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Team Target – pictured from left to right: Natalia Bong, Ng Jia Ning Tania, Natasha Bong

Team Target is the only all-female team to emerge among the top three finalists in the PwC Trust Builders Challenge, a competition for undergrads in Malaysian universities. The competition is aimed at raising awareness on PwC’s trust movement, to highlight the importance of trust in business and to broaden the discussion on trust with Malaysia’s youth. ThePwC trust Builders Challenge was organised as part of PwC’s building trust programme, in the run up to The Building Trust Awards 2017, which recognises and celebrates companies making strides to build trust through communications and interactions with stakeholders.

The Building Trust Challenge was focused on a scenario – a well-known clothing company was found to have been operating a sweatshop and employing underage workers,” said Salika Suksuwan, Human Capital Leader, PwC Malaysia.

“From the entry submissions, we find that the issue is of interest to both young men and women; (50% male, 50% female). This is encouraging as it shows that regardless of gender, issues relating to trust speak to our youth. Trust is a very human feeling, after all, which everyone innately understands. So everyone should speak up when they feel that trust is being eroded, whether at home, in the classroom, and of course, in business.

“The presentation Team Target gave offered us a glimpse of the influential female leaders they have the potential to become,” she added.

From being one out of 137 teams, to being one out of three, Team Target finished in second place in the Challenge.  We get to know Natalia Bong, Tania Ng Jia Ning and Natasha Bong of Team Target to discover the thought process behind their success in the programme and what fuels their girl power mojo.

 

TiC: Tell us about your team, your background and what inspired you to participate in this programme?

We are a team of three enthusiastic business major students who are passionate about learning and growing in an all rounded manner. What inspired us firstly to participate in this challenge was that the three of us had talked about collaborating on an external project. Therefore, when we heard about PwC Trust Builders: The Building Trust Challenge, we felt that it was the perfect opportunity to take up this challenge together.

Having worked together in group projects and assignments in college before, we were aware and understood one another’s strengths and weaknesses and we were able to complement one another well.

As we researched more on the topic of the case study that centred on the erosion of trust, we found that it was an important issue in today’s society and business landscape. We realised that trust is truly the foundation of any successful organisation, and a key ingredient that contributes to a company’s longevity. As we strongly believe in the importance of trust, we were excited to participate in this challenge. However most importantly, we felt that this would be a unique opportunity to enhance our understanding of trust in business, while further expanding our network.


Tell us about your team pitch.

This challenge required us to demonstrate our critical-thinking skills and innovativeness by presenting a solution on how to rebuild trust in business. We felt that the sweatshop controversy impacting a well-known (fictional) clothing label was a real-world issue, as we’ve read similar stories in the news before. In our presentation, we provided details on the problem.

We listed down all the stakeholders involved and highlighted issues to consider such as factory workers who wanted to work long hours to obtain a higher income, for example. We presented solutions for the factory to implement, and stated our main objectives to ultimately win back trust and faith. We identified that these two elements are different things. The difference is that there can be doubts in trust, but faith is pure blind trust. These objectives serve as a guideline to fall back on anytime the organisation wishes to evaluate and measure how they are solving the problem.


Tell us about your process and the resources you sought to find solutions.

We tackled the case study by viewing it as a whole and taking into consideration all aspects of it. Before we met up for our first meeting, we did our individual research work on the topic given. When we got together for our first brainstorming session, we shared and discussed our points on the case study and later took away what we felt were most relevant by consolidating our points and laying down our outline.

We then divided our work and appointed each person to be accountable for the given task. Throughout the process, we constantly researched past business case studies and found many articles and website links which were indeed helpful. We compared past case studies and current issues with our own points. As we came up with ideas and determined the feasibility of it, we also validated them by gathering feedback and input from people of experience around us such as our colleagues, INTI Career Services staff, parents and lecturers.


What were the challenges you faced during the process?

One of the main challenges we faced as a team was setting a time for us to meet, as we had our respective hectic schedules that involved different timetables and part time jobs as well. We were constantly in the midst of assignments and tests so this taught us to effectively manage our time in prioritising and allocating time to work on this project.


What have you learned through this challenge? What have you learned about trust?

In essence, we truly realised that trust doesn’t just exist because we say it does. It exists because of what we do. We learned that preparation is key. Through this challenge, we also learned how to ultimately trust one another.


How do you feel about making it to the Top 3, and being the only all-girl team at that?

All girl or not, we feel very proud and immensely grateful for the opportunity to be in the Top 3! As strong believers of determination and inner strength who always strive for excellence, we worked hard, and had to make sacrifices to ensure we were able to follow through and give our very best in the competition. However, we also could not have done it without the support of our family and friends throughout the entire journey. We are truly grateful to them.


Would you say the scenario in the challenge is common, and what are your observations of the retail/fashion landscape in Malaysia in general? 

In our opinion, we would not claim that the scenario is common in Malaysia. However, problems like these do exist, even though we may not hear much about it here. Issues like these are subjective and are approached accordingly, with the set of solutions given rarely the same.

It has also been observed that Malaysia’s growth rate in the retail industry has declined due to consumers being more aware and cautious with their spending behaviour. Shopping traffic in shopping centres dropped significantly during the first two months after the introduction of GST. The successful ones are most likely to remain popular with a queue of retailers wanting to set up shop, and shoppers will continue to visit these popular shopping centres due to their wide range of offerings. Online shopping has started to evolve and we find that consumers have also shifted to this platform. However, the spending amount is still low as compared to the entire retail industry.


If you were to apply your solutions to the problem at hand as a retailer, what are the outcomes you would expect?

It’s important to differentiate between assumptions of results and expectations. Putting on the retailer hat, we would definitely expect to achieve a new sense of brand connection and loyalty from consumers. Applying the solutions ultimately addresses the problem at hand. When these are rectified, the firm would be able to regain back the trust from their stakeholders. However, we also understand that our consumers are a growing and constantly evolving generation and we should always be prepared with backup plans should we get an unexpected outcome.  Of course, we also hope that through the implementation of our solutions, not only will the problem be solved, but it will also reawaken the passion among our stakeholders in connecting with the company’s original vision and mission.


A message for our readers?

We highly encourage students or anyone who gets the opportunity to participate in challenges like these to GO FOR IT. Put yourself out there, do not be afraid to make mistakes. Take note that it is not always about the destination but the journey itself. Don’t ask “What can I win?” but ask “What and how can I learn?”

 

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