THE GLOBE TROTTER’S JOURNAL: New Zealand and beyond
PEOPLE have always asked whether I had always planned to be an entrepreneur. Aside from being a Green Power Ranger when I was in primary school in the 1990s, I never had any burning ambition to be an entrepreneur, until college.
There, my first venture into entrepreneurship was selling Valentine’s “Candle Bears” with friends. Yes, exploiting the commercial side of Valentine’s Day, battling against all chocolate traders and secret messengers.
Cupid’s arrow did strike me in the right place, in this case. I see entrepreneurship as compatible with my traits. I am a self-starter and extremely motivated, always looking for gaps in markets that interest me.
Most of all, I believe that I am a businessman with a social heart.
At Inti College Penang, I was elected as the president of the Student Council, a challenge from my peers to test my leadership skills. I took the challenge to give back to society. I was not just an activist but also busy championing issues dear to the students.
I also founded the Inti Penang Chamber of Commerce Society, an umbrella organisation uniting the Young Entrepreneurs Club’s wide-ranging efforts in promoting entrepreneurship among Inti students. It was at Inti that I developed and found my passion for volunteering.
I then furthered my studies in Marketing and International Business in Auckland, New Zealand. Living abroad is a challenge, it teaches one to be independent.
I had to work as a part-time flyer distributor just to make ends meet. It was a job which many of my peers would think twice about, but I loved the interaction with passers-by. More importantly, due to the job’s flexibility, I was able to put in more time on making a positive impact through Students-In-Free Enterprise (SIFE).
SIFE is a global student-run organisation that provides a platform for youths to run socially responsible community projects.
Within this organisation, I was able to work with other youths in the fields of education, business and community projects. I was directly involved with teams that worked with challenging high school students, teaching them essential business skills and motivating them to further their education in schools.
From a business point of view, I had the opportunity to work on a project to raise funds for a hospice.
In New Zealand, I continue to prove the sceptics wrong by flying the Malaysian flag high. A proud Malaysian, I represented New Zealand in the SIFE World Cup in New York. The best part of the whole experience was seeing the 11 social projects that have directly impacted 2,000 lives.
Despite being young, foreigners and having no resources, these students have inspired others to believe in themselves. Anyone who believes in himself can make a difference if he takes the first step — by volunteering, sharing and participating.
Despite being an outsider, I was chosen to represent the university. Despite being a foreigner, the Prime Minister of New Zealand endorsed my representing the country at the Global CEO Forum in New York and subsequently the SIFE World Cup, not once, but twice in New York and Singapore respectively.
I was also selected as the Top Business Student in my university which enabled me to collaborate with Deloitte in business-consulting competitions.
The pinnacle of those achievements was the invitation letter to attend the Harvard University’s Business Conference — and I was the only representative from New Zealand at the time.
FIND YOUR PASSION
Looking back, I would never have imagined my university life as more than just me trying to blend in with a new culture and being worried about my studies.
The amazing opportunities that I received — in business, leadership conferences, consulting ventures and network of contacts — were truly valuable.
In pursuing my entrepreneurial dream, I have somewhat developed a belief that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs are people who dare to take risks, challenge the status quo, are confident about making their stand and proving their worth and inspiring others to believe in their vision for a collective success.
I believe it is essential to let yourselves be heard, grasp opportunities and never be afraid to make your mark globally. Find your passion and success will follow!