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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.
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.
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
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
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.
by Christeen Akkarawatte | 15 Mar 2018
Most of us are used to learning in a structured format. Meaning, the learning process is one way. In contrast, social learning is simply the process of learning from each other. Plus, you get to share your own ideas. Those who are learning professionals are familiar with this concept. However, others (like myself), never really realised that such a concept does exist; despite the fact that we do social learn on a daily basis. Social learning can be found online through social media networks, and also offline such as in conferences, group assignments, or even during a cup of coffee. Another great platform that involves social learning is FutureLab. You find people from around the world, connect and share ideas/knowledge with each other, forming a ‘knowledge centre’. Now, why is social learning beneficial? Social learning improves communication among one another Since you’re learning as a team, it helps improve your communication skills. You learn how to explain different ideas to your colleagues in an easier way. If you’re shy to speak to too many people at once, you can always start off with a friend. Promotes teamwork / collaborative work Social learning not only helps improve communication skills but also encourage more collaborative work. You are more likely to team up with your colleagues to organise a social learning experience for your company. This helps you learn to work together as a team, coming up with a fun interactive itinerary. Promotes constructivism In simple words, constructivism is where learning is active and learners are also teachers. From my understanding, an individual constructs their own understanding of a topic, by compiling different existing ideas, which is then shared with peers/colleagues. Therefore, social learning is a great way to encourage constructivism (learn more about constructivism from here). Could be your chance to train yourself to be a mentor Social learning is a great opportunity to train yourself to be a mentor. You share your own thoughts and ideas on an issue or task. Especially if it is within your level of expertise, you can teach your peers/colleagues and you will, in turn, receive knowledge. (To learn more about why being a mentor is important, click here) Social learning will help spice up the interactivity in your workplace. All the more reason to add it to your training sessions. What do you think about social learning? Do you think it is important an important approach to learning? Voice out your ideas in the comment section below. To experience social learning, join the FutureLab 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.
by Christeen Akkarawatte | 09 Mar 2018
Growing up is hard, first you have to go through primary school, high school, get those grades to help you get into university. And then once you’re done with university, you have got to find yourself a job. Once you graduate, you begin to realise that you’re on your own. I am currently in my final year of university, and I am as confused as ever. I do have a plan but I always ask myself, do I really want that? Here’s where a mentor comes in. Even though ‘mentor’ is a rather formal word, but it’s not always a formal relationship. That person(s) could be your friend, your parent, sibling or lecturer. Sometimes, at times like this, you need someone to give you encouragement, to help push you; someone who knows how you are, and understands your current situation. When you come to think of it, why is having a mentor, or better yet, mentors, so important and valuable? A mentor is always there to push you to your limits They know the potential you have within you, even when you’re suffering from a creative block or a personal situation. They help motivate you to do better and even just knowing that they will always be there to step you through anything that you’re having trouble with, will help you keep moving forward. Mentors also help provide a different perspective, regardless of their age and background. It’s the experience that counts and it’s their experience that will help you learn and achieve success. Professionally, mentors expand your network, which benefits your career opportunities. However, a mentor is not always an expert, but they are always there to help you out regardless. We cannot always be spoon-fed by our mentors Mentors are there to only advice you, it is you in the end, making the decisions. We cannot expect our mentors to always be there to make decisions for us. You begin to learn, only when you make decisions yourself. And this will also help you think of the repercussions that could occur as well. But don’t worry, I’m sure your mentor will be right by your side. Maintaining a relationship with your mentor(s) is also very important Yes, over time you do get busy with work but making the time to catch up with the mentor(s) that has helped you during the crucial parts of your career / life is important. I’m sure your mentor would appreciate it if you do give that call / email once in a while to show that you still appreciate the work they have put for you and you continue to make them proud. Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, did it remind you of your mentor(s) or has it inspired you to be one? Would you like to find a mentor or become one? Click here! Written by: Christeen Akkarwatte. 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.
by Neekita Patel | 02 Mar 2018
1.Basic mentorship: Develop professionally and experience personal growth by connecting with our mentor community of over 400 mentors covering 12 countries who will support, teach and inspire you. Whether you are a student, young professional or aspiring entrepreneur, our mentors can help you achieve your goals through various ways; helping you through job applications, providing industry insights and validating your startup ideas. Our mentors are in an ideal position to help you figure out what is most important for your career ambition and what you can do to get there. Our mentorship service is also a great way to get specific support on a short-term basis, such as a project which stretches your skills, or the transition to a new job. Have a look at our range of mentors that can help here! 2. Questions: FutureLab now has a question & answer feature! This enables users to post a question, tag a mentor or an industry – and get their question answered by informed, seasoned experts! This feature is particularly useful for those shy users who aren’t sure which mentors they would like to connect with yet. They can use this questions feature as a way to test the waters with our pool of mentors and follow up on their replies via a mentoring booking session! Post a question to mentors and start getting answers here! 3. Portal: Our latest development, an online system that allows you to build your very own social learning community. It is available to be used by universities, companies, organisations and even individuals. Organisations such as LeanIn Malaysia, Finco, MaGIC and Thrive are currently using it to run their own mentoring initiatives. Find out about how we can support your program here! 4. Community events: We believe that shared events are vital for community development, hence we organise numerous offline events as opportunities to build stronger relationships with fellow community members. The event we host range from casual networking events, talks, personalise coffee sessions with mentors to speed mentoring.
by FutureLab | 22 Feb 2018
After working for thirty years with Oil and Gas industry, I had a planned exit out of familiar corporate environment by end 2016. The immediate thing I wanted to do was to enjoy a good break before jumping in to next action. I tried a couple of things before I started my own consulting company (www.mentorpalconsultancy.com) that serves as a platform for Executive Coaching, Management Consultancy and Training. The intent of this write up is to share my reflections and experience during this journey. In my opinion, a good break should be sufficient enough for a person to disengage completely from routine tasks, conversations, engagements, familiar people dynamics thereby helping the person to slow down, providing ample opportunity to have a high-quality reflection. This is a golden period which, if utilized properly brings transformation in an individual and helps them to gain tremendous insights on perceived priorities, fears and challenges, society-imposed measure of success etc and helps to tap on native hidden strengths, wisdom and gain new perspectives in life. All good things have an expiry date and I naturally reached a stage of having to take a break from break. It was tempting to get back to a familiar corporate setting and continue doing what I used to do in a different environment and label it as a change. However, my self-enquiry and exploration clearly pointed me to move to a stage where I will be able to give back to society, support business leaders by listening to them and asking questions that make them stop and think, sharing my experience on what worked and most importantly learning from my mistakes ( in simple words Executive Coaching), supporting young talents to have an early head start by being available as a mentor & coach. The Journey 1.Start speaking the language which everyone understands Sounds simple and basic? Think again, Working for a big organisation invariably augments your vocabulary when multiple 3 , 4 or 5 letter acronyms are taken for granted as universally understood terms. I will name a few acronyms from my earlier place of work to give a feel. IDP, CEP, IPF, BPF, GPA, GTKY to name a few. First thing to do when you are out in the world outside your corporate cocoon, is to start using normal language that is universally understood. 2.Redefine “Network” While in a corporate environment, most of the network one develops will be internal, as getting connected and knowing the right person is extremely important for getting noticed, advancing in one’s career etc. Once you are out of this perceived corporate universe, you realize that the world is much bigger and those who we thought as most important person to network is not of much relevance in the world outside the cocoon. Build network outside your work and company circle. The more diverse the network, the better. In my case, the decision to be an entrepreneur is also accompanied by change in geography as I set my company in India after being an expatriate for 22 years. The strong relationship that I developed during my university days and early part of my career came to my immediate support. I am grateful for having friends who readily welcomed me in to their business world and helped me to build the network. 3.Gain Certification You might have been born and say that you exist. But, there are occasions when people /system will look for a piece of paper (Birth Certificate) to prove that you exist. Same goes for certification of professional experience. I went ahead and got certified as a Project Management Professional and signed up for a certification as a professional Executive Coach 4.Develop a solid Business Plan With a good amount of time in hand to plan, I developed a business plan that helped me to get ideas in head get transferred to a piece of paper and improvise it on a continual basis. Life gets interesting with you playing Finance Manager, Business Development Manager, Project Manager, Marketing Manager and Sales Manager and Contracts Manager, IT Manager at this stage. Culmination of the above is a complete business that has mapped the journey for starting up, running, stabilizing and growing over the next few years. 5.Work as Volunteer (Optional) I worked for an NGO in Malaysia called Nation Organisation for Dyslexia Malaysia ( http://nodmalaysia.org/) , as a volunteer for Project Management Institute Malaysia -PMIMY ( https://pmi.org.my/) and as a mentor for Futurelab (https://futurelab.my/) which gave me good insights on non-profit ways of conducting business , running an organisation and associated stakeholder and people dynamics. This experience is important, if the field of consultancy that you choose require significant pro bono work and for you to orient and act in truly “Giving Back” to the society mode. I hope this is helpful for someone who is thinking along the lines of the quote on the top ” The purpose of life is the life of Purpose” by Robin Sharma. Written by: Vijayakumar, a FutureLab mentor and Founder at MentorPal Consultancy; a Management Consultancy and Learning company based in Chennai, India.
by Supahands | 22 Feb 2018
The concept of “sharing” has been embedded within us ever since we were born. From parents teaching children that they should always share their toys, to forming teams in school to work on assignments, and recruiters looking for the ideal candidate that’s as much a team player as he or she is an independent learner. So when it came to business, it was only in due time that the term “sharing economy” became one of the biggest buzzwords of the past 5 years. Writers have been quick to prove that the sharing economy does nothing for productivity and growth. But to those naysayers, we say “Hold on a second!” because here are 3 examples on how businesses can benefit from the sharing economy. Talent sourcing Hiring woes. We all have them and we all dread the amount of time it takes to recruit, train and manage a new addition to the team. Most companies spend at least a month trying to fill up a single role, regardless of seniority or department. Then, freelancing platforms like Freelancer and Upwork made it more accessible for businesses or individuals to find the right person with the skills and track record who can execute work remotely. For most, time equals money. So, time not spent on going through countless applications and interviews means time spent executing more meaningful work that directly impact that strategic goals of a business. The need for businesses to go digital in the 21st century also means that many companies are suddenly faced with an influx of large volumes of raw, and often messy data. At this point, they are then faced with a choice – either hire an in-house team to clean and filter the data to make it useable or crowdsource a remote team of workers to execute the work. Hiring an in-house team would mean facing the same recruitment issues such as cost and time. Opt for the latter, and you may have to deal with lapses in communication as instructions are relayed virtually. But all is not doom and gloom in the remote talent world as companies like Supahands help businesses leverage off the diversity, scalability, combined industry experience and flexibility that remote workers typically have, in order to guarantee almost round-the-clock execution of work. Co-Working Spaces WeWork Europe Every major city in the world now has at least one co-working space filled with companies of all sizes. As they say, “your network is your net worth”. So now, early-stage startups and small factions of large multinational corporations can gather in the same space and leverage off each other’s network and expertise. For B2B companies, working out of a co-working space almost guarantees you a meeting with at least one other company who may end up being a client. Large MNCs also get to experience first-hand the latest tech and innovation that takes place in a co-working space. Most co-working spaces are also designed to encourage such interaction between their tenants. Many are equipped with a very impressive set up that includes meeting rooms, private booths and communal activities, allowing companies to run their day-to-day operations seamlessly. As a testament to the true potential of how co-working spaces can change the way businesses of different sizes can function and mingle, one needs to look no further than at what WeWork has achieved. With over 200 spaces in 20 countries under the WeWork brand, they are estimating a $2b revenue in 2018 alone. Crowdfunding Going through funding rounds with venture capitals or angel investors can be an extremely tedious and time-consuming process. It is not just about raising enough money to grow a company, but also about finding the right people to grow your company with you. Some business models may not even be “attractive” enough to investors to even consider raising funds with. When that fails, there’s always crowdfunding. You only have to take a look at projects that came into fruition thanks to crowdfunding in order to feel the sheer impact a sharing economy can have on businesses. Crowdfunding platforms have been responsible for the launch of namely games and wearable tech projects such as the iconic Oculus Rift and the Veronica Mars movie. However, it is important to be aware of the different types of crowdfunding platforms that are available. If you’re looking to raise funds to build and launch a consumer-friendly product, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are your best bets, but you’ll have to be prepared for some tough competition. Looking to raise funds to launch your company in exchange for shares? You’ll want to look for equity crowdfunding platforms such as Crowdo and Seedrs. Doing what is naturally human Regardless of cultural or religious background, the concept of “sharing” is something that every individual around the world has been taught at some point in their lives. The idea of a mutually beneficial relationship is not a brand new concept – it has just been adapted to the way businesses progress in this current technological landscape. So, a sharing economy seems like a natural progression of how businesses can thrive. Thus, why would we avoid doing that which is naturally human of us to do? Supahands is a technology company that provides business processing services with specialties in content moderation and database management. Supported by our 2000+ strong remote workforce and its slew of innovative tech platforms, this Kuala Lumpur based company has made it effortless for tech-driven companies around the world to scale their business rapidly. Greg Meehan, our Head of Sales, is also a mentor on FutureLab. You can get in touch with him via the FutureLab platform here.
by Charis | 22 Feb 2018
Ezwan Ismail has 13 years of experience as an Engineer in the pharmaceutical industry. Following are excerpts from a FutureLab Campus Hero interview with Ezwan Ismail, Engineering Manager at CCM Duopharma Biotech Berhad CH: Tell us about yourself Ezwan: My name is Ezwan Ismail and I graduated as a Mechanical Engineering student from Multimedia University, Malacca campus. So far I have been working in the Pharmaceutical Industry and currently I am an Engineering Manager at CCM Duopharma Biotech Berhad, the largest pharmaceutical company in Malaysia. Currently, I have a son who just turned 4 this year and during my free time I go for mountain biking and indoor cycling with my friends. I was from Malacca and currently I am now based in Bangi. CH: What interests you to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering? Ezwan: It is actually a common enigma for students, having not decided firmly where to move forward upon acquiring a degree. When I was a student in high school, I used to have an interest in biology but I also discovered that I am able to grasp concepts or understanding anything ‘mechanically’ very well. Understanding the versatility and diversity of possible industries I could venture into with engineering, I finally chose to major in Mechanical Engineering. CH: What are the important skills you developed as a mechanical engineering student that is relevant for any job? Ezwan: Skills were some attributes I developed when I was a student. However the two important skills I believe one should possess are being adaptable and listening skills. Being adaptable is important for my major as we are bound to take up tough subjects- I observed and learnt that I may need to change my approach as I learnt various subjects and it involves a lot of extra reading and discussions. There are times I may need to sit back and visualize to grasp concepts but some also seemed easy to comprehend and later on as my working career progressed, those subjects that I could easily comprehend are those things I love doing while working. A typical example of this is operations management which I have learnt and right now I love doing. Secondly, listening skill. Listening skill is the start to doing things efficiently. It is vital for someone to capitalize in communication, perhaps on an effective manner- a sidekick to developing intuition in acquiring valuable experience. Ezwan believes that being adaptable and having good listening skills are two attributes that could be applied to any job CH: What are the career pathways you may have as a Mechanical Engineering graduate? Ezwan: To be honest I like to think that for Mechanical Engineers, thepossibilities are almost endless. They have a lot of options- from project management, consulting firms, constructions, manufacturing plants to design and development firms. The choices are unlimited as what the Mechanical Engineering students learn are very diverse. CH: With such diverse career pathways, what are the attitudes one could have as an Engineer to succeed? Ezwan: The three core attitudes an Engineer could have to succeed are having growth mindset, being meticulous and understanding process flow. Growth mindset with the combination of hard-work, thinking and realizing growth can lead you to become a recognized talent within an organization or propel you far ahead in your career. Else, you would be a mediocre. As an Engineer, it is important to be meticulous as you you are expected to avoid errors. Thus being meticulous sets you apart as having attention to details is essential as an Engineer. Lastly, to succeed, it is important to understand process flow, not necessarily any engineering system process flows, but also others. Many would feel it is the concept of operating a machine, but it is more to knowing where is the start, middle and end of any matters or issue. Thus it is important to know the process flow by identifying the origin of an issue as Engineers are usually known to be problem-solvers. To know the start, middle and end helps an Engineer to be in control of an issue once assigned or entrusted to resolve it. Some guiding questions would be by asking yourself, “where is the start? Where does this issue lead me to?” CH: Understanding those three core attitudes being so important, would you tell me briefly about a day of your working life as an Engineering Manager? Ezwan: On a typical day, I start work punctually at 8am where the Engineering Department will have standing meeting to recap or resolve issues from previous night or day, follow up on open issues and to share information cascaded down from senior management level to subordinates and this will last up to 8.30am. About 9am we will have Operations Team meeting to resolve issues related to meeting monthly output or target. It was carried out to coordinate with other departments to resolve issues which require consensus or coordination. This meeting usually lasts up to 40 minutes maximum. After that it will be managing projects, assignments related to tightening compliance and ensuring smooth departmental operations, especially in rendering the best service to our clients as compliance and profit is equally important. These available times are also used to attend meetings and discussions as well as ensure coordination. For my work communication is very crucial as I have to constantly communicate from morning until night so that every issue are well attended. As an Engineering Manager one thing that is vital is to always follow up and it taught me to manage my time effectively. We also have visitations for visitors to the factory. Previously we had students from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia visiting the factory. Apart from my work, I held other roles such as Halal Committee Site Head, Integrity Champion and Company Sports Club committee member. I also coach talents within my department so that they become a better leader. My company recognizes talent and all of us will do the best as we could while adhering to the core values of PETIRR in our company. *PETIRR-Passion, Excellence, Teamwork, Integrity, Responsible, Respect. CH: Would you share with us 3 words to describe your work as an Engineering Manager at a pharmaceutical company and why? The 3 words that describe my work as a pharmaceutical industry Engineer are: 1) Charitable- My profession in this field makes me a part of a charitable cause for in my company, we strive to produce goods which are safe, efficacious and high quality for patients to consume and we do not compromise on CGMP and Halal issues. 2) Satisfying- My current work is very satisfying for being in the right company which recognise talents, venturing into new business for sustainability and having impactful Core Values (PETIRR) that I really hold onto makes me fulfilled in the things I do daily in my work. 3) Dynamic- My work requires me to tackle different issues daily and it is very exciting and challenging. If I am being exposed to the same routine, things will get boring for me. Ezwan opined that being able to work in a team is very important especially when one starts working. CH: How would you describe your job scope and overall career progression in Engineering? Ezwan: From a very objective note, my scope is about transparency and mitigating potential risks to our clients, being it internal or external ones, both from Engineering and even Operations point of view. However if it is focused on career progression then it is very team-centric. It could be summed up in a form of a phrase “There’s no I in team”. Opportunities naturally would be given but I want to ensure I can function in a team and do my part to drive the company to new heights. Career progression is how this would motivate my team and from there opportunity arises and people will see and recognize your talent. CH: If you have any advice for the Engineering students out there, what would it be? Ezwan: My advice would be asking yourself this, “Do you know what you want to do after graduating?”. I asked many practical students and interns where vast majority could not answer the question assuringly. Do not be surprised that it may take days, weeks, months or even years to answer this but it must be answered, assuringly, before graduating. Be thorough though it may time to answer the question. I recommend to do personality tests to understand your personality. Understanding humans are important too as there is a lot of personality out there and only then you will know how to be adaptable and accommodating by wearing the right hats for suitable situation. CH: With the constant development of technology, what is your outlook on Engineering fields for the future and how can Engineers up-skill themselves? Ezwan: I would expect that the future of Engineering fields to be heavily cross functional yet lean, hence quite sophisticated but can be quite a common sight. As this may sound counter intuitive, an Engineer should up-skill more in the areas of people skill. In my perspective, no matter how things change, it is the human touch that is essential to turn issues into achievements, to drive mission into milestones, to turn legacy into legendary in spite of the future outlook that I have envisioned for Engineering fields. Would you like to speak with Ezwan? Click here to connect with him!
by FutureLab | 15 Feb 2018
Finding a mentor is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your career. Whether you are an entrepreneur or a goal-oriented professional, you need advice from someone who has already been where you are headed. A good mentor can help break psychological barriers when starting a new company, propel your career or simply challenge and inspire you. Here are 5 reasons why you should get a mentor: 1. Mentors break psychological barriers If you are starting your career or a fresh graduate who has no idea what you want to do or progress in the career that you are currently in, a mentor will help you realise your full potential and guide you along the way. Your mentor will give you a much-needed sense of direction. You can also discuss your worries about your career with your mentor, and he or she will lay down a plan that is most suited for you and your skills, showing you the big picture along the way. 2. Mentors educate you with ”what” and “how” With a mentor you are learning from someone who has already arrived at where you want to be. They know exactly what it takes to get there and what sacrifices need to be made. You also have the rare opportunity to see what it would be like to be in the shoes you want to be in. By having a mentor who is where you want to end up, you can also see first hand what their day to day experience is. This is extremely helpful in figuring out if you really want to go down that path. A great mentor will share their experience with you to help you achieve your goal in the best possible way they know how. 3. Mentor helps assess your strengths and weaknesses A good mentor can help you gain insights into your unique talents. He/she will spot your weaknesses and make suggestions on how to improve them. A mentor not only guides you to the right path, but also molds you and provides you resources and links for new ideas. After all, talent can only be honed when steered in the right direction. 4. Mentor have contacts Mentors have some incredible contacts. Especially if they are in the industry you want to get yourself into. Unfortunately, the world we live in is who you know and not what you know. The other advantage is efficiency, you can spend years at networking events to build a contact list or you can build a strong relationship with an extremely trusted individual who has all the contacts you need. Their word will get you further in the door than any networking event. 5. Mentors take you on a journey to become a mentor Under a good mentor not only do you discover your true potential, but also the enhanced knowledge you gain through observation can help you take a shift from a mentee to a mentor. It gives you the opportunity to go the extra mile for others and provide both personal and professional enrichment. While reading the above pointers, if it ever occurred that you too need a trusted relationship, a meaningful commitment that helps you become the person you want to be, then you must consider finding a mentor. You don’t have to look too far, FutureLab enables you to get connected with mentors who have already made it to your dream destination. This mentor and mentee relationship helps in spreading knowledge about careers and help you bag your own dream career. If you have already taken the first step towards your dream career, then it’s time you make a difference to someone else’s life by sharing your experiences and learnings with the one’s in need. Are you looking for a mentor? Click here to have a look at all our mentors!
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