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Unleash Your Ability To Do More

by Melanie Hew | 30 Nov 2017

On the 18th of November, Ashley SueLyn, the founder and CEO of The Real Planner has shared her thoughts about unleashing one’s ability to do more via the FutureLab On Air.  The Real Planner is a social innovative firm that connects current productivity style with their flagship Type-P methodology. In this webinar, Ashley SueLyn has discussed how to be productive based on one’s unique productivity style.   WHTA IS A TYPE A, B, C AND D PERSONALITY? AND WHAT IS A TYPE P PERSONALITY?  Type A: People who are competitive, have an unrealistic sense of urgency and may find it hard to relax under high pressure Type B: People who are more laid back, relaxed, emotional and flexible Type C: People who are in control, stable, enjoy details and logics Type D: People who are supportive, caring, thoughtful and compassionate Type P: People who perceives, who are proactive, productive, positive, powerful and are a planner There are also: Type E, I, S, N, F, T, J, including P from the Myers Briggs Personality Test   HOW DO YOU TAKE ON MORE? HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME DOING SO MUCH? 1. Eat well, sleep right and exercise! Eating, sleeping and exercising are very important to maintain productivity. Ashley SueLyn has urged participants to eat healthily, sleep at a right amount and exercise moderately to maintain a fruitful lifestyle and this a prerequisite to being able to do more   2. Identification of bad habits then overcome them According to Ashley SueLyn, good habits are stepping stones to productiveness.  We should identify bad habits that make us lose productivity then create mechanisms to overcome the bad habits. Some examples of bad habits listed by Ashley SueLyn were procrastination, always late, forgetfulness and being a perfectionist. For her, it was that she can’t  say no to herself. Identification of the problem is always crucial to be able to solve it. For example, Ashley SueLyn has always wanted to  binge watch TV shows like Riverdale  and she will sometimes neglect more important things for that. As such, she only allowed herself  to watch it when she is running on the treadmill.  She also trains herself to be able to  stop watching at anytime when she realizes she is being unproductive. Ashley SueLyn is also a procrastinator in nature. To overcome procrastination, she would tighten her schedule with  her priorities and appointments back to back so that she will not have time to procrastinate. However, it is always important to schedule time for yourself to relax. She will include both her work and leisure time in her schedule so that she will complete all her work before she relax.    3. Automate Lastly, it is also important to automate good habits. Research said that it takes 21 days to get used to a simple habit such as drinking 8 glasses of water a day and it may take up to 66 days to get used to a more complex habit. Reward yourself after you did a good deed and maintain your good habit.   THE 4 TENDENCIES FRAMEWORK BY GRETCHEN RUBIN The 4 tendencies framework is created by Gretchen Rubin who is a famous author, blogger and motivational speaker. Knowing our tendencies allow us to know how we are wired and how to motivate self to work better and do more.     There are 4 different types of tendencies, which are (a) Upholder: People who are readily responding to outer and inner expectations. They are self-directed and can easily make up their minds to do something. However, they may be rigid and might have a hard time delegating tasks, which can limit success (b) Questioner: People who questions all expectations, and will only respond to inner expectations They are willing to search for efficiency and love to solve problems but the excessive information that they seek might overwhelm them and lower productivity. (c) Obliger: People who readily respond to outer expectations but struggle to respond to inner expectations They are extremely obedient and can really execute when given a clear expectation. However, they require a lot of outer accountability and will be worried if they cannot meet other’s expectations. (d) Rebels: People who resist all outer and inner expectations They are great at thinking outside the box and will be able to do anything if they really want to. They might neglect some tasks or expectations because of their tendencies to resist expectations. Globally, there are 40% obligers, 24% questioners, 19% upholders and 17% rebels. You may have different tendencies but there will definitely be one that strongly resonates with you.   HOW DO YOU BE MORE PRODUCTIVE BASED ON YOUR TENDENCY?   THE FOUR MENTAL ENERGY LEVELS Energy levels vary according to one’s habits, choices, and natural tendency. We should identify  when our contemplative energy usually peaks because that is when we best reflect and make decisions for ourselves. Habit energy is meant for fillers (tasks that are not important and not urgent) because it takes the least amount of energy to do it. Audience energy is when you don’t feel like conversing and would prefer observing, you can use it to delegate urgent but not important tasks. Engagement energy is where most of us are when we have slept and ate enough and is best used for tasks that you have allocated time to (tasks that are important but not urgent). Contemplative energy is the most precious energy of all and should be used for important and urgent tasks. Matching mental energy levels to the appropriate tasks allow us to do work more efficiently and effectively.   Would you like to learn more about being productive from Ashley? Click here to connect now!     Written by: Melanie Hew Melanie Hew is a FutureLab Campus Hero who recently graduated from Bachelor of Biomedicine and will be pursuing Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Melbourne.                

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FutureLab Campus Hero Interviews: Chang Yang Tze, Producer & Content Creator at Astro’s eGG Network

by FutureLab | 09 Nov 2017

Following are excerpts from a FutureLab Campus Heroes interview with Naren Neo and Chang Yang Tze, Producer & Content Creator at Astro’s Egg Network   N: Tell me about yourself and what do you do for eGG Network. Y: My name is Chan Yang Tze and I’m 27 year this year. As you know eGG Network is the first Esports channel in South East Asia. My day to day job entails broadcasting live tournaments, creating content in eGG Network and for gamers to watch.   N: Is the environment provided to you conducive to support both your gaming and working needs? Y: I mean we are after all a gaming channel, so we have The Beast, a PC worth 50k that is being used for streaming, gaming and everything else that we want to do. But when it comes to work, we work. The nature of our work is vastly different from a “normal” job. As a production company, we have many continuous deadlines to meet which demands we work on weekends and even public holidays. It’s exhausting but I don’t mind it because it is enjoyable at the same time. My job allows me to meet my favorite Esports players, travel around the world, cover Esports events and much much more. Also to add on to that, occasionally we game while we work. I don’t think anyone would mind the exhaustion if the love for their job and perks made up for it.   N: Do you think that you as a gaming gives you an added advantage as a working professional? Y: In what I do of course. If I don’t keep up with the E-sports scene, I won’t be able to know what content to create for viewers out there. If I don’t play games, I might as well not cover any E-sports event. Anybody who works in this office, they somewhat have to be a gamer one way or another, either a console, mobile or a PC gamer.   N: How does Astro, your parent company, encourage the eGG Network professionals to balance both gaming and work? Y: It’s not about encouraging in my line of work. If you do something you really like, it’s not really work. If you really like gaming, then its best to incorporate it in your job. It’s like the E-sports players out there. They love the game so much that they do it as a thing they love. It’s never a job for them. There Is no such thing as balance between work and game if you are doing what you love especially in the industry I am in. I can’t say the same for other companies as they may have a different job scope compared to mine.   N: Is the team playing for FutureLab’s Dota 2 Tournament the first Dota 2 team within Astro? If yes, how was it formed. Y: Yes, we are the first. It’s a funny story how we developed a team. To be honest, the five of us have never played the game (Dota 2) together before. My boss came up to me one day and said there is an upcoming Dota 2 tournament and asked if we would like to join. I was like sure, why not. That is how I became the team captain and in charge of creating a team. I asked my colleagues and their response was ‘ARE YOU SERIOUS.’ Everyone got on board and that is how our team formed. We decided we wanted to participate and just have some fun.   N: So how long have you been playing Dota and how did you find out about the game? Y: I started playing Dota when I was 16. Those were the World of Warcraft days. My brother played and introduced Dota to me. Back then I was quite an avid gamer. I played Maple story, O2 Jam and many more. To answer your question, I started playing Dota with my brother 16 years ago.   N: Is this your first Esports tournament? How do you feel about it? Y: Yes, it’s my first and to be honest we are neither nervous or excited. This is because we know we are potentially going to loose against the university students. We really just want to have some fun and bond with our team mates who are constantly flying around, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do so.   N: Who is your favorite and hated hero in Dota 2? Y: Lich. My favorite is always Lich. I have the highest win rate with this hero no matter what patch it is. He is a really good hero. I don’t dislike facing Venomancer. He is just so annoying. I hope they nerf him in the next patch.   N: What role will you and your team mates be playing at the tournament? Y: Pinda will be playing mid, our Safelane carry will be Bryan, Offlaner will be Danelie, Naim will be roaming Support, and I will be playing Hard Support.   N: Who is your idol in the Dota 2 scene? Y: There are a lot but the pioneer will definitely be Dendi as he is the face of Dota. I really want to meet him someday. But as of this very moment, I would say it is Miracle. He is such a nice guy, so humble and down to earth. I really respect him and everyone from team. But my first will always be Dendi.   N: What do you think of the Dota 2 scene in Malaysia? Y: It’s definitely on the rise. We try our best to promote the local scene as we are trying to find our next MidOne or Mushi.  We are also trying to find the next team that would be the pioneers for a Dota team in Malaysia.  We can see more tournaments coming up with higher prize pools such as the MESL recently. So, it’s something that we want to do which is promote not just the Dota 2 scene but E-sports in general. We want the community to realise that gaming can be more than a hobby but it also can be career.   N: Last question. What advice do you have for new players that want to play competitively? Y: Honestly just play the game and mute all your chat. Especially if you start at a lower MMR as it is really toxic. Just mute and play your game.     Written by: This article was written by Narenjit Singh who is better known as Naren Neo. He is currently a final year student at UNIMY.  

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FutureLab Campus Heroes Interviews: Yung Khang, Assistant Audit Manager at EY on Esports at EY

by FutureLab | 08 Nov 2017

Following are excerpts from a FutureLab Campus Heroes interview with Jeremy Tay & Jing Yih and Yung Khang, Assistant Audit Manager at EY (Malaysia)     CH: Tell us the history of the Esports team in EY YK: The Esports team in EY was established last year (2016). I was trying to initiate Esports here after realising that the Esports industry was growing. I organised a friendly interfirm game as a proof of concept. The proof of concept was successful and as a result, Esports was incorporated into the interfirm (Intra EY) games this year. The existence of Esports and our ability to gather a team to represent EY in Esports led to our involvement at the IAFG (Inter-accounting Firm Games). There are many Esports teams in EY, but only the best players represent EY at tournaments. The decision on best players are made based on observation when tournaments take place. The team that will be playing at FutureLab’s Dota Tournament consist of 2 individuals from Advisory and 2 from Audit.   CH: Why did your team join FutureLab’s Dota 2 Tournament? YK: For a few reasons, (1) it will be great exposure for us. We have only played against other accounting firms so far and it will be interesting for us to play against companies from different industries and university students. I assume the university students will be really good at this. (2) It is a good opportunity for us to show that EY is not all about long hours and (3) to acquire talents. Co-curricular activities do hold weight when it comes to talent acquisition. EY Partners treat the IAFG as an important event and that is one of the reasons individuals who play sports appeal to us. This year was the first time we had a Dota team for IAFG. We played against 11 firms and secured 3rd place.   CH: How has your team been preparing for the tournament? YK: We play pub games to train. For IAFG particularly, we asked other teams to train with us. Post training we meet up for post mortems to discuss our mistakes and areas of improvement.   CH: Does the existence of the Esports team in EY fall to help employees strike work-life balance? How else does EY encourage employees to strike work life balance? YK: Playing Esports or any sports in EY does help with work-life balance and it is something EY is proud of. Our seniors are very supportive of it and have showed up to a lot of games. Apart from encouraging participation in tournaments such as FutureLab’s, IAFG, we have annual dinners, social nights and festival celebrations. Individual departments also take charge of department specific trip. For example, my subline recently was in Redang to encourage team bonding. Some sublines and teams have even travelled overseas.   CH: Do students who play Esports have a competitive advantage when trying to set foot into the workforce? YK: It is not limited to Esports, any curricular activity is an added advantage. As for how gaming adds an advantage for day to day work, it improves strategic thinking ability and also helps to develop familiarity with technology. This is especially beneficial since we are moving towards a digital era. Being a gamer has also helped me to work more efficiently. An example is the short cut key. Surprisingly I find that it saves me time. I also use my gaming mouse for work because I macro some of the functions into it.   CH: Are the any departments in EY that Esports players are best suited for? YK: I think any department will find talents who have the ability to strategically think and adapt useful. CH: What do you want to say to the teams facing EY at the FutureLab Dota Tournament? YK: Good luck and have fun!   Interested to attend the Dota 2 Tournament: Corporates vs Universities? Register here to attend it!       Written by: This article was written by Lim Jing Yih (extreme left) from SEGi College and Jeremy Tay (extreme right) from Monash Malaysia. They are both FutureLab Campus Heroes and are constantly looking for ways to bridge the gap between education and career for themselves and their friends. 

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Futurelab Campus Hero Interviews: Wei Jin, Health, Safety & Environment Executive at Petronas on the Petronas Esports Club

by FutureLab | 07 Nov 2017

When Malaysians think ‘Petronas’, they largely think “Malaysia’s Oil & Gas Company”. However, Petronas is more than that.  I was recently at the Petronas Office which is located in the iconic Petronas Twin Towers to find out about their Esports Club and the involvement of the team members in FutureLab’s Dota 2 Tournament: Corporates vs Universities. I spoke with Wei Jin who told me more.    Wei Jin (on the right) and I (on the left) at the KLCC Bridge   So, how did it start? Petronas officiated their own Dota2 team in June 2017. History was created when Wei Jin, the team captain joined Petronas in 2012 as an intern. He had met Fadzley then, who is also a team member and they would play Dota 2 together. A couple of years later, Wei Jin joined Petronas and as a full-time employee and the duo organised a Dota 2 Tournament within Petronas in April 2017. This tournament brought exposure to the Esports Club at Petronas which existed but was not well known about. A total of 14 teams competed in a tournament and the winners were Wei Jin’s team. That is what led to Wei Jin and his teams involvement in FutureLab’s Dota 2 Tournament Invitationals.   Background of Dota 2 Tournament players The team representing Petronas at the Dota 2 Tournament come from different departments and background. a.  Wei Jin works in the Health, Safety and Environment Deparment b.  Arif is in upstream strategic communication c. Kaw Wai works in upstream drilling and, d.  Fadzley does Project Delivery & Technology e.  whereas Khalis and Anas work as offshore engineers   The dynamics of the team Wei Jin shared that the team finds it challenging to find time to play together. This is mostly because they come from different departments which mean workload differs at different times and they aren’t always in the same location. However, these factors don’t stop them. The advantage of a sport like Dota 2 is that it can be organised and played remotely.   Benefits of playing Dota 2 or Esports Wei Jin believes that with the increase in number of the younger generation, an increase is also being seen in the number of game players in a company. For companies especially, this is a great common characteristic to leverage off. According to him, it is a great way to break the ice between employees and facilitate employees to bond   Thoughts on bridging the gap between students and working professionals through Dota 2 Wei Jin believes that providing a platform where students can meet working professionals from a specific company is a great way to humanise corporate companies. One of the reasons Wei Jin and team decided to represent Petronas at the tournament is because they want to educate university students about the company, it’s culture and hopefully seem some of them join Petronas in future.       Interested to attend the Dota 2 Tournament: Corporates vs Universities? Register here to attend it!     Written by: Jeremy is a third-year student majoring in Finance and Business Analytics at Monash Malaysia. Driven to improve Malaysia’s education, he believes in FutureLab’s mission to educate and guide the youth of Malaysia even though he is not that old himself.

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FutureLab Campus Hero Interviews: Yung Khang, Assistant Audit Manager at EY on Dota for Dummies

by FutureLab | 30 Oct 2017

I am Wan Teng, a UCSI student, and a FutureLab Campus Hero a.k.a Student Representative of FutureLab at a university. I have no clue whatsoever about Dota 2. Recently FutureLab decided to host a Dota 2 Tournament between corporate and universities as an initiative to bridge the gap between students and working professionals. Their aim is not only to host a  Dota 2 tournament, but to educate students about the participating companies, bring light onto the Esports industry, and provide students the opportunities to develop a new skill.  Through this, I received the opportunity to learn about Dota 2 from the Captain of Esports Club at EY, Mr. Yung Khang   Following are excerpts from a FutureLab Campus Hero interview with Wan Teng from UCSI and Yung Khang, Assistant Audit Manager at EY (Malaysia)   WT: How does Dota 2 work? YK: The concept of Dota 2 is similar to a chess match. Each team consists of 5 members and there’ll be 2 different teams in total as the opponent and the defendant. The main objective of the game is destroying the thrones of your enemies as much as you can and the winning party will be determined once the thrones of one party get destroyed completely. Usually, it will take around 45 minutes to complete the match. WT: Use one word to describe Dota 2. YK: Stressful. WT: What are the beginner tips in Dota 2? YK: Firstly, communication is the key. You’ll need to collaborate with your teammate to achieve a common understanding of the strategic plan to attack your enemy. Secondly, understand your team’s composition. It is something important to determine the results of the game. Someone could be expert in attacking and someone could be expert in defending. It would be great if you can determine the ability of your team members and assign mixed roles for each of them using suitable heroes. Lastly, understand your heroes. Out of the 112 heroes available in Dota 2 which 111 of them are playable, you must determine the hero that suits your position as a team to launch the attack to the opponents.    WT: Among the heroes available in the game, which heroes would you recommend the beginners to kickstart with? YK: Wraith King, Sniper & Razor. Each of these heroes consists of only 1 or 2 active skills and thus it’s not so complex for beginners use it. WT: Teach me one of the Dota 2 hacks in 5 minutes. YK: Each hero has 6 item slots on their inventory, 3 backpack slots and 6 more in their stash. Items are very important to them because it will provide special abilities for them to attack their enemies. In order to increase your speed in changing the item slots, make use of your teleport to cast your items at your back. There’ll be 6 seconds of cooling down period to enable your hero to reach the base and swap the items at your backpack slots in order for you to continue in attacking the enemies with new items.  WT: In your opinion, how would Dota 2 benefit the players? YK: I would say Dota 2 trains our abilities in reaction to time and coordination with one another as a team. There are 45 minutes available per match and thus, it requires a lot of strategic planning and coordination on the actions to be taken in order to destroy the thrones of the opponent within that period of time as a team. WT: As there’s a lot of things to look forward to FutreLab Dota 2 Tournament, what is the thing you’re most excited for? YK: Our team is looking forward to competing with the university students because it will be a good experience for the team to gauge how good the competitors are. Since the team went through a tough selection process at the beginning in order to compete in this competition, we hope for the best for this competition. Furthermore, EY has started to develop the e-sports team in the company as the e-sports industries are growing well nowadays. We aim to take this competition as a stepping-stone to bring us to greater heights in future.     Interested to attend the Dota 2 Tournament: Corporates vs Universities? Register here to attend it!   Written by:

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Mentor Hot Seats List & Schedule; Intercampus Career Fair 2017

by Neekita Patel | 09 Aug 2017

The Mentor Hot Seats is speed career mentoring which will take place during the Intercampus Career Fair 2017 organised by HRinCampus. It will take place on the 8th & 9th September 2017.   34 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   To find out more about the career event, head over to www.careerfair.com.my Click here to Book a Mentor 

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Futurelab cofounders one year old
FutureLab’s Origin Story

by Neekita Patel | 27 Jul 2017

FutureLab is an online social learning platform that connects students, young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs to global mentors around the world. It was registered by 3 companions, each with their own reasons to embark on this new journey. Here, in short snippets, are the stories of these founding entrepreneurs.   Brian Tan, Chief Executive Officer How does a Biochemist from the University of Bath end up as FutureLab’s CEO? Very simply, he realised that he did not want to spend the rest of his life stuck in a lab. This realization came after he finished a year researching a rare disease in Oxford University with an option to pursue his PhD after he graduated. Instead, he chose to complete his Msc in Management from Imperial College London. When he came back to Malaysia he managed to secure an interview with a management consultant firm, BCG. Unfortunately, what he had in enthusiasm, he lacked in experience, especially practical experience in case interviews of this nature. Needless to say, the interview did not go too well. Instead of giving up, he tried to get help from many of his friends while driving his management consulting goal and practicing countless case studies. However, eventually his friends were unable to commit to the number of hours Brian was asking from them to improve his skill. Undaunted, in December 2012 he started using online forum (Lowyat forums) where he sought career advice. There, he met another forum user, Bone Dragon, who was in a similar situation, and after a few messages, they arranged to meet to help one another. Brian was nervous but found that experience and meeting ultimately very useful, leaving a lasting impression on him about his struggle and subsequent solution of connecting with someone to gain career insights. Fast forward a few months, we find Brian working as a management consultant. He noticed numerous colleagues who were unhappy with their job, unsure about what they were looking for, and feeling trapped in their roles. He recalled his own job search experience where lack of accessible information was a barrier to making an informed decision. This led to him noticing among other things that a recurring theme was a knowledge gap between education and career. As an experiment, Brian took the initiative by going back to Lowyat forums and posting an announcement that there were consultants from international management consultant companies who were coming to provide mentoring sessions. With the support of his two co-founders, 20 interested individuals turned up seeking advice to enter the management consulting industry. Some were fresh graduates, straight from university, whilst others were dissatisfied with their jobs, and all were looking for valuable advice. FutureLab experiments! They left having learnt about major issues such as mismatched expectations and the importance of industry knowledge. This success led Brian to realize that this was a problem that needed to be addressed. Through repeating similar ventures for different industries – banking, marketing, information technology, and others – he also realized that this was an area that he had a passion for, that he wanted to be part of the solution to overcome this problem and work to expand career horizons for others. A mentor-mentee relationship was his solution for the knowledge gap problem and his vision was that soon, everyone across South East Asia will get to bridge their knowledge gap through FutureLab. Fung Wei Tan Tai, Chief Technology Officer Fung has always wanted to make the world a better place. His belief is to create the greatest good in any way possible. Fung Wei pursued electrical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). Where Brian described his experience as struggling to access the right information, Fung explained that he always relied on the advice of the older generation to make education and career decisions. He did not source information for himself, and went with the flow only to realise he did not enjoy electrical engineering. Worse yet, he realized that many of the things he had learnt in school were not transferable to his professional life. He was already the CTO for GoGet.my, a low level mass market dispatch service start up when the idea for FutureLab was in the process of being solidified. In his time with GoGet, he was in charge of hiring people: fresh graduates and those with some work experience. It was during this time that his belief in the disconnect between education and career was reinforced. He found that many non-graduates performed better than graduates during the interview. Motivated by awareness of this disconnect, Fung took the lessons he learnt during his GoGet journey on scalability and integrated them with his desire to make the world a better place. His goal was to create more opportunity by creating a service that allowed for real knowledge sharing and collaboration to take place. This was designed into FutureLab by making it digital giving the enterprise the reach to connect as many people as possible. This allowed FutureLab’s reach to potentially go global, bringing to life a powerful online social networking channel to connect people. Clarissa Chang, Chief Communications Officer Clarissa is a Psychology & Law graduate from The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She frequently visited California to be with Fung and her community of friends to escape the cold Canadian winters. Much like Fung Wei, she had always relied on her community of friends, family, and mentors to make life decisions, be it for education, career or even relationships. She shared that her community is extremely important to her and growing up with a single mother, she credits their livelihood to them. Particularly close friends, Brian, Fung Wei and herself spent many of their summer holidays together dreaming about their hopes for their future. Even though they always discussed eventually starting a venture together, she never thought it would be a similar experience of discontentment and dissatisfaction with their careers that would bring them together to create FutureLab. Clarissa’s deep rooted belief is that institutional education has a greater purpose than what most people understand; a documentation of an individual’s past to determine their value in the present and future.  To her, education is a means to transfer beliefs and ideals and this should take place in a truly human way; through being a part of a safe community where people can learn and grow secure in the trust and faith of others who truly care about each other. She firmly believes that life is too short to be doing something you do not love and believe in. This belief led her to found EPIC DNA  where she works to help people develop their potential and where she also has a community that supports her growth and development. Her aspiration is to see FutureLab giving that support to everyone on the platform with the goal of enabling them to take charge and create a career that they love. For any media related inquiries, please email [email protected]

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Why start a company in Malaysia?

by Frank Looi | 20 Jul 2017

In football, playing at your home ground is better for you and worse for your opponent. Your chances of winning are significantly higher than if you played away from home. But you see, what improves your chances of winning and diminishes theirs is not black magic, but business and psychology. When it comes to setting up a company, there are many more things to consider besides having a good business plan and strategy. Where you are running the company is critical in the behaviour of your business. I say behaviour because today’s companies are human-like, dynamic and constantly changing rather than a plan that is set in stone. The external environment which hosts your business will absolutely affect the trajectory of your business. From the types of business partners you will get, to the talent you are recruiting, the market you are immediately facing, investors, strategic partnerships to user demographics; there’s a plethora of factors that are outside of your control once you set up your company in a certain location. So, why start a company in Malaysia and not, say, Silicon Valley, London, Beijing or even Singapore? Let’s examine why young, Malaysian-based companies like Grab, iflix, 123RF, Pestle & Mortar, and Piktochart are growing ahead of its competitors across the region. We attempt to grapple with this question from an external point of view, rather than internally reviewing their individual business genius.   #1: Our government is investing into start ups (Photo credit: MaGIC) Did you recently stalk an old friend on Facebook and found out they are now working for a startup? Or know someone who knows someone who is behind an exciting young brand? Forget about the monsoon season, it is the Startup Season here in Malaysia. Universities and colleges, both local and abroad, are offering more opportunities for those entrepreneurial. From entrepreneurship majors to an entrepreneur’s club, individuals with an innate drive to start their companies are equipped with the experience, people, and tools to start their first (possibly, of many) companies after university. Additionally, large-scale government initiatives are catalysing the growth of entrepreneurship in this country. The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) hosts aplenty of immersive programs to kick start new companies and products. FutureLab, for instance, was one of 25 top Malaysian startups selected to grow with MaGIC’s [email protected] program. Entrepreneurs are further supported with capital from various institutions such as Cradle Fund, a startup-centric investing programme owned by the government, and private companies like 500 Startups plus a growing network of crowdfunding platform. (By the way, you can speak with our mentors from MaGIC and Cradle to know more) Once you secure the funding you need for your early stage startup, the next thing is to have a space to begin working on your crazy ideas. I know, that’s when the headache comes in right? Fear not! Coworking spaces are mushrooming major business hubs in Malaysia and moving into a coworking space can really benefit your early stage startup. Coworking space reduces the cost of office space rental for you which helps you retain organisational flexibility. No more buying your own furnitures and moving them! Also, entrepreneurs can choose a pay-per-use option or a time-based plan which are still cheaper than leasing a building entirely. This is the best part: sharing a common space with other startups creates that burst of creativity and productivity because you can easily discuss ideas with other startup founders! Sure, you can find such spaces all over the US or Singapore but if you check the prices, leasing a coworking space in Malaysia is much cheaper for your startup both in the short run and in the long run.  (Need consulting? Don’t ask me, ask our mentor who owns Co-labs Asia). The changing times into a digital age is a large force for youths to pick a career that will not be easily replaced by robots, and entrepreneurship, the business of solving problems for people, happens to be one of them. Besides the entrepreneurs who want to make change, there are also a lot of other people who want to make sure entrepreneurs succeed. So, you should start a company in Malaysia because you are part of this nourished environment that gives you access to the opportunities that you need to thrive.   #2: Kuala Lumpur is a swelling digital market (Photo credit: Chilli Hot Water) Startups thrive on the untapped digital market because traditional industries are occupying the heavy, physical nuts and bolts of the economy. While big companies are slow to go digital, Malaysians are rapidly embracing the digital economy and already spend a significant amount of time on their devices. 91% of 30 million Malaysians own and use a smartphone, and it is companies like Grab and iflix who will capitalise on these opportunities to disrupt traditional industries. These young companies are agile and quick when hiring talents, introducing products to the market and encouraging adoptions of their products. So, yes, there are some successful startups in Malaysia but why should you still start a company here? That’s because there are so many more industries and products that can be disrupted with your creativity. For instance, there are still so much room left for innovation in Malaysia in areas like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, wearable technology. Oh, don’t forget that Malaysia is also a hub closely connecting your products to the ASEAN regional market. Starting a company in Malaysia and gradually expanding it across the region is a common, yet often successful, strategy that entrepreneurs do, and it works (see AirAsia, iMoney and EasyUni). Today, 40% of SE Asia’s 660 million people are active internet users and this is expected to grow to 60% by 2020. This means there’s a large, growing and untapped market who largely share a similar lifestyle as we do. Our problems could be their problems, and our solutions could be their solutions. The geographical proximity between Malaysia and these countries is a huge plus because travelling across offices will take much less time than, say, from the UK to the US. The growing market in South East Asia and our familiarity with it are compelling reasons to start a company here. As Tony Fernandes puts it, a business who conquers its homeland market is best suited for regional expansion. Starting a company in Malaysia makes sense if you’re a Malaysian because once you find something that works, your product is immediately ready to expand to our neighbours’ markets.   #3: You know the people (Photo credit: SAYS.com) What’s the difference between a high performing, shiny company and a company that nobody talks about? It’s the people – the people in your organisation and the people who buys your products. That’s what separates you from the pack. As an entrepreneur, you benefit from starting your company in your home ground in two ways: the advantage of having the contacts AND knowing the market.   How does having contacts and networks help you and your company? Well, highly successful companies often differ from their identical yet low-performing counterparts in that they have better, brighter people working for them. One of the biggest problem in recruitments is that it is hard to know them as a person. But that’s not the case for your friends. Knowing people not only helps you hire better, but also connect you with strategic partners and influential people who can help you. Sometimes in business, it’s not what you know but who you know. You also have a good understanding of the market. What does this even mean? By growing up and living alongside our fellow Malaysians, you know what problems we face on a daily basis. Whether it is the unreliable transportation systems, the troubles of finding a parking when buying lunch, or spending a lot of time waiting for the doctor’s appointment, there are many ways an entrepreneur can solve a real problem for real people, and make money out of it. As entrepreneurs, the first step is to recognise problems as opportunities. As compared to someone who is not local, you already know ahead of them what kinds of things help people and what motivates them to buy your stuff. So why start a company in Malaysia from a people perspective? Because really, most people are nice and we have a collective culture. We also come from a multilingual society who deserves to contend at multiple countries internatioanlly. Believe it or not, we have been very lucky in finding mentors who really just want to help you on FutureLab. Looking to learn more about the entrepreneurship in Malaysia? Want experienced mentors to help you materialise your startup idea? Click here to explore and join the FutureLab Startup Launchpad program! 

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4 Natural Entrepreneurial Traits We All Share

by Frank Looi | 14 Jul 2017

Entrepreneurship and startups are the buzzwords in town that everyone is talking about suddenly. It seems trendy to become an entrepreneur, to be part of a startup, and to be part of the revolution. While those things are true of some startups and we as consumers often benefit from it, the sayings also anchor a lot of expectations and stereotypes about who is an entrepreneur and who is not an entrepreneur. Because of what everyone is saying, we often rule ourselves out of the game even before playing it. Just because you’re not a creative person, you can’t be an entrepreneur? That’s not necessarily true. If you remove all that noise around the entrepreneurship word, it is simply a protocol – a belief, a mindset, a way of doing things, and a lifestyle – just like going vegetarian, subscribing to a religion, running a marathon, binge watching TV shows, or being part of a family. Anyone can be an entrepreneur so long as they want to be. To start off, here are 4 natural entrepreneurial traits that you and I (and everyone we know) share as human beings:          1. We all recognise frictions and pain points in life Humans come pre-fitted with a sense and the ability to react to things. Our five senses can almost immediately tell us to avoid certain things that causes discomfort: extreme heat, cold, electric spark, etc. and these turn into problems. Similarly in business sense, we recognise pain points of certain products or structures as part of our user experience and can almost immediately want improvements made to the product.     The first reaction to problems and pain points is innate in human beings, and an entrepreneur capitalises on his or her senses to act and solve the problem. But will everyone have the tenacity to act every time they encounter discomfort and misery? How exactly will they act? And how is this entrepreneurial? Read on to the second point.          2. We refuse to give up things that we truly enjoy As human beings, we are aware that time is limited and it constantly passes. Yet, there are some things that we keep throwing our time doing. Whether it is computer games, sports, social media, etc. there is always something that we do in excess. This goes directly against the saying that moderation is key and describes how human instincts tend to drive us to keep chasing more of what pleasures us.     And that is an entrepreneurial trait – being determined and passionate. We all can be entrepreneurs because we have the drive to turn an idea into reality if we enjoy it. You don’t need to be part of an institution to be an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur has a lot more to do with being a good problem solver and having the will to innovate. Some people are just not entrepreneurs yet. If we are able to derive pleasure from arriving at solutions that makes a difference in the world, then we can keep going down the entrepreneurial journey and wish it never stops.          3. We will never be perfect, but we are learning throughout the journey Why is it important that we derive pleasure from entrepreneurship? That’s because it is a journey that takes you by surprise with its highs and lows, success and failures, belief and doubt. Having fun in the process makes it easier for us to keep driving on when the road is bumpy.   The third reason you and I can be entrepreneurs is that we are capable of learning as we go. As Brian puts it here at FutureLab, you are never good enough for the next big challenge you’ll face. In this world, you simply cannot know everything about the future and the best strategy is that you pick up as much information needed to move on from one milestone to another. Take enough information, ask your team, ask your community, move fast, and learn through the journey. Mistakes are part of the entrepreneurial journey, but we make mistakes all the time even as human beings as well. As a child, we did the wrong things out of innocence and naivety but once we get reprimanded, our sense of right and wrong gets tuned and we know better what to do and what not to do. This is truly the path of an entrepreneur, even the most successful ones like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. For as long as we don’t beat ourselves down completely and give up, we will find a way to succeed in the game.          4. We can rope others into helping us and learn together We are social creatures that rely on one another to survive. In ancient societies, we had scholars, artisans, kings and soldiers who supported each other for a survival purpose. Today, we rely on doctors for health, governments for public infrastructure, banks for smooth transaction. As living systems evolve, one thing remains true: we can rope others to do something that benefits the greater society.     Startups is about the survival of the fittest. The journey of entrepreneurship can surely be undertaken alone, but who is there to throw questions at your ideas? To challenge you and yet be there when you’re down? Going with a team (including your community) is fun because we can generate a social learning effect – piggyback off their knowledge and learn from them, and even learn from teaching them! And just like how we evolve as a species to preserve civilisations, we have the capacity to collaborate and create change in the deepest problems.     Are you interested to become an entrepreneur, or always wanted to be an entrepreneur? Speak with our entrepreneurship mentors who want to help you succeed, when many more people wants to see you fail.

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Thatchu Selvarajan: Reaping the Benefits of Studying & Working Abroad

by FutureLab | 13 Jul 2017

Pursuing a degree outside Malaysia can be an expensive option these days with unfavourable exchange rates and rising education costs worldwide. However, students with a desire to study abroad can always look into the possibility of undertaking a partnership programme with a local university which may mean reduced years abroad but all it matters is the eye-opening experience and the journey it takes you right through to that mortarboard moment. Over the years, many universities have adopted such partnerships for various programmes, be it Engineering, Law or even Pharmacy. Having experienced this myself pursuing a twinning programme with SEGi University and the University of Sheffield, UK, I can attest to the cost effectiveness and practicality of this path. In fact, it can be more of a plus point as you wouldn’t have to deal with the first year of university being so overwhelming thousands of miles away from home. Get the hang of university in Malaysia for a year or two and then venture out to complete the second half of this exciting adventure.   As with any degree programme, there are always opportunities to expand your horizon while abroad besides studying abroad. Most Universities abroad these days are so well equipped with top notch systems in place to provide more than an education for students. As I mentioned earlier, it is not only about that wonderful certificate at the end of the degree programme, but also discovering opportunities to find yourself: your passion, an alternative career or even life path, learn new cultures, meet exciting personalities and build a lifetime of friendships. Get a part time job while studying, be it waiting tables, working as a volunteer at the University, or help out in a local shop. If you think having a part time job during term time is challenging, remember that semesters abroad only last 12 weeks. That’s only 24 weeks of facing the books in a year! Don’t forget there is over half a year remaining for you to do all of this.   Summer internships or placement years in the industry are a fantastic way to dip your toes in the water to see if you like a certain career path or the idea of working abroad. Although the idea of working abroad is always glorified, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I had zero intention of doing a year in industry or a sandwich course (as some may call it) or even pursuing a career in the UK when I first landed here 5 years ago. But seeing my friends apply for a placement years or summer internships in Autumn for opportunities in the following Summer or Autumn got me thinking (Yes, jobs for Sept start getting advertised about 12 months before and assessments begin almost immediately). Why not try it out? If I don’t, will I regret? If I do, will it be a waste of time? Very close to the end of my 3rd year, after not making the cut in 3 assessment centres in 10 days, I succeeded in my very last one for a summer internship at a company in Bristol, UK. After some thought, I requested for a placement year instead of a summer internship, and it was arranged fortunately. If I had any doubts on where I’d like to pursue my career going forward, my first couple of months into the role quashed all of it. This then begs the question, how many students abroad are missing out on the opportunity of gaining this experience while trading off the comforts of home, having familiar faces around and a familiar spoken accent?   As much as the fear of being left out, being the odd one out, or not fitting in, people are more friendly, open and accepting than you may think. Call it luck, but there was never a day at work I felt like I was left out, or did not feel at home. Colleagues do acknowledge the different origins and cultures, and they actively show a genuine interest in learning more about it which creates a healthy relationship. 12 months is not a long time, and it is crucial to make the most out of this to decide what your best option after graduating is: what role would you like to be in, what industry would you like to be in, etc. This can be done by speaking to senior people in the company and your line manager who is usually the most dedicated person in helping you grow and develop. Take up different roles, secondments, suggest ideas, participate, ask questions, most importantly have fun, it’s all that matters at the end of the day honestly. I was thrown in the deep end during my placement, and by the end of the year, I was negotiating prices with suppliers in deals worth more than I could even imagine. This progression is due to the consistent mindset I have noticed in the way management is done abroad, where they allow you to make mistakes and fall but will never let you fail.   I swear by this piece of advice from my personal tutor at University – it’s asking “Why not?” when an opportunity arises. Every kid would have heard the words “If you never try, you’ll never know,” and it is something that resonates very close with me now. After my year placement had changed my opinions on my career aspirations, the next challenge was to get a graduate job out of University. A common trend I have seen in students studying abroad is the expectation of landing one without perseverance. There were one too many times where I was close to calling it quits in the endless applications for jobs for both internships and a graduate job. Rejection after rejection, as frustrating as it sounds, is inevitable but I hadn’t stopped applying. It may sound fictitious, but to land my industrial placement, I applied to almost 80 companies and failed numerous times. And every time I got rejected, I learnt something new about myself that I needed to improve: my style, my lacking areas or even roles that I may not be suited for in truth. That immensely helped me in my final year’s search for a job as it took me just about a month or two into the semester to get the job I am in right now.   Speaking to various people on the best practices of job applications, I learned a couple of main strategies. I call it quantity or quality. Firstly, quantity. As the name suggests, you would apply to as many places as possible but TAILOR your approach to each company. This can be time-consuming and frustrating at times but can be effective when the applicant has skills gaps and a lack of experience. Quantity was my approach when I applied for the placement year. The other approach which I employed when applying for a graduate job is quality, where you would research into specific companies you’re interested in and apply to roles in which you genuinely have an interest. You spend days or even weeks perfecting an application but only apply to a handful of potential employers with high-quality applications. Again, this is only from my experience and is very much dependant on the situation and the applicant’s circumstances.   The reason I advocate having experience abroad especially in times where regulations are getting tighter is to encourage you to have tried it, tested it before deciding that it is not something you see yourself doing. The moment you leave the country where you have pursued your higher education, the chance of landing a job there again diminishes significantly. Whereas, if you were to give it a try abroad, there is ALWAYS a safety net in your home country where you can head back to any day when you decide that this may not be something you enjoy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.   Summarising my point of your study abroad options when the finances are tight, twinning programmes are an excellent cost effective way, make the most of it if possible! The experience you would gain is unrivalled, what’s the worst that could happen? You discover that you hate everything abroad and simply come back to Malaysia for your next step in your career. And when abroad, double up on the experience by doing an internship or a year in industry, your views will change one way or another. Never let regrets have a chance of getting to you 🙂   Would you like to connect with Thatchu for help transitioning from university into the workforce? Fill up this form and FutureLab will offer you a free mentoring session with him!        Written by: Thatchu Selvarajan Thatchu is a Malaysian engineer currently working in the UK. Before, he was a student at the University of Sheffield who was relentlessly applying for jobs. He was in your shoes very recently and knows how intimidating and confusing it is. That’s why Thatchu is a mentor on FutureLab who is happy to help you land your first job after college.

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MBB strategy consulting: A tale of three kingdoms in the Asian Century

by FutureLab | 29 Jun 2017

The Three Kingdoms period (between 220 AD and 280 AD) was one of China’s bloodiest in history. Following the disintegration of the Han Dynasty in 220 AD, Cao Cao of Cao Wei, Liu Bei of Shu Han and Sun Quan of Sun Wu were jostling to succeed as the new emperor of China. Just as the states of Cao Wei, Shu Han and Sun Wu were skirmishing for power in the Three Kingdoms era, the Elite Three of McKinsey & Company (McKinsey), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Bain & Company (Bain), collectively known as the MBB firms, are contending for clients and talent in the Asian Century. We have witnessed the global narrative up to the 19th century written by the European powers, most notably as we entered Britain’s Imperial Century. The 20th century heralded an American Century in a post-World War II era as the $120 billion Marshall Plan rebuilt war ravaged economies in Europe. The Global Financial Crisis transitioned the world into the Asian Century as its constituents weathered the financial tsunami relatively better than any other parts of the world. The rise of Corporate Asia is most notable as the region now produces the greatest number of Fortune Global 500 companies (see chart below). It is also important to note that the Asia-Pacific region is home to a heterogeneous group of countries and once fused by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would collectively be a $23.1 trillion economy as the chart above reveals. The pace of growth in the region continues to propel countries from developing to developed economies. This post analyses the MBB firms’ footprint and partnership sizes in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Building the three kingdoms in the Asian Century The MBB firms’ expansion in the region is written in the post-World War II era of economic expansion and liberalisation. A case in point was Japan’s rapid growth in the 1960s (Golden Sixties), as its economy swelled rapidly to become the world’s second largest economy after the USA. This economic miracle gave birth to Japanese conglomerates or Keiretsu; the most notable contribution in the corporate arena was the introduction of Kaizen in the automobile industry as ‘Made in USA’ gave way to ‘Made in Japan’. Japan’s Golden Sixties attracted BCG (1966), McKinsey (1971) and later Bain (1981). Much like Japan, Australia’s economy experienced economic growth and prosperity in a post-World War II era and the liberalisation and deregulation of the 1980s and 1990s would attract Bain (1989) and BCG (1990). McKinsey was already in Australia in 1962 as its Australian consultant, Rod Carnegie moved home to Melbourne to establish the firm’s Australian operation. BCG would acquire an office in Auckland as a result of its acquisition of Pappas, Carter, Evans & Koop. Australia’s mining boom in the early 2010s, driven by strong Chinese demand would made a strong business case for BCG (2011), Bain (2011) and McKinsey (2012) to establish an operation in resource-rich Perth. The rapid growth of Asia’s main trading ports and financial centres of Hong Kong and Singapore, and its main manufacturing hubs and technology centres of South Korea and Taiwan, between the 1960s and 1990s, would transform the developing countries into developed countries. The Four Asian Tigers of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan attracted Bain, BCG and McKinsey to the leading lights of Asia in the late 1980s and 1990s. The strategic importance of Hong Kong to the Chinese market and Singapore to the Southeast Asian markets have propelled these city states into global trading and financial centres of the world, rivalling New York and London. China’s economic reforms between 1980s to 2000s combined with the lifting of the Bamboo Curtain would open the market to Bain (1993), BCG (1993) and a year later, McKinsey (1994). Large scale privatisation of state owned-enterprises in specific sectors of the economy in the late 1990s would create work for the strategy houses. The Chinese economy would balloon at double digit growth rates during its boom years as it became the global hub for manufacturing. Its neighbouring India was not far behind, the country’s economic liberalisation of the 1990s and 2000s would attract McKinsey (1993), BCG (1996) and later Bain (2006). A combination of India’s demographic changes, language and favourable exchange rates made India the business process outsourcing (BPO) centre of the world as the strategy firms advised multinationals on their BPO centres. The growth of the Southeast Asian markets would give birth to Tiger Cub Economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. Interestingly, these countries and Singapore were the original founders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967 with a shared vision to combat communism and promote economic development. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, BCG, McKinsey and later Bain would enter the Tiger Cub Economies to serve multinational clients and later local clients. Vietnam’s strategic importance in the Mekong region that ties the other Indochina countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, combined with its growth as a result of Doi Moi (from 1986 to 2006), thus attracting McKinsey (2008) and BCG (2013). The infographic reveals each of the MBB firms’ journey and footprint combined with the economic times of the countries in the region. This analysis reveals: McKinsey and BCG have the most offices in the region, with 20 each, while Bain, the youngest of the MBB firms has 15 offices. McKinsey and BCG are in 13 countries in the region compared to Bain’s footprint in 10 countries. McKinsey’s operations started in the region 54 years ago in Melbourne, followed by BCG’s acquisition of Tokyo’s TFM Adams & Co 50 years ago and Bain’s entry into Japan 35 years ago. Building the three kingdoms’ battalions in the Asian Century To understand the competitive dynamics in each of the major markets in the Asian Century, the size of the MBB firms’ partnerships were analysed. Due to the opaque nature of private partnerships of the strategy houses, publicly reported data on these firms’ partnerships by country is hard to come by. For consistency, I have relied on LinkedIn rather than trade journals or company websites that were less consistent in the way the research was conducted or where the validity of data had expired over time. In a knowledge intensive and people oriented business, the partners at these firms are the best indicator of their revenue generating and profit making potential. The way in which each firm mobilises its battalion of partners in the major markets in the region reveals the importance of each market to the firms. The following infographic (click to enlarge) summarises this research by country. This analysis of the firms’ partnerships (based on those on LinkedIn) reveals: McKinsey has the largest partnership in the region, with 189 partners and is followed by BCG’s 185 partners. While Bain has 117 partners in 10 countries. McKinsey’s partnership is the largest in China (32), Hong Kong (18), India (42), Malaysia (6), Philippines (2), Singapore (26) and Taiwan (2) due to a combination of time in the market and size of operation in those countries. BCG’s partnership is the biggest in Australia (38), Indonesia (5), Japan (31), New Zealand (1), Thailand (5) and Vietnam (2) due to a combination of entry strategy (acquisitions Japan and Australia), time in the market and size of operation in those countries. Bain’s partnership in South Korea (13) is the largest as it was the first to the market in 1991. The MBB firms followed the same pattern of expansion that their accounting and legalcounterparts have embarked on earlier. A fly-in fly-out (FIFO) model was first used to service multinational clients with an operation in the Asian markets. Using these clients as anchors and gauging the markets for revenue and profit making potential, the MBB firms then sent its partners to establish a local operation or in the case of BCG, merged with local firms in Japan (TFM Adams & Co) and Australia (Pappas, Carter, Evans & Koop). Once the firms have built sufficient repeat revenue in the multinational sector, they would target the domestic market and start to indigenise the operation by hiring and developing local talent. In boardroom barracks and cubicle trenches the war for talent is being fought by the MBB firms to find and groom talent to serve clients in the Asian Century. The three kingdoms in the Asian Century The $23.1 trillion Asian Century battlelines are now drawn for the strategy consulting kingdoms of McKinsey, BCG and Bain. Much like their top tier counterparts in the accounting industry, the MBB firms’ brand standing transcended geographic boundaries and industries as demand for consulting in the Asian Century will increase. The heterogeneous nature of the Asia-Pacific market and diverse composition of competitive pressures from the Big Four accounting firms’ consulting arms and Asian strategy consulting empires of Arthur D. Little, A.T. Kearney, L.E.K. Consulting and Roland Berger Strategy Consultants (for more on how these firms compare read my previous analysis) will impact the MBB firms’ level of success in each country. The following infographic (click to enlarge) summarises each of McKinsey, BCG and Bain’s partnership composition and time in each country. The analysis reveals: Size of the firms’ partnerships in each country does no correlate with the size of the economy. Time in the market (measured in years) does not correlate with the size of the economy. There is some correlation between time in the market and size of the firms’ partnerships in each country. Local market conditions will dictate each firm’s practice configuration and partnership composition. More importantly, the firms have a longer presence in mature markets like Japan and Australia while the importance of Hong Kong and Singapore as gateway economies have made the city states strategic markets where the firms have substantial battalions of partners relative to the size of these economies. The BPO centre of the world is also the BPO centre for the MBB firms as all have established a BPO arm to service its Asia-Pacific offices. As Winston Churchill eloquently put it in his commencement speech at Harvard in 1943, ‘empires of the future are empires of the mind’. The MBB firms are investing in building an intellectual arsenal to position them as thought leaders in the Asian Century. In 2012, McKinsey launched the McKinsey Innovation Campus in Singapore which includes the Asia hub of the McKinsey Center for Government, Asia Consumer Insights Center and ASEAN Insights, all geared towards Asian government, multinationals and Asian multinationals. Similarly, in 2012 BCG launched Asia Center for Business Excellence in Singapore and is a key collaborator of Asialink Business, Australia’s National Centre for Asia Capability. Through Bain Insights, thought leadership papers on Asia are published by the firm. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu advised ‘we shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides’. The most important investment the firms have made is the grooming of local talent in the markets in which they operate. It is important to note that Corporate Asia is dominated by state-run and family-controlled businesses and business relationships often transcend the four walls of a boardroom. This is most evident when gauging the cross border deals that are often facilitated through the impenetrable and elusive bamboo network. The firms’ ability to mobilise its battalion of partners to build key relationships will be key to winning this lucrative segment of the market. Poetically, Bruce Henderson, the founder of BCG, foresaw the rise of the three kingdoms in 1976 in his seminal paper, ‘Rule of Three and Four’ when he wrote ‘a stable competitive market never has more than three significant competitors’. While the main players from the states of Cao Wei, Shu Han and Sun Wu from the Three Kingdoms era would not live to see the outcome of the ongoing battles, the Jin Dynasty (out of state of Cao Wei) would successfully conquer and unite China. Armed with breadth and depth of expertise, far-reaching footprints, and battalions of partners, the competition for the strategy consulting throne in the Asian Century will make for an interesting scrimmage for industry observers. As the industry continues its evolution in the Digital Era, we are also seeing competition shifting from a traditional expertise-based to a solution-driven battlefield (read my analysis of this paradigm shift here).    Written by: Eric Chin Eric is a Strategy Consultant working on corporate strategy and M&A. He has experience working with C-suite of professional service firms in the Asia-Pacific region and also had the opportunity of working with a Big Four accounting firm, one of world’s largest law firms and an ASX-listed consulting engineering firm on their Asia strategy. Feel free to connect with him through LinkedIn or Twitter. This post was first published in LinkedIn on November 3 2016. 

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Limitless? Big Four vs MBB in strategy consulting

by FutureLab | 28 Jun 2017

“Single cell organisms are not born to evolve they are meant to thrive in their existing environment; multicellular organisms mutate to evolve to survive in the changing environment.” Clayton Christensen at the 2013 Business Influentials Seminar in Melbourne The recent acquisition of Booz & Company by PwC marks another monumental move by the Big Four fraternity in the US$300 billion management consulting industry. The Economist reports a blurring of lines between operations and strategy consultants in the industry galvanised by Big Four acquisitions of ‘mid-sized’ consulting elites and the MBB consulting firms expanding into profitable operations engagements. Should the Elite Three (aka MBB trio in strategy consulting) be worried about the recent moves by the Big Four firms? The multicellular mutating Big Four organism The Big Four accounting firms today are an amalgamation of multiple professional disciplines, ranging from traditional audit (‘boring’?) to digital consulting (‘sexy’?). The Big Four have successfully transferred their brand equity in accountancy to the other professional disciplines. And in the process managed to receive brand permission from clients to provide a very wide range of services to a very large spectrum of client types. At the core of these firms’ brand reputations are ‘top-tier’ and ‘high quality’, which transcend the traditional boundaries of a single profession. The Big Four firms have leveraged these brand attributed to stretch into many other professional disciplines. Brand permission from the client market enables this phenomenon which is the envy of many and it is very difficult to replicate. Last year The Economist prophesied a future where the Big Four will derive more revenue from consulting than from traditional auditing work. That future might be nearer than we know. Using the annual revenue figures of these firms, I’ve analysed the firms’ source of revenue by their main service lines (click the infographic below to enlarge). Our analysis reveals in the last five years, amongst the Big Four: Deloitte’s US$13.2 billion consulting practice is the largest, followed by PwC’s US$9.2 billion. Deloitte’s consulting practice is the fastest growing at 11% CAGR, followed by PwC’s 10% CAGR. PwC’s US$14.7 billion assurance practice is the largest, followed by Deloitte’s US$13.1 billion. PwC’s assurance practice is the fastest growing at 3% CAGR, followed by Deloitte and EY’s 2% CAGR. PwC’s US$8.2 billion tax practice is the largest, followed by EY’s US$6.9 billion. KPMG and EY’s tax practices are tied at first, growing at 5% CAGR. 2013 marks the first time any one of these Big Four firms’ consulting revenue eclipsed its traditional accounting practice. In other words it took 168 years, since Deloitte’s foundation in 1845 when William Welch Deloitte opened his own accounting practice at age 25 in London, to transmogrify the accounting firm into a truly multi-disciplinary global professional service firm. The strategic moves In the post-Sarbane-Oxley era, all save Deloitte divested their consulting divisions. The early 2000s saw PwC’s $4.9 billion ‘Monday’ sold to IBM, KPMG’s $2.9 billion consulting division became BearingPoint, while Ernst & Young’s $3.4 billion consulting business was acquired by Capgemini. The biggest consulting firm in the world today is Accenture, previously Andersen Consulting. Fast forward a decade and the Big Four are back in play – only bigger. The global financial crisis (aka the great recession) has changed the consulting landscape as mid-sized strategy consultants who previously would not entertain the thought of being subsumed are now open to the idea of using the bigger firms as platform to bigger – and better – engagements and clients. Since the turn of the decade, industry headlines have included: June 2010: A.T. Kearney in discussions with Booz & Company to merge before talks collapsed. November 2010: Deloitte in talks with Roland Berger, but the firm decided to withdraw. January 2013: Deloitte acquired Michael Porter’s Monitor Group to form Monitor Deloitte. April 2013: PwC, Deloitte and EY in talks to acquire Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. July 2013: Accenture in talks to buy Booz & Company. April 2014: PwC completed acquisition of Booz & Company to form Strategy&. Here is our analysis of PwC’s consulting business and Booz & Company before the creation of Strategy&. The analysis reveals: Both firms were on an upward trajectory on revenue growth for the last 5 years. PwC’s consulting division was growing at 13% CAGR while Booz & Company was growing at 11%. Both firms’ brand equities (leading firm status) in the Australian management consulting industry as measured in Beaton Benchmarks were on an upward trajectory. The Big Four are clearly signalling a long-term commitment to expand out of their traditional accounting boundaries to build the multi-disciplinary practice and cement their positions at the top ends of the markets in which they operate. Will the Big Four’s recent deals help eclipse the MBB in the fight for share of client’s mind and wallet? Big Four and the MBB jostling for share of mind and wallet To answer this question, we interrogated our intelligence database, Beaton450 and Beaton Benchmarks and we report: Revenue of the Big Four consulting division against the MBB’s Brand equity of the Big Four against the MBB in the Australian management consulting industry. Each year Beaton Capital publishes Beaton450 a league table of the largest professional service firms in accounting and advisory, consulting engineering, law and management consulting. In the last edition of the Beaton450, 37 of the largest management consulting firms globally made the list. Beaton Research + Consulting conducts an Annual Business and Professions Study in Australia which produces a Beaton Benchmarks, a benchmarking product for professional service firms in Australia. The following infographic (click to enlarge) shows how the Big Four compare against the MBB. Our analysis reveals: All of the Big Four’s consulting arms have outgrown the MBB on annual turnover. Two of the Big Four firms’ brand equity as measured by Beaton Benchmarks are now ahead of the MBB in the Australian management consulting industry. As the segmentation of the management consulting industry continues to blur, the Big Four are now competing head-on against the Elite Three, as they are sometimes named. The architect of the management consulting profession as we know it today, Marvin Bower famously stood down as the president of Institute of Management Consultants in 1971 in protest of the admission of consultants from accounting firms. How times change! The Economist in 2012 lamented – for better or worse – the multicellular Big Four organism will continue to shape the future of the professional service landscape.   Want to know more about the consulting industry? Connect with our mentors who can tell you! Written by: Eric Chin   Eric is a Strategy Consultant working on corporate strategy and M&A. He has experience working with C-suite of professional service firms in the Asia-Pacific region and also had the opportunity of working with a Big Four accounting firm, one of world’s largest law firms and an ASX-listed consulting engineering firm on their Asia strategy. Feel free to connect with him through LinkedIn or Twitter. This post was first published in LinkedIn on July 20 2014.

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