On this segment of Women In Marketing we chat with Amalina who is the Head of Marketing at Allo Technology, a telecommunications company based in Malaysia. Whilst the call to be a marketer comes naturally to some, Amalina actually wanted to be a lawyer. After some exposure to TV adverts however, the love began to manifest. Who said TV was bad!? Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, AMALINA. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in a small town called Taiping, Perak. The wettest place in Malaysia.
I was raised by my grandparents until I was seven years old before my parents decided to move my siblings and I back to Selangor in 1988. Growing up, I was a very active little girl where I used to cycle around with my friends to find a spot for us to play. We always ended up playing in a drain so that we could play with water. If not the drain, we would find anything and create some games out of it.
That was me with a bunch of boys. I was not the type who played dolls and played pretend. I have liked outdoor stuff since I was little.
I played lots of sports during my primary years. I played badminton, netball, handball, and I used to run 100m, 100m x 4 representing my team on our sports day. I participated in a choir and choral speaking.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
Still active. I entered a sports school during my high school years. I represented the district for netball and the state for shooting – Air Rifle category. I was the netball coach for both under 18 years old and 15 years old when I moved back to Taiping during my senior year in high school.
Our under 18 managed to get 3rd place in the district competition, the highest achievement by far.
When I was in the university, I joined SIFE (Students In Free Enterprise) now known as Enactus, a global association. During my participation, we managed to be the finalist in the Inaugural SIFE World Cup Competition in London 2000 and the first runner-up in Mainz, 2003.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
A lion; they represent power, strength, loyalty, and courage.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Well, I am a foodie! I love all sorts of food. But if I had to choose, it would be Kobe Beef, grilled on a hot stone.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I’ll donate $1 million to UNICEF, $1 million to WWF, $5 million on investments, $3 million will be for my parents, siblings, and children’s well being.
I will use the profits from my investments to travel and open up a foundation to help the underserved communities, especially single mothers and orphanages. They will have shelters and provide them with an education (soft skills & technical skills) to be independent and live their lives comfortably.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, DR. LIEZEL BYGATE SAID THAT SHE IS AN EXPERT HULA-HOOPER!
Well, people said I have a good voice! 🙂 and I auditioned for Master Chef Malaysia in 2011, flung during the camera interview :p I went to the audition because people also said that I am a good cook.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
Well, I dreamed of being a lawyer.
But my late grandfather didn’t really like that idea. When I was in my teenage years, I dreamt that one day I would enter a corporate world, doing things that I like the most by joining a high performing marketing team. That has always been my dream ever since.
I got this idea every time I watched interesting advertising campaigns on TV. I have always been wondering, how does it feel like to build a successful brand from scratch. However, my career in marketing was not a straight path. Yes, I have a dream although I didn’t have a plan back then.
When I entered the university, I followed the advice from those closest to me to enrol myself in an IT program because they said, I will get paid above average when I have this qualification. How naive. Yes, I know haha. But the interest grew further when I started my role as a product marketer in Celcom. That is when I read my MBA because I needed to learn more about businesses and marketing.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I typically start my day reading the emails first and reply, text my team reminding them of the deliverables that we are currently working on, or asking them for status or, what’s their plans for that day.
Then, I drink a glass of water, feed Bonnie; our red Iguana, clean up the kitchen because I like my kitchen clean, I need to make sure it is clean (even though I always clean up my kitchen before I go to bed) before I leave the house for work. I will also make up the room, my children’s room, my husband’s home office, and the entire house before I leave for work.
Pre-MCO, I had to prepare lunch boxes for my children at 6.30 am, prepare them for school at 7.00 am so that their father can send them over to the school at 7.20 am.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I will find time for the family for a short getaway or staycation. I will allocate night time to look at their homework and stuff then, I will make time for my friends during the weekends. It is not like every weekend that I am spending my time with my friends as most of the time I will be at home doing the house chores and binge-watching my favourite shows on Netflix.
However, it is usually very hectic for me during weekdays as I tend to find myself working till late at night, especially if there’s a deadline. Now that I am doing my Level 6, CIM paper, there is not much time left for my me-time.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR MBA FROM THE CARDIFF METROPOLITAN UNIVERSITY. YESSS GIRL! ACCORDING TO CNBC, RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY GLASSDOOR FOUND THAT COMPANIES LIKE APPLE, GOOGLE, AND IBM (AMONGST OTHERS) OFFER WORK-FROM-HOME JOBS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE ANY FORMAL EDUCATION. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEIR CAREERS PARTICULARLY IF THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO AFFORD A FORMAL EDUCATION?
Several platforms are offering free online education like edX, where these young women can leverage. They can also stay in trend with Linked In as there are a lot of articles that they can read. They can also follow thought leaders like Simon Sinek for motivation or Dave Ulrich on information related to Management and Human Resource.
LinkedIn also offers a learning platform that these women can jump in anytime. Not only that, but they can also find a sea of useful videos on Youtube, i.e TedTalks.
SABRA MWAURA WAS A FEATURE FOR OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES. SHE MADE A FEW GOOD POINTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MENTORSHIP?
I believe in empowering and supporting other women. Mentorship is important in providing strong support to these women with regards to their career development or even for their personal growth.
A good example that I can highlight would be the Malaysian fresh grads, young ladies especially. I have dealt with a number of them and noticed some of them are eager and ambitious but have no idea what they want to become in 5 years. But they are willing to learn and are up for new challenges. That is when mentorship would come in handy. To guide these young women at every step while they figure out what they want for their future.
It would help fast track their career development with good mentorship as compared to those who don’t have the access.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
I would say the AGILE method. I am a big fan!
It increases my productivity because I can get things done faster when I get everyone into 1 discussion to decide on the same issue instead of having multiple rounds of discussions separately.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
My longest tenure would be four years; I have never stayed in one company any longer than that. I am thankful for that because I got to experience different ways of thinking and culture. It has been part of my learning curve so far. It has helped mould my views and thought process.
For me, it has been an aid for my career development. I have learned a lot about what can work and what will not work. These experiences have helped me in my decision-making process.
FOR IT’S 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL CMO’S REPORT, FORBES LISTED 31 WOMEN OUT OF 50 CANDIDATES (19 MEN). IT APPEARS THAT MORE WOMEN OCCUPY CMO ROLES COMPARED TO OTHER C-SUITE ROLES. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?
The women’s perspective, of course!
We tend to look at things differently from men. I mean, in terms of creativity, sentiment, and details. We are more empathetic (compared to men); empathy is crucial in building a great customer experience. We are more engaging where we can easily relate ourselves with the customers.
REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN MARKETING, PARTICULARLY, IN SENIOR ROLES IS ON THE UP. IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN STILL FACE DESPITE THESE CHANGES AND HOW BEST SHOULD THESE BE ADDRESSED?
I work in a male-dominated industry, very technical.
I need to be persistent and resilient when it comes to defending my marketing initiatives and budget because the management couldn’t understand my role. They can’t imagine how our efforts shall contribute to the company’s financial performance. What I can say is not to give up easily. Keep moving, keep fighting your cause. Believe in your cause they need to see that. Let your voice be heard in whatever ways possible.
Other than that, I don’t have any issues as I was given the empowerment and trust to execute my tasks.
ONE OF THE LEARNING CURVES FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, IS THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES TO FACILITATE REMOTE WORK. FOR TECH PLAYERS IN SILICON VALLEY THE TRANSITION WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH WITH THE LIKES OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER DESIGNING A FUTURE WHERE THEIR STAFF MAY POTENTIALLY WORK REMOTELY FOREVER. THE ARGUMENT THOUGH, IS THAT THIS IS LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE COMPANIES TAKEN SO LONG TO IMPLEMENT REMOTE WORK OPPORTUNITIES?
Because of the trust issues. As simple as that. We are all adults. Yes, I will not deny that some bad apples would take advantage of that opportunity. But, there are also many ways to evaluate and review their performance. One of them is to measure their responsiveness or deliverables according to the deadlines whether it is delivered in good quality or not.
My team and I have been working from home most of the time since the RMCO happened in March last year. But we managed to deliver what we need to deliver according to the deadlines. They are reachable every time I try to look for them. They even worked odd hours when there were deadlines to meet.
Maybe because I keep telling them that they are all adults and I trust they know how to manage their time and workload though they are not working in the office. I do not mind if they have to attend to their issues as long as they know how to manage their work. I have built this trust with them. They are managing their work very well of which I am grateful.
WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT IT’S SET OF CHALLENGES. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT STRAIN WITH PEOPLE WORKING LONGER HOURS AS A RESULT OF EMPLOYEES BEING ‘ALWAYS ON’ AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. HOW CAN EMPLOYERS GUARD AGAINST EMPLOYEE BURNOUT OR IN THE WORST EVENT, LOSING THEIR BEST TALENT?
Being “Always On” has taken away that work-life balance from some of us. I can’t switch off sometimes because there are so many things I wanted to do with so little time. But it didn’t do me any better. I can’t function well. I was lethargic and it took me quite some time to recover.
Having this experience myself, I try my very best not to reach out to my team after office hours, when they are on MC, or leave. I want to give them that space so that they can come back fresh and rejuvenated. I used to allocate some time for team bonding before the pandemic, where we used to take half a day off for us to gather, have a good time and wind down.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE?
When we managed to use technology in making our day to day job easier and when we managed to convert our ideas into something that benefits the people/community.
HEMAL THAKKAR, BRAND MANAGER FOR BURGER KING INDIA IS A RECENT WOMEN IN MARKETING FEATURE. ONE OF THE KEY AREAS SHE IDENTIFIED FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IS THAT OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MARKETING LOOK LIKE ACCORDING TO YOU?
It is all about leveraging the technology.
Martech is becoming more and more important in helping us develop engaging campaigns that speak right to the heart of our consumers. Personalization is not overrated and something we need to consider when we launch our campaigns.
Supporting a genuine cause will be one of the most crucial elements in brand building.
The integration of online and offline and back to online communications is important, instead of focusing purely on digital.
2020 AND BEYOND
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Spend wisely and manage your finances well. Use the money to invest in properties and save some to pay for personal insurance.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
Managing my finances; I am bad about that. I tried to control my shopping habits and always find myself shopping even more than I expected.
And, I am still trying to perfect my presentation skills, especially when presenting to the management.
I still find my presentation a bit dull and sometimes I tend to forget the points that I need to highlight/convey.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
- To complete my Level 6 CIM Paper in Professional Digital Marketing this year.
- To become a Chartered Marketer in 3 years.
- To become one of the most influential women in Marketing by the time I reach 45. I am turning 40 in 2021.
- To build a vacation house facing the beach for my retirement home.
- To raise my two beautiful daughters that I am proud of so that they can be the best versions of themselves.
- To travel the world with my other half and capture all the beautiful moments through our lenses for the rest of our lives.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
Fictional characters would be Black Widow (Marvel), Wonder Woman (DC).
Real-life characters would be My Mom, Michelle Obama, Jacinda Arden, my former boss, Grace Chan Li Mei, and my best friend, Anis Syuhada Daud who finally dares to walk out from her abusive husband and a dysfunctional marriage.
She has two beautiful daughters, 7 and 4 years old, lost her mom in 2019 due to cancer and her father remarried shortly after that and ignored her completely.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I am currently reading ‘Call Upon Him’ by Mizi Wahid, a Singaporean Muslim Preacher. Boosting my spiritual need 🙂 I am a traditional reader. I like reading the paperback version instead.
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
NO. I have always wanted to do this, what I have wanted to become. I am on the right track. I am happy how it turned out to be. I am proud of myself for making my dreams come true.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
None. But I have just completed the 1st season of Bridgeton and I enjoy reality shows like The Voice, Asia/America Got Talents, etc
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
My aunt lives about 300km away from us. We used to visit her when we travel back to the north of Malaysia. We wanted to visit her last year, but due to COVID-19 and RMCO, we had to put the plan on hold.
My professors whilst I was a student at university. They used to be my advisors back then, the one I go to for advice. I hope they are doing fine and I pray that they are coping very well during these trying times.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
Grace Chan. She was heading the marketing department for a few big names in Malaysia; i.e Malaysia Airlines, Axiata, Celcom, and TIME to name a few.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Never stop believing in your cause, in yourself. You need to lead with conviction. You need to stay resilient and never give up. Let ourselves be heard, so that we can execute what we need to execute. Keep yourselves updated with the latest trends and never stop educating yourselves. Education is a lifelong journey, knowledge is key to everything.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AMALINA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Feel free to connect 🙂