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Francesca
FutureLab Interviews: Francesca Chia, CEO and Co-Founder of GoGet.my

by Neekita Patel | 11 Apr 2017

Following are excerpts from an exclusive FutureLab interview with Byron Tan and Francesca Chia, CEO and Co-Founder of GoGet.my B: Tell us about yourself? F: My name is Francesca, I’m 28 years old and I run a platform called GoGet – a service platform for errands. We can do food delivery to document dispatch to even buying balloons and flyering for business. So our technology connects you to an individual that’s trusted, in the area, called a GoGetter, and they help you do the task for a fee. We are fundamentally anchored on this ability to grow the labour market in a flexible way where individuals don’t really need a 9 to 5 job but can grab jobs as and when they are available. So essentially what Uber does for rides, what AirBnB does for accommodation, GoGet does for labour. B: Why are you a mentor on FutureLab? F: Being a mentor to me is about trying to reach out to the community & being able to just connect more with people who want another person as a listening or a thought partner. I don’t think I have more knowledge or more advice about certain things, I think it’s just a great opportunity for us to be another thought partner to the mentee, and to be able to help them work through their problems because maybe we have tried to solve similar problems in the past. B: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to all the mentees out there? F: Get exposed to as many different things – do 10 different internships and make them extremely different. One thing that I did not do as much and learned really late was that there are loads of different professions and opportunities in the world. There’s a job for almost everything (sometimes ones that I didn’t even know existed!)  To be able to see the wide variety of opportunities you can get is so important because you can probably make a better decision. So much of what we do stems from what we’re exposed to – so if you’re exposed to more things, it’s easier to find out what your passion is, what excites you the most B: Did you ever have a mentor? F: I do, I had loads of mentors all the time. I’ve always had mentors, even in high school and university, I had people I looked up to and asked for help. But even for GoGet, we have mentors, from business mentors, tech mentors to even just ‘people mentors’. We have Arzumy from KFit for example. I also have ‘softer’ mentors for things like improving my leadership skills. B: Name one of the major challenge you faced and how you overcame it? F: There are so many challenges! GoGet is definitely the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, and it’s still a challenge – I have not overcome it yet, I’m still working on it! How I do get by day to day? I lean on my team, I have a really good team that helps me go through solving problems. The other aspect is having a good work-life balance because if you’re not healthy, you can’t make decisions as healthily as well. Also, ask as many questions as you can! To overcome a lot of problems we’ve had at GoGet, I’ve just picked up the phone and asked a friend, or anyone, “how do you do this?” And it really helps. B: What is one tip you’d give to those looking to increase productivity? F: Use GoGet! I changed my lifestyle because of GoGet- there are things that I know I want to spend my time on & things that I just decide a GoGetter will do for me. The other aspect is I calendarize everything – not just meetings but also personal things. So if I need to go to the gym, it’s in my calendar. This means that people who want to do a meeting with me, they’ll see the calendar is blocked out. It allows me to say no to things & keep my personal life. B: What do you do in your free time? F:  I play with my dogs!!! I also bake, and watch sitcoms. Netflix is so bad for me! I recently just watched Designated Survivor, which is super cool! It’s a series about the POTUS. Capitol Hill gets bombed, there are no surviving Congressmen and the designated survivor is the one that if everyone dies, becomes President. I recommend it! B: If you could have any one superpower, what would it be? F: I’ve always wanted teleportation! I want to be in many places at the same time. I want to wake up and have breakfast in Paris, and then go to New York for lunch and work in Malaysia. For dinner, I’ll go to Japan! B: A motto you live by? F: Life can turn around by 180 degrees at any point of time. So make sure you live your life to the fullest & don’t regret things. Tomorrow may not be, or things can drastically change. You don’t want to take anything for granted. B: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to have dinner with and why? F: That’s a tough one. I have a few. I’ve never met my grandparents because they passed away when I was really young so I’d love to meet at least one of them. I’d love to also have dinner with Jacqueline Novogratz, the author of the Blue Sweater – I really like that book. It’s about the social enterprise & how you can balance social impact with profitability at the same time. Another weird one, is to meet a 3 year old me! I really want to see how I was at 3 years old because I have a niece who’s 3 and she’s adorable, I always wonder what it would be like to play with a younger me!       Inspired? Would like to speak with Francesca? Click here!

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Professional networking
Sure-Fire Ways to Build a Powerful and Helpful Professional Network

by Neekita Patel | 11 Apr 2017

You have likely heard this phrase numerous times, ‘It’s not how much you know, but the people you know.’ This is the right advice for professionals with years of working experience, but what if you’re a fresh graduate or a young professional? Building a network seems daunting, but is easier than you think. What you need is resourcefulness, the ability to conduct small talk and not be embarrassed to speak with strangers. It’s not too difficult, and here are some tips from FutureLab’s awesome mentors: 1. Be focused and start locally  You don’t need to go far out of your way to build a network. Even from home, you can look up people in your interested industry on LinkedIn. By doing so, you can study their background, and request to connect with them. In the same way, FutureLab has a platform full of experienced professionals that may be in your targeted industry. The tougher part comes when you want to throw yourself out there. To get through this ordeal, have a script ready that includes your interests, targeted industry and be up to date with the latest news, not just within your sector, but all around. A cheat note here is, to also be aware if you have any relatives/parents of friends who are in and around your targeted industry. Don’t be scared to reach out to them and request for a chat. You will be surprised at how helpful people are. Lastly, always remind yourself that “every no, gets me closer to a yes”. Speak with Equities Manager, Securities Comission (Malaysia), Sahil Kamani 2. Network and munch At workplaces, most friendships happen organically, so there’s no reason to go out of your way to form new friendships. After all, you spend a ton of time with them, so it makes sense you’ll get to know each other. However, secluding yourself at your desk all day may not be the best idea. One easy way to make network is during lunch. Eat lunch with your colleagues. This can be an effective way to bond with them, get to know people from other departments and more importantly, tap into their knowledge in an informal setting. This will help you to expand your network as well as your presence in the company. It can get tempting every now and then to hide away to meet deadlines. But if this becomes a practice, you might eventually be overlooked personally and professionally too. Speak with Senior Executive Strategic Planning and Development, International Medical University (Malaysia), Tarminder Singh 3. Participate in online communities There are many forums and web-based communities that you can participate in when you’re free. Virtual communities are new, relatively unstructured and dynamic. It’s simple. You can easily catch up on forum posts and leave comment whenever you like or dress up for a fancy dinner, this way gives you more options. This also gives you the opportunity to be involved in a circle that meets your interests and passion better. The benefits of this goes beyond just an expansion of network. It also helps develop an independent online reputation and stronger personal marketability and branding. Speak to Senior Engineer at Petronas (Malaysia), Kuhan Pathy 4. Network with sincerity Through online channels, such as those mentioned above, it has become easier than ever to make professional networks. But now that networking is becoming easier, it is monumentally important to find ways to stand out, and being sincere definitely helps.Some ways of doing this are by determining your motives and goals ahead of time before speaking with someone. Whilst speaking, be genuine and show appreciation for the opposite person’s time. Take time to think about your conversation with them. And, also a good practice is to always send a thank you note or personalised email to follow up. Speak to Teacher at Keningau Vocational College (Malaysia), Sirhajwan Idek Building a professional network is not hard at all. When it comes down to it, it’s about making friends that have common interests. You are building a network in which everyone’s prepared to give and take, so relax and enjoy it! More than just making connections, you are making friends! Happy networking Futurists!  

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Common job interview questions answers
Nail the “Tell Me About Yourself” Job Interview Question

by Neekita Patel | 11 Apr 2017

The first question you are probably going to get in an interview  is the much dreaded classic and universal, “Tell me about yourself.” A simple question that quickly turns daunting when asked in that setting. Most job seekers hate it because it is simply difficult to decipher what the interviewer is looking for. But, it does not have to be that hard. Infact, this is a great  opportunity for you to take control of the interview and position yourself as the perfect candidate for the job.Your answer and how well you tell your story will drive the rest of the interview. In our opinion, the better you start, the better you finish. First, let’s understand a little bit about why do interviewers ask you this question. Do they really want to know you, that too on a personal level? Chances are, no. A FutureLab mentor summed it us up for us nicely, and said the reason for this question is: 1. To see how you respond to an unstructured question 2. To learn about what you deem important at that point in time   Next, how do you prepare for it? To nail the question, think of it as a pitch. 1.Research and Practice: organise your information using a formula   Research and practice key is but also remember to never memorise. An interview is a dialogue, not a monologue. When digging for information, use the widely famous interview question formula to organise and link it with the company and its job description: past-present-future. Naturally, anyone would be to talk about the past first then the present. The Muse suggests mixing it up: “So, first you start with the present—where you are right now. Then, segue into the past—a little bit about the experiences you’ve had and the skills you gained at the previous position. Finally, finish with the future—why you are really excited for this particular opportunity.” 2.  Show relevance and highlight your selling points; your key strengths as they relate to the position you’re interviewing for   If you repeat details stated in your CV, cover letter and application, it is likely your interview will end prematurely. Instead, show the interviewer you understand the experiences, skills and abilities which are relevant to the position. Focus on things the company places value on. Highlight your unique skills, talents, leadership attributes and professional experiences which are most relevant to the position. Just like your cv and cover letter, tailor your answers to the company’s needs. But what if you don’t have any professional experience? For someone who’s more entry-level and doesn’t really have a career to describe yet, the answer would be more forward-looking. Think academic achievements, voluntary and charity world. 3. Tell them why you are here End by telling them why you are there and why you want the position. We advise you to think of yourself as a product that will be bought by a company. Ultimately, don’t be afraid to relax a little bit, tell stories and anecdotes—the interviewer already has your resume, so they also want to know a little more about you.   At FutureLab, we have career mentors to support you for your job interview preparation. Sign up here to speak with them now!   A special thanks to all the FutureLab mentors who contributed to this article: M&A Manager at Ernst & Young (Malaysia) – Rishi Das || Former Strategy Advisor at Shell (Malaysia) – Vijay Kumar || Continuous Improvement Engineer at Morgan Advanced Material (United Kingdom)- Thatchu Selvarajan ||Teacher at Keningau Vocational College (Malaysia) –  Sirhajwan Idek || Global Value Change Manager at Petronas (Malaysia) – Soham Basu || Partner at Grant Thornton (Malaysia) – Kishan Jasani  

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Cyril bio  1
Mentor of the Week: Cyril Dhenaut

by Joel | 23 Nov 2016

Tell us a bit about yourself! Hello there! My name is Cyril Dhenaut and I am 27 years old. I studied in France where I went to a Business School. I have recently launched Mataris a digital marketing agency based in Kuala Lumpur. Why are you a mentor on FutureLab? Being a Mentor on FutureLab means a lot to me. I do believe that everybody needs to be mentored at some point along a career. That can help you save a lot of time and avoid many mistakes. There is no better way to grow than to share knowledge –  and mentorship is a nice way to do so. I hope I will be able to contribute to some people’s’ careers in a positive way. Last but not least, having the opportunity to be involved in a social project on a foreign country is very important for me. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to all the mentees out there? If I had only one piece of advice for all the mentees, it would be: Define your objectives and strive toward it. I have seen quite a lot of people chasing ‘false’ dreams and being unhappy. So try to be honest when you do the exercise, if it is money that you are after, then money it is and do what is necessary. If it is having time to spare with family then make sure you always keep that in mind and not being lured by some promotion that would drive you away from that privileged time. Did you ever have a mentor? I wouldn’t say that I had one mentor per se, but rather several mentors. Each one of them have helped me better define what really gives me professional satisfaction and also being more efficient and sharp at my job. Name one major challenge you faced & how you overcame it? I think creating Mataris in Malaysia was definitely a big one.  Because not only creating   a company in a foreign country is complicated but it was also for me a professional achievement to open something by my own. How I overcame it? I think at some point you have to stop questioning and just jump. Making mistakes and trying new things will eventually benefit you, always. What is one tip you’d give to those looking to improve their time management? Sleep. Easier to say than do though. But having a good night of sleep will help you throughout the whole day. If you are more sharp, then every decision will be easier and quicker to make. That alone should already save you plenty of time. What do you miss most about school? Undoubtedly sports. I had been doing a lot of different sports and I really miss that golden period. It is much more complicated today to find time to do as much sport as I would like to. What do you do in your free time? Sports, of course. I play in a football team and always enjoy hitting the ball on the tennis court. I have to say that the Malaysian heat gives me a hard time. I am also a big movies fan. Cinema, movies, series, you name it. If you could have any one superpower, what would it be? Since I was a child I always dreamt of controlling electricity. Don’t ask. Your favourite quote? That is a hard one. But I would say: “happiness is only real when shared”. Yes, Into The Wild is one of my favourite movies! Click below to book a session with Cyril.

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Pexels photo 450271
New Year, New Attitude Towards Work

by Neekita Patel | 20 Apr 2017

It is easy to think when it comes to success that those who are smart and have a clear sense of what they want will leave the rest behind. I was in the grip of these messages until I met Amir, a Googler from the Google for Education team. A conversation with Amir convinced me that success is less about intelligence and more about the attitude one has. That being said, I am not here to discourage you from gaining more knowledge but to tell you that there is more to success than just being smart. Here are Amir’s recommended strategies that will fine-tune your growth mindset to positively impact your work ethics and performance. 1. Be flexible: While being sure of yourself and what you want is good, Amir believes that we should not corral ourselves too rigidly into a narrow path. The road to success is not a linear one and what is necessary is a growth mindset instead of a fixed one. As we progress through our career, we have to constantly change our lenses which are different perspectives which provide different questions that help us arrive at a solution. A great example here is a scientist examining a microorganism at different magnifications to discover different things. When we have a growth mindset, we are more willing to look at a matter from different angles, embrace challenges, and treat every situation as an opportunity to learn something new.   2. Appreciate progress more than results: In this age of instant gratification, where pressing a button on a gadget provides an immediate response, we are losing the ability to wait for long-term rewards. In response, the marketplace has been geared to cater to our impulses, thus fuelling our greed and need for more, right now. Besides that, this generation appears to be losing a sense of adjustment and empathy which are important factors to progress and achieve success. We must not take for granted that many things that have become part of the fabric of life, like creating a Facebook live video or calling an Uber, are the result of many individuals’ years of hard work and effort. It is good to internalise the perspective that every individual will have to go through the grind of learning and growing to develop effectively.   3. Add value to every task: Amir asked “If I ask you to make a photocopy of the document, what will you do?” Often, new hires find tasks such as these to be beneath them. I am guilty as charged! However, what makes an employee stand out from the rest is the one who made the effort to add value by checking the formatting, proof-reading the document, checking if the pages are correctly numbered, etc. The foundation of this is a mindset to look at every opportunity – be it taking minutes or scheduling interviews – as a chance to be diligent and hone a skill. Convince your supervisors you can do a brilliant job with smalls tasks first, and the bigger responsibilities will come.   4. Invest in yourself: To prepare for the future, you must continuously invest in yourself to be at the cutting edge of your skills. Learn something new, take up a free course, meet new people or even take a break. It is through these ways and many others that an individual will advance while remaining relevant to the current trends and time. Inspired by the person that Dr. House’s television character is based on, Amir reads three randomly picked articles every day. While he does not necessarily fully understand the articles he reads – covering fields as varied as biology and geophysics – he is certain that in the future this patchwork of knowledge will come together to form a unified whole and benefit him.   5. Compare yourself only with your yester-self: While acknowledging someone is doing better than you is commendable, the problem begins when we do not want someone to do better than us. This behaviour is toxic as he believes that our journeys should be about investing in ourselves instead of looking better than someone; this only creates a barrier to success and achieving our full potential. Amir explained there was a time he was emotionally burnt out and slipped into depression because he was doggedly determined to be on top of the heap. It was through the process of learning to invest in himself, having gratitude, and, most importantly, patience that things turned around for him which resulted in him being where he is today.   Would you like to learn more tricks to set your attitude for work? We have many mentors that can help! Here are a few awesome mentors to check out:       Amir Amha – Former Program Coordinator at Google Malaysia |Ashley SueLyn – Corporate Development, Planning, and Strategy at UEM Edgenta Berhad  | Daniel Phang – KYC Analyst at JP Morgan Chase Bank Berhad  |  AJ Minai –  TEDx Speaker | Storyteller | Mentor | Digerati at TEDx Written by: Neekita Patel Content Creator At FutureLab Do you have any differing opinions on this article? Leave a comment below to let Neekita know!

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Q
Mentor of the Week: Quan Ming Tan

by Jo Yee Phang | 20 Apr 2017

  Tell us a bit about yourself I’m 30 years old this year & I’ve worked for 3 corporates. I started working at Royal Selangor and did e-commerce there. Then I worked at British American Tobacco as a Management Trainee in IT for 2 years. I took a career break and went to Beijing & came back and started working for Shell in Malaysia and Perth, Australia. When I left Shell in June this year, I’d been working there for 5 years already. Why are you a mentor on FutureLab? I used to be a mentor at Shell, for graduates. For me, this is a way of giving back. Giving back never stops. FutureLab is a great way of reaching out to others. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to all the mentees out there? I would say trust your gut feeling. Whatever you do as a degree may not necessarily be what you want to do. So go with your gut feeling. I believe you can always engineer what you want. I started in IT, that’s my background, and then I went to Tobacco and Oil & Gas. Don’t let what people say limit your belief – just trust yourself. Speak to mentors, get advice – these are people who already walked this path. Take this knowledge from them- learn from others. Did you ever have a mentor? I had several along the way and that’s why I believe in this. Some of the advice they gave me was to always give back. My mentors at Shell, I would call them guardians – they’ve guided me along the way. They’re people who have spent 30-40 years of their life in a corporate. So they’ve done something right to get where they are today. I find that learning from these people is faster than, say, learning from books or academia or anything else.  Name one major challenge you faced & how you overcame it? It’s always people people people. When you work in an organization, although there are certain processes, it’s more about how you get along with people. Have a positive attitude – it plays a huge role. Technical skills you can always learn but attitude is harder to change. Have the right attitude & that will take you places. You need to understand how each and everyone communicates. And never step on anyone’s tail! What is one tip you’d give to those looking to improve their time management? You have 24 hours a day. A lot of people cannot differentiate between what is urgent and what is not. Take time to do things that are a priority – don’t set yourself up for failure. Spend time to do what’s important – it takes discipline but once you practice and get it right, it will take you a long way. Focus on what’s important, know what’s a priority. A mantra you live by? I try to live everyday as it’s my last because you don’t know when it’s your last. I try to wake up every morning feeling excited and giving the best I can give in everything. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to have dinner with and why? Elon Musk- he’s an inspiration because he’s a visionary. He has a vision and leads people to make his ideas work. He’s also a hybrid – he’s a tech guy as well as a visionary which means he can understand the details as well as the bigger picture. He can zoom in and zoom out and that’s an exceptional quality. What’s your favourite book? I don’t have a favourite book. I think every book teaches you a lesson. I’m still on a journey of self-discovery. You learn something new everyday. So any book that would help me learn something new- that’s a good start! What are the 3 items you cannot leave your house without? I’m so connected to the world right now it’s hard to see myself being disconnected. When I travel, I need data, so I would need a mobile phone. The rest of it I can live without. I’m pretty minimalistic – if you have the means you can always buy what you need.   Speak to Quan Ming & learn more about his journey here

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Age 20
What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

by Jo Yee Phang | 20 Apr 2017

“What did you wish you had known at age 20?” is the question we recently posed to FutureLab mentors. Our mentors were generous with their answer and many of their responses focused on the importance of maximising strengths, working hard, and focusing on a bigger picture. We rounded up 5 answers from all the answers we received. See what some of the most influential mentors of FutureLab wish they had known at age 20:   1. Edmond Yap, Founder of EduNation Malaysia  “Life is beyond me. I wish I understood that my life was not about me. It was about championing the impossible and empowering others to do the same. At 20, my biggest concerns were my hair, my clothing fit, and what others said. It was all about me, me and me. If you think only about ‘I’, you will never be happy. We all constantly have something to be unhappy when we think of ourselves. I wish I understood then the secret to my happiness was living a meaningful life by making the world a better place; being the voice of the voiceless and the hands of the handless. It is never about what car I drive or what someone thinks of me, my life is beyond me and in my world there is a lot more that exists in it than just me.” Learn more from Edmond here 2. Zoe Victoria, Co-Founder at Biji Biji Design “You can build a successful career in almost anything but it requires hard work. If you are aiming to be an engineer/doctor/lawyer, you will face tough years in university, long working hours and a maybe a competitive workplace. However, if you are looking to take the less trodden path, for example yoga teacher, game designer, artist or bicycle maker- you can still make it big! Today, every industry can be a global one, and even the most unlikely of choices holds opportunity. Whatever you wish to do, make sure you have the determination and willpower to work on it tirelessly for at least a good few years. Success does not often come easily and it will take your commitment to make your choice work. Do not be dissuaded by slow progress- keep on believing in yourself and you will get there!” Learn more from Zoe here   3. Tarminder Singh, Strategic Planning & Development at International Medical University (IMU) “Work on your strengths. Arguably, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would not have been some of the greatest living athletes had they been playing basketball or even tennis. This is because their strength lies in football. At university, a common advice I received was not an advice, but a plan. As an accounting and finance student, I was informed about the importance of working for the Big 4 Accounting Firm. Upon setting foot in into a reputable company, to gain professional membership and then to become a manager. I took it up but eventually realised that I will never be great at it. That is because I was not working on my strengths. I chose to then work on my strengths by applying to become a Management Consultant. I looked out for a career that played to my strengths. The lesson here is to realise the importance of knowing your strengths. Learn what you are good at, ask those around you what you are good at, or get a mentor who is in your field of interest! If are looking for a job, find something that plays to your strengths and then be amazed by how you evolve!” Learn more from Tarminder here   4. Sirhajwan Idek, Teach at Keningau Vocational College “Believe in yourself. Nothing is more satisfying than pursuit your true passion. At 20, I doubted myself. I barely participated in competition, community work or even tried out anything new despite the desire. I did not think I would have been successful if I followed my passion. At 25, my teaching job required me to mentor students to develop their potential. I gained inspiration from watching my students develop through challenges. I thought if they could do something they never imagined to find success in, I could too. It was then I started pursuing my passions – I wrote, did runs, and took up projects. Many years down the line, I have a wealth of experience, knowledge, skills and I love what I do. I feel successful and accomplished, but only because I dared to believe in myself” Learn from Sirhajwan here 5. Pietro Felix, Head of Global Community at Migme Pte Ltd “Change is inevitable. At 20, I did not know I was going to have a diversified career. Had you told me this then, I would have been scared at every crossroad. I started in the music industry aiming to be Simon Cowell. I wanted to sign the biggest global artist and make music for the world. But then, I became a radio DJ, Consultant, Sports Presenter and now I  work on digitial app productions with a telecommunication company. I never imagined any of this. I was once music mogul who now makes digital changes in the telecommunication industry, that too in Malaysia’s Best. The lesson I have learned is that change is inevitable. As an individual, you will continuously grow and change too. Embrace it by looking at it as an oppurtunity to learn, taking those lessons and moving on. Everything that happens is a blessing. It leads you to where you are supposed to be. Speak and listen to others. There is room for change in that too. Learn from their mistakes. Learn them, grow from them and keep them in mind, because that could be you. See every living moment of yours as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop because change is really inevitable.” Learn from Pietro here

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Mentorship
They Launched A Mentorship Platform In M’sia To Help Those Stagnant In Their Career

by Jo Yee Phang | 20 Apr 2017

Approximately one month ago, Vulcan Post featured FutureLab in an article. Check out what they said below! On how the FutureLab journey begun… “What they noticed was a huge knowledge gap and lack of information in transitioning from studying to joining the workforce. At the same time, they themselves were also experiencing a marked disconnect of what they had studied in university and what they were actually working on—particularly since they had chosen to venture into fields that were unrelated to their degrees.” What our initial feedback was, “The feedback we got was so awesome that we decided to run a few more. We even managed to help 2 students get jobs at the law firm, Wong & Partners, just from speaking to our mentors.” A vision for the future… “The dream is to build FutureLab into a platform where users can access a global network of friendly professionals that are keen on helping mentees. Brian added, ‘We are also a social enterprise where professionals can come on, speak to a student, earn extra cash and donate it to education charities or NGOs.’ “ Interesting things we have planned out, “FutureLab is not just going to stay purely online; they also want to make their presence felt outside of the Internet. Brian said, ‘Networking events are great, we plan to organise our own mentee-mentor networking sessions in the future. But our focus is online mentoring since we can provide a wider range of industries and mentors from different parts of the world.’ “ Read the full article here!

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Article on management consultant
3 Qualities a Management Consultant Must Have

by Neekita Patel | 20 Apr 2017

I am a young professional who is trying to build my social circle. I do this by indulging in activities I enjoy, unwillingly attending networking events and reaching out to professionals I admire on LinkedIn. A job title that often comes up whilst speaking to many is, a management consultant. There are about 50 international consulting firms in Malaysia, and it only makes sense to hear it at the frequency I hear it at. At first, I was indifferent to it. However, as the frequency of hearing the title increased, my curiosity was sparked. Then, together with my team at FutureLab we gathered a few management consultants from top firms and decided to understand more about the role. We focused on understanding what it means to be a consultant, and with the aim to share this information on how to be one. 1. What are Management Consultants? Management Consultants are a group of people hired for various reasons. The reasons vary from companies having questions, problems they are facing to ideas they would like to test. Why can’t they do this themselves when they should know their company the best? ­­­The main reason companies seek answers from management consultants vary. They seek them out for expertise, time and the absence of vested interest. The list of reasons are exhaustive but more often than not they want an outside eye. You know how sometimes when we face problems in our life, we turn to friends and family for their suggestions on how to solve it? Managing that problem on our own might be the reason we miss out an obvious answer because we are too close to the challenge. Companies need this too, especially when making tough decisions. The difference between personally turning to family and friends, and companies turning to management consultants is that this is not just any opinion. It is based on a large database of knowledge on what works best and what does not. As a unit, management consultants have dealt with it all.   2. How do you become a consultant at a top firm? There are two main ways consultants get hired. More often than not, through campus recruitment or lateral hiring. Heard of Graduan? Many consulting firms in Malaysia direct their graduate recruitment efforts through it. For campus recruitment, there are no stringent rules about discipline. However, a good rule of thumb to work by is to strive to be the best even amongst the best. For lateral hiring, the work experience is likely to take lead. Over here, industry knowledge, understanding of its nuances and application is key. Of course after this, internships, referrals, and various other means can facilitate you to set foot in one. Google, Quora, Forums and many other platforms will educate you on the many ways you can become a consultant. Or a faster way could be to book in a mentor’s time on FutureLab 😉   3. We dug deeper into the question of prerequisites – what do you need to become a consultant? a. Analytical/problem solving skills Why do you need this? As a management consultant, you will be constantly solving puzzles. To solve this puzzle well, you should first know how to approach the puzzle. During this problem solving process, it is necessary to think about the broad questions and the detailed questions you will need to answer. During your interview and even later on, in your role, you will be expected to know how to lead questions. This drives to the biggest factor, a structure in the way you think. Linearity in thought processes needs to be demonstrated. An important point to remember is that you might not be always the one to deliver the answers to a client. More so why clarity in thought process and articulation of how a decision is made is of utmost importance. How to acquire this? If you think you lack this, a good place to start will be through a book by Victor Cheng – Case Interview Secrets. Many universities also have consulting clubs which have ample resources on case studies which are free to use. Two to mention are Harvard and Wharton. Accessing their resources and finding practice material is not hard at all. Key is practice, practice, and practice. This is a process that cannot be nailed without practice, and the work you put in is also a strong indication of passion which they want to see. b. Interpersonal skills Why do you need this? Management consultant’s job is also built on the warmth of a relationship one shares with their client. It forms the foundation. There is no doubt on interpersonal skills if you want to become a management consultant. A client needs to trust the consultant giving the advice. There is also an element of selling and proving that the service is required. The ability to put your ideas into words, to listen to others, and to provide support is required. As a consultant, the projects you work on will also be constantly changing. You need to be able to integrate into teams quickly, adapt to different management styles and get up to speed quickly on industry terminologies and operation for your client. You also need to be able to disagree and to suggest ideas counter to what your client may be proposing, in a tactful manner. How to acquire this? If you are a student, don’t worry about being a kick ass orator for now. For a start, develop yourself to be likeable, passionate and genuine. ­The rest will come with exposure and practice! c. Drive and motivation Why do you need this? Motivation is essential for this job. Constant preparation and hard work are what leads to valuable work experience. Being a consultant means often being in a high pressure environment, and during such times top performing consultants don’t throw in the towel. Many consultants share that while recruiting, a key desired characteristic are people who have taken on added responsibilities and pushed themselves. How to acquire this? A commitment to updating your skills and appetite for learning is important to have and demonstrate. This is a tough one to explain and assess, but a good principle to go by is that you have tried to achieve something beyond your call of duty. ——  In essence, we’d like to emphasise the importance of preparation for a management consultant interview or role. Depending on the company, you will go through 4 – 8 interviews before a decision is made. The process is rigorous and completely possible, but only if the ground work has been done right and you show the right attitude (determination, likeability and passion). Consulting firms are also a good platform to develop a wide range of technical skills and soft skills. If you are someone who is drawn to the ‘it depends’ factors which call for creative, innovative thinking with a practical problem solving approach, a management consultant role could be for you. A good way to start preparing will be with the tips we provided above! 🙂 We would like to thank everyone who was involved in sharing their thoughts but whose names we can’t reveal because of company disclosure regulations.

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5 Networking Tips Everyone Needs

by Neekita Patel | 20 Apr 2017

Networking is about building lasting relationships and cultivating them over time. It’s an art, a science and one of the most important skills to have. There are many reasons to network: to expand your contacts, develop business partnerships, find a better job or find some better workers. The more people you meet, the larger your network and the greater the odds of being helped out when you need it. More importantly, it’s a task that many of us find daunting and dread. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone, and more often than not, you may be doing it wrong. Here are five tips anyone can use, whether you’re an extrovert who loves to network or an introvert who cringes at the thought of it.   Tip #1 Do your research If you’re attending an event, research what kind of event it is and who will be attending. Always come prepared so that you do not waste time by asking for basic details you could easily learn on your own. Meetings will be much more productive if you ask relevant questions. This way, the person you’re networking with is more likely to be impressed by your commitment and knowledge, and recommend you to their contacts.   Tip #2 Listen Unfortunately, when one thinks of networking, one often thinks of all the right and wrong things to say or do. A lot of people forget that networking is a two-way street – it’s about communication, and there are always two sides to communicating – talking and listening. The latter is often underestimated. Networking is a conversation; it’s about being genuine. Do not use it as a one-sided broadcast intended to promote yourself. No one likes conceited people who cannot stop talking about themselves. Listen and learn something new about the person. Learning is never wasted. Moreover, everyone likes being listened to and feeling like they’re important. This will most likely enable you to build a lasting relationship with them.   Tip #3 Give Often people go to network with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. We usually have a set of expectations when we network with other people – we have certain things we want to achieve, whether it’s a job or a handful of business cards. This is the wrong attitude to have. Again, networking is a two-way street. You have to be prepared to give, offer value to the other person, and genuinely be interested in helping them out too. Do you have any expertise or advise you could offer? Do you have any connections in a certain field? Or an interesting lead for them?   Tip #4 Find common ground Again, do your research. If you know whom you will be meeting or what event you will be attending, go ahead and do your research. “Go on Facebook, go on LinkedIn, and see what information this person has freely given about himself or herself,” advises Robert Cialdini, professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University and author of the business bestseller Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. “It’s not secret if they’re talking about it online, and if you find that commonality or two, you can go there and zero in.” It has been scientifically proven that people who have things in common are more likely to create a level of shared trust and bond quicker. Commonalities don’t have to be huge or meaningful – it could simply be a country you both visited, a sport you both enjoy or a book you’ve both read If you have just met the person unexpectedly, don’t hesitate to offer information about yourself, so long as it’s appropriate. “There’s research that shows that self-disclosure is reciprocal,” says Cialdini. That means that if you share details about yourself, he says, “people will tell you about themselves, and when you hit on a commonality, all of a sudden there’s rapport.” Another way to find common ground is small talk. Chitchat about what they did over the holidays or where they travelled. Spending time socializing on a non-professional level is an icebreaker and smooth out future interactions. Those few minutes you spend on what seems like trivial nonsense, can actually help build a lasting relationship by making the other person warm up to you.   Tip #5 Follow-up Networking isn’t just about going to that dreaded event and having those dreaded conversations and getting what you expected. It’s about forming lasting relationships and cultivating them over time. And relationships require investment. Don’t just throw those business cards on your desk and be satisfied with yourself – connect with those people on LinkedIn, or send a friendly email when you find an article he or she might be interested in. You can even send a message about how you enjoyed the conversation and ask to grab a coffee.  Following-up just may be the most important aspect of networking – it allows people to remember you.   So get out there & start networking!

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FutureLab Talks; Here’s How You Can Work For Shell.

by Neekita Patel | 28 Feb 2017

On February 18th 2017, 5 FutureLab mentors from Shell came to our office to share their 62 years of accumulated knowledge and experience. It was a lovely, intimate event and we were pleased to see the mentors extremely passionate about helping our community members create a career they love. Our five mentors came from different departments in Shell. We learned that the oil and gas sector is so large that understanding and explaining the whole process from start to finish isn’t particularly easy. For this reason, the industry is generally broken down into the following three components: upstream, midstream and downstream. Many companies working within the industry will generally choose to specialise in one particular part of the process. Shell, however, is one of the rare companies working on all three. It’s no surprise how the common theme in their career with Shell quickly became – wide exposure! We asked our five mentors to share with us their advice for graduates interested in working for Shell and this is what they said: Does Shell hire year round? Shell does hire all year-round. There is no specific deadline for applications but if you are looking to apply for the Shell Graduate Program, please note that the applications will close on the 28th of February 2017 to facilitate a new application process (the roll-out date of the new process will be announced on the Shell careers website shortly). There are materials online to prepare but this a good guide for an interview preparation – from the C.A.R criteria every applicant should know about to the type of technical questions to prepare for: https://targetjobs.co.uk/employer-hubs/shell/344286-shell-graduate-interviews-show-you-meet-the-companys-criteria   How did you start with Shell? 1. Surinderdeep: I was a Shell veteran with 24 years of experience. Upon entering Shell immediately after graduation, I quickly became disappointed because I was not tasked with writing software, which is what I wanted to do. Eventually, I moved on to several different departments, the first of which was retail automation, before ending my time with Shell on December 31st. Shell is one of the best places to be exposed to; in particular their core values of honesty, integrity and respect for people is something the organisation truly tries to live up to. 2.Vijay: I am from India, and I first stepped foot into Shell as a senior engineer and grew to lead regional team and eventually a global team of Engineers and Consultants. I believe if you have the right attitude and interest, and you work hard, there is nothing that can stop you. I have worked across the globe and had the unique opportunity to work with people across geography and culture. Virtual working while running a global business has its own charm and challenges and is provides a very rewarding experience. Shell is a brilliant organisation and I would suggest that the best way for you to join Shell is as a graduate. That way, you can learn the rules of the place early on and set yourself for success. 3. Chee Meng: Towards the end of my PhD, I had to decide between academia and the corporate life. Because of my interest in business, I ended up at a consulting firm. But my first love was engineering and I quickly realised that I wanted to seek something closely related. In 2014, I started working with Shell as a Pipeline Engineer – basically designing and installing offshore pipelines. I started through the Shell Graduate Program and found it to be very fulfilling and structured.  The scope of work is very wide and the support system here is very strong. Whatever your passion and niche is, you will find the chance within Shell to develop it. The roles are designed to stretch you and you are given very real responsibilities from day one. When you exit the graduate program, the hope is that you would be equipped enough and on track to be a future leader at Shell. 4. Andy: I graduated as a chemical engineer but I never really wanted to be an engineer. I took up engineering mainly due to the fact that I like to innovate and solve problems besides knowing that this degree generates more options for me in terms of my career path. For instance, Banking, Oil & Gas, Consulting and so on. Shell visited my university and told us about the graduate program. I decided to apply and took the leap when I received the offer. I started off in Shell within the Contracting & Procurement skillpool and now I am in a B2B Commercial Business Development skillpool. I was thinking of leaving the company in my first month as my perception of Shell being a mega organization was around rigidity and hierarchy and I wasn’t a big fan of that.  However, that was not the case at all, the culture, the people and the values in Shell were the reasons why I stayed and never looked back again. The development was amazing as challenges were always in the equation to keep me stretched and growing coupled with the fact that I had great leaders along my journey. I was in a range of roles cutting across the Upstream, Downstream and Integrated Gas businesses which includes “Senior Buyer”, “Contract Specialist”, “Planning Lead”, “Business Performance Lead” and now “Sales Manager”. In general, Shell is not going to mindlessly hand the ‘carrot’ to you. This is a company where you need to show constant hunger and deliver. 5. Zhi Yun: I am a process engineer with Shell. After graduating, I went into the finance industry. I worked for 3 years and explored economics and finance. After two and a half years of seeing what is out there and understanding the reality of it, I decided to change. I started on the Shell Graduate Program too, and it is really good. I received a diversified experience – it is a huge platform for you to be adventurous. I started off facing the computer a lot. I was then off-shore for over one year. I have been with Shell for 3 years now, and my roles have been very diverse. The great thing about Shell is that it recognises your strengths and exposes you to different opportunities.   What advice would you give fresh graduates looking for their first job and why? 1.Vijay: Be clear on what you want and most importantly what you don’t want. This helps you to narrow down on industry and working environment that you will enjoy. a.Develop skills to analyse issues from multiple viewpoints. This helps you to better understand stakeholders and manage better. Demonstrate this ability in interviews so that your strength stands out. b.Bring your unique ideas to challenge constructively. A simple question from a person with open mind has the potential to shake status quo and lead to Innovation and Continuous Improvement. In all of that, remember that this is about your individual journey and what drives you. 2.Chee Meng: There are so many platforms available today versus say, twenty years ago, that there is no excuse to not be sufficiently informed about the available professions out there. Whether it’s graduate events or online communities, it really comes down to how resourceful you are as a person to find and use them to guide your career path 3. Andy: I will break down my answer down into 3 areas – passion, competitiveness and hunger. a.The first is ‘passion’: You took up your degree course for a reason. You were building on your passion and interest. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, you need to pause, reflect and find that out. Speak to people from the industry you are passionate about, explore and understand the roles that are out there. Make a decision only after you understand what is on the table. There are loads of jobs out there but ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ if you don’t go out there and hunt. b.The second one is ‘competitiveness’: Every single year many graduates come out from various universities and so on. The job market is challenging now in terms of the amount of jobs available, but companies like Shell would generally still be hiring young talents to keep the talent pipeline flowing. You have to show your competitiveness at all times and what differentiates you from the others. In university, grades are important. You have to do your best and the good grades are a bare minimum passing point. It represents your intelligence level to a certain extent and shows dedication, commitment and resilience. The next ‘vehicle’ would be you CV. Organizations do not just look at grades purely and some don’t even put much weight on the grades. They’re looking for the ‘overall package’, talents that can think off their feet, with great problem solving skills, leadership attributes, excellent interpersonal skills with amazing attitude. Hence, all the other involvements besides the academic piece are extremely essential as well. You would need to package them well and express these aspects and experiences within the CV. Following the submission of the application, most people would take a back seat thinking it’s now beyond their control. But there is more that you can do. This is when the next area comes in. c.‘Hunger’ : Follow up with all the companies you have applied to, and asked them for updates on the application process with enthusiasm. At every point, you need to sell yourself in terms of your passion and the value you can bring to the organization. 4. Zhi Yun: You need to take time to know yourself, what you like and what you don’t like. If you don’t do this, you will be miserable. Don’t be afraid to try new things out, even things that scare you and make you very uncomfortable. Initially, I didn’t like money but I explored finance, and ended up loving it for the structure it has. Eventually I realised, I did not want my career to be built on it, so I moved. 5. Surinder: If you like the really big questions such as: ‘What comes after oil? Are we really going nuclear? Is cold fusion possible?’, the oil and gas industry gives you the opportunity to explore these. I like the 30-50 year questions. It is hard for an entrepreneur to do that on his or her own. If you like those questions, oil and gas is for you to explore!   What is one word to sum up something that will help with career advancement? 1. Vijay: Clarity 2. Chee Meng: Systems 3. Surinder: Resilience 4. Andy: Competitiveness 5. Zhi Yun: Metamorphosis Interested, Intrigued, Inspired? Would like to attend the next FutureLab Talks?    

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Words of wisdom from a Global Award Winning Teacher

by Joel | 20 Jan 2017

20 000 applications from dedicated teachers across 179 countries and in that stood someone we know as one of the finalists for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017 award: Mohd. Sirhajwan Idek, our very own Malaysian who teaches in Keningau Vocational College, Sabah and an influential mentor of the FutureLab platform. Varkey Foundation recognised him as ‘one of five global winners of the Teacher at My Heart contest (sponsored by Macmillan) in 2016, and was in the top three finalists of the international TESOL Teacher of the Year award.’ His three golden P’s for educating – patience, positivity and perseverance – inspired and intrigued us and we decided to speak to him to know more. 1. What is your educational background and why teach? I am a graduate from Gaya Teacher Training Institute in Kota Kinabalu, and Universiti Teknology Mara (UiTM). Alongside teaching English in Keningau Vocational School, I am also pursuing a PhD at UiTM Shah Alam. I decided to teach because I wanted to explore my creativity and know how to transfer my ideas. The motivation that drove me was to transfer these ideas into teaching practices, materials and projects. I tested the waters in this area by first training the debate team of school. It was then I decided that I wanted to dive further and focus my effort on English-related activities, innovation and entrepreneurship. This was also where I realised and began giving importance to improving my teaching practice through various tools and techniques. 2. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced and overcome? The biggest challenge has definitely been to instil a sense of belief and possibility in students. Some often have the preconceived notion that they are at a disadvantage because of their backgrounds. I mentor my students by encouraging them to develop their self-esteem, know their worth and make them realise that they are competent and have the potential. Regardless their background and the opinion of those around them, they can still move ahead in their desired direction. 3. What are the biggest challenges faced by your students? Limited technology, transport, infrastructure, resources and funds to carry out curated ideas and plans. 4. What is your advice to students? To believe in yourself – your capabilities, potential, talent and passion. And, show that to people. Don’t sell yourself short. From my experience, lacking confidence due to being nervous and anxious is a barrier. However, that nerve and anxiety should be thought of as a fuel to drive you instead of a road block. In all of this, to also remember to be yourself. Being flawed and making mistakes is part of human nature and journey. What is important is not be afraid of them, but to ensure there is a learning out of it. This will help you grow. Another advice would be to utilise a mentoring platform like FutureLab; it is accessible to everyone and the initiatives will help you achieve your goals. In addition to the development of knowledge, it is also useful to develop confidence through the practice interview sessions available. This is what I do at vocational schools, prepare students for the market and FutureLab is aligned with it. 5. What is a mentor to you? Do you have one? A mentor is a person who facilitates the mentee’s exploration of knowledge and direction in learning. Mentor provides feedback to the mentee when necessary. I have two mentors, Mr Johari Sabin and Madam Siti Aisa. 6. Now some fun questions: a. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you like to have dinner with? Why? Noam Chomsky. I am constantly impressed by his thoughts and ideas, many of which I have studied. I’d like to be like him; a polymath who is an expert in many disciplines. I want to not only have dinner with him, but be like him too. b. What superpower do you want and why? Superintelligence: I want to have the ability to know and remember everything. A walking encyclopaedia. c. Favourite quote? Nelson Mandela – I don’t lose, I either learn or win.

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