The Monash Entrepreneur Club (MEC) hosted a Speaker Series in conjunction with Asean Entrepreneur Week, where in which they invited four professionals from different industries to give a talk about the theme Advancing through Adversity from 27 August 2018 to 30 August 2018. Here are 5 things that were touched on by each of the speakers.
The first speaker was Ms Chia Ting Ting the Head of Advertising leading FG Media responsible for advertising sales across Mkini Group, from Malaysiakini.
1. The Journey of Malaysiakini
Established in 1999, Malaysiakini was founded by Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan as a reactionary media to the heavily controlled (at the time) mainstream media. 19 years, 5 election coverages, legal threats in 2014 and countless government raids later, Malaysiakini has managed to become the top media outlet in the country.
2. Role of Media in Nation Building
The role of the media in building a nation was outlined by Ms TIng Ting. It is extremely vital to document key events, give voice to the oppositions and minorities, champion for good governance and transparency.
3. Role of Youth in Nation Building
Youth empowerment was another focal point of Ms Ting Ting’s speech. Getting the youth invested in current affairs is needed to build a nation. However, showcasing young voices and increasing youth engagement are challenges due to how fragmented the market and youth are.
4. Change of Landscape
The downfall of most independent media outlets is sustainability. Ms Ting Ting talked about how the consumption of news has drastically changed, and how Google banners are now out of fashion. With ad blockers, netizens no longer consume advertisements like how they used to. She also spoke about how Malaysiakini offers branded content in addition to their subscription service as part of their dual revenue stream to remain sustainable.
5. Pesta Harapan Malaysia
In conjunction with Independence Day and Malaysia Day, @Kini (Malaysiakini’s event management arm) will be hosting Pesta Harapan Malaysia. It is essentially a string of events including a unity concert, a run, and an entrepreneurship summit which allows young people to participate in a town hall discussion and debate on policies.
The next day we had the pleasure to listen to one of the founders of Project 57, Mr Collin Swee.
1. Journey to Social Entrepreneurship
Mr. Collin started out as a lawyer and mainly focused on earning money for the first 16 years of his career. He then realized that many of his peers did the same and had little interest in the political scene. Mr. Collin then decided started his business which aimed to benefit society.
2. Bringing cool to patriotism
Mr. Collin spoke about the complacency of his generation towards politics and how we wanted to renew the idea of patriotism. So then he and his best friend, Syed Saddiq (not the Sports Ministers) started Project 57. The number reflects the year of the constitution was formed in order to remind people of where we started. Project 57 is a non-politicised platform that sells merchandise. Part of their proceeds go to empowerment programs for the underprivileged youth.
3. The fundamentals when starting a Social Enterprise
Mr. Collin stressed a few thing that are considered important if you want to start a social enterprise, which include: (1) always be willing to learn from experience, aspire good leadership and have a strategic vision; (2) come with humility, put yourself out there and find a mentor to give you advice based on their knowledge and share resources, ‘Even the world’s best tennis players have coaches, why not you?’; and finally (3) be aware of the changing industry and still keep abreast what is happening currently.
4. Something that no one tells you & other nuggets of advice.
Here are nuggets of advice that Mr. Collin gave us during the moderation session. ‘Entrepreneurship is shown to be glamorous but it is hard to get there. Life will never be on cruise control. There’s always a new goal…Targets should be more holistic, don’t rush, and find a niche of what makes you happy.’, ‘Not everything has to be done for the sake of appeasing society,’ and in terms of work life balance, ‘You have to have a balance that works for you, I still find myself working on it all the time.’
5. Global Student Entrepreneur Award
This is program that Mr. Collin spoke about which is organized by Entrepreneur Organization. This award is meant to empower students and Mr. Collin encouraged us all to join. ‘Don’t give up, always take opportunities and you’ll be surprised about how your idea, simple as it may be, hasn’t be done before.’
On the third day itself, Mac Chung Lynn from Nandos Malaysia was invited over to speak about what it takes to run a ‘Peri’-fect restaurant chain locally.
1. Having fun is as important as making money.
While it was initially difficult to introduce the concept of grilled chicken towards a market that was already comfortable with fast food, Nandos was set on changing the way the world thought about chicken. This is achieved by having a flavor for every customer out there. Other than taking their chicken very seriously, Chung Lynn has demonstrated that Nandos knows how to have fun: from their bright, South African influenced interiors to their cheeky ads. Nandos may be a lot of things, but they sure do not have pretense towards the things they do.
2. Having an identity
While almost no two Nando’s look alike, Chung Lynn has mentioned that all Nandos possess a strong sense of identity that makes all of their restaurants instantly recognizable. This is because Nandos is very invested in creating a sense of familiarity and casual atmosphere through their touchpoints, whether it’s their menus, store decorations, colours and how their staff interact. Chung Lynn also takes immense pride in her brand as she pointed out that she felt proud wearing a Nandos t-shirt, and how she would always find passion in doing her job, even when she’s facing the toughest of customers.
3. Feeding communities while building it
Other than feeding families, Nando’s is committed towards building communities by creating employment opportunities for the South African youth through their Harambee program. Through this program, these unemployed youth get to develop skills that prepare them for the workforce. African farmers are also given a chance to grow as Nando’s would provide them with plots of land to grow chilli on.
4. With great poultry comes great art
One thing that sets Nando’s apart from its competitors is their devotion to art. Nando’s uses their platform to encourage budding artists to create and showcase art. Just by submitting an entry, artists stand a chance to win prizes and solo exhibition for their works. Chung Lynn also supports the art of grilling chicken, by successfully issuing every store manager a passport so they could take part in the Grillers’ Challenge, where Nando’s grillers from all over the world come together to decide who grills chicken the best.
5. Making families at work, mixing family with work
One thing that really ties Nando’s together is their sense of family. Relationship between employees are built on trust and love. Just as you would treat another family member with respect, Nando’s ensures that experiences gained in their restaurants would be tightly audited so that they are consistently wonderful. Other than the occasionally teasing, Chung Lynn stresses that just like family, her employees have a deep respect for each other. She also acknowledges that while it is difficult juggling between family and work, she genuinely believes that both do not have to be mutually exclusive for any working woman.
On the last day, Zhi Ee Chan from Monsta was invited over to speak on her experiences as a young entrepreneur that caters towards the youth.
1. Using intangibles to obtain tangibles
Commenting that millennials crave instant gratification and tangible possessions like money, luxury items, and a good CGPA, Zhi Ee suggested that we should start working towards intangible things instead. Having the knowledge, experience, network, relationships and mindset allow millennials to build sustainable careers, which can be turned into tangible possessions later on. Monsta was formed out of the intention to link intangible goals together, and make them accessible to everyone.
2. Networking is everything
During Zhi Ee’s days of holding events, she realised that plenty of students seek mentorship and guidance from industry experts. Instead of being in a strange position of not knowing whether if she should give out private contact details of entrepreneurs, Zhi Ee decided to hold Monsta events that allow students to personally meet and network with various industry experts. “Let the industry be our lecturer,” she said.
3. Growth is gradual, not instant
One thing Zhi Ee wished she realised when she was younger was that growth cannot be rushed. Having too many thing on one’s plate brings on the possibility of losing focus and drive—she would rather focus on one thing instead. Nowadays, she prefers setting realistic expectations for herself by saying “If you improve by 1% a day, you’ll improve by just about 365% over the course of a year”.
4. Turn fear into fuel
Instead of being afraid, Zhi Ee recommends using excitement to drive one’s passion. Noting that success is only for those who are ready, excitement allows people to take the first big step out. Preparing and studying people before meeting them also help one coming across as ‘less annoying’. Millennials should also not be afraid to be collaborative, where partnerships would provide mutual benefit through the use of shared knowledge.
5. Don’t be a millennial millennial
Confidence comes from experience! Zhi Ee recommended the audience to pick up on new experiences to enrich one’s life and enhance one’s confidence levels. By going out more, millennials gain from observing and learning from new spaces rather than the ones they have been accustomed to, such as their own university. A collaborative mindset is definitely a crucial trait that employers are looking for.
Article by Sharifah Azlinah and Ling Jie Tuang
Photos by Marium Imran and Daniel Sim