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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.
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.
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.
by Frank Looi | 10 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!
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!
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!
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!
by Frank Looi | 02 Jun 2017
Life is like a marathon: you’ve always got to arrive somewhere and achieve something while time sweeps beneath us like fabric. In our own journey, it is easy to forget that others are also on their journey of life with moments of joy and pain. (Photo: Paulius Jacionis & Quotefancy) June could be that month where you need a little bit of push for the rest of the year; so here is a reminder from our mentors for you to take pride in yourself, especially moments that are toughest and closest to you. These are heartfelt stories of grit, success, perseverance and pride as told by our mentors. 1. Sirhajwan Idek I always believe that my greatest accomplishment as a teacher is the achievements of my students. I invariably find it hard to educate and motivate my students but my persistence has been a key element to delivering outcomes: my students have shown major improvement in terms of their confidence and competence our unprecedented participation and accomplishment in English competitions, academic events, innovations and entrepreneurship we continue to explore more opportunities and possibilities. What made me proud even if they did not win – even if they were placed last – was the “winner” attitude and positive mindset that they had developed in the p r o c e s s. Their accomplishments have helped me earned state, national and international awards and although I won many awards, they have been the greatest award I have ever attained. They are the greatest accomplishment that I am most proud of. 2. Tarminder Singh We all have something we are proud of; something to look back upon with a great sense of pride. These not only serve as a motivation but also shows you that the seemingly impossible can be p o s s i b l e. For me, the accomplishment that I am most proud is one of personal success. When I finished high school, I was an obese teen and tipped the scales at 100kg. At that point, I knew that this had to change and the change had to be an inner desire rather than forced. Determined, I signed up for a gym, educated myself on fitness and nutrition, came up with a fitness plan and in 3 months, I lost 10kgs (and 30kgs in 1 year). Not resting on my laurels, I made sure this turned into a lifestyle change. Today, I am glad to say that my weight issues are a problem of the past. This taught me several life lessons: a sustainable plan triumphs quick-fix schemes focus on the end goal, and more importantly inner motivation is a powerful tool for any c h a n g e in this world. Since then, I have had many other accomplishments (career and personal-related), but this one tops the list as this showed me that you and I could achieve anything if we want it bad enough. (via GIPHY) 3. Thatchu Selvarajan My proudest accomplishment to date is securing an opportunity for me to further my career in UK/Europe. Attempting to secure an industrial placement has taught me a lot about how competitive the market can be, especially in the engineering field. Most importantly, not letting the failure of others’ attempts put me down was key to persevering. With that in mind, securing a role on a program with a company that affords me European & global exposure, leadership training, challenging roles, and career progression was everything I could ever ask for in a job out of university. It has been an exciting journey so far with tons more to offer, which keeps me excited and going daily! (via GIPHY) Thatchu is a recent University of Sheffield graduate and now Continuous Improvement Engineer at Morgan Advanced Materials in the UK. Do you relate to them or want to share your struggles? Let us know and we will give you a free session for you to speak with them on our platform!
by FutureLab | 26 May 2017
Working well with your colleagues is important. It is important for having a successful career and to be mentally and emotionally healthy. We spend 8-9 hours of our day at the office and if you are not able to speak with someone who is friendly enough to revert back or participate in a conversation, then it is likely that the time is being spent in a miserable place. When you are working with a team, it is important that the morale is high and you have fun whilst working together no matter how grilling the day is. When there are team members who refuse to work with one another, the quality of work usually suffers. So what do you do if you want to build friendly working relationships but don’t know how to? Here are 4 awesome tips from FutureLab mentors that will help: 1. Practice common courtesy: This should be self-explanatory, but always greet your colleague with simple ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ with a smile. You never have to go over the top, but a simple hi and exchange of smile is the first step to a constructive workplace. Make eye contact and refer to them by their name. This is the oil that keeps the engine of cooperation running smoothly. The general rule that follows after is always keep a smile on your face; never forget a “thank you” or a “sorry” where necessary and applicable. 2. Stay positive: Be as positive as you can. It is important that you stay positive and influence your colleagues with your positive energy as well. This will help you initiate healthy conversation with your colleagues and they will also enjoy your company. Positive vibes always initiate conversation and people will know that you are approachable. 3. Rise above office gossip: Workplace gossip is as common as grass, it grows everywhere. Engaging in it is a pretty effortless way to set a dubious example, diminish your stature, lose respect, and contribute to a toxic workplace environment. Gossips are major relationship killers at work. If you’re experiencing conflict with someone in your group, talk to them directly about the problem. Gossiping about the situation with other colleagues will only exacerbate the situation, and will cause mistrust and animosity between you. 4. Encourage familiarity: It is important to not keep communication formal and business based all the time but to also treat your colleagues as friends (or humans at least!). Take genuine interest in their hobbies, activities, etc (not just for the sake of it). You will soon find this being reciprocated when your colleagues take interest in you. Workplace relationship fails when communication is made only when necessary to get things ticked off the list. Change your approach and you’ll start to see how positively your colleagues react and communicate with you on a daily basis, and thus improve your workplace relationships and the way you work together. A big thank you to our awesome mentors who always generously contribute their thoughts for our articles. For this article, special credits go to Thatchu Selvarajan, Quan Phang, Sirhajwan Idek and Tarminder Singh! For more awesome content, head over to our blog The Futurist!
by Frank Looi | 20 May 2017
Most of us find it hard describing our relationship with our mothers. Those low days when you had really strong opinions but felt remorseful that your mother did not listen to you is mixed with the good days when your mother was somehow just where you needed her to be – a face in the crowd, a supportive teammate, a captain, or the devil’s advocate. This Mother’s Day, we invited our mentors to trace their fruits today back to the seeds that their mothers had planted decades ago. For those of us who are busy chasing success, let’s not forget mothers around the world who are also contributing to society, and most importantly to give thanks to our own ah ma. #1 You’re doing your best If you try to name everything that your mother does not do well, you will likely have a long list. But the same goes for anyone, even yourself. Fung Wei, the CTO of on-demand job delivery platform GoGet, highlights the micro-responsibilities his mother had to ensure the family and her husband’s business operated as optimally as it could. “Seeing my mom, a Ph.D. holder and ex-student activist, take it upon herself to simultaneously manage the finances (a field unrelated to her academic practice) of my dad’s business as well ensuring the comfort of their home made me realise the importance of ensuring operations run like clockwork.” This drove the reliable tech that Fung spearheaded at GoGet which allows its service to be on-demand and beyond office hours. Thatchu, an engineer who have spent over half a decade in the UK (and counting) away from his family, is unable to fully actualise the kinds of verbal and physical communication that allows him to show his care and love for his mother. “We are restricted to the occasional trip home and weekend Skype calls,” but he always recognized his career success as an action item to repay his mother’s hope and love from since he was little. “Being away spurred me even more, to make sure I gave my best in what I do, love what I do, and make her proud; my way of saying thank you to her from 7000 miles away!” #2 You help others in your career path Like your mentor or superior at work, a mother too can inculcate values in ourselves that guide our actions. A mother’s story can help us highlight the problem in the world and urge us to tackle it. As explained by Brian, the FutureLab social enterprise model is etched by the stories of his mother’s hardships in her younger years due to her underprivileged financial background. “The reason why we want to give back to society and support underprivileged children in their education is so that it can underpin the improvements in their life quality,” says Brian. Rather than competing and eliminating each other, we should care for those around us and share the information that we have to help them improve. “And that is what mentorship is about; we want to cultivate a culture of sharing and help others in their path especially those who find it more difficult than others.” (Photo via http://www.mattempson.com) #3 You are honest with yourself While we’re busy gearing ourselves towards our goals and dreams, we tend to be hard on ourselves whenever we’re faced with setbacks. “It is to have respect for people and most importantly for yourself whenever you make a mistake or wrong,” Francesca tells of her mother, a retiree from the demanding corporate lifestyle, who developed a parenting style based on trust and strength. “My mother was so busy that she only could ask if we were doing good or not,” and she needed the honesty to admit the times that she was not feeling the best physically or emotionally, as compared to mothers who spend a lot of time with their children to sense something is wrong. (Photo via http://www.everyvowel.com/) Advice from the Family Ferret It is through this turbulent journey of personal growth where we internalise the advice and actions that our moms are so willing to offer. In some ways, our moms are our lifelong mentors who trust and understand us – she is someone who knows you, a listener, a supporter, and a best friend. Today and every day is an opportunity to spend some more time with your mother, tell them how you are doing and your problems. If there is anyone in this world who wants to celebrate your success and failure, it is most likely your birth giver. Feeling like checking in with someone to assess how you are doing professionally, or want a little bit of boost in your career path? Hear it from our mentors who nurtured a professional journey that they love.
by Yen Wei | 18 May 2017
Not entirely like “Suits” or “Legally Blonde”, a career in law is high-pressured, competitive and demanding, and often only those who genuinely love the work stand a chance at success. At least 40 percent of law graduates don’t end up in a legal career, but rather work across a multitude of fields ranging from business, PR and marketing, to even scientific and technical activities sectors. Many law graduates have gotten jobs in teaching and administration; in public service settings; for corporations and businesses; and for nonprofit organisations. Even though the theoretical aspects may not be utilised, your law degree is not wasted because it gives you skills employable in all kinds of profession. Graduates should realise that law and the legal profession is, in fact, alive. The “practice” of law is a verb for a reason; it is about putting into practice and applying concepts and theories to real problems. Lawyers are akin to doctors, as Qin Ru points out. Just as there are different doctors in different specialities – cardiologists, ophthalmologists and gastroenterologist – lawyers have various expertise too, such as family law, intellectual property and corporate practice. For those who are at crossroads whether to embark or remain in a legal career, our mentors shared their insights on some questions young lawyers should reflect on and what it takes to excel. Here are 5 checklists to help you in your decision: 1. Have you discovered the drive behind your work? Kelvin, a trainee solicitor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in London, gets excited when he speaks of the stimulating nature of the job. His favourite part is the feeling of satisfaction when he participates in large international corporate acquisitions and subsequently sees the impact he has made on companies, employees and people’s lives. He finds the legal practice intellectually rewarding, and loves problem-solving to find the best solutions for his clients. As a tangent but nonetheless equally important, Qin Ru also thinks that lawyers should ask themselves: “what is my co-interest?” She draws an example from herself to illustrate. As a 7th year corporate and commercial lawyer currently in Teh & Lee, Qin Ru is in the capital markets practice which focuses on advising public listed companies with listings on Bursa Malaysia. She advises these companies on issues such as share issuance, initial public offers and listing, acquisition of companies and fund-raising. It is a relatively niche area and few lawyers in the country have the same profile as hers. “I love how my job is project based (6 to 9 months) and how much commercial skills are involved. It’s all about how you marry the two of your interests together because law doesn’t exist on its own. You have to peg it against some other real life skill. My area of legal practice is pegged against corporate and commercial growth of companies,” Qin Ru says. “Lawyers should figure out what their own self-interests are besides law, as this will open up career options and help them figure out their personal niche areas.” Izwan, a corporate lawyer at Widuri Capital Management, explains that it is hard to appreciate what you do if there is a lack of understanding. Your superior may not explain to you which adds to the confusion. “And so, you should be naturally curious about your job, and how it relates to the real world,” he says. (Image source: Giphy) 2. Do you have a high sense of self-awareness about your strengths and qualities? Have a heightened sense of self-awareness about what your interests are. Knowing your strengths and qualities are also necessary to excel, leading to a higher sense of commitment. Kelvin thinks that some of the most important qualities a good lawyer should have are analytical skills, determination, communication skills and being commercially aware. As a whole, a good lawyer should have the ability to pick up issues and understand how they affect your clients, and consequently coming up with a framework, solution or method. “Admittedly, determination is not always an easy thing. Lawyers have to persevere – they have very tight deadlines and it’s a high pressure environment as clients want things done easily with high standards to push through,” Kelvin says. “Commercial awareness is hard to define so experience is key; the more you experience, the more you will know how business and commerce operates. It will give you a more holistic thinking.” Izwan also talks about the ability to “always anticipate, not react”. A client who gives you a contract and asks for a review will expect you to propose or advice his next cause of action, and to go the extra mile if necessary. However, Kelvin also mused that it is very important to be open. “I have seen so many lawyers who went into law thinking it’s just one thing, but they get an entirely different experience from what they intend it to be… so don’t set a strict benchmark for yourself!” (Image source: Demetri Martin) 3. Do you enjoy summarising complex information and expressing them clearly? Upon asking Gregory Das from Shook Lin & Bok what he loved about his job most, he summarised it into two main parts. One, presenting cases in court; and two, reducing an argument into a simple form that caters to the person addressed in the best way possible. This could be anyone, from a judge in court to a client. For example, how you present legal arguments to your superiors in contrast with how you present to clients will differ greatly, although it should be thorough yet precise in both situations. Essentially, it is about explaining things in a clear and succinct manner best suited to your audience. Being able to express your client’s point of view clearly is immensely important, and the best way of doing so is to have a strong command of language. Lawyers often deal with large chunks of information and will be expected to present them to a variety of audiences. “Presenting information is what you will do daily – be it to the courts, your clients, your superiors or colleagues. Lawyers should know which relevant parts of the information to take out and to express them very clearly. This is indispensable and is a skill those who are interested should work on. I cannot emphasise this more,” Greg says firmly. 4. Are you a people person? “There are very few other professions that exposes you to so many varying aspects of society and industries, as law is so pervasive. A legal problem could arise in any field — from medical, technology to employment,” Qin Ru says. “Naturally, this means that you will be dealing with people from all walks of life. Law is a service based skill, after all.” Qin Ru also illustrates how learning to understand people will help you manage your expectations. For instance, a difficult client could be acting that way because he is concerned about an issue which he feels that you have not addressed or addressed it to his expectation. Kelvin conjectures that legal problems are essentially stories. It is easy to be focused on the principle, but if you delve deeper into the facts, each case is essentially a personal problem and revolves around people and relationships. That said, a good lawyer, or litigator specifically, may not necessarily be an extrovert or outspoken in terms of personality. “It’s like putting on a show, a performance,” Greg says. “When lawyers stand on the podium, they could be embodying their on-stage personality, a different side of them. Some of the best litigators could be introverts.” Jane* also thinks that good emotional quotient (EQ) is necessary to handle any politics that may potentially arise in some notorious law firms. “I cannot overemphasise the importance of this, and the first few years will be especially hard. In my first two years, I was at the bottom of the food chain. Even though I am a 7th year associate now, handling relationships at my firm becomes tricky in a different aspect as financial rewards, partnerships and promotions come into play. There will be some not-so-nice people out there, and having good social skills will be important.” It is not all doom and gloom though, as not every superior will be unreasonably tough,” Greg says. “There are many nice lawyers, believe it or not!” (Image source: Giphy) 5. Have you gained experience through a wide exposure of practice? “Experience is key. It counts a lot, especially in law,” Kelvin says. “Trainee programs are great in that sense because some of them offer a few different placements to find your field. Try everything at least, unless you are really determined to only do corporate, much like me,” he says. However, joining a small boutique firm is not always a bad idea either, because there are some amazing ones who truly shine in their expertise. Kelvin advises to apply to as many places as a person can. Qin Ru have also mused that one regret they had was not doing more clerkships or internships when they were younger. Having more experience in different areas will definitely help with making wiser and more informed decisions about your interests. This should certainly be a key takeaway to all young lawyers and graduates who are reading this! (Image source: Onsizzle) Advice from the Family Ferret The business of lawyering is very much dependant on the growth of other fields from technology, business to a country’s political state and international relations. This is crucial as it determines the landscape of legal practice in the future, which will continue to evolve over time. If legal practice does not appeal to you, there are still many other legal-related or alternative career avenues which you can venture into. However, for those who are still undecided, our mentors advised that, perhaps, it is wise to first dip your toes into private legal practice before joining a company. In addition, doing a pupillage in a large law firm would also expose you to a lot of commercial and civil matters. With these new perspectives gained, you will eventually find yourself on a path suited to your interest, be it law-related or otherwise. Having that extra qualification will also make you more employable in any field of interest you choose to venture. *Name changed for privacy purposes. Want to speak to our friendly mentors about a legal career? Click here or leave us a comment below!
by Neekita Patel | 17 May 2017
Funds required / Dana diperlukan: RM 4,025 No. of students impacted / Bil. murid diimpak: 16 Name of school / Nama sekolah: SK Jengka Batu 13 State / Negeri: Pahang Here is a heartfelt letter from Cikgu Umi Zuriati, who wishes to create a more conducive environment rich in learning materials for her primary school students: To anyone who is reading this, I am a teacher from SK Jengka Batu 13. This school is located in a rural area in Chenor, Pahang. There are altogether 106 students in the school and I have been given the responsibility to handle the 16 students in Year 6. My students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds whose parents are either farmers, rubber-tappers or vendors. Moreover, there are also aboriginals amongst them. Parents are supportive in terms of money for us to run programmes such as the “Program Kecermelangan UPSR”, but it is still a burden for them to support additional projects financially. Currently, I am teaching the subject of English and most of the activities I carry out in class are group activities. A favourite activity among the students involves presenting topics they have learned using various types of media. Some students would present using mahjong paper, some with scrapbooks and others with powerpoint slides. They enjoy creating slides and then presenting because they feel they have learned so much about presentations when creating slides on the computer. They also enjoy researching and looking for pictures to print out and show their friends to supplement their presentations. Unfortunately, my classroom is not equipped with an LCD projector, printer, speakers or other ICT facilities needed for 21st century learning. In addition, the school’s computer lab is not sufficient for an entire class of student to use regularly. Because of this, I bring my own personal LCD projector and printer to use in the school. I am not the only teacher who faces this problem. Imagine the difficulties teachers face when the school owns zero projectors. Some other teachers even bring their own television sets as an alternative for LCD projectors. Besides that, the classroom environment is not encouraging. The class is bare with little to no stimulation and without proper ICT facilities for them to have easy access to, students have little confidence in carrying out tasks related to ICT. Because of this, I have begun the process of a makeover to transform the classroom into a more conducive, ICT equipped learning environment. The process is carried out in two main phases, with Phase 1 being recently completed. Phase 1 – COMPLETED Repainting of classroom walls Fixing broken windows and doors Getting coverings for student tables Phase 2 Installation of ICT facilities (LCD projector, printer) Creating language corner and stocking up on books and learning aids Purchasing of teaching aids such as mini whiteboards and stationary Decorating the classroom to be more cheerful and full of visual aids Purchasing of cupboards and shelves for storage Before and after Phase 1 Over the course of 3 months, I have used my own personal funds as well as additional support from friends and family mounting up to RM 1,735 for the completion of Phase 1. However, Phase 2 was forced to be put on hold due to insufficient funds. Therefore, I am sincerely hoping and praying to raise enough funds to begin the second and final phase of this project. We need the balance of RM 3,780 to complete it, and I believe this will make a huge difference in the students’ learning and future. By doing this project, I hope my classroom will be an example of 21st century learning in the school. Sincerely, Cikgu Umi Zuriati Budget _____________
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