Youngest CEO and the RM 26 billion project

12 Feb

Venue: Young Corporate Malaysia  event aka (the Free Ted Talks for Young Corporate Malaysians)

Meet Shahrol Halmi, the Chief Executive Officer of 1MDB . He’s  an expert in value creation in multiple sectors.Shahrol has over 13 years of experience in business consulting and  Accenture IT Transformation, IT Integration, Service Oriented Architecture and complex system implementations involving large government-linked entities, government agencies as well as local, regional and global financial institutions.

Prior to joining 1MDB, Shahrol was the Executive Partner of Accenture and Managing Director of the Public Service Group of Accenture Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

His current role in 1MDB  is being involved in the RM 26 billion project to make KLIFD (Kuala Lumpur International Financial District)  the centre of synergy, culture and sustainability

What is his story and how did he get here? That was the main focus of his speech and here are the interesting points which he made

He took up the role after deciding to ” Stop Talking and Start Doing”. He had mentioned that he reflected on what else he could do for the betterment of the country other than to read political activist blogs and comment on them. He had posed this question to the audience of how can we change Malaysia, how can we get involved in CSR ? How do we take a proactive stance on shaping the destiny and situation of our country instead of just having an opinion?

– Philosophy of his success

Continuously help others and create win – win situations which I found to be in line with most of the speakers that were invited to the YCM events as they stress that by creating win win situations for other people and themselves, they help other people accomplish their goals and they themselves are lifted to higher grounds as a result of that. John C  Maxwell quoted that if we lift people up higher  through our interaction with them, we ourselves are lifted higher.

-How does he maintain a work life balance?

He had stressed that a work life balance is ensuring that we have a good network support structure of family and friends that we continue to invest time in and that they also understand the work commitments. He had mentioned that work life balance does come with a choice and there is a trade off for every decision that we make . For e.g. the workaholic colleague might work hard 80 hour work week or more  and he’s or her promotion is fast tracked  however if we opt for lesser hour work weeks and make a comparison saying that it’s unfair that our career progression isn’t as fast as our workaholic colleague, it’s futile.

As we made the decision how we choose to balance work and life, there is a trade off that we do sacrifice and the biggest misconception is the something for nothing  situation that gen y’ers may face at times. That we expect to have something without having to trade off time, effort or  choices,  a fallacy in our way of thinking.

Overall  I found the event to be enjoyable through the informal sharing session and the Q & A’s that was posed by the audience to the speaker. And the turnout of young corporate malaysian’s on a  weekday night was amazing and the vibe of the event was upbeat, enthusiastic and passionate about learning.

Interested to join Young Corporate Malaysia events  click :


Unscrambling the Interviewer’s mind

2 Feb

Unscrambling the Interviewer’s mind

Don’t you always wonder why does the interviewer asks these questions? How  do I ace them and are these trick questions to get me to reveal more about myself than I’m aware of?

Thinking about it, interviews are like the matador with the bull, the interviewer is constantly throwing questions in your direction trying to probe for information trying to draw blood. Whilst , the candidate is dodging and playing the game trying to stay alive.

Every question is a potential trap whether saying either too much or too little can be fatal.

This was the interesting questions that I had handpicked from Harvey Mckay’s book that I wished I had known earlier when sussing out the job market.

He had  Dr Kurt Einstein, Guru in assessing human talent and coaching thousands of executives and candidates in the art of successful interviewing to comment on these questions that interviewers ask to candidates.

1. Where would you like to be in 5 years to 10 years?

– Observe whether the candidate plans ahead and set goals

2. If you had a choice, would you rather draw up plans or implement them ?

-Draw up indicates has tendency to think innovate, conceptualize whilst Implementing has a tendency to be a doer or follower ( can be positive or negative)

3. State 3 situations in which you did not succeed and Why?

-Does he or she admit to any? Blames other? Is the candidate self assured? Has he or she learned from it and if so what?

4.We have negative areas we would like to improve. Do you agree?

-Weakness of understanding of oneself

-Try to turn this question around so that you can play on your strengths and not to your weakness and thus you want to continue to grow professionally. Whilst you are certain that you have the tools necessary to grow professionally, no one can have too much education or preparations.

How to create a job winning, interviewers-racing-to call you resume?

28 Jan

After x submissions of resumes sent out , x number of interview, x number of rejection emails, x number of networking events attended to get to know companies and send out your resume. How do you brand your resume and yourself to be different from your competitors? This was pretty much a situation I went through last year when I was looking for a different career direction, especially when my first job out of university was through doing an internship over my university break.

Frankly I found that  it’s a swimming with the sharks situation in the job market these days since you look to your left and right and you are competing with people that have stellar resumes. The kind of resumes you wished you had like volunteer work in Africa , internship work with top multinational companies, speaking in multiple languages, multiple projects and industry related training that they attended.

The question is what sets your resume apart from theirs?

What cinches the job in the end?

In Harvey’s McKay book “ Use your Head to Get your Foot in the Door” he had several  interesting points which is resume fine tuning after setbacks and using some ideas and unscrambling the minds of interviewers through real life stories of interviews, psychologist breaking  down the questions that interviewers ask to understand what is going through their mind.

Here are some of the ideas that I found were useful

-If the description or phrase in your resume  is constantly being questioned, you need to find a way how to improve that statement. Listening to the interviewers carefully to understand what is in particularly bothering them

-After the interviews that you attend , you can always finetune your resume  to any unexpected questions that have been asked by the interviewer that could have been addressed by your resume. Even if you didn’t cinch the job, the feedback that you gain through the interview process is a valuable tool for you to relook at your resume and modify it. Turn every No into a stepping stone for a Yes.

-Resume is a tool with one specific purpose: to win an interview and it is a mistake to think of your resume as a history of your past. Approach the resume that it’s a marketing tool to sell your skills, experiences and knowledge and by tailoring it to meet your employer’s demands and requirements. You should write from the intention of creating interest and to persuade the employer to call you

-Research shows that only one interview is granted for every 200 RESUMES RECEIVED by the average employer.  So you have 10 to 20 seconds is all the time you have to persuade a prospective employer to read further. (Point to note: most resumes are SCANNED and not READ)

-Round 2: How do you increase your success after going through rounds of interviews

-What questions were you asked that were the most difficult

-Which answers did you give that sound inauthenthic

-Which questions were asked more than once?

-What further intelligence can you gather on people with whom you didn’t seem to hit if off to see where you can build bridges

-If there were questions you weren’t able to answer in the first round that you have gone back and researched the answers.

I felt his approach towards resume, interviews was a pretty positive  in terms of getting feedback and learning how to utilize feedback to gauge  how your resume is attracting prospective employers to your skills, how to differentiate yourself amongst your competitors  by dissecting the interview after you had attended it in a positive, analytical way of increasing your chances to do better in the future.

I finally did cinch the job after taking into account of his tips & pretty much thought that his  writings are relevant to young graduates  on how we can successfully use resumes and interviews to launch ourselves in the job market ,  keep experienced hires focused on learning and growing to further their career and keep prospective employers open  types of interview questions that they can use to gauge their candidates.

How do companies create mind boggling demand?

15 Jan

Demand makes the economy go around,people camp outside of stores into the wee hours before a product is launched and companies dizzy on their heels trying to make as much money asap once they launch a product. But creating demand in the market is tricky, after all what makes people buy?

How do companies create that dizzy burst of feeling and euphoria in people that are all too happy to queue outside shop for mega selling hits like Harry Potter, Iphone and designer fashion shows?

I came across this book by Slywotzky, partner of Oliver Wyman, an international management consulting firm and nominated as the next ” Peter Drucker” and his book pretty much sums up the mystery of demand and demand creating points by giving real life case studies of companies and their struggles and success stories on creating demand in the market.

From Zipcar revolutionizing the word car sharing to Netflix to the story of Tetrapak revolutionizing the food industry. Yes , I know my current fixation is being obsessed with stories of how ideas revolutionize the food industry anyways the interesting points he made in his book

Making it magnetic

Creating a very good product does not automatically make the product magnetic in the eyes of the customer. Creating and capturing emotional space in the eyes and heart of the customer should be the ongoing aim of companies. That’s why companies try to sell us an experience, real life situations gone for the better after using X,Y and Z

Fix the hassle map

In the era of the one click stop shop, customers look forward to greater simplicity and more choices and by figuring how companies can fix hassles (time wasters) that consume most of our lives provides the path of explosive demand. In the era of Iphone, Ipad,Mac that enhances consumers experience of seamlessly connecting to their music, photos, files, apps with lesser restrictions and sync just with one click enabling better user experience. Its no wonder once you have a taste of what Apple has to offer, most users turn into Apple products evangelists.

Find the triggers

How do we convert product fence sitters , individuals that heard about the product but they don’t buy it? Companies continually struggle to search for the factors that convert product fence sitters into buyers. And demand , yes , demand is unfortunately sometimes ruled by inertia, skepticism and triggers for eg ( brilliant advertising , promotion, marketing) can be a tipping point/ trigger to give a little enhancing factor to the magneticism of a product.

Build a steep trajectory

How fast can we get better? In the era of the copy cat Louis Vuitton and ipod, ipad , mac’s wannabes by making every opportunity to improve that unlocks even more demand and narrows the competition gap. Kaizen, the continuous improvement philosophy I feel is what this chapter is gearing towards,how incremental improvements makes companies stronger and how companies can’t afford to not implement Kaizen as every little improvement= better products= happier customers


Similar philosophy of creating creating great products and understanding what certain clusters of consumers want, need, have problems with instead of creating the PERFECT product for everyone outlined by Malcolm Gladwell and Howard Maskowitz, market researcher extraordinare and my new personal hero that democratized the food industry and changed the ways how companies think about what makes consumers happy.

The 6 million dollar lesson in marketing

8 Jan
I came across Malcolm Gladwell’s video on Youtube talking about Howard Maskowitz important findings in the food industry that has revolutionized the way food industry caters to us, how we have more choices in food for eg 36 spaghetti sauce, 14 types of vinegar,10 types of olive oil.The main idea out of his talk was instead of thinking what is the PERFECT product to create to cater to EVERYONE ,we should be focusing on understanding there are clusters of consumers that if we created GREAT products for them will make them happy= increase salesHe further illustrated his point by talking about Howard Maskowitz work with Pepsi &Prego(spagghetti sauce) and in his work with Prego he found out that consumers like the following spagghetti sace


2. spicy

3. extra chunky

This was an important finding because at that time, there were no extra chunky spaghetti sauce in the market, no one was catering to this need and Prego had followed Howard’s finding and cranked up production of extra chunky spaghetti sauce

Next 10 years,they made $6million out of the extra chunky spagghetti sauce

And this changed the way the food industry thinks about making consumers happy
1. Asking consumers what made them happy approach doesnt work because sometimes consumers arent able to articulate what they want

2.Market segmentation theory that if we embrace the diversity of consumers wants/needs/preference we begin to think of how we can better meet their needs/wants/preference and make them happy.

So what does this real life $6 million dollar lesson hold for us?Asking people what they want may not give us the easy answer to what they truly want if they themselves are unable to articulate their needs. In an era of fast cars, one click solutions understanding that consumers are not all the same changes the way companies operate.
And the fundamental question is should we rely on the industry’s old ideas and perceived notions of how to go about solving a problem? What would have happened had Prego had not heed Maskowitz ideas? Would there be 25 different types of spaghetti sauce and a variety of products in the food & beverage industry if it wasn’t for their willingness to break the mould of thinking how to make consumers happy?