What are you up to right now?
I am currently setting up and running a new business in the education industry in Myanmar, the name of the company is Edify Co. Ltd which means to “instruct or improve someone morally or intellectually”. Edify’s mission is to raise the standards in Myanmar, whether that is students looking for a job or some of the highest-level leaders wanting to become better leaders.
The business environment in Myanmar is very unique and every industry has opportunities and potential for innovative companies to thrive in. I have worked in human resources and training for over 10 years and I have learned a lot about what the Myanmar companies will benefit from the most. Sure companies need new executives and employees meaning there is a huge demand for recruitment and executive search, but I have learned that you can’t replace everyone and that it is extremely important to develop what the clients have as well as introducing good people. For this reason I decided to develop Edify into a specific change management consultancy focussing on human resource development, not only providing clients with search and selection services but training and advice for the current employees to become better and the opportunity to better themselves.
We are excited that you have set up your own business. Can you tell us a bit more about your business and what prompted you to start this?
Having worked in HR and training for over 10 years I have gained valuable exposure and experience in the industry, I take pleasure in helping people become better at what they do and also being able to give back to the Myanmar people what I was lucky enough to go away and experience. Myanmar today is lacking access to good training and one of the biggest obstacles local businesses are coming across is finding and retaining the right human capital. I want to change this and help the Myanmar companies build on what that have and use human resource development as a method of retaining more people. This is what prompted me to start Edify Co. Ltd.
Edify is a Myanmar specific change management consultancy, marrying international best practice with highly specialised Myanmar cultural knowledge, making Edify the perfect choice for local businesses looking to change and become more competitive in the international business environment. Edifly offers 4 major services under the change management umbrella. 1) Corporate Capacity Training. 2) Senior Executive Search. 3) Departmental Change and Recruitment Advice. 4) Efficiency Management and Training. Edify believes that human capital development is the key to effective change management, ‘you have to get the people to change or be willing to change before the company can change.’
What would be some of the lessons learned or challenges faced?
There is no doubt about it one of the core skills required in order to set up your own business is resilience, it can be quite daunting not knowing where the next revenue payment is coming from yet still having expenses going out the door. Also, when you become an entrepreneur you have to understand that it is nothing like a 9-5 job and that you have to sacrifice some of the lifestyle choices you once would have made. Working at all hours of the day to get a deadline complete or giving up your Sunday with the family due to being understaffed or not being able to afford to hire more staff is a common occurrence.
The challenges I have faced during this endurance race are far and wide, but I would say one of the most important challenges are knowing what the customer wants, not what I think they want or what I would like them to want. This is a very important factor when delivering a service. Also, another challenge is knowing where to spend money, what are the priority costs, how to keep those costs down, is there a cheaper way of doing it, are all questions you should be asking yourself. In a start-up business keeping the costs down is one of the most important tasks to get right, if you don’t keep the costs down they have a high chance of spiralling out of control and are extremely difficult to cut them back when they do.
What was the overall experience of managing your own business?
The overall experience of managing my own business has been challenging and also taught me a huge amount of skills I never really used before. It is a challenge as you have no one specific job to do, most real-life jobs have a specific function to manage whether it is marketing, accounting, sales etc. While running your own business you have to learn to do a little bit of everything and also prioritise the most important jobs to do while not forgetting everything else that goes into the day to day running of a company. This teaches you to manage your time effectively and also be extremely organised. Going back to what I was saying earlier about having to give up your spare time, if you haven’t managed to do something you make sure it is done, you have to learn to do 3 times the amount of someone in a 9-5 job. This sometimes can be challenging but obviously it has its rewards.
If you could highlight one memorable encounter/experience with the start-up, what would it be?
There is never a dull moment while starting a business, but I would like to highlight 2 memorable encounters. Firstly, due to entering the unknown when starting your own business, the emotions that run in your body when you are rushing to meet a deadline can be very intense, not knowing if you are going to get the task done and having to work all hours of the day to get it done plants an element of doubt in your mind. Once you have achieved the task in hand the sense of relief is immense.
Secondly, I would like to talk about the point in which a company becomes cash flow positive, this is when the revenues coming in are equal to the costs going out, therefore not making or more importantly losing money! This is where all your hard work and dedication starts to pay off, it is a very memorable moment for any start up as it is a mile stone to reach, it is also fairly unpredictable and following a financial model is tough because there is always something that comes up unexpectedly. Certainly, this is a good feeling and gives you a huge confidence boost and sense of achievement, not to mention something you should be proud of.
How do you feel studying at James Cook University in Singapore has helped you?
From a learning perceptive, I got MBA specialising in HRM. I had many favourite lectures. I appreciated all courses as they were not purely theoretical and are extremely useful in the practical world. I am still applying and sometimes reading through all lecture slides and teaching materials because it helps me a lot in many ways. For instance, all HR subjects and cases studies which I had papered as an assignment in student life are very useful to solve my client’s employee engagements issues and organizational development, since I am running consulting business in HR. JCU deserves top 250 of the world’s universities.
For the international student life befits international network:
We – a group of JCU friends from all over the world (From Germany, Austria, Myanmar, China, India, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia) always stay in touch since campus life till now we meet once a year in April in one country as a reunion and we support each other in business opportunities.
Any Career advice?
At the final trimester I visited JCU career services quite often to take career advice. The staff supported me a lot, while choosing the right career path and helped me to find out what my passionate job is. They also gave me guidance to prepare my resume. Moreover, JCU used to conduct career seminars on the campus at least once in each semester, they invite expertise and professional career advisors from outside to support all the students but based on my experiences less students joined for those kinds of seminars. Firstly, my suggestion is that please use the campus facilities and prepare well ahead while apply for a job. JCU provides the best & most efficient support to all students beyond learning programs.
Firstly I got a job right after the final exam result was out before graduation at Fourth Valley Concierge a Japanese HR Consulting Firm in Singapore, I got this opportunity from the JCU career centre email. Secondly my suggestion is to please check emails from the career centre regularly because the career centre always sends mail to students about all career opportunities that comes into their offices.
Like Pele` said “Success is no accident”. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
What’s next for your start up and yourself?
I have plans to attend PHD on Human Psychology Management and the targeted time frame is within a couple of years. I am proud to be a JCU alumina and I always collaborate with JCU representatives in Myanmar whatever they need assistance. Last time in 2016 JCU Myanmar Alumni donated food and clothes for civil war victims from war affected areas in Northern Shan State. Moreover, I give career advice, job opportunities and internship opportunities to JCU fresh graduated Myanmar students. So, our JCU Burmese community is so strong and I will always part of it.