statutory regulations that are central to the MNC’s survival in the operating market. A Business Partner-cum-Regional Manager  While merging, expanding or even starting up pilot ventures, MNCs are always looking for support on labour cost knowledge, payroll monitoring and employee mobility. Hiring an outsourcing partner automatically guarantees MNCs a negotiator, people manager and legal advisor. This creates an environment where companies can flourish without having to worry over minute but critical delivery factors. Feedback & Reporting at all Times  The alliance makes them a strong voice in strategic decision-making and reporting discrepancies in banking and other monetary affairs. The company also stands to benefit from visa/immigration advice while hiring large foreign workforce. As the MNC grows in the continent, the outsourcing company can always be relied on to provide consistent, accurate and prompt services regardless of another merger, transition, or exit of a country manager. For any MNC, the question always comes down to how it can manage affairs at the ground in a manner that is seamless, inexpensive, effective and consistent. Payroll outsourcing providers have always been the best option to ensure excellent regional management. Written by: Manish Mehta, Co-Founder of Propay Partners Manish is a frequent contributor for the New Straits Times, SME Magazine, The Edge and others. He has also spoken at seminars organised by the ASEAN Strategic Leadership Institute, Marcus Events and was also interviewed by Business FM radio station. Passionate, energetic, and soft-spoken, Manish is well-loved by colleagues within and outside the company for his highly systematic and process-driven work. Under his leadership, Propay Partners has grown in leaps and bounds and continues to expand in the ASEAN region. To view more of his content, click here.

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How to Get out of a Career Funk

by FutureLab | 13 Sep 2018

1. Get some time off or take a step back Everyone needs a break every now and then, but don’t spend it wallowing in feeling all sad and helpless! Use these precious moments to assess what is happening around you and come up with why some things are not working out, or why some things are growing in a negative light. Making a physical list helps, or simply observe your work routine. Ask yourself questions relating to how you feel, what the pros and cons of your current job are, and most importantly – what can you do to change the things that are not helping you grow. Work in a little comfort routine if you are unable to take some time off, such as going for a walk every three hours, or switching from coffee to juices every once in a while. You may already be feeling burnt out, so putting your health at the highest priority comes before all the rest. 2. Speak to a trusted person Sometimes you will be able to find a kindred spirit who can empathise with your stagnancy, and possibly offer some advice on how to overcome it. It might be a colleague who is familiar with your surroundings, or possibly a friend who knows your rants back to front. You may be surprised to find out that quite a few of your peers are struggling with a similar dilemma. Gaining a idea of what’s happening from a second opinion can often get the gears in your head moving, and possibly spur you to finally take some action. 3. Grow your network It is always good to stay connected to a solid group of people with similar interests, and meeting even more people with a different and/or deeper understanding of what you want to know more about will help you in the long run. Communicating with a network that is beyond your workplace and school groups will help you expand and get out of those bubbles and explore the larger picture of all areas, even if you are just doing it for fun. 4. Go back to studying If you are feeling lost and frustrated after having a taste of the working world, returning to something familiar could bring you out of that rut. Most, if not all of us, have gone through at least 12 straight years of being a full-time student, so going back to an educational atmosphere would be like a fish to water. Not only will you be in a place you are inherently familiar with, seeing things you are doing that actually progresses and gaining feedback will lighten your mood tremendously. Signing up for an online course, whether it be something completely new, or starting on postgraduate pursuits will put you back in an environment where you know yourself best. With the added comfortable and flexible timetable, you will also be actively gaining skills to add to your repertoire without affecting your ongoing responsibilities. 4. Re-establish your ambition Remember how determined and optimistic you were when you set out to do something before this stagnancy brought you down? Chasing after a career can take a lot out of you, so really take some time to affirm what you want to do for the rest of your working days. Once you’ve got some idea, take initiative and focus on getting there, and shed the negativity your stagnancy has brought about along the ride. If your workplace can not offer any avenues for you to gain more skills, the option for studying to add and hone skills is always open. And now in the age of technology, the university comes right to you! Online studying is becoming increasingly popular for its mode of study that does not require you to shuffle your existing commitments upside down, and does not take up as much time and money a full-time on-campus course takes.This is a content syndicated post by RMIT. Consider an Online Course for easy scheduling into your already busy life. RMIT University in Australia provides exceptional postgraduate courses, studied online. Find out more about them at studyonline.rmit.edu.au  

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Humans of KL Piece on FutureLab mentor, Jenifer Ooi

by FutureLab | 30 Jul 2018

  “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 www.futurelab.my Photostory by Christine Cheah Edited by Mushamir Mustafa and Amalina Davis

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Get Rid of Manual Tasks from your HR Department

by FutureLab | 01 Aug 2018

While most HR teams recognise the importance of adding strategic value to their businesses, the time-consuming nature of HR administration is often a major barrier. Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of administrative tasks that is required to keep a corporation running, it seems almost impossible for HR teams to add any significant contribution to the company. How then can you automate your workflow? Simple! Just look into the minute details of challenges and solutions. Let’s take a look at the hiring process. Applications are submitted where they are then printed and handed over to the hiring manager, who then weens through them and hands over the best candidates to the Department head for approval. Interviews are then scheduled and offers made. This process alone can take hours; if not days to complete, which just adds on to more frustration if the job at hand demands urgent hiring. This then could lead to frustration on the candidate’s part, as companies seeking to urgently hire tend to do mass interview sessions which leads to time taken and wasted on both ends. Digitizing these processes can save your organization and new employees a lot of time. Online forms are not only easier to complete but easier to manage. Onboarding is another major task that can be automated. With an online onboarding workflow, team members can be automatically notified when candidates complete the necessary paperwork. They can easily access documents in an online system and review and approve from their computers or mobile devices. The automated workflow tool can also be connected to other technologies to further streamline the process and eliminate manual tasks. As an HR manager, you can save time and improve compliance by having a centralised HR system that tracks all employee records and reports anomalies to you. This includes basic personnel records, work permits and key employment terms like contracts, benefits, and so on. Automating this process still gives you access to any information you may need but removes the hassle of correlating and filing records. The usually mundane payroll process can be sped up through automated features. Compared to the manual payroll processing, an effective payroll solution can minimize the margins of human error. An automated system can always pay your employees on time and to the parameters you set. Persisting with heavily manual HR processes has implications right across the business. Frustrating and time-consuming for HR, it also introduces risks, with staff likely to become annoyed by hold-ups in certain processes. Automating some of these processes and centralising your data can quickly lift the administrative burden on everyone and produce a more productive working environment. Most importantly, it will give your team the breathing space they need to start playing a more proactive role in improving your business performance. Written by: Manish Mehta, Co-Founder of Propay Partners Manish is a frequent contributor for the New Straits Times, SME Magazine, The Edge and others. He has also spoken at seminars organised by the ASEAN Strategic Leadership Institute, Marcus Events and was also interviewed by Business FM radio station. Passionate, energetic, and soft-spoken, Manish is well-loved by colleagues within and outside the company for his highly systematic and process-driven work. Under his leadership, Propay Partners has grown in leaps and bounds and continues to expand in the ASEAN region. To view more of his content, click here. Image Credit: unsplash-logorawpixel

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Top 5 Leadership Lessons from Our Favourite Marvel Superheroes

by FutureLab | 20 Jul 2018

With over 76 superheroes in this movie’s cast list, there is a plethora of leaders to be featured, each with their own distinct abilities and unique qualities. Although they are all fictional characters based on comic books, one cannot deny that there are a lot leadership tips and strategies that can be learned from these superheroes and adapted into real world scenarios. Here’s our pick of the top 5 leadership lessons from our favourite Marvel Superheroes: (Warning: Spoilers ahead!) 1. Captain America: Always Put People First and Learn to Play to Your Team’s Strength via GIPHY “I CANNOT REPRESENT THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT; THE PRESIDENT DOES THAT. I MUST REPRESENT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.” – STEVE ROGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA Captain America (Steve Rogers) is one of Marvel’s most iconic heroes since the beginning of the franchise. Following the unfortunate events depicted in Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers abandoned his patriotic mantle and is on the run due to his anti-registration activities. However, Steve’s stance is always based on his belief in people, not institutions or processes. He may be a superhuman hero, but it’s his human qualities that make him stand out. Whether he’s leading superheroes or human soldiers, Captain America is great at figuring out everyone’s individual strengths and delegating job assignments accordingly. It is also no accident that his primary weapon is a shield, which he often uses to protect his team mates and other civilians. Great bosses do the same too – always protecting the team from fallout and earn employee loyalty by showing loyalty first. Learn from Steve: When working in an organization, it’s easy to get caught up with office agendas and politics. Remember that at the heart of every company is the people – employees, customers, and vendors. Find your personal North Star to guide you as a leader with ethical and moral values and always put your people first. 2. Iron Man: Keep It Fun and Don’t Always Take Things Too Seriously at Work via GIPHY “IF THERE’S ONE THING I’VE PROVEN IT’S THAT YOU CAN COUNT ON ME TO PLEASURE MYSELF.” – TONY STARK, IRON MAN In 2008, Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and has been the face of this successful movie franchise ever since. Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist – Tony Stark is the proud owner of Stark Industries, the largest tech conglomerate in the world. Despite his reputation and responsibilities, Tony deserves credit for seeing the value of keeping situations light and enjoying the moment. Even in the middle of life-threatening scenarios, Tony is capable of cracking jokes to stay loose and help keep the team in check. Learn from Tony: Nobody likes working with a leader or company that always take things too seriously. In reality, we spend a huge portion of our lives at work, so it is only logical that we find a way to keep things fun. Additionally, negative stress can cloud decision-making and restrict reactions. Empathetic leaders understand this well and know how to reduce team anxieties and introduce brief levity at appropriate times. 3. Black Panther: Be Bold Enough to Break Conventions and Listen to Your Critics via GIPHY “IN TIMES OF CRISIS, THE WISE BUILD BRIDGES, WHILE THE FOOLISH BUILD BARRIERS. WE MUST FIND A WAY TO LOOK AFTER ONE ANOTHER AS IF WE WERE ONE SINGLE TRIBE.” – KING T’CHALLA, BLACK PANTHER The movie Black Panther was an absolute theatrical masterpiece. Reported as the Top-Grossing Superhero Film of all time in the US, this cinematic marvel has touched many lives across the globe. However, while many are praising the movie for its storyline and complex characters, we examine the leadership qualities of the humble T’Challa and what young leaders can learn. As the heir to the throne of Wakanda, T’Challa initially follows in the footsteps of the previous Wakanda Kings – keeping his country’s technological advancements and supernatural resources a secret from the outside world. It was only after being defeated by his rival, Erik Killmonger, that he gained a different perspective and sees the truth. At the end of the movie, T’Challa introduces the real Wakanda to the international community. Business leaders can learn from T’Challa too – sometimes it’s important to listen to your critics as you may discover inspirations for new strategies and ideas. Learn from T’Challa: Whether you are a leader of a corporation or student organization, sometimes it’s worth reevaluating your closely held beliefs and direction of your organization to ensure you are still headed towards to right path. 4. Thor: Be Adaptable and Never Rely on a Single Resource or Skill via GIPHY “ARE YOU THOR, THE GOD OF HAMMERS? THAT HAMMER WAS TO HELP YOU CONTROL YOUR POWER, TO FOCUS IT. IT WAS NEVER YOUR SOURCE OF STRENGTH.” – ODIN In Marvel’s action-comedy blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, Thor and Loki learned that they have an elder sister named Hela, who was banished by Odin from the realm for her intense hunger for power. In their first encounter, Hela blocks Thor’s attempt to strike her down and crushes his hammer Mjolnir with her bare hands. Although Thor struggled in his subsequent showdown with Hela without his hammer, Odin helped him to realise that his powers and strengths lie within him all along, and the Mjolnir is simply a tool to help him control and channel them. Learn from Thor: The crushing of the Mjolnir is an important lesson to all leaders that losing an important tool or resource in your team doesn’t necessarily mean game over. It is important to never bank your strategy on a single skill/tool/person and learn to be adaptable when anticipating the unknown. 5. Star-Lord: Build a Diverse Workforce for Your Organisations via GIPHY “I HAVE LIVED MOST OF MY LIFE SURROUNDED BY MY ENEMIES. I WOULD BE GRATEFUL TO DIE SURROUNDED BY MY FRIENDS.” – GAMORA At the beginning of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Peter Quill (Star-Lord) was a self-centered loner who seems more concerned with profit than people. Over time, he becomes the leader of a band of roguish characters, which includes Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and – everyone’s favourite guardian – Groot. Peter’s team had their fair share of misunderstandings and didn’t join forces organically – they were brought together due to circumstances. In fact, the characters didn’t like each in the initial stages. However, over time they managed to look beyond their individual causes and work together using their own unique skills and abilities, which ultimately enabled them to achieve a common goal that benefits the universe. Learn from Peter: Research has shown that having diverse teams can spark more innovation and even enhance productivity and profitability for the organization. Smart leaders should encourage a diverse range of experiences, viewpoints and skillsets in their workforce. What about you? What other leadership or business lessons did you learn or discover from The Avengers or any other Marvel movies? Do share them with us! *Feature Image is CC0 Licensed: Free for Commercial Use, No Attribution Needed. Written by: Lucas Khoo – Prospects ASEAN Lucas is an Employer Branding Consultant at Prospects, a professional development and networking company that helps top employers shape their workplace of the future through employer branding and access to millennial talent pipeline. Lucas graduated with a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham. Lucas is interested in the topics of digital marketing, content writing, data analytics, and Southeast Asian regional development. ProspectsASEAN.com is Southeast Asia’s premier resource centre on careers, education and personal development – ensuring ASEAN students, graduates and young professionals have access to the best tools, information, opportunities and expert advice before making a decision on their education and career direction. This article is published on the Futurist with the writer’s consent. This article was written by Lucas Khoo and originally appeared on Prospect ASEAN. You can read the original post here.

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Turn Around Your Team Like a True Leader

by FutureLab | 05 Jul 2018

Managing your team holds a greater degree of responsibility nowadays, as people choose to leave and join better employers if they are not satisfied. Your business turnover is always directly proportional to the number of “happy employees” in your company, and how, you, as their leader, manage the team. To begin with, a typical employee can start job hunting for want of better compensation, benefits or to further his/her career with some new experience. Just recently, I interviewed a talent who was looking at a new job because she had had enough of her work timings. One could easily tell she was disgruntled that her job offered her no flexibility and the company wasn’t ready to offer her another role with timings that suit her. This is a classic case of how an employee will leave your company if you don’t make flexible adjustments. Managing individuals is one thing. Teams are even complicated. Every organisation places strong emphasis on building teams and working together as one. Back in 2001, when we had just started the company, it was a task finding the right kind of people to fill my team. Picking talents who truly believe in the company’s vision and core values was hard to come by. To me it was important they understood that by belonging to a team, they were being part of something bigger. We are a company founded on respect, approachability, teamwork, commitment and integrity. Spelling out what was expected from them was imperative. They had to understand why they were hired, what they were expected to do and what outcomes were expected. In short, they needed to know why they were a team. Integrity has been a major factor in team building. There was never a grey area when it came to making the right choices — whatever was right was right and whatever was wrong meant a quick redressal. Mutual respect also accounts for better relationships. A good leader always has an attentive ear. You must always remember that your talents bring forth numerous ideas, knowledge and workable solutions. Shaming them or ridiculing them in front of others would account for negativity that may affect the team. Offer performance feedback and praise good efforts and results. People want to enjoy their work. Make work fun. Engage and employ talents of every individual in your office. Career growth and learning opportunities enable team members to perform better. So, enhancing opportunities for progression should be top on the agenda. Teams can also be encouraged to participate in training sessions, presentations, mentoring programmes and other assignments. People love to know that they have room for advancement. Flexibility and work-life balance are what Millennials at the workplace look for. Team leaders should be able to meet their requirements as long as core business hours are adhered to (Yes, your employee’s kid’s school fest is important as well). Minimising overtime by providing adequate staffing is good for all departments. After all, no boss wants tired team members reporting for work the next day. Whenever there is an opportunity, it’s always nice to involve employees in decisions that affect their jobs and the overall direction of the company. Likewise, nurture and celebrate traditions at your company with your team. If you treat your employees well and they feel valued by you, you will never lose them. Written by: Manish Mehta, Co-Founder of Propay Partners Manish is a frequent contributor for the New Straits Times, SME Magazine, The Edge and others. He has also spoken at seminars organised by the ASEAN Strategic Leadership Institute, Marcus Events and was also interviewed by Business FM radio station. Passionate, energetic, and soft-spoken, Manish is well-loved by colleagues within and outside the company for his highly systematic and process-driven work. Under his leadership, Propay Partners has grown in leaps and bounds and continues to expand in the ASEAN region. To view more of his content, click here. Image credit: unsplash-logorawpixel

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Do Fresh Graduates Lack Certain Skills?

by FutureLab | 28 Jun 2018

Having been an employer for longer than I care to remember, one thing stands out: CONFIDENCE. The confidence of a graduate to take on a new challenge, to own their failures and to learn from these, and to push the envelope when it comes to decision-making. The education system has moved from “carrot-on-stick” to “soft pillow” – many graduates don’t know what it is like to fail – because the system has always been about simply rewarding their participation, not achievement. The real-world hits hard! I don’t look at CVs – I look at the confidence of the applicant. It is OK to fail. But its never ok not to learn from our failures. We need to embrace failure and let it teach us the lesson so eloquently (and fearfully) contained therein. But that is a personal decision – one to improve our personal self and our professional self. A successful person is one that is up for the challenge. Beyond this though, there are competencies that our graduates can work on. Fluency in language – understanding context, tone, and when to communicate in a certain way. The difference between personal and professional. Be it speaking or writing, improvement takes time, and practice; lots of practice. But when you feel for yourself the positive changes, it’s amazing. One intern, Richard, stands in mind. Shy, introverted, at times incoherent. But he put in the yard work, and after a few months was able to present, in English, not in how mother tongue or the language of his education, to one of our global clients. That step put him on the path to success – he realised change comes from within, and that positive change is achievable. Another bugbear I have is with computer skills. The millennial generation is fluent in social media (bravo); but not in basic productivity software. Knowing the basics of Microsoft Office Suite, having an eye for detail and consistency, and appreciating the importance of accuracy, is a big deal in business. Otherwise, we would end up with poor quality visual communication, and this impacts upon credibility. So, what to do? Practice, practice, practice. Immerse yourself in opportunities to learn and grow. Never be ashamed to try and develop. Never be scared or embarrassed to ask for help or guidance. If you don’t want to ask your lecturers or boss, find a mentor. Ask for their help. Because once you are on the road to success, there should be nothing slowing you down. Written by: Dr. Craig J Selby, Orchan Consulting | Asia Sdn Bhd Renowned for the shaping of clever ideas to help brands stand out amidst the clutter, his stable of achievement encompasses a multitude of clients across varying industries, ranging from automotive to food and beverage to healthcare to FMCG to consumer electronics and more. A leading curator in the delivery of strategic solutions, Craig’s particular areas of interest include but are not limited to issues and crisis management, as well as personal branding. He has post-graduate qualifications in the fields of Economics (Globalisation), Economic Development, as well as Tertiary Teaching & Management. Image credit: unsplash-logoVasily Koloda

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UpClose with Brian Tan, CEO & Co-Founder of FutureLab

by FutureLab | 14 Jun 2018

In this interview, Brian also takes us through his journey from being a student at University of Bath and Imperial College London to being a management consultant before founding FutureLab. Finally, he concludes this interview by sharing useful advice for anyone who wants to transit from being an employee to an entrepreneur. 1. You started out in the field of biochemistry and even spent a year researching at Oxford University. What made you kickstart your career in management consulting instead and did you face any challenges during the career transition? I studied biochemistry at the University of Bath and during my degree, I spent a year researching at Oxford University. During that time, I would often hit the pub with my supervisors to unwind, and our conversations revolved around discussing different experiments, the results, hypothesis, experimental techniques, even down to the latest scientific equipment purchased by the university. It was obvious to me that these guys really loved what they did and it really struck me to see how passionate they were. I love science and I enjoyed researching but realised over time that I couldn’t see myself being a researcher for the next 20 – 30 years. The more I thought about it, the more I realised what I wanted was to work in a team and do something that would enable me to interact with people more. So, I decided it was time to try something completely new. After I completed my degree, I had the opportunity to pursue my PhD at Oxford University but I decided to do a Masters in Management at Imperial College Business School instead. I discovered I enjoyed business, so after completing my Masters I decided to explore a career in management consulting since it would give me both the opportunity to work in teams and to solve real-world business problems. When I came back to Malaysia, my first application was to Boston Consulting Group (BCG). I had a strong CV so I thought I had a good chance at securing the job. So like many fresh graduates, I went to the interview completely unprepared and with no idea what to expect. However, as I soon found out, case studies are a significant part of management consulting interviews – something I wasn’t aware of as I had very little exposure to the industry back then. Needless to say, the interview did not go well! But what shocked me the most was that I wasn’t allowed to re-apply to BCG for another 2 years, and this was the standard for any failed interviews for the MBBs (Mckinsey, Bain & BCG). It was a wakeup call for me. After that, I spent hours and hours practising case studies with my family and friends. I even had to turn to a local online forum to find other aspiring management consultants to practise with. This process made me realise how difficult it was to get the right information and preparation before you apply to jobs in this (or any) industry if you didn’t have the right resources or connections. I applied for another management consulting role and by that time, I had completed over 100 case studies, spoke to as many people in the industry as I could to get more insights, and easily secured my spot as a management consultant at Accenture – where I worked on digital strategy and data analytics projects for telcos, banks, and internet service providers. Ultimately, the challenges I faced during my transition from being a biochemist to becoming a management consultant was the reason why I started FutureLab. 2. What is FutureLab and who is it for? FutureLab is an online mentoring platform that connects students, young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs to a community of mentors that aims to guide the next generation of leaders by providing informal career and life guidance. We also built digital tools for these mentors to use to enable better knowledge sharing among mentors and mentees, such as an event tool, create content (videos & articles), and even create online communities. We currently have around 5,000 mentees from 60 countries speaking to our mentor community, where students utilize our mentors to guide them in their applications to their dream companies, and even sometimes help them decide what they want to do after university. Young professionals that utilize our platform are usually looking for a change in their careers, while some are looking for mentors to help them land a job in a different country and even how to launch a startup. 3. How did you come up with the idea of FutureLab? The idea of FutureLab came about as I was applying for management consulting roles after graduating as a biochemist and the struggles I faced trying to enter the industry. As part of my efforts to secure a job in management consulting, I started looking for someone to practice case studies with. Eventually, I stumbled upon “Lowyat forum” and posted a question in a case study thread, which connected me to someone called “Bone Dragon” (online ID). He was a University College London (UCL) graduate. Coincidentally, we were in the same boat – we both wanted to get into management consulting and we both didn’t have someone to practice case studies with. I thought about how much easier it would be if I could connect with a management consultant who had already gone through the interview process and secured a job. That’s where the initial idea came from and my entrepreneurial spirit turned the idea into action.  Essentially, my co-founders and I built what we wish we had when we were seeking jobs as young clueless graduates. 4. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? How can they best prepare for the transition from employee to entrepreneur? The most important thing is not to rush into anything. It is always safer to work on your startup idea while you have a full-time job. This way, at least you’re still receiving a steady income and do not have the pressure that comes with full-time entrepreneurship. Many young people seem to think that they have to quit their job to work on their startup idea, but that is extremely risky because you don’t know if your idea will actually work. Three quick tips for people who are preparing to venture into entrepreneurship from a corporate career: Make time to validate your ideas: While I was a management consultant, I had 2 to-do lists – one for my day job and another for FutureLab. I made sure I managed my work well enough to give 100% attention to both my job and FutureLab. While my days were spent working as a consultant, I spent my evenings as an aspiring entrepreneur. It required hard work, but with the right mindset and ability to prioritise and manage, a lot can be achieved. That is how I validated the FutureLab idea. Save money to fund your idea: In general, the more people earn, the more they spend too. This can be in the form of going on more holidays, indulging in more expensive food, or buying luxurious clothes. However, as an aspiring entrepreneur, it is important for us to learn delayed gratification and to not overly depend on luxury goods to define our lifestyle. Furthermore, by saving the extra cash, you can use the money to build your product and upskill yourself by joining a coding boot camp, design thinking classes or a growth hacking course. Create a business that solves a problem: Before you kickstart a business idea, ask yourself – are you solving a problem that people actually have? As a rule of thumb, the bigger the problem you manage to solve, the more revenue you will be able to generate. 5. What are the top 3 qualities that you see in great entrepreneurs? Adaptability: It is important to be able to constantly adapt and evolve, individually as an entrepreneur/leader and as a company. The market is constantly evolving. Innovation is taking place at a much faster speed now and you have to be able to keep up with this and the differing needs of the market at different times. In addition, while you are leading the direction of a company, your employees are also looking at you for guidance. So as your team matures, you would also need to adapt to your team’s different Good Storytellers: Many successful entrepreneurs/leaders are great storytellers. They attract people with the stories of how they started, what they stand for, and where they’re headed. More importantly, it’s how they share their passion and vision for the future. I’ve found that rather than showing Powerpoint slides, data charts or graphs, it’s sharing my story that makes it easier to connect with people – be it, investors, clients or individuals. Resourcefulness and Creativity: When encountering a problem, it’s easy enough to turn to money to solve it. But that also means that when the money’s gone, you become handicapped. If you’re on the path of becoming self-sustainable, then be resourceful and creative to make every dollar count. All in all, transitioning from a student to a working professional, launching your own startup or having a complete switch in your career is tough and it takes a lot of courage. Just remember that we at FutureLab work hard to make sure you have the networks and support you need from our mentors to create your own reality.  Whether you are a fresh graduate, a young professional, or just want to seek advice from a community of mentors, FutureLab is here for you! To learn how you can contribute or benefit from the platform – click here. Written by: Lucas Khoo – Prospects ASEAN Lucas is an Employer Branding Consultant at Prospects, a professional development and networking company that helps top employers shape their workplace of the future through employer branding and access to millennial talent pipeline. Lucas graduated with a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham. Lucas is interested in the topics of digital marketing, content writing, data analytics, and Southeast Asian regional development. ProspectsASEAN.com is Southeast Asia’s premier resource centre on careers, education and personal development – ensuring ASEAN students, graduates and young professionals have access to the best tools, information, opportunities and expert advice before making a decision on their education and career direction. This article is published on the Futurist with the writer’s consent. This article was written by Lucas Khoo and originally appeared on Prospect ASEAN. You can read the original post here.

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How can Outsourcing Help Grow Your Startup Company?

by FutureLab | 07 Jun 2018

For those of you who have survived the ‘startup phase’ and have gone on to build a successful business, you may be wondering how to take the next step and grow your business. There are numerous possibilities, but I’m here to tell you about one very important decision that could turn around your business and boost your profits – ‘Outsource Your Payroll.’ Payroll is an essential part of your business, much like sales. It’s not just a monthly task. Payroll is how you reward and retain your employees, compensating them for the work they’ve done. When there are errors due to miscalculation, you’ll wind up with dissatisfied, unmotivated employees. So why outsource? Because most importantly, outsourcing payroll saves you time and yes, the occasional compliance headache. One of the major challenges of payroll is the amount of time and painstaking effort that comes with it. That’s time taken away from your core task of building your business. When you outsource your payroll, you immediately free up all that time. You can devote that free time to refining sales and marketing and also optimize workflow. The inability to relinquish control and the failure to delegate tasks to manage your time in a better way is a bad business habit you need to give up. Once this is achieved, you’ll notice overhead costs steadily coming down. As the business owner, the value of your time is linked to the revenue of your company. The time you are able to save each day is money earned. With that in mind, think about all the time you’ve spent and continue to spend on these payroll tasks every pay period. If you look at the total time you spend on payroll each pay period compared to the costs of outsourcing, you’ll see a great deal of cost savings when you take those tasks off of your plate. Keeping up with payroll software and technology is equally important. A payroll company is always updated in this regard besides having the expertise in altering compliance laws. It’s not always possible for companies to be aware of these legalities while concentrating on its core competencies. Outsourcing payroll also means aggregating a multitude of other payroll-related info as well. Some companies, like ours, offer various employee-mobility solutions so that one doesn’t have to worry about hiring contract staff or expats for their offices across the globe. They also manage other payroll related issues such as sabbaticals, maternity leaves, medical leaves, annual bonuses, special payouts and claims. It’s mostly an all-in-one affair starting right from your employee’s onboarding to filing their taxes, regulating their pay, handling their HR issues and also helping them exit the system when it’s time. While most corporations accept the many benefits of hiring an online payroll company, the one thing that dissuades them is the issue of privacy. Many companies believe that matters of money and human resource are best left to safe hands. But do you think it’s altogether safe to have it mixed and muddled up along with the many other things that require a careful eye? Imagine this: You start a payroll department in your company trying to fix A to Z matters of all your employees. To store all this data you’d need the best software at hand/manage it well from a technological standpoint/ centralise this data/retrieve data at the click of a button/make it accessible even if you are on another system across the globe/provide instantaneous feedback to an employee in another time zone and constantly update payroll software according to the latest in the industry. Not to mention staying updated on tax-related brouhaha every fiscal year. Whine. Now, think ‘Outsource’. Stay updated, hassle-free, safe, tax-compliant and on the Cloud for anytime-anywhere accessibility. This is where you are not responsible for all the HR homework. Issues like this crop up all the time. A leading chemical and life sciences company were in the midst of a restructuring move when they had chaos in their HR department. When they approached Propay Partners in September 2009 they didn’t think that they would be rolling out salaries that month with all the rejig happening. Not only did we roll out salaries, we also streamlined all their HR requirements without any room for nasty surprises. Payments were made on time without any errors and this pleased our client more than anything else. Another US-based MNC was embroiled in a tussle with their local HR vendor before Propay Partners stepped in. We were asked to regulate payroll for their workforce in Southeast Asia, a market they were completely new to. Propay Partners transferred their existing employees from the former vendor in accordance with the Labour Law and, in less than a month, successfully handled the on-boarding of all employees. And this is not all. A professional online payroll service like ours also offers a single team for clients to directly connect to and have their problems addressed. With a somewhat relative human touch to online payroll outsourcing, best software at hand, secure servers and error-free computations, who would say no to outsourcing? I’d say — Investigate, Commit and Outsource. Become a part of the larger business fraternity. Written by: Manish Mehta, Co-Founder of Propay Partners Manish is a frequent contributor for the New Straits Times, SME Magazine, The Edge and others. He has also spoken at seminars organised by the ASEAN Strategic Leadership Institute, Marcus Events and was also interviewed by Business FM radio station. Passionate, energetic, and soft-spoken, Manish is well-loved by colleagues within and outside the company for his highly systematic and process-driven work. Under his leadership, Propay Partners has grown in leaps and bounds and continues to expand in the ASEAN region. To view more of his content, click here.  

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Mentor Hot Seats List & Schedule; Intercampus Career Fair 2018

by Neekita Patel | 12 Apr 2018

The Mentor Hot Seats is speed career mentoring which will take place during the Intercampus Career Fair 2018 organised by HRinCampus. It will take place on the 21st April 2018.   18 FutureLab mentors from a wide range of industries and companies will be there to give you career guidance in person.   This is a brilliant oppurtunity to get industry insights, applications reviewed, your cv/cover letter checked or have a practice interview if you have an interview coming up.   Each mentor will only be at the event for two hours, and will be speaking with 4 participants only. Each participant can book a 30 minute time slot to speak with the mentor.   To view the list of mentors and their time slots, refer to the schedule below.   To book the mentors time & make payments, click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mentor-hot-seats-intercampus-career-fair-2017-tickets-36919769023

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How Can Companies Retain Millennials?

by Akiff Islam | 16 Aug 2018

Although millennials do not exactly have a precise start and end date for their demographic cohort, the birth year is starting at the early 1980s and ending by the late 1990s and early 2000s. It has been an ever-growing problem for different companies to retain millennials, as they are more prone to changing their roles and industries rather than the non-millennials in the same situation. Here’s a piece on how companies can retain millennials: Reward or praise? via GIPHY The prize-giving system, albeit old, is still a very effective method of gaining someone’s attention. Just like children are promised candies or trips to Disneyland for their good deeds, millennials can also be treated with rewards, bonuses and awards for their deeds. This can increase their productivity and eagerness of staying in a single company, as they will feel that their talents are getting noticed. Learn to cooperate the right way: fun! via GIPHY While corporate retreats are very common in today’s world, it plays a vital role on retaining the vital attention of the millennials. Knowing the co-workers outside of their same old monotonous job helps to build a solid foundation for the company, and bridges the gap between the employers and the employees. It also breaks the shackles between the seniors and fresh employees. Unity in Diversity via GIPHY As of the world now, people are very sensitive about different cultures, races, genders etc. But at the same time, superstitions about different entities might be detrimental for any company. So, introducing various cultures, genders and races for jobs help the neglected ones become confident on themselves and this also creates a vital bond which eliminates all the superstitions and ill-thinking. Timeout for a hangout! via GIPHY Let’s be truthful, us millennials are a bit lazy. And it really does not help when companies have very minimal time to take rest on the contrary to the monotonous working hours. A pantry or a coffee corner should exist in all offices and companies as it is important for the employees to get the burden of their works and deadlines off their shoulders and be comfy for a while. This also can help on building relationships among the employees, where they can have discussions about not only works but also their personal lives. These spent times will act later as a trigger of emotional attachment to the people and the company to some extent, which will motivate the employees to go back for their jobs. It is very important to retain the millennials, as they are the generation that is running the world right now. It is a failure for the companies if they are not being able to retain the millennials by the approached method. The millennials are always looking for something new, so the companies need to often try to motivate them so that they feel morally and mentally obligated to go back to the companies they were hired at the first place. Written by: Akiff Islam, FutureLab CampusWriter Image credit: unsplash-logoHelena Lopes

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Getting Work Experience While Studying: Fruitful For Future Career Prospects

by Christeen Akkarawatte | 20 Mar 2018

I have started working while studying during my second year. Although it has taken me some time to learn how to juggle studies and work, I can say I am slowly getting the hang of it. I can confirm that getting work experience while studying has really benefited me. It ’s especially beneficial to gain experience in the field that you’re interested in. The work life also won’t be much of a shock for you once you’ve graduated. It’s important to get some on-the-job experience as not everything you learn from university will help you in the ‘real world’. Getting work experience while studying helps you learn new skills and refine existing ones Sure, you learn the basics from university – like researching for essays, editing for a video or radio package, or simply working on a report. However, if you gain work experience, what you learn from university and vice versa, tend to complement each other. All the researching that I have been doing for my studies has helped me with my internship. It did provide the basic skills but it helped me learn to work at a faster pace. Even working with difficult groupmates help you build a tough skin for those difficult clients. Another benefit is you have more opportunities to social learn at work, whether it’s through your colleagues or bosses. (Check out my article on social learning here). Gain work relationships and networking opportunities Internships, part-time jobs, or maybe a one-off job will help you build your contacts. During my first week of internship, my bosses let me join them for a networking event. I got to exchange my business card with various people in the Media or Public Relations (PR) industry. It has given me a jumpstart to building work relationships that will eventually be useful for them, as well as myself. Your bosses could potentially be your mentors as well (check out my article on the value of mentors here). You get to learn from them on a daily basis as their knowledge is basically a goldmine for us newbies. I was encouraged to apply for FutureLab’s Campus Writer program by my boss. Such opportunities help you to further improve your skills. Gives an idea of what you might want to pursue after you graduate If you’re still confused at what you’d like to do once you’ve graduated, getting work experience while studying will help clear the path for you. Maybe you’d like to see how an advertising company works, or test out working for an NGO. Your curiosity may help you find what you may really like to do on a daily basis. I was very curious about the PR industry prior to my internship, and just during the span of three months, I learnt so much. Improve time management skills and set your priorities Obviously, as a student, you’re aware that your studies are important. Working will help you manage your time better, and even get you to become more focused. The key is to balance your time. I currently experience that first hand. Although I have at least three assignment deadlines every other week, I make sure I plan everything in advance. I do this to avoid rushing assignments as well not jeopardise my job. However, if you do find yourself losing focus in studies, make sure you have a sit-down with your boss, to adjust your schedule. Or maybe stick to working during the holidays if you don’t want to take the risk. These are just a few beneficial reasons as to why working while studying is important. Its benefits are endless as it sets your path for your career. I’m not saying you must work while studying. Maybe try dedicating your long holiday to gain some work experience. It doesn’t always have to be a paid job; volunteer work will be just as fruitful. Have you worked or currently work while studying? Share your experiences in the comments below! For those that are currently working on their degree part-time while working, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Check out this article for some tips (if you haven’t done some research already).   Would you like to be a part of an empowering community that will help you take charge of your career goals? Join our community here! Written by:   Christeen Akkarawatte.  A final year student at Monash University, majoring in Communications and Global Studies. She is also a FutureLab Campus Writer, a program aimed at enabling university students to begin writing and growing their own active communities on FutureLab alongside many influential mentors.

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