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Day in a Life of a Product Developer at GoGet.my

by Yen Wei | 16 May 2017

This is Brandon Pong. He is 27 years old and works as a Product Developer at GoGet.my. This is him in his element.  We are kidding! This is when we caught him after a long hard day of work and finally had a chance to relax.   This is GoGet.my.       Brandon says: “One of the things I love about my role is how I get to learn many facets of a business. My job isn’t boring because it changes and excites me! On one day, I work with designers and developers to improve user engagement of the product. On another day, I work with marketing in planning growth related experiments.” Here is a peek into his diary with these three random (but somewhat typical) of his work days:       10:00 am: Go through backlogs, check emails, and every channel on Slack.com. I take all the new information and prioritise task for the week. B: Slack is the official team communication tool. Yes, that is my official work time! 11:30 am: Daily stand-ups. B: This is not the literal meaning of standing up! It’s when the team gets together and share what they accomplished the day before. We also share if we have faced any obstacles – this allows other members to help. 11:45 am: Go through user flow with the designer. We do research, come out with basic sketches then get quick feedbacks from the team. B: This is on pen and paper so we do not waste time designing. So part of my job involves drawing too but nothing majorly artistic! 3:00 pm: Meeting with Fung, the Chief Technological Officer (CTO) to turn user stories into technical requirements for the developers. B: This includes coming up w new notification, such as general and job activity notification, character limits etc. 4:00 pm: Test the newest mobile built before submitting it to the App Store B: Every time you make changes, the Store will have to review it and will approve before it goes live. I use a template called test cases. Its all about functionality! 5:00 pm: Weekly Sprint meeting. B: The development team gathers to determine what we need to do this week. In this meeting, we discuss requirements, delegate task, and communicate expectations. ——   10:00 am: Go through emails, backlogs and attend to urgent tickets. I reprioritise task often. B: Urgent tickets are when customers have problem with the app. 11:00 am: Daily stand-ups 11:15 am: Check on what the community is saying on Facebook, check key metrics on various analytical tools. B: I use Pirate Metrics (AARRR), which stands for Acquisition, Activtaion, Retention, Revenue and Referral.  1:30 pm: Team Leads’ meeting: We review weekly growth metrics and priorities. 2:30 pm: We segment users to various personas. B: Personas are such as people with no credits but no top-up, people whose usage is increasing over the past few months and so on. We do analysis and find abnormalities, starting with the high impact ones. After that, I call them to understand behaviour and get product feedbacks. 5:30 pm: I video call remote developers to discuss weekly deliverables. B: GoGet has three platforms — web, Android and IOS. We only have web and Android based in KL, and we outsource our IOS team within Malaysia, which is why they work remotely. For example, one of our employee responsible for IOS lives in Pakistan! I have been calling him the past few months to check on progress.   ——   10:00 am: Go through emails, backlogs and attend to urgent tickets. 11:00 am: Daily stand-ups 11:15 am: Prepare a script for user testing later today. B: We want to see if users understand and feel confident in our new payment flow. So I will show them the product and check whether they understand, and ask questions on what they think. Very visual stuff. 1:30 pm: Meeting with operations team. B: Currently, they are working on some ideas to improve the match rate between supply and demand. 2.00 pm: Run quick user testing for the latest payment flow design. B: We run these tests internally and externally. We are currently working on a new payment flow for credit card, so I will have a bunch of mock-ups and show it to people and ask their opinions. 3:00 pm: Analyse findings with product team and make any necessary adjustments. 5:30 pm: Meeting with a merchant for potential product integration. B: We are currently working on new feature where when a customer buys a product on our site, it creates an instant delivery on their system (its called delivery API!). API allows your product to communicate with my product.   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Although this is what Brandon does in GoGet as a product developer, he tells us that it varies in different companies. For example, in Facebook, there are probably a team of almost 200 product managers, with many developers working on each feature. There is even a team just to handle their notifications! Working in a start-up is significantly different as compared to a big company! One key talent in a start-up you need is the ability to adapt fast – it helps to be a jack of all trades because you will work in many different areas, from design, business, technology to the product itself. You also have to work with everyone. Brandon is optimistic that anyone can be a Product Developer, as long as they are hungry for knowledge and are willing to learn. He once bought all 10 books on product management off Amazon, and read them in less than 6 months!     Pssst… before you go, we have a special behind-the-scenes footage that our cameraman captured:   It’s a good balance of work and play in Brandon’s life! Want to speak to Brandon to find out more about similar jobs? Book his time here!

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5 Reasons Why Spending Money on a Master’s Degree is Worth It

by Yen Wei | 12 May 2017

Is graduate school really worth spending your savings on?  A degree, which used to be a privilege or a commodity, may not even open the doors, or windows of opportunities you seek nowadays. We sent this question out to our mentors, and received bounteous reassurances this was a good choice to consider (they are not paid by any schools to endorse this!)  Here are the top 5 reasons why: 1. You will stand out via Giphy “Once I had done my integrated masters, I realized that a master’s degree not only allows you to stand out among other candidates with a bachelor’s degree when scavenging for your FIRST job out of university, but also gives that extra bridge towards industrial knowledge,” Thatchu reveals. It is very much dependent on the field of study, university, and course structure. But for instance in engineering, by doing that extra year to achieve your masters, modules are very much tailored towards relevant industry knowledge allowing you to pick and choose based on your interests. Thatchu specially highlighted FIRST job here, because it is his strong belief that your degree plays a somewhat similar level of importance to your experience straight out of university. But after your first job, degree rarely takes precedence over your experience, as your experience can give you valuable knowledge that one may not obtain through a degree. “Perhaps something to ponder about?” he quips. However, it could still be an advantage overall, at least in terms of academic qualifications, as there are many job seekers with a bachelor’s degree nowadays and the job market is growing more competitive and demanding, as advised by Sirhajwan. 2. It will develop your specialty expertise   via Giphy Daniel Loy believes that the fast-changing dynamics of the world today challenges the relevance of academic degrees but it is often an argument centered on career preparedness. As we grapple with that question, it is still important to note that graduates far and large do command more career opportunities and higher earnings – so don’t discount formal studies just yet. And as we go up the academic ladder to master’s programs, the benefits equation change. Unlike a generalised bachelor degree often seen as an entry level requirement, a master’s graduate begins a journey towards developing a specialty expertise. Yes, such expertise can be acquired on the job, but the rigour of academic research at the post graduate level is often a powerful skill in and of itself. Also, the nature of in depth research work requires you to familiarise yourself not only with the experts, leading voices, and theorists in the field but also those against – which then helps you to frame concise, coherent, and inclusive arguments. “A master’s degree is an indication to employers that you can undertake competent research, can claim some level of specialisation, and with a rounded work experience, positions yourself as a compelling and thoughtful hire,” Daniel advices. Sirhajwan also notes that it is a chance for you to pursue your passion and potential in a different field of study than what you did in your bachelor’s degree. This would not only help you realize your true capabilities on your other interests, but it also makes you more versatile.    3. You will have lifelong friends from all over the world who will go on to achieve great things via Giphy Faz Kamaruddin, Group Head of Talent of AirAsia, admits that although she has 20 years of work experience, she still cannot stop thinking about getting a master’s. Partly because she has been so impressed by the quiet confidence of a representative from UTS (University of Technology Sydney) who told her that graduates from UTS have a 97% employability rate. Ironically, she believes that her detractors have helped her to be clearer about her purpose. “I had to think – why a master’s degree? It adds another dimension to my decision-making,”  “People who decide to dedicate some time in their lives to pursue a full-time or part-time postgraduate education are signing up for a wild rollercoaster ride of juggling financial commitments, family, studies, project work and career,” Faz elaborates. “As a postgraduate student, I will also be making connections with faculty and accomplished leaders and business executives sharing their experiences and applying the theories in their real-life decisions. Being a part of this network of like-minded individuals means creating another level of support system for the next stages of my life,” she says. Tarminder Singh, a senior executive at IMU, also points out that pursuing a master’s is an important decision considering the investment involved. Regardless which juncture of your career you are at, opting to take on a master’s qualification is highly beneficial. The main benefit stems from the networking opportunities and the shared learning experience that you will experience with the other students. A master’s qualification tends to attract individuals from diverse backgrounds and careers. This is a golden opportunity to network and enhance your learning. 4. A chance to contest the real competitor: myself via Giphy Talk about a challenge! Not only will you be improving your best against your class members who are brilliant in their own right, you will also need to consistently improve your clarity of thought and clarity of expression to make the most of your interactions. “Will I need to enhance my confidence in what I stand for when I express myself and justify my points to the professors and mentors whose aim will be to stretch my thinking? For sure!” Faz exclaims. In addition to developing your specialty expertise, a master’s will also be great intellectual stimulation. Our brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised after all, and who knows this could bring upon new cognitive heights! “Pursuing a master’s degree will give you a new and fresh perspective on how you view yourself, the job market and the opportunities in real world that you have yet to explore. You may become more motivated and driven to accomplish more in your career,” Sirhajwan adds.  5. A clearer focus on the next big step in your life via Giphy Besides, Faz also shares her perspective that going through life without reflecting on that experience will not add to your learning. Pursuing a career in a different field or industry, or even setting up a business would be major steps in someone’s life. Immersing yourself in organizational challenges that are normally part of a great postgraduate curriculum will give you the opportunities to reflect on your own experience and will influence the decisions you will make. “As an action learning coach, I believe in the maxim that there is no learning without action; no action without learning. This means I need to apply what I have learnt to get the full value of the theory and I need to continue learning to make better decisions. However, she also reminded that choosing the right master’s program is important, and thinking about what their benefits are and what you hope to achieve will help you in deciding this question. Want to learn more about our mentors’ experiences in graduate programs? Click here! via Giphy

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Purpose
4 Things That Drive You Away From Your Life Purpose

by FutureLab | 10 May 2017

  “How to Find Your Life Purpose in 5 minutes”, “These Are 3 Foolproof Ways to Pick The Right Career”, “Quiz: What’s Your Dream Job?” — we’ve read them all, the typical self discovery/soul searching articles. And you don’t need to be ashamed to admit that sometimes (if not often) you do take the quiz and follow the steps suggested by the so-called career coach. But in the sea of self discovery articles, somehow I couldn’t — or probably haven’t — found any writing that actually tells us about things we should avoid that will drive us away from our life purpose/true calling. Yes, we know we should follow our so-called passion and strengths, but how do we know we’re not going opposite direction? So in the spirit of soul searching, here’s 4 things we do that can actually drive us away from our life purpose: 1. Always talking about having to find a purpose, but never actually try anything Only a few people in this world is lucky enough to find their calling in a very young age. It seems like, for these few, their purposes are effortlessly given to them. But majority of people are not that lucky. That’s why sitting, complaining, and whining about how you don’t know what you want to do with your life are a complete waste of time. Just take any job, path, or activity for now. Any thing would do, as long as you try something. You’ll eventually find it if you keep moving. 2. Caring too much about people’s opinion on what’s cool or rational and what’s not We all know that person. The one who always tries too hard to impress. The one who’s always so pressured by how people see them. The one who has… no identity whatsoever. You have one job: making sure that this person is not you. Take people’s opinions into account (after all, plenty of them might be useful), but at the end, listen to yourself. How do we listen to ourselves? That brings us to our third point. 3. Not spending enough time alone. And by alone, I mean, truly alone. There are people who have never been single their whole lives, people who have always had their evenings filled with get-togethers — basically people who are never truly alone. Yes, I know, humans are social beings. Being surrounded by loved ones and living a life full of fun activities are among the things worth having and envying. But as I said, to be able to truly know what you want to do with your life, you have to listen to yourself. And to be able to listen to yourself, you have to take some time alone. People are fun, but people mean noises. Not only noises in the form of opinions about what’s cool and what’s rational, but also noises in the form of expectations. Everyone — your family, your friends, your spouse — has a certain expectation towards you: family expects you to have a stable job, friends expect you to go to some industries, spouse expects you to not work too hard so you have more time for him/her. Expectations from people are normal; you yourself has expectation towards your closest ones. But spending too much time with them and not enough time with yourself would make you consider their expectations more than you consider your own expectation. 4. Always being part of a typical circle — always having the same kinds of friends If you always socialize with the same kinds of people your whole life, you will start to believe so much on only one worldview. You will despise other worldviews that are actually equally valid. Remember, truth is not absolute. The point is, don’t be an elitist. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with always being stuck with a typical circle of friends — but what if your true calling is on the other side of society? What if your current worldview is what’s holding you back from your life purpose — from living a fulfilling life? Make friends with people different from you. Expand your horizon. There’s a reason why the world screams for so-called diversity and inclusion. It’s because too much homogeneity brings more harm than good.   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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Personal branding
Does Personal Branding Matter?

by FutureLab | 10 May 2017

I have two friends (let’s say their names are Simon and Garfunkel) who have completely different views towards personal branding. Simon truly despises personal branding. “It’s bullshit. The only thing that matters is the quality of your work,” said Simon. Garfunkel spends a great deal of time revamping his Instagram feed and bio. “How can people believe that you can do great works if you can’t even do something as simple as getting hundreds of likes?” said Garfunkel. Both friends work in the field of marketing and branding. And both often criticize the way the other one works. “You know, man, you’ve got potential. Show it to the world! Get press coverages!” Garfunkel always says these things to Simon. Simon will jokingly reply with things like, “And before you ask me to do that, you’d better fix your obnoxious typography”. Their casual quarrel over a simple point-of-view’s difference makes me sick all the time. But their arguments always trigger me to rethink about this question: “Does personal branding matter?” What is Personal Branding? I did a lazy Google search and found this definition from Wikipedia: Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. Personal branding, then, is not so different with branding in general. It’s a series of efforts people do to be perceived as how they want to be perceived, remembered as how they want to be remembered. Now, the simplest way to do personal branding is by association. I will use myself as an example. I won’t deny that I do care about how people perceive me, although I won’t put a series of efforts to the extent that it becomes my number one priority. But I sometimes do things like posting pictures of books I read on Instagram and updates the movies I’ve watched on Path so people know that I’m–more or less-“cultured”. But then, what was my objective? Did I only aim for people’s perception? In my case, yes. I don’t think right now I have a need to look for a job, or be asked to do some projects. I simply want to be perceived as someone cultured by making associations with cultural products such as books and movies. The case is different for my two friends. As people working in the field of branding and marketing, they have one big objective: to get clients. And so, if they decide to do personal branding, they will need to go to far greater lengths. Personal Branding is More Than Just Social Media Simon doesn’t believe in personal branding, Garfunkel does. And yet, the two of them run a good business in branding and marketing. Both of them never stops getting clients. You might have recognized the flaw in the story I told you before: Simon and Garfunkel argue with an assumption that personal branding is all about social media and press, while the fact is, it is not. If Simon doesn’t believe in personal branding, but he still can get good clients and run his business, then what does he do? Is it merely about the quality of work like what he always believes? But how did people know about the quality of his work firsthand? The answers: relationship and connection. Simon might not have thousands of followers on Instagram, but he does spend many times grabbing coffee with people who can connect him with potential clients. He leverages his connection. The quality of his work determines his clients’ satisfaction. And because he does pay great attention to quality, each of his clients is satisfied. One client then will introduce him to the next client. It’s a never-ending cycle. By the time Simon had enough clients in a particular community, he was then known as someone who is good at what he does. So, can you say that what Simon does is not personal branding? Of course, it is. What makes it not seem like a personal branding effort, is because Simon focuses on building relationships and leverages connection. It may not seem like he has audiences, but he has a circle of people who continuously promote his work. Now, what about Garfunkel? The Effort Doesn’t Stop at Getting Known One look at Garfunkel’s Instagram account and people would agree this guy is popular. He might not be an Instagram celebrity but you would be tempted to scroll through his feed. He gets most of his clients from social media. He actively posts his work-in-progress pictures. He tags his clients’ Instagram account on the finished works’ pictures. His clients give credits to him on their photos caption. Garfunkel clearly does a good effort in showing his works to the world. But what he (and also Simon) might not realize, is that they both actually pay attention to the same thing. Would Garfunkel’s beautiful Instagram feed help him if his works have bad quality? Would his thousands of followers save his life once a client is dissatisfied? Of course not. Because at the end, personal branding is not just about getting known–it is about getting remembered. And as a marketer, Garfunkel wouldn’t want to be remembered merely as a creative guy, but as a creative guy that has created great works for hundreds of clients. His Instagram feed is just a way to open doors. The rest of the story lies in his ability to make great works and build relationships just like Simon does. So yes, personal branding matters, but the real output is personal reputation. Conclusion My two friends, Simon and Garfunkel are actually not that different. They both are creative people who do great works. They simply have different ways to get themselves known. But what matters is, their personal branding efforts work (although Simon might not want to admit what he does as a part of personal branding), proven by their great personal reputation. Here’s one easy-to-digest key takeaway: your personal branding is proven to work, not when you have a beautiful Instagram feed and thousands of followers, but when someone actually refers you to another person saying, “I knew just the right guy for this. This is his number”. Disclaimer: These two friends are not real. I just made them up so I can deliver the stories easier. By the way, Simon and Garfunkel’s songs will make you feel good on rainy nights. 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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Ameel Beesony: Finding a Job as a Lawyer in Australia

by Yen Wei | 11 May 2017

Meet Ameel Beesony, who grew up in Mauritius and has been living and working in the land Down Under for almost 11 years. Ameel is also fluent in French, another native language of this beautiful mountainous Island just off the southeast coast of Africa. As Mark Twain once wrote, ‘Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius’, Ameel thinks there is good reason in that and often talks fondly about Mauritius’ stunning beaches and waters great for scuba diving and deep-sea fishing. He now calls Australia his other home – and shares with Yen his advice on working and living as a lawyer in Australia.        Y:        Tell us about what you do? What is your job like?     A:         Sure! I am a Legal Counsel at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science with the Australian Commonwealth Government. The department aims to “enable growth and productivity for globally competitive industries” through various ways. Practically, the department provides access to valuable resources and information (e.g. through its business.gov.au portal), and administers programs to support science and commercialisation, growing business investment, streamlining regulations and building high-performance organisations.   As part of the department’s legal branch, I provide end-to-end legal advice to various clients comprising of the department’s portfolios. These generally relate to such areas of law as commercial, privacy, statutory interpretation, constitutional, and a little bit of everything else. For example, I provide advice on funding agreements and other commercial arrangements. I also participate in inter-agency working group to facilitate the development legal documents used throughout the Commonwealth Government.          Y:        Wow, thanks for sharing! How are your working hours?   A:        It’s great! The Commonwealth Government, and particularly my department, actively promotes its flexible working conditions. This includes “flex”, which lets employees have flexible working hours (e.g. starting or finishing earlier or later, and working extra hours or less hours on certain days) provided the weekly working hours end up around 37.5 hours on average. Also, there are no assigned workstations, and you can switch desks around the office, or even work remotely from home or anywhere with an internet connection.         Y:        Can you share with us the process of how you moved to Australia and started working there?   A:        Of course. It was easier because I studied in Australia, so I didn’t completely start afresh. Networking helps tremendously, but I also had a few casual jobs which added to my work experience. While studying for my professional qualification, I used to chat with the admin staff at my Law School’s office to just say hi, and inquire about potential job opportunities. Do not underestimate the possibilities of conversations! They put me in touch with the right people, which is how I got my first professional job.         Y:        With all your experiences, what tips would you offer those who looking for a job?   A:        Ask around to learn what others have done – what worked and did not work for them. First, use all available resources including websites such as seek.com.au, local university’s job billboard, state’s law council job ads, and even LinkedIn. Even whirlpool’s “graduate jobs” sub-forum is a great resource. Definitely contact recruitment agents, submit your resume and meet with them, and apply for relevant graduate programs.   I also used the “cold-calling method”, where I called all (yes, all) law firms in my immediate location to find out which firm would consider recruiting. If they were not looking, you would save time by not sending them your resume. Before you call, make sure you do your research first! At least you will have something to talk about. Follow up in a week or so after submitting your resume if you’ve not heard back. For Australia, you will need an appropriate visa or otherwise you cannot apply for many jobs (including state government ones), which can seriously limit your chances.   Your resume and cover letter are incredibly important. Therefore, make sure they are tailored to each individual organisation you are applying for. While your resume and cover letter may be quite general at the start of your career, you should nevertheless try to tweak subtle details as appropriate. At a minimum, you should research each firm’s areas of practice, size, and partners.         Y:       Oh yes, The wait can be long and excruciating. Do you have any advice for those    who are waiting to hear back from employers?   A:        Definitely. I would say make sure you are still working. It does not matter the industry you are working in. Working casual jobs will firstly earn you money, and secondly help you develop transferrable skills that are generally useful and valued in all professions (e.g. try to develop your interpersonal and managerial skills, and develop experiences where you can demonstrate you are good team player).         Y:        How do you think someone can stand out from the crowd?    A:        Ultimately, I think it all boils down to being personable, possessing good communication skills and being a good team player. In my experience, these are the most important factors employers look for, and demonstrating these attributes will put you ahead of competition. Generally, grades matter much less than you think. Do not underestimate experience and skills developed in casual jobs. Use them to demonstrate you have good interpersonal skills, a winning personality and can work well in a team. Think of how you can dress up these experiences for your applications for professional jobs as these are all transferrable skills. For example, do not simply say you worked in hospitality or retail – demonstrate how you developed skills during your interactions with your team, manager and clients. Be creative.   There are a lot of resources available online on interview preparation, so I will not re-hash generic interview tips. My personal tip is to properly thank your interviewers at the end of the interview, and let them know you really want the job and look forward to an opportunity to work with them.           Y:        What do you think are the some of the problems students or fresh graduates may face while job searching?     A:        Students and fresh graduates may sometime lack motivation or get sick of applying for jobs particularly if they receive a few rejections. The truth is you must actively seek opportunities. All the time. There are hundreds of people applying for the same positions, so you need to set realistic expectations and most importantly, you need to be prepared for rejections and not let them get you down. Be resilient, and keep applying.   What I have learnt is that sometimes, employers may simply hire the first decent applicant who applies simply because they are satisfied with the applicant and do not need to wait any longer for ‘the best applicant’ to apply. This is usually for the smaller organisations as they have less processes. So, it can be as simple as you being the FIRST. Do not waste time, and apply immediately when you see an opening.         Y:        If you could have dinner with one person in the world, dead or alive, who would    that be?   A:           Without hesitation, dinner with my mum who passed away in 2007, but who will always remain an inspiration, a big influence on me and a significant contribution to me and my achievements.        

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Edmond
FutureLab Interviews: Edmond Yap, Chief Education Officer and Co-Founder of EduNation Malaysia

by Byron Tan | 09 May 2017

B: So Edmond, EduNation is focused on providing the entire Malaysian school syllabus online, available free for every Malaysian child and it hopes to improve education for all students regardless of their socio-economic background. This is awesome! Can you tell us a bit about your life in school? E: Apart from being punished all the time? Haha, When I was in school I was quite naughty. I was always told to stand in corners and was told to get out of the classroom a fair number of times. I think it was because the way I was being taught at the time wasn’t how I learned naturally, and I think this is true for many people, not just students. We learn by doing, and learn by experience and problem solving. It’s difficult to be told to sit down and just absorb without questioning, which is how the current system is laid out, and this leaves a lot of students behind. B: So School wasn’t that fulfilling for you I imagine, what came next? E: I studied Civil Engineering in the University of Adelaide, and worked as a civil engineer for 5 years. We did large scale projects like water treatment systems for drinking and irrigation and transportation systems like highways and airports. In this line of work there were times I was happy, but for the most part I wasn’t. There were things going on with the work environment and contractors that just didn’t align with my own values. I earnestly started questioning my role in society. I started thinking ‘what am I doing, is this what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life?’ I really wanted to make my country and the world a better place. Malaysia hasn’t even scratched the potential it has. I looked around and thought this can’t be it. So I asked myself how do I work to make Malaysia a better place, at this time I thought I didn’t have the opportunities to do so as a civil engineer but in hindsight, yes I realise there are things I could’ve done then. B: So how did this lead to starting EduNation? E: Well, after I left civil engineering, I spent a year with Dale Carnegie’s Leadership training. From what I learned there I started my own Training company, and spend a few years with it. EduNation really came into ideation when I saw Khan on TED, and from there I realised we could be helping so many students, and we didn’t even have to be physically there! I’ve also extensively researched education in Malaysia, and it’s a problem bigger than anyone is willing to talk about it’s a horror story. So I decided to pursue this path. I sold my training company for cash flow to run EduNation. B: Can you share a story from this time? E: It was a difficult time, after selling the training company for cash flow, we looked for funding to continue to grow. We got so many negative replies for funding EduNation, nobody wanted to help us and it felt like nobody cared. My then girlfriend, now my wife and I were living together; we were so strapped for cash we spent 10 minutes debating which bag of rice to buy because the price difference was 50 cents. B: Wow, you’ve sacrificed a lot for this vision. E: Yes, but we finally found the start up cash we needed from BAC college. We contacted them and they came to support us as part of their CSR. Since 2012 they’ve been sponsoring us every year and we managed to get traction for EduNation. We started with nothing but now we have over 4000+ videos, branching into a diverse range of subjects, in so many languages. We have between 5-15 teachers at any one point, if each of them provide 10 videos a month this would result in 50-150 videos. Over the course of 5 years this translates into the current content library we have. In November we had 100,000 unique users, and this may seem like a lot of students and it is. But we’re not there yet. There are 5 million students in Malaysia, 100,000 sounds like a lot but it’s only 1-2% of the population. So we still have a long way to go. EndNote: At FutureLab, we believe education is the backbone of a successful society. Every human being should have the right, privilege, and opportunity to get the best education possible. Unfortunately in our world, this is often not a reality for many people groups. Education falls by the wayside as people groups struggle to find food, shelter, and healthcare. Changing the social infrastructure is an enormous endeavour requiring manpower, money, and agreement among opposite ends of the political spectrum. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait until all that is straightened out to make a difference. In our quest to ensure every person receives quality basic education, we are currently working with our 3 Education Partners through various ways. One of them is, EduNation Malaysia. Roll up your sleeves and support EduNation through purchasing a subscription now! Be a part of the change the world needs whilst simultaneously receiving

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Is Being a Perfectionist a Strength or a Weakness?

by Yen Wei | 04 May 2017

Do you find yourself feeling uneasy when you lose control over a task? Do you often find faults with yourself and others? Do you have an “all or nothing” mindset? For example, you feel bad after eating one cookie when you are on a diet because you think you have blown your whole plan for the day. It is often debated whether this is a trait that is highly valued in an organization, a bane, or whether the answer lies somewhere in the grey area between. Perhaps first we should decide the premise of it all which lies with the definition of a “perfectionist”. This is tricky as perfectionists are shapeshifter (like Pokémons) and could take many forms, varying in intensity and frequency.  However, we can all agree that moderation is key and you know its time for “Mayday” in blazing red signals when it impedes your ability to function and your happiness. Read on to find out what our mentors think!   1. A perfectionist is an asset to the organization   “Being a perfectionist is a strength. It reduces the need for a superior to look into nitty gritty matters. For instance, I am known by my company for my somehow advantageous ‘OCD’ traits.” Kuhan says. “I am particular when it comes to engineering precision, report formatting and presentation styles – yes, even to the extent of consistency in font types and sizes! As such, it reduces the need of multiple reviews which in return reduces man hours. I rather have one perfectionist working with me than ten complacent engineers,” he says.   2. It depends on the situation   However, Thatchu gives a balanced opinion by noting that being a perfectionist could either work for you or against you, depending on the situation. As a team leader, being a perfectionist could lead you to get too much into the detail of tasks, causing you to lose the vision of the whole exercise and team. This can cost time and effort that could have been better utilised. On the contrary, a perfectionist could be a strong trait when the situation requires it. As a task doer, a perfectionist would allow a very effective job to be completed. Here, he or she would tend to not only ensure all loopholes are covered when solving a problem but also create a culture of striving for the best and not making mistakes. Vijayakumar sums it up by delineating two camps when a perfectionist is in team – upsides and downsides. The upside is that the quality of deliverable is generally good and less unanticipated delays. This gives a sample of goodness to drive appropriate behavior and shaping culture. The downsides are the opportunity cost of delayed time and the tendency to be stuck in an analysis paralysis. Perfectionists are more likely to be stuck in a grove becuase they are unable to move forward until it is “perfect”. This is a highly dangerous zone!   3. A weakness disguised as a strength (at best!)   As Voltaire once declared, “perfect is the enemy of good”. “Perfection stifles innovation. Nowhere is that more true than in today’s rapidly evolving world driven by our unabated hunger for more convenience, speed, apps, variety, gizmos, glitz and kicks.” says Jeff, a consultant.    “That said, I would surely want my heart surgeon to be a perfectionist,” he jokes. Sirhajwan also agrees that being a perfectionist is a limitation as they tend to strictly follow a set of specific standards, criteria and expectations with little room for flexibility, creativity and uniqueness. It serves as a hindrance for something original and new to manifest.   4. Both a strength and a weakness   Kristyn Gan, who juggles two hats as a corporate finance manager in BDO and manages an educational start-up called Guruu, thinks that perfectionism is a double-edged sword. It is both a strength AND a weakness! “The weakness being that perfectionists tend to overthink things and may waste time on getting something perfectly right. Is anything ever ‘perfect’? Aside from Ryan Gosling, of course,” she quips. “However, if I had to pick a side it would be that being a perfectionist is more of a strength as it helps you develop an acute attention to detail, improving both quality and efficiency of your work,” Kristyn says. To counter the weaknesses, her advice is to be aware when you’re going overboard on a project. Set timely and realistic goals and will yourself to move on when you run out of time! Be a productive perfectionist.     5. Aim for excellence instead   Daryll Tan, co-founder and digital consultant at OpenMinds, thinks that there is no such thing as “perfect” within the human capability. A perfectionist is somewhat of a myth. “One thinks he or she is a perfectionist simply due to him or her being highly meticulous and is often too caught up with a single task that is indirectly causing the un-optimised use of time and effort. In short, being a ‘perfectionist’ is a weakness. It drains the life, fun and performance out of a person,” Daryll says. The greater, more achievable personality to embrace is to be excellent. Perfection versus excellence is separated by one thin line of magic.  Excellence allows for quicker sprints at work or tasks while perfection only delivers at the very last minute (sometimes due to the lack of choice). Excellence is about “doing the right thing at the right time” while perfection focuses on “doing it right“. Nothing wrong with that, but most of the time, we try to do it “right” at the expense of time and the lack of accountability from others. Daryll’s advice was to strive to be excellent at whatever you do. Being a perfectionist can potentially ruin your self-esteem as you will never achieve perfection. In all things, go through the seasons and every responsibility with enthusiasm, wisdom, and good character and produce outstanding work.   As Condoleezza Rice puts it, “people who end up as ‘first’ don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.” Doing something you love will eventually leave to excellence, and that is what we should be striving for instead of perfectionism.    Do you think that being a perfectionist is a boon or an Achilles’ Heel? Join the discussion by commenting below!

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Three Organisations Working Towards A Better Future.

by Neekita Patel | 03 May 2017

2016 was a year fraught full of strange events. In brief, we witnessed the rise and fall of the phenomenon that was Pokemon Go. Niantic appealed to the nostalgia many of us have for Pokemon and netted up to 1.6 Million USD a day from iPhone users alone. Meanwhile, in South America, the Zika Virus is declared by WHO as a public health emergency of international concern, as with every outbreak we’re still unsure how long it will persist. In other news, we also witnessed Samsung’s credibility take a massive hit with exploding Note 7’s, which might be why Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 plus’ sales haven’t dropped despite the fact that they no longer have a universal earphone port. On a more hopeful note, Russia and US agreed to a  “cessation of hostilities” between the Syrian government and groups fighting, it in a deal that excludes the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Group. Though, like the Zika Virus, we have no idea how long this is going to last either, with those calming that the cessation has already broken down. Prince passed along with other beloved celebrities, hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, typhoons similarly smashing up the Philippines. Yes, 2016 was a strange year, and worrisome if trends continue. True, it looks like 2017 is off to a rocky start with an oil spill in Johor,  spreading to the coast of Singapore. So how are we supposed to have hope when the entire world seems crazy?   The answer is you just have to look. There are thousands of social enterprises trying their very best to solve problems, starting with the roots of society, education. Here are 3 organisations (in no particular order) trying to work towards a better future, starting with where they can, Malaysia. Boleh.    1.       EDUNATION    First up, EduNation is the largest free primary and secondary school online resource in Malaysia. EduNation aims to bring free educational resources to every Malaysian child. EduNation began as Khan Academy’s advocate in Malaysia where they mapped out Khan Academy videos to the Malaysian school syllabus and translated them to Bahasa Malaysia. They have thousands of videos covering all core subjects such as maths, science, biology, chemistry, physics in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Tamil and Mandarin. EduNation also provides exercises and test papers where students can practice their understanding of key concepts. Students can also sign up and log in to track their progress. All in all, EduNation is determined to be the leading provider of free education for all Malaysian students and ensure that every child in Malaysia has access to the best education through their videos and online content. They believe in access to education, collaborating with the community, yielding creativity and excellence.     FutureLab is excited to have Edmond Yap, the Co-founder of EduNation as a mentor here.    2.      100% PROJECT       Second, 100% Project believes that great strides can only be made in education through collective impact. This means everyone – corporations, foundations, start-ups, social enterprises, schools, parents, teachers, and individuals, can move education forward in Malaysia.   100% Project has been helping teachers achieve funding for their student-related projects, since its inception in October 2015. The startup first sources for passionate teachers who need the money to improve their classrooms, organise field trips, or implement some of their more innovative teaching ideas, followed by engaging the public and connecting them to these teachers, so we can all have a chance to contribute. Though 100% Project are new to the startup community, they have already seen two projects being fully funded within the first few days, and by two weeks, half of their projects were completely covered financially.    At FutureLab, 100% Project gives us a lot of hope, chiefly because its proof that as a community, the impacts we make are not small. We hope to have members of the 100% project team on our mentor list one day to be able to share their journey with us. If you’d like to support 100% project, more information can be found here: https://www.100percentproject.org/ 3.       TEACH FOR MALAYSIA     Thousands of Malaysian children don’t have the chance to realise their potential because of many different factors, like how much their parents earn or where they live. Imagine this – what if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of one of these students ? – Teach For Malaysia   Third is Teach For Malaysia; an independent, not-for-profit organisation on a mission to empower our nation through education. They seek to do this by firstly empowering teachers through a fellowship which involves a demanding, challenging, and incredibly rewarding two-year leadership development program — so teachers can be part of the solution. Teaching for two years in high-need classrooms gives the Alumni a deep understanding of what the real challenges are, and what it will take to really empower students and communities. It is anchored in this collective vision, that they continue to champion education and influence change in different ways.   Chow Geh Tsung, an alumnus from the Teach For Malaysia program shares that — A person who has mastered the art of teaching does not need to raise his voice, threaten, hit, nor entice students with rewards to awaken their true potential. He understands the subtleties of the human mind, of different personalities, and of different circumstances to bring about enlightenment within individuals. True teachers are respected even when they aren’t around, spoken about with admiration behind their backs and remembered for life.   He goes on to share an experience that he had with a student:   This year I have a Form 2 ‘gangsta’ student who has a lot of disciplinary problems. I engaged him through sports. He is a good runner and happened to be in my sports house. I acknowledged him and treated him with respect. During house practice, I gave him the responsibility to lead the juniors during practice. He took pride in his work and did his job dutifully. I trusted him with the work and he did not take advantage even when I wasn’t monitoring him. No signs of misbehaviour whatsoever. He then went on to win the Best Athlete Award during the School’s Sports Day. He was suspended from school during the Prize Giving Ceremony, but he came to school anyway with a neat long-sleeved uniform. He really wanted to be acknowledged. When he went on the stage, I was really proud of him. I later sent him a photo of him holding the trophy and congratulated him, he then responded with this: “Thank you teacher… without you, I may not have won the events that I participated in.”   Endnote:   At FutureLab we deeply value education, we believe that it is the basis for society.   Which is why we support organisations like 100% project, EduNation, and Teach For Malaysia. By improving the mind, we can improve ourselves. This extends into other aspects of society, which is why we built FutureLab. For some of us it’s too late to change our education, but we can still take action in order to get into the industry we desire. Which is why if you’ve read to this point and you’re a student, or fresh grad, or anyone that needs to speak to someone with more experience, we encourage you to speak to one of our mentors.   For mentors reading to this point, in order to teach others, we need to be able to learn ourselves. So your homework is to book a session with someone who has more seniority than you!   Good Luck Readers, on your journey of self-discovery. Bon Voyage!   -The Family Ferret  

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Nagusha Rachagan: Securing a Job in Australia as a Doctor

by Yen Wei | 28 Apr 2017

Catching this busy man wasn’t easy! The following are snippets from Nagusha and Yen’s phone conversation.   Y:         Tell us a bit about yourself N:         I was in Malaysia for most of my Med School. To sum it up, I spent 2 years in Sunway Monash, another 2 years in Johor Bahru and the compulsory 3 months in Australia. However, I took a gap year after graduating and alternated between KL and Australia afterwards. Y:         What’s a day in Nagusha’s life as a doctor in training? Is it anything like Grey’s Anatomy? N:         As a Medical intern, it’s a lot of meetings with seniors and consultants. We do our rounds with them and get coffee breaks after! I would say I have a pretty good work-life balance for a Doctor. My weekend hours are 7.00 – 9.30pm, though we usually end at 11.30pm on weekdays. The saving grace is that we get a good five day rest if we reach our quota of 76 to 80 hours in two weeks. Y:         Any interesting or memorable stories to share? N:         I have a story, it made my friend cry when I told her! Plenty of feels. I had a cancer patient recently, a lovely motherly lady. Her colon cancer had spread – she couldn’t use the toilet basically. Her two daughters came to visit her everyday and were so invested in their mom’s treatment. They would come to me with all the research they read online. It was incredibly touching to see them, I couldn’t help but became emotionally invested in my patient’s wellbeing too. When I finally relieved her of her pain, she thanked me profusely and told me I had been a great help to her and her family. It was a cool story. Honestly, its the little things that matter. Y:         Share with us the process of your search for a job in Australia? Teach us your ways! N:         Actually, it was a half-hearted process for me at first because Malaysia was home. But I knew the longer I waited in Malaysia, the more likely I wouldn’t leave. In Year 5 of Med School, I only applied to one state (Victoria), but later found out my mom also wanted to stay in Australia. That became one of the biggest pushing factors for me, and I re-applied the following year to every single state in Australia. Also, it is normal to wait a long time in Malaysia for a housemanship (6 to 8 months), so I had enough time to try my luck in Australia. Last year, I flew in and out of Australia a total of three times and stayed for 4 to 5 months each visit. I applied to the smaller towns in Victoria, about 300km away from the city, because I knew my chances were the highest there. That said, it is still a very competitive process. Y:         Did you encounter any challenges? N:         Oh yes, for sure! To give you an idea, there is a total of 900 to 1000 internship positions in Victoria, but most of it will go to Category 1 who are the locals. Only 10 lucky ones out of 130 Monash students will get a spot each year. I knew I was in for a challenge! The amount of calling I did was insane; I would get up at 5 am in Malaysia to make those calls to Australia. When I was there, I would also make sure I went into the Hospital to let them know I was a keen bean. Another thing I did was sending them emails to show how much research I had done, and would be happy to attend the interview if there was any availability. All that effort!   Y:         How long did this whole process take? N:         It took about 10 months after graduating to get this job. After Med School, I took a gap year in 2016 and did a lot of travelling. It was one of my best decisions! In my break, I also did some social work with Pertiwi Kitchen and joined mobile clinics in KL. It was definitely a difficult time, I kept thinking what if all this effort led to nothing. But making an early decision to strive and plan helps a lot!  Y:          Any advice for those looking to work in the medical industry in Australia? N:         The most important tip is to plan early. You should work in that direction as early as you can in your University. Know what points you need for your visa and collect them. Another thing is to study smart, sometimes grades are not everything. Rather, it is about knowing where your strengths lie and maximizing them. Interview scores can make or break your application too. Apply to work in a rural town to increase your chances. Y:         What would you say to someone who’s searching for a job? N:          A lot of it came down to being at the right place, at the right time.   Nagusha with his close-knit family   Inspired and want to hear how others have found a job overseas? Speak to some of our mentors here!  

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The 4 Effective Habits That Will Make You Ultra Successful

by Yen Wei | 28 Apr 2017

As Stephen Covey puts it, there is a huge difference between being efficient and being effective.  Efficient people are well organized and competent. They check things off their to-do list. They complete projects. They get stuff done. Effective people do all that … but they check the right things off their to-do list. They complete the right projects. They get the right stuff done. They execute and produce what makes the biggest difference for their work and for themselves. Just like how right ingredients are crucial for a good recipe, here are some great effective habits by our mentors to brew your way to success. #1              Get your WHY right before your WHATs   A common trait we do when faced with a problem that needs to be resolved, is that we often get tied up in the details on what we would like to do. Thatchu Selvarajan, an engineer based in the UK, believes that this is not a bad thing. But firstly, we should get our WHY right. “Ask yourself and everyone else involved, why are you doing this?” Thatchu says.  By asking that question, he believes that you will start to appreciate the significance of the project and the end goal that is envisioned. Once you have that in your head loud and clear, then carry on with the WHATs, for example what is needed for us to achieve that goal and what are the tiny tasks that will make up the whole project. “It is easy to get carried away with actions and losing touch with the original goal, whatever field you may be in. I have found myself repetitively using this mindset on a day to day basis these days and it will definitely yield results in the long run!” he says.   #2              Justify everything, almost!   Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion. This tip may sound like it’s applicable to only science based or technical professionals but in truth it isn’t. If you would like to make a case, prove it with data, numbers or figures. This could be a business proposal or even an idea that you think may work. Do not just go in and make a proposal without anything to back it up – trial it first, do your research, show the rest why do you think it will work.     #3              Be interested in others and their projects   People like to share and exchange knowledge and experience, and a good listener is always welcomed by most. Younger people tend to want others to know about them, but not what they can find out about others in return. Tommy Lok, a PhD student in biomedical sciences in Hong Kong, is an ardent believer in this habit and practices it in his daily life. “I found that by showing your interest in others, asking more about themselves and their works, it stimulates communication,” he says. “People will also like you more, and in the end, would love to know more about you too. More importantly, since a positive relationship is built on both ends, it is also easier to spark a collaboration too.”     #4              Ask, ask, ask away   “The most important habit that I picked from my university’s years was to always ask questions when I am not sure or am clueless about how something is done,” Sirhajwan Idek says. One should not underestimate this great habit – it sounds simple yet is not practiced as often as we think. Many people in Malaysia feel shy or are afraid to ask questions due to some personal reasons such as ego, lack of confidence or social expectations. However, a simple question to clear doubts and uncertainty will go a long way in your short-term or future plans and goals. Opportunities will pop up.  Connections will be made.  A powerful relationship could even blossom. If you think about it, busy people also tend to ask for help in getting something done. They ask for help not just because they need help but also because by asking they show respect for the other person and trust his or her experience, skill, or insight. Surrounding yourself with as much knowledge will be the compass to lead you to the right direction, and eventually to arrive at the destination that is meant for you.   Ready to become more effective and ask questions? Click here to speak to our mentors!  Special thanks to our mentors Thatchu, Sirhajwan and Tommy Lok who kindly contributed their thoughts for this article. How “deep” is the problem? 

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FutureLab Testimonials: Mentee’s Tell!

by Joel | 13 Apr 2017

Don’t take our word for it when we say FutureLab is awesome, listen to testimonials that two of our mentee’s have given.   1. Joel Lim – IB Student in Pattaya, Thailand 

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Notice: Payment Model Launch

by Neekita Patel | 12 Apr 2017

On the 12th of April 2017, FutureLab will be introducing our new pricing packages. Everyone will need credits to utilise services such as, booking mentoring sessions and attending FutureLab Talks. FutureLab was started with the aim to create value and remaining true to it, 40% of our revenue will be donated to our education initiatives; 100% Project, EduNation and Teach for Malaysia. Find out more about our social impact page here  Mentees will be able to purchase credits beginning 12th April 2017. Current mentees will be entitled to a 30% & 40% discount from the starter and value pack respectively through a promo code which will be shared. Students with an existing university email address will receive a 50% discount on both packs. No subscription charges will apply to mentors on the platform. Find out more about subscription plans here  Sessions booked before 12th April 2017 will not be charged for or affected by the subscription launch coming into effect. Have any questions? Get in touch with a team member through [email protected] to ask!   

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