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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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Management Consulting: The Perfect Prep for Entrepreneurship

by FutureLab | 22 Jun 2017

Many dream of going to prestigious universities such as Harvard and Stanford. Adamas Belva Syah Devara, co-founder of Ruangguru, an education tech startup in Indonesia, is one of those who achieved that dream. Not only that, he holds a dual degree–an MBA from Stanford University and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. Despite the brilliant academic achievements, he says that what provided him useful skills to be an entrepreneur is not his university education but  his first job as a McKinsey & Company consultant.   “At McKinsey, for the first time I truly experienced what is is like working at a big organisation. Colleges were more of a place to learn how do I best learn,” said Belva. There are at least two lessons from working as management consultant that Belva deems very useful, especially when applied to running and developing his company, Ruangguru. The first lesson is structured problem solving. As a consultant, Belva learned to always use structures in solving any problem. This structured approach has shaped the way he works.   “I believe that every problem can be solved as long as we have the right structure. Big problem could be divided into bite-sized problems. When we have solved the small ones, the big problem will be solved automatically,”  Belva shared.   The second lesson he deems useful is the client relationship skill. This skill, according to Belva, is very important in consulting, since no matter how great the recommendation given to a client, it all comes down to how convinced the clients are. “It is not enough for you just to be smart. You have to also be able to influence and there needs the right technique. Consulting is often an art of involving people so the clients do not feel as if we instructing them to do A, B, or C. We have to make them feel like the solution is a result of our collaboration. The level of buy-in is important as the actual solution itself.”   On the other side, there are things that are new for Belva–things he otherwise wouldn’t have learned if he did not run a startup.   “At my job at McKinsey, I didn’t get to make very difficult decisions. Normally, a project is well-defined and the most difficult decision I had to make was only around analysis and recommendation–there was no real consequence. At startup, I have to take difficult decisions. Deciding to fire or hire somebody is difficult. You need to build that thick skin and there is a high level of accountability involved.”       Written by: Raisa Nabila Community Manager at Bukapintu (Indonesia) Raisa is Community Manager at Bukapintu, a career network for Indonesian students and fresh graduates. She believes that storytelling and pop culture are powerful tools to change the world. Raisa is always on board for any cause that encourages people to find their life purpose earlier.    

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MBB vs. Big 4: Job Titles Within Consulting Firms

by Neekita Patel | 20 Jun 2017

Soon after you start your research on management and strategy consulting firms, you will notice that there is no common set of title across firms. Sometimes this makes it hard to understand where you would fit in and who you are talking to, especially if you are interviewing.  Below is and overview of the differences between MBB and the Big Four which both offer consulting services, the titles and their variations.    First, what is the difference between MBB and Big Four?  In consulting, MBB is an acronym that stands for the three most prestigious management consulting firms in the business: McKinsey, The Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company. Occasionally, the top firms are called the MBBB, with Booz & Company thrown into the mix. MBB consulting firms are not to be confused with the Big Four, the world’s four largest audit firms; Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Pwc (Pricewaterhouse Coopers), Ernst & Young and KPMG which also have consulting arms, in addition to doing finance, audit, operations, implementation and tech work.    Second, what are the titles that exist in the firms and their variations?  Although the titles vary, the tasks are similar and mostly you would meet people at six levels. The number of level may increase or decrease by one based on the size of the firm. Promotions from the middle management tier onward tends to be determined by performance and not simply the number of years in experience.     MBB group Titles & Variations:   Big Four Group Titles & Variations: Want to learn more about the differences that exist within consulting firms? For limited time only use promo code, “MC25″‘ to speak a management consultant for RM 25.00! START HERE Disclaimer: This article is based on our research using corporate sources as well as information shared by online communities. The accuracy of information is not guaranteed for every region in the world, and some variance may apply between countries and offices of the same company.  

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What You Should Know About McKinsey, BCG and Bain Before Applying

by Frank Looi | 16 Jun 2017

If you have ever had your eyes set on the Top 3 consulting firms (MBB), you have probably tried to research the differences between working at McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company. It doesn’t matter if you are thinking about working there, or are currently working there – people will ask you why you would choose one over another, and it can be hard to articulate your reasons because these companies are just different flavours of the same taste. Did you know? Grammy winner John Legend was Management Consultant at BCG for 3 years before becoming a singer. So, do you want to impress the next person who asks you about the difference between McKinsey, BCG, and Bain? (Maybe even your interviewer!) You just have to equip yourself with the solid facts, the small little differences between the companies from their recruitment process to your opportunities after exiting these firms. Important Fact: MBB do share a lot in common: they all have headquarters in the United States, hire talent and find clients from a shared pool. They often compete at the same price point. Furthermore, the general business strategy and overall quality of work across industries and functional areas are similar. What truly differentiates one from the other is the culture at each of the firms – the values that they seek and the mindsets that you will cultivate at the company.   What to know about MBB’s Recruitment and Interview Process   How do I get recruited for MBB? All three target fresh graduates and Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) holders from top tier universities. Recruitment timeline varies depending on each company, what degree you hold, as well as the region of your university. Refer to the company’s career site. See application deadlines for McKinsey, BCG, Bain. You may start applying for full time opportunities in your final year of undergraduate studies. Tip: Boost your chances of landing a job interview (e.g. if you do not hold an undergraduate degree) by building a network of consultants who can make referrals for you. This could be something that our mentors can help! What is the interviewer looking for? You will need to be prepared for intense interviews including your fit at the company and case interviews. All 3 apply pressure to you to see different things as part of your problem solving ability and thought process: For McKinsey: Portraying your personality and making a connection with your interviewer. Your performance on their Problem Solving Test (see example) For BCG: Your intellectual curiousity when asking questions and creative thinking skills. For Bain: Client-handling skills to understand the clients’ needs and how you respond to the interviewer’s coaching. All 3 companies want to hear the wealth of experience that you hold, your ability to frame a business challenge, identify important issues during the discussion, drive the discussion, digesting facts and data along the way, making quantitative estimations and coming up with a strong business recommendation. Interviewers also sometimes test your ability to think creatively with brain teasers such as trick questions and riddles. During an interview, you are typically given cases that the company are working on to experience how it is like to work there, take a look at case studies from McKinsey, BCG, Bain that you can use as preparation materials.   What is it like to work for MBB? McKinsey Company culture: Professional, Structured, Formal, Long Client Relationships Likely personalities you’ll meet at the company: Smart, Intelligent, Logic-orientated people Career progression: Fresh recruits typically join as Business Analysts, possibly working up towards Junior Associate, Associate, Engagement Manager, Associate Principal and then Partner. Sayings: “We believe we will successful if our clients are successful.” (Photo credits: Philippe Ruault) BCG Company culture: Academic approach, Cooperative, Family Orientated, Intellectual Likely personalities you’ll meet at the company: Thought Leaders, Creative, Brainy people Career progression: Fresh recruits typically join as Associates, possibly working up towards Consultant, Project Leader, Principal then Partner. Sayings: “If you don’t win people’s hearts, as well as minds, you don’t make real change happen.” (Photo credits: Carr Design Group) Bain Company culture: Supportive, Camaraderie, Results Oriented, Innovative, Fun and Social (see ExperienceBain) Likely personalities you’ll meet at the company: Sociable, Casual, Approachable people Career progression: Fresh recruits typically join as Associate Consultants, possibly working up towards Senior Associate Consultant, Consultant, Case Team Leader, Principal and then Partner. Sayings: “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail.” (Photo credits: Business Insider)   Famous Alumni McKinsey Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook         Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of iflix Malaysia         BCG John Legend, singer and songwriter Bain Mitt Romney, Politician and former CEO of Bain                Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard   What happens after you exit the company? Most MBB alums are recruited into CEO, VP or other leadership positions. The firm’s alumni network is a strong indicator of good exit opportunities based on connections to people at external companies. McKinsey is well-reputable globally and has a wide alum network across industry sectors, while BCG also has a good alum network with various activities to connect with alums. Bain is known to foster strong alumni relationships even though the network is smaller. All in all, your personality may align with one of the MBB companies better than the others. When it comes to making a choice, you should make an informed decision that fulfil as many of your wants as possible.   Wish to practice case studies alongside a mentor? Connect with our consultants who can prepare you for the interview. Start Here   Disclaimer: This article is based on our research using corporate sources as well as information shared by online communities. The accuracy of information is not guaranteed for every region in the world, and some variance may apply between countries and offices of the same company.

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4 Pro Tips to Handle being Clueless at Work

by Frank Looi | 09 Jun 2017

Employers today know the importance of collaboration and task delegation to improve their workforce productivity. For the employees, however, this means moments of miscommunication, misdirection, vague instructions, stress, and expectations to meet. These are some reasons why we sometimes feel lost and confused at work. Fear not, you are not the only one feeling like this. Some days are tougher than others. The idea is always to find your way out of this state of confusion. Here are some mental shortcuts that our mentors use at work (because yes, they face it too) to make it easier for you to get out of it.   #1 Sit out from work for a bit! Reorganise your thoughts. Continuously facing the task that you’re confused about will only lead to further frustration. “I believe that the best way is just to sit and chill out first.” Ana Jovanovic (Chief Operating Officer at the NGO SOLS24/7) recommends. “Go back to the tasks you were given and try to understand them better.” Similarly, Thatchu Selvarajan advises you to take a step back. “Remember, nothing ever gets solved by worrying about a problem.” Like Thatchu, our mentor from the UK, we recommend you take your mind and body somewhere else – take a stroll down the pantry, a lounge, or outside – and away from work. This might help you come back stronger to your work.   (Picture from Entrepreneur.com) #2 Stuck on something you do not understand? Reach out to a colleague. You are certainly not alone. Look around! Your colleagues are with you. You are no alien to them even if you have never spoken before. See, it is okay if they do not have the answer or knowledge to complete the task for you! Just take their suggestions and examine the situation with a different pair of eyes. As Tarminder Singh , Senior Executive at International Medical University puts it; it is about learning the fact that you don’t know and getting to improve yourself. Sirhajwan Idek, a teacher at Keningau Vocational College, thinks that “Experience is the best teacher, as well as those who have had the experience.” Use your intuition to find the best buddy to reach out to. Remember, forget about the fact that they are older or younger, how long they have been in the company, which department they are from, etc. All you need is to be honest to them and to yourself.   #3 Let your boss know! (BUT carefully… Read on) Depending on your organisation, it might be better to approach your supervisor directly to clarify about something you are confused about. Contact them and let them know what troubles you, but you have to do this with caution. “Don’t sound frustrated as it is completely normal that sometimes you get lost in the task.” Ana relays. “Instead of saying you don’t get it at all, explaining to them what exactly is not clear makes it easier for them to see what is not clear to you.” More often than not, your boss knows how it feels to be clueless, and are happy to lend assistance. Patrick Tan, a consultant at A.T.Kearney, thinks that you should not always be guessing what your supervisor wants from you when confused. “Challenging your direct supervisor to get better and clearer instructions shows he or she that you have thought through the work and you intend to deliver what’s needed,” though Patrick says this should be done with the right professional tone. This not only saves you from making unnecessary mistakes but also help you meet or exceed the expectation of your boss.   (via Tenor) #4 Believe in your capabilities Last but not least, do not doubt yourself! There is a lot still to know and to learn in the office and these hard times are only indications that you can still improve. “Always believe in your capabilities not just to fulfil your roles but also to constantly get better.” Sirhajwan echoes. We tend to forget who we are when we don’t know what to do, but remember feeling lost and confused occasionally is perfectly fine – it just means that you are being challenged and that you are still growing! Do you remember how you used to feel lost and confused at the world around you when you were still a child? No one knows it all, and we’re all still figuring it out. Advice from the Family Ferret It is good to draw a line between what is personal and what is professional. What you do not know at work does not define who you are as a person. Similarly, keeping a professional tone is about setting your emotions aside to get something done. See the office as a safe space for you to learn from others, and to learn about yourself! Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and recognise it is not your tasks that control you – but your thoughts. Thank you to our mentors who contributed to this post!   Prolonged confusion and dissatisfaction at work might be a symptom of a bigger problem related to your career direction. Get insights from our mentors to help you feel more settled in your career. If you are lost and confused about your career path in general, we are hosting a Webinar series where mentors will illuminate the search for a career ‘direction’. Yes, it is free!

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FutureLab Talks Tech; 5 Skills Every Computing Student Should Have!

by Neekita Patel | 09 Jun 2017

FutureLab was recently at HELP University to share some insights into the Tech Field with three mentors who have made their mark in the field of technology. The scope of discussion was wide but one significant point which was brought up is that students are leaving university with insufficient skills. The question which quickly became the theme of the session was, ‘what skills should computing students acquire to have a smooth transition into the workforce?’ Here are the 5 skills you should equip yourself with if you are a computing student: 1.Be Logical Computer science heavily focuses on solving problems or at least dealing with them. You are presented with many standard solutions for certain problems. Logic comes into the equation when you designing and/ or arguing for a solution. This is especially if you’re dealing with elegant solutions. The computer is based on logical gates. In order to create a communication bridge between the imagination and a computer, you need to be able to express yourself correctly. The computer is unforgiving in this sense. When you come down to the nitty-gritty of computer science, you are always solving a big logic puzzle. 2. Write neat, simple and modular codes A  computer science student should be able to write codes that others can understand. Those who choose to go down a path which involves coding especially are essentially signing up to become authors. The target audience are not computers but other programmers. Writing clean codes require hard work, focus and a lot of practice. It remains monumentally important at every point because creating new codes includes reading old codes. 3. Quick Learning Ability  Good computer science students are also good self-learners. It is important for students to learn how to teach themselves different programming languages from the very early days of university. This is because the programming languages used by employers vary. Individuals should be able to adapt for this reason and also because programming language change over time. The best way to learn this is through exposure to multiple languages and paradigms, and practicing the languages by writing them. One the greatest skill for an individual to have is the ability to learn, and good developers have mastered the skill of self-learning. 4.Collaboration and communication Good communication skills have a direct correlation to good development skills. Developing a product or software requires one to think like a team member.  Good computer scientists offer teammates help when they are stuck, teach new skills to others and write documentation that would help teammates not only in their organization but the developer community in general. 5. Critical thinking skills   This is one of the biggest challenges facing most students entering the world of work and that includes computer science students. During their education, their programming experience was probably based around assignments focused on teaching a single lesson or skill. Picking up an existing body of code, forensically identifying and fixing bugs, validating the changes and running through integration and deployment stages could more accurately simulate the kinds of challenges students will face later. Are you a computing student looking for more great advice? Learn more with a FutureLab mentor by clicking here!

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Tips on Becoming an Accenture Consultant

by Byron Tan | 07 Jun 2017

At FutureLab Talks with Accenture which took place on the 21st January 2017, we spoke with 4 very insightful and inspiring consultants from Accenture; Ashwin Kandapper, Su-Queen Hong, Tiffanie Ong and Pui Li Ho. Between them, they have over 15 years of experience in management consultancy with Accenture. We spoke to them about the Accenture interview process, how often Accenture hires and for some tips and tricks in the consultancy game. Here’s what they said: 1. Can you tell us about Accenture’s interview process? What’s it like and what are some common pitfalls of graduates applying?   Tiffanie: When I walked into the first interview, I wasn’t expecting case studies. I thought they would focus on going over my CV and such, but the first question I was asked was ‘How many individual french fries does all the MacDonald’s in the Klang Valley sell in a year. Obviously, with this type of question, there are no right or wrong answers. It was more about the process you would take to solve it. How I answered this was I broke it down into the number of stores there are, then I broke up the working hours into peak and non-peak hours. The number of customers during these hours, how many of them buy small, medium or large in average. Then I assumed how many French Fries were in each packet. When in an interview they want to see the processes you use behind problem solving. It is about breaking it down into different components and what kind of benchmarks you need to be able to arrive at a solution. For the following interviews I was given a case based on what the senior manager at the time was working on, and they were looking at how to solve problems and answering in a structured manner. I would recommend ‘Case In Point’ to young graduates looking to practice their case study solving skills. Su-Queen: During my interview process I was put into a team to see how well we could work together. My assumption is because they want to see what kind of person you are in terms of being a team player, the leader or the sheep.       2. Does Accenture hire all year round or is there a specific deadline for applications to be submitted? Ashwin: We hire all year round, but the peak hire periods coincide with university graduations around the world, so considering when students graduate from university in Australia, US, UK or anywhere around the world. There are no specific deadlines for getting hired but the state of the market plays a role in how many we take in each year. Can each of you share an experience as a management consultant at Accenture? What do you remember about your first project? Su-Queen: When I graduated I didn’t know what to do. I started at Accenture as an intern and from there I became an analyst My first experience was stressful. I was interested in learning and the people around me and my seniors were interested in teaching me, but I was so busy I didn’t really have the opportunity to sit down with them.  In consulting you work with a lot of people in a lot of different industries, and it was quite nerve wrecking. I was working long hours starting at 9am up till 2am or 4 am but that’s ok because when you’re young you don’t really need sleep anyways. What I realised during this process was that there’s always an opportunity to learn. When you work in management consulting they say you’re thrown into a river and you don’t know how to swim, but you have friends and colleagues that throw you floats so you can stay buoyant. Pui Li: For my first project I was put into something called channel analytics. Where we had to look at different customer channels and give them advice on improving customer experiences. For the first few weeks, I was told that I needed to learn how to code. So I spent 8-9 hours everyday learning. It helped me a lot because in that environment it is essential for us to understand data and be able to process it, structure it in a way to be analyzed. Learning how to code gave me an actual tangible skill to be able to create insights from the data. Ashwin: I started in the same project as Pui Li and I also had to learn how to code, but I could never do it properly. I relied heavily on the support of my colleagues and supervisors, but that’s ok because starting off my supervisors expected me to make mistakes and understood it was a learning process. I took the feedback they gave me and improved myself. I was lucky to have a safe work environment to make mistakes and learn. Tiffanie: I have a weird background, I came from a research and academic background so I had some preconceived notions about how work should be. In academia everyone is an expert, they have a very specific hypothesis and their perspective is very vertical in a sense that their knowledge is very in-depth in specific fields. One of the first things I realized is that I never thought that people could be knowledgeable in breadth and in depth. Which I found inspiring because they know everything about a specific industry and they understand functional domains in each operation. My first project was with an Oil and Gas client, they grew by buying companies so the project was a global operating model alignment project, with the headquarters based in KL. This was terrifying for me because my project lead empowered me to a level I wasn’t sure I deserved given how new I was to the industry and the respective functional areas within the project scope so there’s a lot of thinking on your feet and hard work to be able to not disappoint them and the client. Another take away from my first experience as a management consultant was how humbling it really was. In academia, I was used to presenting to people who were forced to listen to me, but clients don’t need to. I really had to think about how to convince them that I could help. Here I learned that sometimes hard work doesn’t increase your chances of having your projects passed, without having to go back and revisit it. And this doesn’t increase as your experience increases because as you get better you get thrown into more challenging projects.      3. What advice would you give a fresh graduate or university students looking for their first job and why? Su-Queen: Don’t be afraid. Try not to doubt yourself if possible because we always do. We question ourselves ‘am I capable?’, ‘am I smart enough?’, ‘am I pretty enough?’… But try to limit it and don’t doubt yourself so much because no matter how far you are into the working world whether you have 3 years of experience or 15 years there’s always going to be self-doubt. Realize that there is no such thing as the smartest person in the world and that everyone is on the same journey of growth. Pui Li: I was lucky in the sense that I had planned out my university and transition into the workplace quite well. But If I had to give advice I would say: Do more extra-curricular activities. Participate in student bodies because they give you exposure. You are always skewed towards only a few set paths but you should experiment to see what you want to do and where you want to go because the world is growing with more opportunities. Ashwin: You might have a very good perspective on what you want to do and if you do that’s great. But more people don’t know where to go or what they want to do. In university pick a subject that interests you. One of our best consultants and my old roommate did English Literature in University. Most employers don’t care about what you did in university rather they care about where you did it and how well you did. So always pick something you’re interested in. Tiffanie: My journey is weird, I did my Ph.D. in neuroscience. What I would tell young grads is that clarity of your end goal is important but its secondary. I was always supposed to be a doctor of medicine. I did the internship and everything, I was first posted to the ER ward but I found that I couldn’t handle watching parents cry. From there I decided to go into clinical psychology because I thought it was more important. I did all the necessary requirements and did a Ph.D. in brain sciences, at the time I thought that I could do research for life but eventually, I realized there were issues with academia that I didn’t enjoy either. I wanted to solve problems but not my own, so then I decided to go into management consulting.  My advice is this: Don’t be afraid to talk to people. A lot of the decisions I made on my journey were made from a single conversation. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers, you can figure them out as you go along.   4. Could each of you give us one piece of career advice? Su-Queen: Presentation skills and working with people. If you’re an analyst, consultant or manager you have to be able to interact with people well. You have to learn how to strike a conversation and it will help you along the way. Pui Li: Don’t always think that you’re always by yourself. There’s a pool of support that you can get help from, reach out and try to get help. Ask for advice and realise that everyone knows something that you don’t and learn from them. Ashwin: Own up to your mistakes, we all make them. Being honest with your supervisors and your teammates and help solve a problem before it snowballs into something bigger. Being honest with your mistakes will help you grow and will also help the people you work with. Tiffanie: There’s always timeline pressures. It is not said enough about how important teamwork is. Know your strengths but if you’re not sure it doesn’t matter just do your best. Having the right attitude at times is more important than actual ability. Don’t feel like people are judging you and don’t think that you are alone and you have to outperform others on your team, because if a project goes well, everybody wins but if you hold back just because you don’t want to ask for help and you end up bringing it down, then game over.   5. How can fresh grads practice for consultancy? Tiffanie: Do case studies. It depends on which part of management consultancy you want to get into. Make sure you work through your calculations and crunch your numbers. Make sure you always check on your process as you get closer to the answer. Also, remember that it is more about the process. You will always sound better in your head: if it doesn’t go well and you don’t think you’re a fit for the firm there’s no harm in trying. I remember during one of my interviews half way through I told them “I’m sorry I don’t think I’m ready for this now, but do you mind if I just talk to you for awhile and learn more about what you do?” and even now I still maintain a relationship with the people in that firm. It is understated how important numerical skills are. Your brain is a muscle you need to exercise. Your nerves show in an interview, but the more you practice and the more you talk about it the more comfortable you get with it, it becomes something like pressing the play button. So I’d suggest talking to your friends about case studies and just asking questions.     EndNote: The most valuable thing to you as a person is life, for as far as we can prove we only have one. So you should use yours in a useful way – when you look back and reflect will you regret your actions? Will you be embarrassed for what you’ve done? At the hour of death can you say that you’ve devoted your life and efforts to a noble legacy? Can you say that you’ve fought for the ascension of the world? If you want to give back to society and improve the world, start with yourself. As you improve yourself the impact you have on your environment will also grow. If you want change. Be the change you want to see. For mentors please share some of your time to someone who needs some help, or advice. For mentees, BE BRAVE, ask questions and always be learning. Because happiness isn’t a paycheck, it’s progress. Stay hungry Futurists.   -The Family Ferret   Interested to connect with mentors who work with Accenture? Subscribe to FutureLab now and open your horizons to the real world!

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Debunking the Myths: Millennials are Not Lazy and Compulsive Job-Hoppers

by Neekita Patel | 01 Jun 2017

Job hopping is a common feature of being a young professional and it does not apply to only a particular generation of people. This is what a Keng San, a Vice President at Khazanah Nasional recently said. Interestingly this is also supported by a Delloitte survey. It states young professional moving is not exceptional to young people. In fact the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 which represents 8000 millennials from 30 countries states,  ‘Young professionals now indicate they’re less likely to leave the security of their jobs, more concerned about uncertainty arising from conflict, and—especially in developed countries—not optimistic about their future prospects nor the direction their countries are going.’ So, why are there are wide spread generalisations about millennials being lazy and compulsive job hoppers when the truth seems to be very different? In fact, the Guardian managed to pull out data which suggested figures on job tenure is almost identical as they were in the 1980’s. We spoke to FutureLab mentors who explained it is only natural for millennials to work differently. They are the products of job markets shifting and growing; technology advancing, cultures shifting, financial challenges shifting and the kind of work and the way it is done having changed. However, none of this creates any room for those differences to be reduced to lazy stereotypes. Our millennials do believe today much more than ever, as Terrina Ellen (influencer on LinkedIn) suggests, steady employment means showing up consistently and performing to your best ability to help the company and team, and in exchange for this you are given a salary and benefits. However, FutureLab mentors are of the opinion that this has always been the case. That brings us to the question, what are the factors that differentiate Millennials from Gen X?   What differentiates Millennials from Gen X? 1. Millennials are purpose driven Millennials get a lot of recognition for being a purpose-driven generation, and based on our interviews, this is true. They are looking for sense of purpose which overlay personal values, contribution to society, utilisation and growth of talents. Millennials are indeed reshaping the way the workplace functions, but this is not because of their desire for bean bags or a pantry filled with food. The reshaping of a workplace is happening because of the concern of the people aspect at work. This is an important factor that comes into play when millennials choose to stay at  or leave a job. Again, they are not job-hoppers but young people who are exploring the market to see what fits and aligns them best. There is a desire for challenge and growth and a rejection of the idea of a 9-5 job with a pay check with little growth beyond a title or skill. They are for business but they are also for one that alleviates social and environmental problems and this is because they feel accountable for it. What remains true is that regardless of generation, if an individual does not enjoy their job, they are likely to job-hop. 2. Millennials are loyal to work place advancement This brings us to the question of loyalty. A subject which employers often bring up. Based on our interviews, it comes down to economic confidence which millennials lack. This is only strengthened considering the current global economic market. According to Human Resources Malaysia, ‘A total of 31,476 employees in Malaysia were laid off between January – September 2016 – 54.2% (17,051) in the usual layoffs and 45.8% (14,425) via the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS).’ The fact that companies are not loyal justifies to some extent why millennials are not loyal. Life’s basic lesson is clearly showcased in these layoffs, where the company’s bottom line always take precedence over the loyal employees, hence making Millennials loyal to advancement as opposed to being loyal to companies. Deloitte’s 2016 study did support the need for millennials to strive for financial security, and in the current global economy, financial security could possibly belong to those who don’t have a problem to work for 14-15 jobs during their life time which would provide them with career advancement. They generally don’t want to risk becoming stagnant. 3. Millennials do want full-time stability Flexibility has become the “it” word in the working world today. But what does it really mean when it comes to millennials?  Essentially, what they want is the desire for flexibility with full-time stability. While here at FutureLab we unfortunately have no data to prove this, there are suggestions by mentors that the current workforce are working many more hours than previous generations. This is because of the integration of technology into work. Emails, files and information is easily accessible through the phone. There are many working hours that are unaccounted for. The flexibility being asked for is not a compromise on targets and quality of work but rather is in relation to the way the output is achieved. What did we conclude? Based on our interviews and conversations we are beginning to believe millennials are largely  concerned with what the company does and how it treats people more than anything. In order to get the best out of the shift in workplaces, the question that comes to mind is how can millennials and company management work together, to create a workplace that meets the needs of the generation, while keeping career paths, development opportunities and a sense of purpose (which could be as simple as adding value to the company) at the forefront of a company? However, what remains true is that it is about time poor employee retention is not associated with lazy and compulsive job-hopping millennials. Fun Fact: Did you know that the term ‘Millennial’ was coined in 1991 by Neil Howe and William Strauss? It was first used in their book named, ‘Generations.’ To receive more great content right in your inbox, sign up with us here!    

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