The fourth annual Women of the Future Awards Southeast Asia, the only movement of its kind to recognise and nurture the pipeline of young female talent across the region, in association with NTT, announced today 61 shortlisted finalist across 11 countries comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly revealed the enormous reliance on women at home and in the essential services and, as identified by the UN, it has put hard-fought gains for women’s rights and representation of women across all industries under threat. It is therefore more important now than ever to shine a light and recognise women’s leadership and nurture, develop and support female talent.
This year’s line-up is phenomenal, with candidates from all over the region and from truly diverse sectors. From business dynamos and entrepreneurs to athletes and academics, the women shortlisted work tirelessly to empower others, forge new paths and positively impact their colleagues, communities, and the world at large.
The number of nominations received – the highest since the initiative launched in 2018 – reflects the growing and diverse pool of female talent in the region, with shortlisted candidates from backgrounds ranging from astro-physicists to Olympic gymnasts, to human rights lawyers and architects.
The finalists from each category comprise:
Arts & Culture
- Nandini Balakrishnan (Malaysia)
- Adana Legros (Cambodia)
- Melissa Tan Li Hsia (Malaysia)
- Pamela Poh Sin Tan (Malaysia)
- Red Hong Yi (Malaysia)
- Angie Ang (Brunei)
- Sharlene Chan (Singapore)
- Imeiniar Chandra (Indonesia)
- Josefhine Chitra (Indonesia)
- Sharon Tan (Singapore)
- Sarah Voon Ruyen (Malaysia)
Community Spirits & Public Service
- Ruby* (Philippines)
- Sereyrath Aing (Cambodia)
- Thae Su Aye (Myanmar)
- Manoly Sisavanh (Laos)
- Jonia Leite Soares (Timor Leste)
- Maria Glorian Tomen (Philippines)
- Pratiwi Hamdhana AM (Indonesia)
- Amanda Cole (Indonesia)
- Tan Nini (Malaysia)
- Thyda Thaung (Cambodia)
- Abetina Valenzuela (Philippines)
Media & Communications
- Hou Hemmunind (Cambodia)
- Falencia Naoenz (Indonesia)
- Panha S. Theng (Cambodia)
- Benjienen Toledo (Philippines)
- Alice Yu Yuebo (Singapore)
Mentor (open to both women and men)
- Ireen Catane (Philippines)
- Duncan Hewett (Singapore)
- Konthea Mean (Cambodia)
- Mikaela Luisa Teves (Philippines)
- Ma Carmela Vilela-Toreja (Philippines)
- Phillia Wibowo (Indonesia)
- Nur Amalina Che Bakri (Malaysia)
- Grace Chong (Singapore)
- Maria Pilar Lorenzo (Philippines)
- Izreen Ramli (Malaysia)
- Jiraporn Sindhuprai (Thailand)
- Busayapa Srisompong (Thailand)
Property, Infrastructure & Construction
- Lim Wai Cheng (Singapore)
- Veronica Ng (Singapore)
- Chan Pichmonyka (Cambodia)
- Mei Tan (Malaysia)
- Quek Su Jun Edwina (Singapore)
Science, Technology & Digital
- Nur Adlyka Ainul Annuar (Malaysia)
- Regine Chan (Singapore)
- An Dongmei (Singapore)
- Irene Lock Sow Mei (Malaysia)
- Yi Lin Ng (Malaysia)
- Malypoeur Plong (Cambodia)
- Souphaphone Dangmany (Laos)
- Huong Dang (Vietnam)
- Louise Emmanuelle d.G. Mabulo (Philippines)
- Raudhah Nazran (Malaysia)
- Aida Zunaidi/Wei Qi Wong/Ming Chi Toh (Malaysia)
- Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (Malaysia)
- Bùi Thanh Huyền (Vietnam)
- Lao Khang (Laos)
- Jen Macapagal (Philippines)
- Nicole Tiamzon (Philippines)
- Qinthara Nabigha (Indonesia)
The winners of the Women of the Future Southeast Asia Awards 2021 will be announced on 6 October, 2021 at the awards ceremony at the Hilton Hotel Singapore.
More details can be found on here.
Every year, on April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day is globally recognised by the United Nations to raise awareness on people with autistic spectrum disorders, including autism and Asperger Syndrome. Member States of the United Nations are urged to provide those on the autism spectrum with the assistance needed to improve their quality of life, so they can lead a meaningful life as an integral part of society.
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a developmental disability that affects the way people communicate and process sensory information. There is no single cause for it, and it varies from person to person in severity and combinations of symptoms.
This year, the theme of World Autism Awareness Day is “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World“. There is a severe underemployment of adults on the autism spectrum, and on top of these pressing discriminatory hiring practices, those who are employed face challenges in their workplace environments as they don’t provide accessibility for persons with autism or other disabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only made these inequalities worse with the loss of hundreds of millions of jobs. To tackle this issue, the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) has just launched the world’s first Certified E-Commerce Specialist (CES) Level 1 Programme for youths with autism in Malaysia. The specialised training and internship programme aims to empower these youths with skills in digital marketing and E-Commerce, providing new career opportunities for the community.
Although the rate of autism is high worldwide, there is still a lack of understanding, leading to stigmatisation and discrimination, that tremendously impacts these individuals, their families and communities. NASOM is working towards achieving an inclusive society in Malaysia where people with autism can reach their full potential, participate in their communities and lead a meaningful life with dignity.
For anyone who loves fashion, shopping and experimenting with different styles, becoming a stylist seems like the ultimate dream job. We’ve always admired stylists and fashion designers because of their innate sense of how to create looks that complement their clients, as well as make them feel comfortable and confident. To round off our interview series this International Women’s Month, where we take a glimpse into the universe of creative women in Malaysia, we reached out to some of our favourite fashion stylists, Haida Yusof-Yeomans and Zulvanny Andiny. Read on to find out what it takes to become a successful woman in the fashion industry and how to take charge of your own destiny!
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What does a regular day look like for a fashion stylist?
Zulvanny: There’s no such thing as a regular day, I guess, haha. Everyday is different. The tasks might be the same though: we have client fittings, sourcing, meetings, shoots, pick ups and returns, and a lot more! Our days revolve around those activities.
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What made you choose this career path and how rewarding has it been?
Haida: The ‘path’ just sort of landed on my feet quite literally. I had no idea one could make a living from styling people, at that time as well – when I first started, stylists could only officially work behind the scenes and for magazines. I love the job as I love beautifying people.
Zulvanny: Passion and interest. Unlike some people, my interest in styling bloomed quite late – when I was in university studying science. It came from my liking of watching music videos and concerts, as well as my interest in pop culture as a medium to de-stress after studying. It just so happened that I took a chance to learn more about my interest, which eventually, and luckily enough for me, turned into a career. I gotta say, I’ve been really lucky to be able to turn my passion into a career, and it is indeed very rewarding. It gives me some sort of satisfaction when I know I did a good job on set or with a client. Of course there are days where it’s hard and exhausting, but in the end, you find yourself back at it again because it really is just something you like to do.
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What was your favourite styling job and why?
Haida: Working with Yuna for her ‘Forevermore’ music video was a memorable experience for me as she has a vision unique to her style. It’s a rarity for many celebrities to want to adopt their own heritage and identity in their look, since everyone looks solely to the West. She and her director-husband, Adam (Sinclair), were keen to listen to my suggestions to create the memorable looks in that music video. Plus, she is one of the most humbling people to work with and we share the same taste in style, which made her super easy to work with!
Zulvanny: It’s hard to pick one, really! I have a lot, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be styling Sophia Liana when she was competing in a televised dance competition last year. We did different looks with different themes every week for months. I gotta say, I was creatively challenged, but it pushed me to be better.
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How do you define a job well done? Since your styles and preferences may differ from your clients’, how do you approach that?
Haida: For me, it’s a combination, or partial combination, of positive reception from the masses, clients’ appreciation of the look you deliver, PR / designer’s approval and appreciation of the look you used from their collection, and most importantly, originality. I always make it a point to discuss or make sense of the client’s requests and to talk about what truly fits their own style – and is not copied from another person. This is especially important if it’s with a celebrity that has a distinctive personality or if they aim to project a specific image to their audience. The most iconic people are those who stick with their own sense of style and are immortal in people’s minds due to their unique sense of style!
Zulvanny: I guess you just feel it when you know you did a great job. I can tell from their gestures whether they are “feeling” the outfit or not. Me and my clients have close relationships, so most of the time, when they don’t feel comfortable or would prefer another style, I can kinda sense it or they would just straight up tell me.
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Tell us about the fashion landscape in Malaysia – what are your hopes for it?
Haida: Malaysia is slowly improving, but it will take a while until we can achieve fashion capital status. We have yet to appreciate the arts and starting a discourse on this is still unrelatable to the masses. I feel if schools start teaching kids that the arts are on the same level as other streams of education, we can advance further in the field and appreciate more talents – rather than having them move overseas to be recognized.
Zulvanny: It is small, but it’s growing. People are more open to different styles now and they are not afraid to wear them out. My hope is for Malaysia to be one of the fashion capitals.
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What makes a great stylist?
Haida: Someone who is incredibly resourceful, is able to compartmentalize the many tasks they have to manage in a day, and has a keen eye in fashion in general – not just following trends. A great stylist is also very professional in building relationships and strives to do things out of the box in developing their own unique signature sense of style.
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As a stylist, who are your idols?
Haida: I love stylists who push their boundaries. Ibrahim Kamara, Lisa Jarvis, Elisaveta Porodina, Robbie Spencer – all stylists / image-makers who are stuck to their own sense of style.
Zulvanny: I had a lot of idols growing up, but who had the biggest impact on me would be Raf Simons.
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As a business woman, what inspires you and what advice can you give?
Haida: My late mother, first and foremost, and my family. This might sound obnoxious, but it’s really my passion to shop and to see how people appreciate my finds is the most rewarding thing that continues to push me towards operating Hydefselections. I think if you truly love your work, it no longer becomes work, and it’s true when they say that passion indeed helps fuels you towards achieving your goals.
Zulvanny: Honestly, people whom I met along my career bring so much inspiration to me. I have met and am surrounded by many career women who are hustlers – they are amazing in what they do. Some even juggle being a mother, wife, and the breadwinner in their family – that motivates me to be better and go after my goals. My advice would be: keep hustling and don’t give up. Draw inspiration from your surroundings to motivate you (sometimes, something as small as a flower can bring so much inspiration) and don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Last year, since the pandemic first struck, almost 1000,000 workers were laid off in Malaysia. This has been happening everywhere around the world, with COVID-19 causing record unemployment rates. If you have just lost your job, or have been out of work for a while, we understand how terrifying it can be. It can also be discouraging to get back into the job market, especially with how much it’s changed. From shifting industry hiring patterns to fundamental changes to the way we work, it’s important to understand the current circumstances and be prepared for uncertainties in these times.
To increase your chances of finding a job in this environment, you must stand out. Although companies have started hiring again, their budget cuts mean reduced hiring – intensifying the competition. If you’re not confident about how you’re approaching your job search or the application process, you can always seek the help of a recruitment agency. These firms can help provide you with the necessary market information needed to look for a job, strategize your profile to appeal to employers, hone your interview skills and knowledge to prepare you for interviews, manage your salary expectations according to market information, and advise you on career moves that best align with your aspirations. Here are some tips from Jane Foong, a Recruitment Consultant (Language and Finance Shared Services) at HAYS:
What’s the most common mistake people make with their resumes?
One of the most common mistakes is over elaborating or under elaborating on their resumes. You should not try to copy out your current job description word for word, but instead state your main responsibilities and highlight your leadership experience and achievements. Remember that HR managers go through more than a 100 CVs everyday, so don’t be afraid to bold or underline your best achievements to get their attention.
How can candidates stand out from the rest?
A concise write up on your aspirations, key skills and achievements in your resume is key to appealing to recruiters. It is also important to research your company and even your interviewer’s background before your interview so that you can ask the right questions. Don’t forget to smile and have a positive attitude to leave your interviewer with a good impression!
What is the most important thing to prepare for interviews?
In this day and age where a majority of our interviews are conducted online, one of the most important things is to prepare the tools you will use. Whether that’s Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Bluejeans – try to play around with the software in advance. Always log on 10 minutes earlier to avoid any sort of technical issue. And finally, dress smart even if you’re just sitting at home!
How should a candidate negotiate their salary?
When it comes to salary negotiation, we generally recommend that our candidates ask for an adjustment of about 10-15% more than their current salary package, which includes any fixed allowance and/or contractual bonuses. But before a candidate starts negotiating their salary, I would encourage them to look at the company’s benefits, such as job security and career exposure, to inform their decision of how much they should ask for – sometimes other factors can make up for a salary that may not be as high as they may have originally wanted.
If you’re interested in working in recruitment itself, HAYS is hiring! They’re looking for young professionals who are interested in developing their careers in a fast-paced environment and learn about a spectrum of industries and sectors.
It’s been a devastating year for the restaurant industry, more than 2,000 eateries in Malaysia were forced to shut down permanently since the pandemic started. The entire service industry was thrown into a tailspin, but chefs soon came to realise that they were still able to work from home. Social media connected home cooks, and hobbyists, with the hungry and bored. The rapidly growing business opportunity was so attractive that every time you opened Instagram, a new home-based food venture would pop up. It was, after all, a fast and easy way to earn money during a time of job losses and pay cuts.
Our stay-at-home scrolling habits created an even bigger demand for delicious, and eye-catching, desserts. Even those with little or no experience in baking were able to cash in on their new MCO hobby. One of these successful passion projects is Nis.Bakes – an online dessert shop that offers simple yet unique flavours such as rose pistachio, earl grey, and maple cinnamon cupcakes and cakes. The founder, Enisa Farith, is a PR and Marketing specialist who simply wanted to recreate the rose pistachio tres leche cake from L’eto in London for herself, but it turned out to be such a scroll-stopping treat (now their signature cake) that others wanted a taste. She then went on to make an Instagram page for her decadent desserts, and the rest is history. Read on to see how you can also start your own home-based food business with advice from this new baker.
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How long did you start planning and researching before launching your business?
It was a very spontaneous decision. I reckon I probably spent about one week researching prices, sourcing ingredients, coming up with the brand identity I wanted to convey, etc. before launching it. I first sold the cakes to people I knew before advertising it on social media – after my fourth attempt at baking the cake, I didn’t have much time on my hands and couldn’t wait to bake all the basics before learning how to bake a cake, so I relied heavily on YouTube. Baking is really about understanding the science, so perfecting the cake came after many attempts.
How did you know what to price your products?
I visited and analysed my competitors’ Instagram pages to gauge a preliminary sense of pricing. I really had no clue in the beginning, so I also asked friends and family how much they were willing to pay. The ingredients I use as well are of premium quality and most are imported, so that resonated with the prices I introduced. And of course, I took into account the costs to produce the baked goods.
What challenges did you face starting a business during the pandemic?
It didn’t take very long for me to realise how competitive the F&B industry is; especially during the pandemic – when more home-food businesses are popping up. One of the main challenges is probably having to come up with a new flavour / dessert frequently and especially with my busy schedule, I knew I was going to struggle. Fortunately, Nis.Bakes is not your typical dessert shop, I knew I didn’t want to sell regular flavoured desserts such as cheesecake, Lotus Biscoff, chocolate – ones that other dessert shops have already excelled at making. Being a newcomer in both baking and in the online dessert industry, I knew I had to be unique to be distinctive, so I experimented with baking unconventional flavoured desserts and focused on perfecting them.
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How do you juggle running your own business and working a full-time job?
It is not easy; Nis.Bakes is a one woman show. Weekdays are the most hectic days, I come into work at 9AM, come home at 7PM, head for a quick shower and within 30 minutes, I’m in the kitchen baking for 3 or 4 hours. I take a limited amount of orders every week as a result of this, 15 orders max. Weekends are my off days, I’ve realised that those two days are important to recuperate and recharge. It’s definitely improved my time management skills, but what keeps me going is my customers’ satisfaction, it’s very rewarding and I don’t regret the decision of setting up Nis.Bakes. They are also very understanding of my situation and I’m extremely grateful for them.
What advice do you have for others looking to start their own home-food business?
Just go for it! There’s never a right time to embark on a new venture in your life. You will make mistakes along the way, but you’ll learn from it and continue to improve!
Nis.Bakes is currently on pause for a month or so, but they are looking for part-time helpers: drop them a DM on Instagram and let them know why you’d like to join their home kitchen!
I didn’t know I had impostor syndrome until I read about it recently in Ladies Get Paid by Claire Wasserman. I’m a DJ, which means that I only make up 10% of the overwhelmingly male-dominated industry. Can you imagine the amount of pressure we feel? We stick out like a sore thumb! Last year, on DJ Mag’s poll-based Top 100 DJs list, there were only 13 women (three more than the previous year), and the highest placing women, Nervo, were only ranked at number 20.
Even before I was a DJ, I noticed that only female DJs were questioned on their skills and abilities – “is she really mixing?”. Their sets were placed under a microscope, with many viewers waiting for them to make a mistake. She could play a flawless set, with a well-selected tracklist and the smoothest transitions, but sexist commenters (who don’t even know how to use a mixer) will still try to find fault in her – “why didn’t the crossfader move?”.
Here, in Malaysia, the scene welcomed me with open arms. I’ve been playing for more than three years now and have been lucky to not face any discrimination because of my gender. But, until I started working on my impostor syndrome, I still felt like I didn’t know how to DJ – after all those years and countless shows. My insecurity stemmed from not being taken seriously and being seen as an ‘influencer DJ’ – influencers who aren’t DJs, but are booked because of their high follower counts (see influencers getting hired as actors). To sum it up, impostor syndrome is feeling inadequate “despite evident success”.
My anxiety was really bad, I’ve experienced stage fright before, but the way I felt behind the decks was different. I’ve blanked out, I’ve looked down and forgotten everything, I’ve messed up because I was trying too hard not to mess up, I’ve even just hated it and couldn’t wait for it to end. Something that was once so positive to me started becoming negative fast – I began to dread performing and found myself constantly apologising after my shows, picking my own performance apart.
I now realise that I was unfairly looking at my own self under that microscope. My suffocating self-doubt came from what I thought others would think, as a result of systemic bias and exclusion. To be honest, it surprised me – I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum, but when it came to playing my own set, I would sabotage myself in a tireless attempt to prove myself. Now I want to share what’s been helping me overcome my impostor syndrome!
- Get to the bottom of it:
First, you’ve got to find out why you feel so pressured to prove yourself. Impostor syndrome is common among women and minorities, but it can also affect overachievers, and stem from trauma. Please remember that you are not alone and it is not your fault.
- Look out for it:
Notice when you start downplaying your efforts – who was there, what did you do, how did it make you feel? By identifying your self-doubt triggers, you’ll be able to stop yourself from spiralling.
- Write it down:
Organise your thoughts by writing all of these down – your self-sabotaging behaviours and the negative thoughts you have about yourself (writing can also help release these feelings). You’ll be able to understand your impostor syndrome better when it’s laid out in front of you.
- Reframe it:
Start looking at ‘failure’ as an ‘opportunity to grow’. Instead of wondering “what if it goes wrong”, ask yourself, “what if it goes right”. Even when it comes to feedback, see it as a way to improve rather than taking it personally and feeling criticised (I’m still working on this!).
- Set boundaries:
Stop over-apologising and over-explaining yourself! This comes from worrying that you’re doing something wrong. Honour what feels right to you not what you think is right for others. If you’re not wrong or to blame, be more straightforward and say “no” when you need to.
I hope this helps you understand your impostor syndrome better! You’re not going to overcome it in a few days, or even a few weeks, but by shifting your focus from the outcome to the process, you can begin to free yourself and take up the space you deserve. Don’t forget to own your worth and be proud of everything you’ve accomplished! You are more than enough.
You Goal, Girl!
Saturday, 27 March, 2021
Stitchworks, Level 3, Unit 3-9, KEDAI KL (MAHSA Avenue, Jalan Universiti)
12pm – 3pm
We’re ending International Women’s Month with a bang! For this celebration, we’re partnering with Stitchworks to bring you a fabulous vision board workshop to help you bring your dreams to life. In this intimate event, you’ll be able to network with other ambitious women and create an empowering vision board that will motivate you to reach your goals on the daily.
Here’s what your RM60 ticket includes:
- A welcome drink and snack box from The Cravesify
- A gift bag from Stitchworks and Wild Ginger
- A game of We’re Not Really Strangers pong
- Vision board supplies
- A chance to win a Stitchworks tote bag
- A live DJ set by Aidaho
Introducing your hosts:
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Hannah Nazasli, founder and designer of Stitchworks
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Aida Azrin, founder and editor of Wild Ginger
There are only 10 spaces available! DM Stitchworks on Instagram now for a ticket.
The event will strictly abide by social distancing guidelines.
If you’re feeling inspired after reading about the foundhers we featured, we interviewed another foundher, Ashley Suelyn of The Real Planner and Purpose Skin, to share her expertise on starting a business. Read on to learn how you can take the first step, put together the right team and pitch to investors!
Ashley Suelyn is a fully-fledged multi-hyphenate. The productivity maven is the Chief Of Staff at SoCar Malaysia, a car-sharing app, the founder of The Real Planner, a social innovation firm, and the co-founder of Purpose Skin, a new skincare brand. Nope, the list doesn’t end there, on the side, as an activist, she is also on the board of advisors at Lean In Malaysia, a women empowerment program, is the president of Emerging Leaders Asia, a youth empowerment program, and on the board of advisors at Command Tech, a non-profit organization. Yup, even with all these roles, she still manages to squeeze in being a spin instructor at FlyCycle.
What is the first and most important step in starting your own business?
- Try out different things that you like.
I knew that productivity was at my core and wanted to test out how people would view me as a productivity consultant, so I hosted a paid networking event with a facilitated discussion and introduced frameworks to help people be more productive.
- Sometimes our hobbies can turn out to be our greatest assets.
Something that we love doing can end up being something we make money from because you have to love the vision. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to explain what The Real Planner is! You have to love and enjoy it enough to repeat the same vision, objectives and goals over and over again to different stakeholders (investors, customers, collaborators, anyone who is interested).
- Be experimental and enjoy the process!
What is something that you learned from starting The Real Planner that helped you run Purpose Skin more smoothly?
- Having co-founders is a great thing.
I’m the only founder of The Real Planner and take care of the end-to-end process in terms of business, marketing, content development and customer service. It was a great learning experience – having that autonomy and becoming your own CEO (with the input and output being entirely up to you). It created a lot of independence, but having co-founders provides a good outside perspective.
- Co-founders can compliment you and collaborate with your current skill set.
For me, the co-founders of Purpose Skin are more operationally driven – they know where to find the cheapest bottles and boxes, and one is very into graphics. Karmun, who is also our CEO, is an amazing designer who takes care of our social media, website and collaborations. I support her and Wayne with my business acumen in terms of financial projection, finding our breakeven point, and coming up with our pricing.
What has been the biggest difference between selling a product and a service?
- Products give people the liberty and autonomy on how to use it.
- Services allow you to control the customer journey experience.
With providing a service, I am able to be more inclusive – I get to ask customers questions and that communication is very valuable in terms of being an entrepreneur. Getting direct feedback from customers allows you to co-curate offerings together.
- It’s how you bundle it.
For Purpose Skin, we offer masterclasses to customers who purchase our skincare products – you buy a product and get a free service. For The Real Planner, you buy a service (coaching and consulting) and get a free product (a journal and planner).
What is something entrepreneurs tend to overlook when pitching to investors?
- The long-term vision.
Entrepreneurs try to emphasize the profit-making mechanism, which is important because it is the business model, but what are your goals and what strategies do you want to carry out in the next 5 to 10 years?
- Don’t be afraid to talk about exit strategies.
When investors evaluate whether or not they want to invest in your business, they should be able to see what kind of business it is – a cash cow or a long-term game.
How does one put together the right team?
- Find people that you trust.
- Have a shared vision.
- Find people that can do things better than you.
I recently found a Chief Marketing Officer who I want to work with – she is better at marketing than I am and understands the vision of my company. Take these three criterias into consideration when building a team because trust and relationship will help you delegate the work better.
As someone with a strong personal brand, how has that helped your businesses?
- It has to be done carefully.
I have associated so many of my start-ups and brands with my personal brand. It keeps me accountable for how I carry myself because sometimes I carry a lot of pressure.
- It boosts credibility.
Being a part of so many organisations, such as SoCar, The Real Planner, Emerging Leaders Asia, FlyCycle and Command Tech, boosts my credibility in terms of being a founder.
Last, but not least:
- Pay it forward.
Self-reflection and increasing self-awareness is amazing, but the more we invest in other people, the more we learn. Learning is amplified when we try to teach someone. For example, when you read about something new and share it with someone – you are ultimately emphasising what you’ve learned and will end up understanding it better, remembering it longer, and becoming an expert on the subject.
- See people as collaborators not competitors.
You can make your ideas better by sharing it with someone who is able to build on it. This will allow us to achieve more efficiency, quality ideas and synergy among each other.
Follow Ashley Suelyn on social media here for more advice on productivity, business and leadership!
Master multi-tasker, Sarah Chua, is the founder of Social Catch Digital Marketing, a boutique social media marketing agency powered by dedicated, hands-on creative minds. The social media marketing strategist’s passion can be seen as she plays the role of creative director, as well as photographer on site, to help others experience the same elation of launching their dream brands.
Despite only being in business for less than two years, Social Catch has elevated a number of lifestyle, fitness and wellness brands with their jazzy visuals and trendy tone of voice – these two elements are at the core of their DNA. Read on to learn more about this inspiring creative entrepreneur: how she started her own agency, grew an impressive network, and still finds time for self-care while running a business.
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What made you want to start your own boutique social agency?
As cliche as it sounds, I always had a passion for photography and putting together moodboards. Since I was a kid, I used to cut out magazines and create collages, and stick them all over my walls. I love the idea of creating visuals that entice people to want to learn more. My favorite part about my job role is building relationships with clients I feel connected with, and becoming a valuable part of each of their unique journeys.
How would you describe the content Social Catch creates?
It definitely is fun, community-oriented, and hopefully scroll-stopping (hehe). I love that we work with clients who allow us to think outside the box and truly explore different ways to express their brands to the public.
What’s been your most exciting campaign so far?
There are too many for me to specifically choose one, but a memorable one would be “The Aloha Bubble” which was program that Clubaloha, a boutique gym in Plaza Damas, had created to virtually connect with their community through daily virtual classes, intention-setting and meaningful content shared on a Telegram channel. This was such a beautiful campaign – we were able to come up with all the visuals for it and witness amazing reviews from all the subscribers. It was really heartwarming to be able to realise how the advantages of technology and digital marketing platforms can benefit us more than we think, especially during these tough times.
In your opinion, what makes for great content?
I don’t call myself an expert in digital marketing or whatsoever! But I do feel that great content is produced when there is good intentions behind it. With the right messaging, the power of whatever that content is can make a difference in people’s daily lives – especially because there is a ton of content rolling out everyday, and it matters.
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Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get a lot of my inspiration from Pinterest! Don’t know what I would do without it, especially when those days come and you’re out of brain juice! I also follow a lot of other established marketing agencies to see how they do it, and hopefully be able to learn a few things from them.
What networking advice do you have for other startup founders and entrepreneurs?
Firstly, always be kind! It costs zero cents to be nice to people and always get to know them how you would want others to get to know you. Also, practice makes perfect, so the more you practice talking to others, the more natural it will be for you. Don’t think too much about how you need to approach someone, just be yourself, be genuine and be kind!
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
I am honestly still working on that! I cannot lie that I am not an introvert, I actually did a personality test once and I had scored 99.9% extrovert, haha. But I try my best to set an intention each week and realign my priorities daily. I update my Google Calendar daily, I trust it more than myself to keep on schedule. But, yes, it took me a long time to get where I am today, so I am proud of it!
What are your self-care must-haves?
Hmmm… tough question! But I do think it’s important to have one whole day to myself every week where I treat myself to a good meal, not an expensive meal but a meal that I truly love; explore activities that do not require me to look at my phone too much, and also spend time with people who I care about. 24 hours – just me and a list of things that I should be doing more if I could!
Any last words?
I’d like to thank my team – Samantha, Valery and Michelle, for being superstars and working hard to make my dream job come true!
If you’ve got a vision you’d like to turn into a reality, reach out to Social Catch here and follow them for endless inspiration.
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., “We are made by history”; so it’s important that we touch base with the history of women’s rights in Malaysia for a firmer grasp on how we want to shape our future.
Ever since Malaysia gained Independence in 1957, girls and women in Malaysia have always had open access to education. However, it came with more constrictions and cultural rules, as compared to their male counterparts. Hence why women aimed for simpler positions such as clerks, typists, and teachers. Only in the 1970s did we start seeing girls courageously crossing the barrier, persevering, and proving the earlier stigmas wrong – that women were not suitable for “manlier” jobs involving technical education, engineering, or even court duty.
Regardless of women progressing in education, as well as the country developing more and more everyday, and in spite of the policies set by the government to support women’s entry and retention at the workforce, barriers such as lack of mentoring, stereotyping, and being excluded from networks still exists.
People across the world have many misperceptions about equality: we underestimate women’s experience of sexual harassment, and are overly optimistic about when economic and pay equality will be achieved. In reality, women in the Malaysian workforce still face unjust challenges every single day.
A survey done by Women’s Aid Organisation shows that up to 21% of women have encountered a form of sexual harassment, but many are still misinformed on what entails as sexual harassment in the workplace. Many still think that behaviours that their colleagues do, such as unwelcomed touching or grabbing, stalking or repeatedly making advances after being rejected, as “unprofessional behaviour”. Education on women’s safety and rights need to be boosted to ensure that women know that they are being treated respectably and just.
In June 2016, women accounted for only 15.2% of director positions in the top 100 listed companies on Bursa Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange). According to this study by the Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, 75% agree that the stereotypes about women’s abilities and roles still exist in the industry and 51.9% receive less mentoring than men in this industry. The ‘glass ceiling’, which still exists in most organisations, acts as the biggest barrier in women advancing in their careers.
The ‘glass ceiling’ refers to the invisible barriers that prevents qualified women from reaching their full potential within their company. Women are inclined to be over-represented in the junior level, but under-represented at the senior level in a company. It has resulted in a disadvantageous effect on the economy and morale of any organisation.
Unfortunately, there are many who still perceive women as weak, unable to carry out certain roles, or that women are only to play the “caring” roles in organizations. This phenomenon is also known as “Stereotype Confirmation Bias”, and it happens when leaders confirm their stereotypes while filtering out all other examples. This adds on to the factor of discrimination.
According to a survey done by Women’s Aid Organisation, 56% of working women have experienced one or more types of gender discrimination at the workplace, including being asked personal questions regarding their marital or family status, being tasked to perform jobs that are not asked of men in the same position, receiving questions or comments about their ability to perform certain tasks, and being omitted from promotions even though their qualifications surpass the other candidates.
What To Do If You Encounter Discrimination?
If you feel that you are being discriminated against, there are many organisations that you may reach out to seek help. You can consider getting in touch with:
- The Human Resource Department (who deals with internal grievances)
- The Malaysian Labour Office
- Your Trade Unions
The first thing to do would be to contact the Human Resource Department to find out about your company’s grievance processes. If the situation cannot be resolved internally, you may escalate it further to the labour office.
Although there has been significant progress in the representation of women in the workplace, women are still far from being seen as an equal. Katherine Davis, the former Managing Director of IPSOS in Malaysia said, “Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable. Standing up for women’s rights and development is standing up for the global good”. We need to keep spreading awareness on this issue and keep talking about it in our conversations in order for real change to take place!
With January and February known as the most popular hiring months, it’s time to either create or update your resume. If you’re writing your first resume, we know just how nerve-wracking it can be and have asked Sarah from Weber Shandwick Malaysia for help with a step-by-step guide. She oversees their internship program, which has provided her with years of recruiting experience. Read on for her tips on how you can put together an effective resume:
1. Don’t forget the basics!
Always include your name, phone number, email and address – these are the first things employers see and learn about you. An address allows them to know where you’re based. If you’re afraid of adding a photo because you don’t want to be judged – forget that perception! Include a smartly dressed photo of yourself to make it more personal, and put a face to the name.
2. Keep it short and crisp
Employers might have a minimal amount of time to review your resume, especially if they have a few to go through, so it’s important to make it a seamless process for them. Avoid submitting more than 3 pages (1 is ideal) by placing your information in easy-to-read columns or tabs. Summarise the content or use shorter sentences to provide a clearer and more concise picture – be careful of using jargons or short-forms that the interviewer might not understand.
3. Highlight your skill set
Remember, your resume should showcase a skill set that matches the job’s requirements. Elaborate on the relevant work you’ve done and frame it well – for example, instead of saying “contacted F&B vendors for an event”, you can present it as “managed F&B requirements for an event”. You would also need to highlight your proficiency in certain work tools/programmes e.g. if your work requires video editing, include what programmes you use and are well-versed in.
4. Add your important achievements
Got a milestone you’d like to mention? This is your time to shine! Add the awards you’ve won, such as ‘Employee of the Month’, to help prospective employers see why you would be a valuable employee. Think of your resume as an advertisement for yourself.
5. List down your past experiences
Don’t just share where you’ve worked, but also, how you’ve contributed to each company – and your best work! Details are important here (to showcase the extent of your work scope), but only highlight the key ones not every employer you’ve worked with.
6. Include your education and certification
Share your educational background and, more importantly, your professional certification for industries/careers where it is a prerequisite – for example, accountancy and financial planning.
7. Have references
Some companies may want to check in with referees to get a better sense your work style and capabilities. Make sure you suggest referees who can give an objective overview of your work experience and, if possible, someone who is central to the work you did (such as a direct supervisor).
8. Prepare supporting materials
Compile your academic transcripts, sample essays (including ones in the languages you are proficient in) or other work you’ve done (in any form e.g. photos, videos or designs). Always ask the interviewer if they require supporting materials, so you can prepare them for their reference.
9. Don’t overlook the design
You don’t have to be a designer to put together a clean, readable resume – simply make sure the formatting and alignment are in order. However, if you are a design student and the job you’re applying for is in the creative industry, you might consider adding shapes and colours, or using a more eye-catching layout to showcase your creativity and stand out from the crowd.
10. Make sure you proof read!
Some prospective employers may be put off if there are too many errors – this shows poor quality control and an inability to pay attention to detail. For a better first impression, make sure the language used is grammatically correct. Check your resume several times for grammar and spelling errors.
Even if you have a job, keep updating your resume so it’ll always be ready to send out. Who knows, an amazing job opportunity may come around and you’d want want to apply for it right away. Good luck!
There’s a difference between working hard and working smart? Of course!
Working hard is what work is said to look like – long hours, barely any breaks, burnouts. As millennials, we’re also faced with the pressure of hustle culture, but grinding isn’t the secret to success: alignment is. When you work smart, you’ll be able to efficiently manage your time and increase productivity. Isn’t that what we all want? It’s so much easier to thrive when you’re not trying to survive the stress of clocking in the hours, and instead are focused on how much work you can get done.
Even when it comes to working at home, where structure is hard to maintain and distractions are everywhere (my bed has never looked this comfortable) – working smart can help you fix your focus and finish your tasks for the day without tiring yourself. Here are 3 ways you can get your work done and still have enough time for self-care:
- Organise your tasks by energy level
If the underlying reason for your procrastination is actually anxiety, Dr. Courtney Tracy, better known as ‘The Truth Doctor’ on social media, shared a TikTok tip on how you can organise your tasks by how long it’ll take and how much energy it requires. This allows you to pick which task to do based on the time available, as well as your energy level.
- Follow the 4 Ds of time management
A well-known method for efficiently managing your time, your tasks are divided into four categories: do it now, delay it, delegate it and drop it. You’ll be able to focus on what’s urgent and important, and if you’re running a team – you can also offload tasks to your members to maximise productivity and optimise your work schedule.
- Try the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo, and breaks down your tasks into 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break. These short bursts will keep you fresh and focused knowing there’s a break coming up. Once you’ve done this four times, reward yourself with a longer 15 to 30 minute break.
Time management is the true key to productivity – by ensuring you have enough time to work and rest, you’ll have the energy to power through the day. Try these methods and let us know which works best for you!