With three strong core values running through its DNA, the Fung Group, one of Asia’s largest multinationals, knows exactly who they are looking for and what they expect a Fung Group employee to be.
Cambridge MBA 2015 Aik Lim joined the Fung Group through the Group’s management development programme, The Program for Management Development (PMD), in July 2016. After Initial Development comprising business educational training programs and business rotational assignments, he took up a permanent placement in LF Beauty Vertical, a business unit operating under the Group’s trading business, Li & Fung Limited. Aik’s aim post-MBA had been to break into the consumer goods industry in Asia and, when the Fung Group visited the School during his studies, he spotted an ideal opportunity:
“The Li & Fung B2B brand name is well-known but mainly within industry circles. When the Group presented at Cambridge Judge, I was amazed to find that so many global brands sourced through the Group’s stable of companies: from Kate Spade to Under Armour to Walmart – the list goes on. Since I wanted to do consumer goods in Asia, this was the company I needed to be with. Before the Cambridge MBA I had worked in aviation diplomacy and trade negotiations for the Singaporean government. Switching from international relations to global beauty trading business is thankfully not too difficult, as I have found ways to utilise my transferrable skills.”
In his Senior Manager role with LF Beauty, Aik reports directly to the President and has responsibility for driving strategic manufacturing projects globally. It’s a role that gives him the chance to make a very direct impact on the business and its customers:
“There are many challenges selling to our business customers in the fast-moving beauty industry, yet there are also tremendous opportunities. My work directly influences the strategies of our business, and also plays a small part in improving the lives of millions of workers within the Group’s supply chain. That’s exciting.”
Along with the speed and agility required of him, Aik also relishes the entrepreneurial and humble ethos which the Fung Group espouses:
“The entrepreneurial spirit here is very strong – you are encouraged to be flexible, take calculated risks and leverage innovation to achieve speed-to-market. For me the humility ethos is best demonstrated by the Group’s willingness to learn from smaller firms and start-ups, which may be a fraction of the Fung Group’s size, but are incredibly nimble at reinventing business models and implementing technological innovation. The global supply chain and world economy at large are undergoing a painful digital transformation – staying humble, adaptable and entrepreneurial is really the only way to survive.”
Aik’s on-going development at the Group will now see him immersed in training specific to his business area. Having completed a ‘triple jump’ by changing industries, functions and locations post-MBA, PMD will continue to support the career development journey he embarked on while doing the Cambridge MBA.
Unpacking the group’s values with Chris Chong, General Manager of PMD, reveals that their entrepreneurialism is rooted in how the Group has grown over the past 25 years, mainly through substantial acquisitions of companies which have then been encouraged to continue acting as small operators within the support of the wider Group. Chris says:
“This culture enables us to be innovative and agile and, above all, the entrepreneurial spirit we look for in our employees is an ability to be flexible and unafraid in the face of change, to stay relevant to customers through disruptions and challenges, especially through digital change. We aim to be always on our toes and ready to get things done.”
Coupled with this spirit of agility and curiosity is the willingness to stay humble in support of colleagues and customers. “We value this as one of our main virtues. It runs through all our daily interactions with colleagues and customers. You have to be willing to do what’s required of you to get the job done – whether operating at a strategic level or getting involved on the factory floor. And you have to be willing to learn from your vendors and customers – it’s the best way to build trust.”