Joey Ong Lee Hong
Adventure is her middle name. For someone who has tried everything from skydiving to hitchhiking, Joey Ong Lee Hong was excited beyond words when her manager proposed her name for the Elken’s Leadapreneur Accelerator Series (Cycle 3).
Joey is a Senior Application Technologist in the Research & Development department of MRT, a subsidiary of Elken Sdn Bhd. She is mainly responsible for the formulation of Elken health products
As a Biotechnology graduate, lab work has always been up Joey’s alley. She enjoys the idea of researching for new solutions and applying this passion towards discovering practical and profitable solutions.
When the opportunity to join Leadapreneur presented itself, Joey was pumped up with the thought of discovering an innovation that will help her improve Elken’s product convenience, but a surprise awaited at the start of her 4-month stint.
Upon joining, Joey was under the impression that her cohort, Elsome, was going to work towards one high-value project, as was the practice in previous accelerator series, but she was thrown off-guard when the facilitators informed that this year’s training was going to focus on individual projects valued at over RM45,000 in order for them to complete Level 1 training.
Although nervous and sceptical at first, Joey worked hard to balance her existing workload and her individual project and emerged victorious with not one, but two innovative product improvement ideas. What started out as a journey to find new packaging ideas got her innovating an existing health beverage and discovering a creative packaging solution.
Joey’s first innovation was a dispenser-like pack which allows consumers to easily grab their favourite Elken beverage or supplement with a quick pull instead of opening and closing the pack cover, as currently practiced.
In the process, Joey figured that packaging alone will not result in significant savings or earnings for the company. Hence, the idea of innovating Elken’s collagen drink, from an instant beverage to an oral powder for direct consumption, came into the picture.
This was aimed at making it convenient for consumers to carry the product and consume it anytime, anywhere – without the need to dissolve it into a glass of water.
Her beverage innovation idea was a huge deal. The reformulated product was much healthier as it contained less sugar and it came in smaller packs, increasing the product valuation by many folds. She projected that this would help Elken save over RM245,000 and record potential earnings of over RM2 million!
Leadapreneur had led Joey into newer territories. Innovating ideas for business improvement gave her the conviction that she was able to make a difference in her company. She also gained a great deal of confidence and improved her networking skills as she had to liaise with several departments during the ideation and formulation process.
More than anything, Joey learned to think like a leadapreneur allowing her to enhance her current work performance and training her mind to strategise even at the stage of ideation and if given a chance, Joey is ever ready to scale up and acquire new knowledge if it means new adventure.
Congratulations Joey for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
Fum Ai Yan
From editorial to marketing and sales, Fum Ai Yan’s journey at Elken has been a sweet one, literally. Ai Yan was part of the 2019 Elken Leadapreneur Accelerator Series (Cycle 3).
Not only did she come up with an exciting innovation that made a great impact to the company, Ai Yan was also crowned the overall champion of the Accelerator series at the end of her 16-week training.
The 37-year-old Assistant Manager chose to work on an online marketing campaign to improve the sales of Le Pont Cake, a premium product offered at Le Pont Boulangerie et Café. The French inspired café is the food and beverage (F&B) subsidiary of Butbo Group Sdn Bhd, introduced by Elken Founder and Group Chairman AK Tan.
The Le Pont artisan cakes were introduced a year ago, but the sales were average considering that the cakes fetched a premium price. Its market presence was also low despite their online delivery options.
Ai Yan wanted to increase the sales for Le Pont but had limited knowledge on sales and marketing. She then placed herself in the shoe of a customer to see what it is customers really wanted when they made online cake orders.
Armed with this basic knowledge and with a little guidance from Leadapreneur’s coach and her mentors, Ai Yan managed to convince her senior management to start promoting the cakes at an introductory discount for a limited time.
She started by offering a “low entry” discount of 30% to all new customers. She also created early bird freebies – a tin of Le Pont signature chocolate – and promotional codes to raise awareness on Le Pont cakes and create the urge to buy.
Not only did her idea take off well, Ai Yan also gained an all-rounder marcomm skills, something that comes very much in handy in her current role at Elken’s Corporate Communication division. This is because her little cake project pushed her to familiarise herself with mindful design tactics, strategic marketing and creative writing that will entice readers.
She knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to sell artisan cakes that already has ample competition within the same vicinity, so Ai Yan had to see the initial marketing through the conventional way by going down to the ground herself.
Ai Yan designed attractive pamphlets and distributed it to the public. She even placed little flyers on all the cars parked in the surrounding area and did a little hard selling everytime she was out for lunch by promoting the cakes to her friends and acquaintances. She then leveraged on social media by creating discount codes and ads that would help drive traffic to the Le Pont online delivery platform.
As a result, within 28 days, her campaign resulted in a whopping 582% jump in the number of cakes sold, 556% increase in orders and 488% of new customers.
In a nutshell, the numbers increased by five folds and Ai Yan didn’t just double, but tripled the sales revenue within just 1 month, recording a 317% increase in sales! And that, was how Ai Yan earned herself the nickname ‘Cake Queen’.
But her win certainly has a back story to it. She had initially wanted to market Elken’s popular product like Spirulina health supplement by mimicking the 11.11 Singles’ Day Shopping concept where they would have a one-day crazy price drop, but the idea was not well received due to the nature of Elken’s business. Being in a multi-level marketing field, the execution was complicated.
Ai Yan then thought of digitally marketing their FMCG products through the iElken platform, but she was once again advised against it due to several complications like cross-border delivery and high cost. Since the FMCG products were also not considered high ticket items, Ai Yan had to drop the idea.
When she was on the verge of giving up after her two ideas failed, it was a significant sharing by Leadapreneur’s CEO Jan Bartscht that turned things around for Ai Yan. She started prioritising the project by looking at other areas of improvement and finally came across the F&B subsidiary Butbo. After talking to a few people, Ai Yan finally arrived at her winning idea.
It wasn’t a breeze for Ai Yan who was already handling a heavy workload and her responsibilities as a mother of two toddlers, but when Ai Yan managed to see the project through, it gave her a great sense of satisfaction.
Referring to the Accelerator series as an eye-opening training, not only is she learning how to think out of the box and applying her newly learnt skills like designing, marketing and sales strategies to her day-to-day routine, Ai Yan realised that she is capable of achieving so much more as a leadapreneur.
More importantly, she has had the taste of pushing her boundaries when she puts her mind to it and knows that she can do it all over again, whenever she wills it.
Congratulations Ai Yan for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
James Yap Ming Hsiang
James Yap Ming Hsiang is a certified trainer who looks after training and development, quality assurance, customer experience and process improvement at Elken Sdn Bhd.
As someone who thrives on challenges, James has always enjoyed a good strategy game, and is constantly looking at doing things differently. Anything unique piques his interest because to James, the concept of individuality stands out the best in a competitive world.
The Infinity Cohort champion of the 2019 Elken Leadapreneur Accelerator Series (Cycle 3), James’ win was something unexpected as he found it difficult to adjust to the 16-week programme at the beginning. In fact, he jokingly claimed that he ‘regretted’ his decision to join Leadapreneur in his first few weeks of training.
James’ involvement in Leadapreneur did not happen by chance. He was eyeing the programme since last year as he watched his colleague go through it and requested to join the next accelerator series.
He initially found it tough to juggle between his daily routine and the targets he needed to achieve on this programme, especially since participants had to innovate a project, product or process valued at a minimum of RM45,000.
But after the first month, James found himself adapting to the challenges quite easily and rising to the occasion as he began discovering useful tips on leadership and strategic thinking – the leadapreneur style.
Ideation became a breeze thereafter with him coming up with several creative business solutions. The only link he needed was proper execution strategies. That was when James first came across the concept of ‘stratecution’ as shared by Leadapreneur’s CEO Jan Bartscht.
It was the thread that sew his ideas together and as James put on his strategic thinking cap, he decided to enhance Elken’s current live chat system by introducing some user-friendly widgets to improve the system’s functionality. The process improvement would expectedly save the company almost half a million Ringgit per year!
The idea materialised smoothly when he realised that he need not invent something extraordinary as innovation was also about improving current process and procedures to churn out exceptional results.
With the chat system in place, Elken is expected to see tremendous improvement in terms of customer engagement and satisfaction by 25% within the first quarter. James has even taken it upon himself to keep track of the system’s progress and continuously improve them from time to time.
It was just a simple perception change that led James on to start seeing things from the right angle. His 16-week journey with Leadapreneur had helped polish his leadership and critical thinking skills, taught him how to find strategic solutions, and brought out the best of his negotiation and persuasion skills, among other things.
Despite possible challenges stemming from organisational culture and behaviour, James is optimistic of making a big difference in Elken and creating an identity for himself as an inspiring learning and development practitioner and author someday.
Congratulations James Yap for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
Tiew Hue Fen
Rejections can generally dampen one’s spirit but occasionally, it may just bring out the best in you. That’s exactly how Tiew Hue Fen discovered her capacity to innovate marketing strategies and emerged the champion of her Wings Cohort at the recent Elken Leadapreneur Accelerator Series (Cycle 3).
The 32-year-old Assistant Marketing Manager at Elken Sdn Bhd single-handedly built a powerful digital marketing campaign and became an amazing social media influencer with her ‘Strong is Beautiful’ tagline. Strong is Beautiful is a digital platform initiated to increase awareness and popularise products and lifestyle from Elken among younger consumers.
Hue Fen was able to sway the vibrant world of social media into a money-making platform through her campaign that went live in March 2019. She then went all out to influence behaviour and perceptions that were to eventually market her company’s skin care and health food products via Facebook, Instagram and website.
Within 3 weeks of going live, Strong is Beautiful had engaged 540 users, made 1,400 post engagements and received over 3,000 positive feedback. Hue Fen’s postings on the business’ social media accounts also fetched 13,000 organic impressions and recorded over 4,000 organic reach.
But the victory didn’t come as easily. When Hue Fen first started her Leadapreneur stint, she wanted to introduce a 30-Day Weight Loss campaign that was inspired by her own experience, but upon presenting, her stakeholders were unimpressed. Just when she thought she’d try again, her next two ideas were also shrugged off.
Despite sheer disappointment, Hue Fen went back to the drawing board, as she wasn’t willing to give up without a fight and Strong is Beautiful landed as a result of her determination and passion.
The campaign inspires the younger generation to take ownership and transform of their lives, health and dreams through proper nutrition intake and body care. It also serves as a reminder for them to ‘be strong’ in defining their own lives.
The lifestyle-oriented campaign was also targeted at influencing young minds with a well-structured content that impacts consumption behaviour among potentials customers. Through the social media influence, Hue Fen was able to increase awareness on the company’s products particularly among young users.
Using the potent combination of convincing content and visual marketing strategies, Hue Fen brought Elken to the people and in the process, achieved her One-Woman Digital Marketing goal, where she successfully built a sustainable campaign and is in the process of putting together her dream team consisting of various digital marketing experts.
In retrospect, it was her moments of discomfort that led her out of her comfort zone. She knew she could not solve a problem she didn’t understand, so she took it upon herself to study the weak links faced by her business and figured that she could try and improve potential customer engagement via the digital platform.
Thereon, it was a head-on dive to learn and grow through the powerful art of story-telling. Her online marketing strategy was not only well received but it opened up other opportunities of growth within her company as the Social Media division noticed her strength and expressed their interest in engaging her for future campaigns.
Interestingly, her greatest lesson did not come from achieving a professional milestone but rather the journey that got her there. Hue Fen realised that she was able to use her experience to improve the outcome of her actions.
Apart from discovering her own capacity, Leadapreneur, according to Hue Fen had taught her how to change every challenge into an opportunity – a lesson befitting a leadapreneur!
Congratulations Hue Fen for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
Childbirth unravels different experiences for different women. For Leong Yew-May, a New Product Introduction Specialist at MRT, her childbirth journey wasn’t just life changing, it also inspired her career growth recently.
Yew-May works with MRT or Molecular Reform Therapy, a health product company – and a subsidiary of Elken Sdn Bhd – which formulates, manufacturers and co-packs traditional medicine and health supplements and her role has been predominantly focused on finding the right packaging solutions for the business.
When her manager had suggested her name for the 2019 Elken Leadapreneur Accelerator Series (Cycle 3), Yew-May thought it would be a great platform for her to discuss innovative packaging solutions with her teammates who were assembled based on the commonality of their interest and business focus.
After giving birth to her daughter two years ago, Yew-May found the need to carry a lot of things with her as she travelled, regardless the distance. So, when she had to present a product concept of her own at the tournament, she came up with the idea of a mini travel pack that can hold various supplements and products – an idea that was inspired by her “mummy pack”.
Her innovative thinking would not only make it convenient for consumers to carry one-week worth of MRT products wherever they go, it also increases consumption and inevitably, sales for the company.
Her travel pack was an instant hit because her ‘stakeholders’ could immediately picture cost saving measures and climbing sales figures in their minds as she pitched her concept. This evidently worked in Yew-May’s favour, winning her the championship title for her cohort.
After that little milestone, life was never the same again for the introverted Yew-May as her management started taking note of her talent. Now, not only is she focused on finding new and improved packaging solutions, she is also being roped into meeting customers and taking the lead in coordinating some of the new projects.
Though the limelight isn’t something Yew-May naturally enjoys, she is currently excited about the prospects of learning new skills and making a difference at her workplace. If she was to name the one thing that the Leadapreneur training helped instill, it would be the courage to stand in front of a crowd and present her ideas confidently.
More than the prospects of professional growth, Yew-May feels that Leadapreneur had helped unlock valuable skills set that helps her see things differently now.
Besides the determination to successfully implement her travel pack idea at MRT, she is also trying to accustom herself to think like a leadapreneur by looking at strategies that could maximise profit by minimising risks and resources.
Congratulations Yew-May in becoming a Star of the Accelerator!