Michael Lee Lai Thai
One of the greatest features of a leadapreneur is forward-thinking. As organisations nationwide are stepping up on their effort to be IR4.0-ready, it was only apt for Leadapreneur to skew their training programmes to ensure that today’s human capital are better equipped to adapt to changes and have the ability to innovate by looking at future possibilities so that organisation are not left behind in the race.
That was why when Michael Lee Lai Thai joined the AXA Leadapreneur Accelerator Programme, he tried to figure out a future trend that will keep his company on top of their game. Michael was responsible for introducing the cashless payment system for AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd that won him his cohort championship.
As the Manager for RPA, Process Improvement & Treasury at AXA, Michael is responsible for ensuring the efficiency of their finance operations and its related business implementations. So, it was only apt for him to think of an idea that would provide a fuss-free solution for most of the transactions processed by AXA.
When he was first told that he had to come up with an innovative idea that will improve AXA’s business efficiency, Michael hit a brick wall. For the first couple of weeks, he tried considering several ideas which he could possibly execute but to no avail.
He came to a realisation that this was his chance to make an impact at his organisation, so the idea had to be something worthwhile. Then, Michael, with the help of his head of department, had a light bulb moment.
He started looking at AXA’s transaction methods and thought that there could be something in eWallet and its QR Codes. He figured if night market vendors can use QR Codes in their simple business setting why not a leading insurance company like his. When Michael finally made his project pitch, his idea received overwhelming support from his cohort and mentors.
Although the initial ideation was difficult, Michael was quick to make progress as Leadapreneur taught him how to break free from a limiting mindset. Once that lesson sank in, it became much easier for him to build on his idea and get the buy-in from others.
His eWallet idea could save AXA at least RM70,000 in transaction cost. Michael was aware that in terms of revenue or cost savings value, his projected figure was at the lower end, but his idea would help AXA create history by being one of the earliest adopters of a cashless payment method – a trend of the future.
He also added that eWallet is more cost-efficient compared to credit card transactions as certified eWallet providers are encouraging more people to adopt the cashless payment method. Even if the provider did implement financial charges, he projects it to be lower than credit payments and that will result in better savings for his company.
From Michael’s experience, Leadapreneur has pretty much been an eye-opening journey as it not only helped him break free from his limitations, but it also taught him different perspectives of problem-solving.
He happily admits that as a leadapreneur, he can now look at a problem from various angles before settling for the most viable solution.
He also noted the importance of building an innovation-focused environment as the programme helped everyone around him to be more open-minded and without the help of his mentors, cohorts and manager, this innovative idea wouldn’t have materialised.
Congratulations Michael for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
The desire to succeed was greater than failure. That was how Sakinah Ghazali narrates her journey of becoming a leadapreneur. When the Assistant Vice President of Partnership Pos from AXA Affin General Insurance Berhad was first nominated for the AXA Leadapreneur Accelerator Programme, she wasn’t sure how to react.
Change has been the very thing that keeps Sakinah’s spirit going. Although her work can fall into a routine trap, she had always found ways to make it exciting, especially when she is out to meet her clients. So, in a way, Sakinah welcomed this challenge.
At first, she was thankful that she was among the 25 participants selected for the programme, but as soon as her 16-week training journey begun, she was close to throwing in the towel, especially when her first two innovation ideas were rejected.
At present, Sakinah bears the heavy responsibility of servicing her client, Pos Malaysia, which has 164 branches and close to 700 staff. She has been based in the southern region throughout her journey with AXA, so having to travel for training on top of her existing business travels and managing a solo project in addition to her hectic work schedule, added on to her work pressure.
As such, rejections were not easy for the bubbly 39-year-old. When she did her first presentation, her senior manager’s facial expression was good enough to drive a message that she needed to improve.
Sakinah admits that Leadapreneur was like an emotional roller-coaster as she had to put in more than 10 hours daily to manage both her work and her project, but when her idea begins shaping up, she was all fired up to prove her worth.
Sakinah came up with the idea of a web-based platform – SahabatAXA – that will allow her clients to access all the information they need from anywhere, anytime.
According to her, Pos Malaysia has always had a personal one-to-one relationship with the marketers so most of the time, they were always calling to enquire about policy expiry date or production updates.
Now, with SahabatAXA, they will be able to access any information they need such as production and commission status, product information, sales campaign and event updates, via their mobile devices. SahabatAXA is not just about information at the fingertips but it also creates an exciting journey for Sakinah’s clients.
With this project, which is valued at a minimum of RM88,000, Sakinah was not only able to save time but also increase the productivity of her marketers as they are no longer required to spend time answering enquiries via phone.
It also minimises distraction for those who are constantly on standby to answer calls from clients, even while they are driving or away on vacation. With SahabatAXA, Partnership Pos marketers now have ample time to build and create more supporters via coaching.
When it was time for her to present her SahabatAXA prototype demo and execution plan, Sakinah was mentally prepared to receive criticisms from her management and mentors but much to her surprise, she received 6 out of 7 votes, making her the champion of her cohort. Her bosses, mentors and cohort members were equally impressed as they found a 360-degree change in her presentation skills.
In addition to a self-confidence boost, Sakinah’s greatest learning point came from the step by step guidance that Leadapreneur provided to help the participants become better strategists and planners. She also realised it was the crucible moments that served as transformation points for a leadapreneur.
With plans for an active roll-out scheduled in November for her innovation, Sakinah is now more inspired than ever to make impactful changes whenever she gets an opportunity.
When asked what kept her going despite the initial emotional turmoil, Sakinah said it was the concept of Wu Wei or effortless action that she learned during the training period.
The concept taught her that she didn’t need to take criticisms too seriously, especially when they were negative in nature, but rather just focus on points of improvement; give it her all in finding practical solutions and let the results do the talking.
Congratulations Sakinah for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
Sarah Margaret Peter Victorian
Business leaders are aware that change is the precursor to growth but for Sarah Margaret Peter, it is so important because change also determines business sustainability, especially in the face of volatility and uncertainty.
Which was why, despite initial stages of reactiveness and rejections, Sarah held on strongly to her idea at the AXA Leadapreneur Accelerator Programme, and found various ways to get her stakeholders’ buy-in, as her idea not only saves a tremendous amount of time and cost but also increases efficiency and productivity.
During her Leadapreneur training, Sarah came up with the winning idea of introducing an in-built function within AXA’s existing platform which agents can use to transact payments for policies sold. Her idea not only contributed to her cohort championship but she was also shortlisted to be one of the top 5 semifinalists in the 16-week challenge.
Sarah is a Senior Project Manager at AXA’s Project Management Office who is responsible for the delivery of data security compliance projects that require a change in business processes across the organisation.
Currently, her company uses a credit card authorisation form which clients need to fill in order to grant AXA the permission to transact the necessary payment. The forms then go through several levels of processing before they are approved. The entire process takes up to three working days on average.
With the introduction of Sarah’s idea, insurance agents are now empowered to trigger a payment request via an automated SMS as soon as a policy or cover note is issued. In addition to this, the customers gain full control of their policy payment and are able to protect their personal data and credit card information.
This does not only instill a sense of security in the hearts of AXA clients, but it also frees their agents, marketers and supporting staff from a tedious multi-layered process, which generally takes up too much time. As a result of this innovation, AXA can now reduce data threats and risks, strengthen trust among clients, increase the efficiency of payment and double staff productivity.
With 1,400 transactions happening daily at AXA, this solution is projected to save the company a whopping RM1.2 million, in addition to cutting down the payment processing time from three days to just 5 minutes, when it goes live this October.
For Sarah, this proposed initiative serves as an important stage for AXA, as it’s a step towards digitalisation that will help to accelerate the company’s growth, especially now, when the whole world is adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0).
She understands that certain business processes will have to go through digitalisation in the near future but a true leadapreneur always knows how to make the journey manageable, enjoyable and adaptable.
Apart from handling the project with a lot of care and determination, Sarah also learned how to factor in the levels of discomfort that people may generally have in the phase of change and Leadapreneur taught her how to find an amicable solution in such scenarios.
Congratulations Sarah for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
Ivan Lee Cheng Tat
“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” Yes, it is a popular quote from Batman, one of Ivan Lee Cheng Tat’s favourite superheroes.
When asked what inspired the 35-year-old Penangite, Ivan simply said it was Batman, because the caped crusader was always inspiring people to stand up to their fears and do the right thing.
So, when Ivan was nominated by his management to attend the AXA Leadapreneur Accelerator Programme, he thought it would be the perfect avenue for him to face the fear of moving out of his comfort zone. Ivan understood that people were generally uncomfortable with change, but he was also convinced that change is an important aspect of life that would enable him to learn, adapt and grow.
The AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd Branch Manager then made good use of the accelerator programme to not only learn about his abilities, but also test his limits of innovative, critical and strategic thinking, and learn a thing or two about becoming the master of his own destiny, as he had to manage a solo project worth over RM45,000 to prove his prowess as a leadapreneur.
As an account manager previously, Ivan knew how tedious it was to deal with stakeholders, particularly in managing quotations and sales. As he was responsible for business development, he also knew the importance of an efficient and errorless invoicing process to smoothen the business transaction.
To simplify this process, Ivan created a tool that will standardise and simplify quotations to make it easier for marketing staff to work on them. Using this as a basis, he rolled out the Simplified Quotation Tools to six business units within AXA.
Apart from saving a lot of time, Ivan’s idea helped the divisions minimise errors and encourage more people, especially the younger staff, to be efficiently involved in quote preparations instead of dreading the task.
According to Ivan, Leadapreneur truly helped him to think out the box to create solutions that will enhance the business process at AXA. With the Simplified Quotation Tool, he had not only helped AXA achieve a faster TAT (turnaround time) but also improved collaboration among stakeholders.
Based on his experience and feedback, the AXA’s SME Property business turnaround time was reduced by about 50% and with this simplified tool, the seniors now had more time to source for new businesses, as well as encourage or train junior staff to start quoting for their client, SME Property Insurance.
He also received favourable comments and feedback on areas for improvement from the six divisions he engaged with, giving him the push that he needed to achieve a sound business sense.
Based on his overall involvement, Ivan gained a tremendous amount of confidence that it was necessary for him to aim big no matter what his position or role in the company was.
At the same time, he was also convinced that dreaming big would help him discover great possibilities that not only works in his favour by discovering his true potentials but also contribute positively towards the growth of his organisation.
Leadapreneur, for Ivan, was a great platform that pushed him to create new ideas of great value to the company, taught him to get people’s buy-in and eventually get rewarded for all his hard work.
Congratulations Ivan for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!
Danny Chia Kai Yan
Danny Chia Kai Yan has always been a problem solver at heart, which explains why he has always enjoyed working with coding and development programmes that help businesses maximise their efficiency.
A certified Lean Six Sigma practitioner, Danny was also among the pioneers behind the digitalisation and automation effort employed by AXA Malaysia, slightly over two years ago. This enabled him to code bots that optimised workplace efficiency by automating the routine and instruction-based jobs within the organisation.
When Danny was nominated to attend the AXA Leadapreneur Accelerator Programme, he was excited about flexing his knowledge and learning new skills that will make him better in his role as the Vice President (Business Process Improvement and Automation) at AXA Affin General Insurance.
On Day 1 of the programme, he even proposed taking one his innovation projects and expanding on them to produce better results but when he was told that he had to move out of his comfort zone that doesn’t involve his current BAU (Business As Usual) projects, Danny was quick to adapt as he began looking at areas of improvement that his organisation could focus on to yield results with minimised resource spending.
That was how Danny came up with the idea of improving client outreach by introducing the AXA Warrior Referral Reward Programme that rewards individuals who successfully introduce new clients.
On a larger scale, the programme leverages on their existing client base to help market AXA insurance products without compromising on any personal data. The programme simply refers a friend or a family member to the AXA policies and should the referees express any interest, they are then referred to the sales division to sign up.
The referrer, in this case, will have to use AXA corporate survey to submit his recommendation without the need to collect any other personal data of the referees. When a referee successfully purchases an AXA policy, the referrer then gets rewarded accordingly.
Danny’s idea for the 16-week programme was treated like a pilot campaign that was focused on their internal employees before it can be rolled out on a larger scale to encompass their client database.
This provides the company time to mobilise their resources and iron out technicalities such as gaining consent from the relevant parties and working out an excellent reward system that was at par or much better than their competitors’.
Although Danny was aware that his idea wasn’t new in the business world, it was certainly on track with what AXA’s competitors have recently embarked on. More importantly, the programme creates an interest that will improve AXA’s brand presence, translating it into bigger and better business turnovers.
To attract the attention of his colleagues, Danny even created teaser videos and made use of digital channels like Facebook@Work to reach out, and safe to say that his campaign worked like a charm as he made his postings fun and engaging – an important communication tool for leadapreneurs to ensure the success of such campaigns.
As referral programmes are tougher to sell, Danny projected the programme will help him create tangible results with over RM200,000 worth of sales in 15 months, and if he successfully achieves them, Danny believes that he has the ability to combine his existing skills set with the experience he has gained in this programme and come up with a bigger and better innovation to grow AXA.
If it wasn’t for Leadapreneur, Danny believes that he would have stayed in his comfort zone much longer, but this 16-week shake-up had not only made him bolder, but it also taught how to think like a leadapreneur – agile, innovative, focused and creative.
In fact, Danny can’t wait to move it forward as he has laid the foundation to bring his project to the next level by automating the referral tracking system, digitising referral codes and introducing a better reward system based on the product value.
Congratulations Danny for becoming a Champion of the Accelerator!