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!
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!
The power of ‘stratecution’
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!
Turning rejections into solutions
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!
This leadapreneur turned an experience from her motherhood into a winning product concept
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!
Diving Into Digital : How A Leadapreneur Unlocks USD 5 Million in Projected Sales
In our Stars of the Accelerator series, we explore the transformation journey of the participants in the Leadapreneur Accelerator.
From the anxiety of waiting for answers, to the pile of paperwork that needs to be filled, applying for a loan can be a long and tedious process. The consequent frustration is not only felt by the customers, but also by bank staff.
Personal Loans Product Manager, Trixia, set out to find a solution to make this process smoother and faster. She noticed that there are two key issues with the existing process:
- Manual processes contribute to a long Turn Around Time (TAT)
-The need for sales people and processing officers at various stages of the process translate in incurring high expenses
Trixia joined the Accelerator to challenge herself by transforming a business model that had been running on traditional methods for several years. Her project is to revamp and digitize the process using existing tools that the bank already has.
Moving forward, existing bank customers can use a digital platform to apply for a personal loan online. This project has been valued at the astounding amount of USD 5 million in projected sales volumes for 2019!
The online portal will drastically improve customer satisfaction because:
- Customers will be able to receive the banks decision on their application almost instantly
- They will no longer have to scan and email documents to the bank
- They can apply for loans anytime, from anywhere.
As for the bank, the advantages are tremendous:
- The bank will save money by eliminating paper application forms
- Fewer human interventions mean decreased costs
- Bank staff can focus on other more fulfilling tasks instead of mundane ones
- The project will ensure the bank’s longevity and relevance in the market
- Greater profits will be generated since the bank will be able to process a higher volume of loans
- Reduced overall TAT
Trixia set out to become a game changer and has literally become one. This is only the beginning, as she is now empowered with confidence and drive. She credits the support and encouragement from her cohort and Leadapreneur Coach, Kar Fei, for helping her maximize her potential.
Her motto is One Step At A Time.
Congratulations Trixia in becoming a Star of the Accelerator!
In our Stars of the Accelerator series, we explore the transformation journey of the participants in the Leadapreneur Accelerator.
Ganesh Ramakrishnan and Manikandan Vijaykumar
Assistant Vice President Bankers, Ganesh and Manikandan, joined the Accelerator because they believe it is a great platform to maximize their potential and achieve the impossible. The pair joined forces to solve problems for their stakeholders.
Instead of picking a problem to solve, the team decided to listen to what their stakeholders need. They crowdsourced ideas by collecting feedback from multiple end users. After exploring many options, they decided to work on a solution to make Anti Money Laundering (AML) a more transparent process.
AML cases require review by the investigations team. Currently, in order to properly review cases, investigators have to put a lot of time and effort to collect accurate data. The manual method of data collection not only takes time, but it’s also prone to error.
Ganesh and Manikandan created a data collection tool called BEAM (Build Efficient AML Marvels).
To date, the tool has saved RM378k!
BEAM will help to;
- collect data faster using web automation
- ensure that the data is error and bias free
- free up time for investigators to pay closer attention to case reviews
Initially, the tool was developed using tools which had severe performance issues. The team persevered to address the issues. After extensive research and discussion with technical experts, they discovered that they should be using entirely different tools such as Java and Selenium. Though these technologies were new to them, the pair took the effort to educate themselves on the programming concepts.
Another challenge was that the automation tools were not readily available. With patience and perseverance, the team leveraged on their network of colleagues across regions and finally gained access to the tools and packages that they required.
Having no access to the case review applications, the team had to develop the BEAM using test environments and then synchronize the code with production systems.
Despite the hurdles, Ganesh and Manikandan managed to get their project results validated. They credit the Accelerator for giving them the confidence to see this project through. Their common motto is “Dream Big. Dream Impossible.”
Congratulations Ganesh and Manikandan in becoming Stars of the Accelerator!
In our Stars of the Accelerator series, we explore the transformation journey of the participants in the Leadapreneur Accelerator.
Khay Khoon (KK) Hong
The forex market is a fickle raging ocean. To haul in big profits, FX traders have to take big risks in the trading market's volatile environment. Losses are part of their daily lives.
Seeing the emotional toll that profit loss has on his colleagues and himself, FX Trader KK decided it was time for a lifeboat. He set out to devise an ambitious strategy that would:
-Improve traders’ mental health
-Generate profits for the company
Currently traders use a variety of tools to help them decide how to buy and sell. The most common ones are news reports, historical price data and financial data from Bloomberg services. KK observed that there is one crucial factor missing from the equation: timing. His innovative strategy involves analysing trends and determining at what time of the day to buy and sell.
KK was able to identify a pattern in the prices, for example during which time frame prices go up and at what specific time there is always a downward move. He built a systematic data-driven trading strategy and implemented it across multiple currencies.
After testing it out and some initial losses, KK recalibrated the strategy with a few tweaks in the parameters. He made changes to the timing, modified currency pairs and more.
This strategy is set to generate an astounding USD 500k in profits within a year!
The biggest challenge was the losses incurred at the early stages. They filled KK with self doubt on the validity of the strategy. Nevertheless, he pushed through with determination and perseverance. He is continually reviewing and improving the strategy to find the optimal timing. The strategy quickly became increasingly profitable and it's only the beginning.
The Accelerator environment encouraged KK to believe in himself and his ability to bring positive change. He used to navigate the existing system without giving much thought on how he can be an influencer. Now, feels empowered to be part of the underlying current that disrupts the system.
Congratulations KK in becoming a Star of the Accelerator!