Story of my one month secondment for Tour De Zeno
Earlier this year in August, I embarked on a quick one month secondment to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia of which I thought was an important step in my career path with Zeno. Growing up as a diplomat’s daughter and traveling the world 4 years at time, after a while you get used to moving, learning new cultures, people, way of working and living – and this “itch” followed me until now. Working at a multinational company, I knew somewhere down the road I wanted a career that will give me global enrichment, working with multiple markets– and hopefully get placed in other markets outside of Indonesia.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks this is important. After speaking to my superiors at Zeno and discussing opportunities, voicing out my interest in an exchange program, it turned out that there was an employee program called Tour de Zeno that was available.
Tour De Zeno is Zeno’s signature employee engagement program that takes one employee and places them in a different market for a month to immerse them in the culture of the office, the city and the market. We are there to learn best practices and bring them back to our home country in the hopes that we all have a mutual understanding of Zeno’s culture, way of working, and can learn (and maybe adopt) those practices that are suitable to our home country.
The first batch of Tour De Zeno was the three of us below and I’m the second “Green Shirt” to go on this trip.
People say one month is not enough…yes I agree…but what matters is how you make use of your time there. So here are some snippets and highlights of my trip:
Helipad – Among the many rooftop bars in KL
I’ve never been to Kuala Lumpur before but from what my friends told me, it’s pretty similar to Jakarta. The way I see it, Kuala Lumpur is a perfect mix of Jakarta and Singapore actually. The city consists of mostly buildings and malls with roads connecting different parts of the city. Public transportation is decent and accessible but traveling by car is still the major mode of transportation – just like Jakarta. However, the city is clean, structured, and things are pretty organized – like Singapore. Not to mention the air is still cleaner than Jakarta.So it didn’t take that long for me to get accustomed to Kuala Lumpur and the fact that i was provided with an apartment that was only a 10 minute walk away from the office ( and not to mention adjacent to a megamall), it was easy for me to fit in straight away.
Being the organized person that I am, I came to Kuala Lumpur already knowing a couple of places that I wanted to visit and food/ restaurants that I wanted to try. I knew with only one month, I had to maximize my time in KL and have a good mix of work experience and sightseeing. I managed to visit all the touristy places, tried plenty of great food, went shopping, explored the central market, I even went for a day trip to Melaka.
Exploring street food in Jalan Alor. Fried Oyster and anything with salted egg sauce was my fav!
KLCC Park |Sultan Abdul Samad Building |Melaka |Central Market
What’s equally important to me when I visit neighboring countries is finding something that I cannot do in Jakarta. So something as simple as walking to work, soft trekking at a park, being able to run in KLCC Park during sunset is relaxing to me. A bonus is being able to do rock climbing.
Food Bingo! What’s your favorite? Or which one would you want to try?
From left top : Banana Leaf Rice | Chicken Rice Melaka |Sangkaya Coconut and Thai Ice Tea Ice Cream | Lekor |Ramli Burger| Pak Putra Tandoori Melaka| Musang King Durian| Wong Ah Wah Chicken wings | Chee Meng Chicken Rice
Zeno Malaysia’s offices are located in Menara IGB within Mid Valley, a pretty prime neighborhood in Malaysia with two mega malls nearby – The Gardens and Mid Valley Megamall. It’s also only 5 minutes away from Bangsar which is now among one of my favorite neighborhoods in Kuala Lumpur due to its variety of F&B and boutique fashion offerings. (It’s like Kemang in Jakarta!)
My work desk in Zeno KL
Here are some snapshots of the office.
I think it’s safe to say that Zeno’s culture across the board is similarly fun and vibrant. I have been to Zeno Singapore in 2014 and Zeno New York in 2013 and I saw similar traits among Zenoids. Who doesn’t want to work at a fun office, doing great work, but still get to laugh and have fun while doing it? Malaysia was no exception, I felt at home since day one as everyone was very friendly and welcoming! While we all know how in Singapore everyone seems to be focused on their own thing and seems to be process-oriented, Malaysia is similar, but it also has that family-oriented flair going on – just like us in Jakarta.
Meet the Malaysian Zenoids. My second Zeno family after Zeno Jakarta. (Aww)
It wasn’t too hard “blending” in with the Malaysians really, it just took a couple of days, observing and getting to know everyone. Next thing you know, I really got immersed in the culture/ working style of Zeno KL and felt like I was part of the KL team already. I was also pretty amazed by how similar the cultures are between Zeno KL and Zeno JKT. A fun group, who works as hard as they play. After a while you really get used to the office and the inside jokes. The random talks during the day, lekor and rojak for afternoon snacks, David Lian shouting (in a good way) across the room, you learn that there’s a person called the Slack PoPo and time sheets really haunt everyone in the office and we both share the same “need” of wanting to go for an office outing.
While people may see Malaysian and Indonesians as being very similar, during my daily interactions with the Zenoids, we found ourselves exchanging cultural traits just like how we would banter with a foreigner for example. We still asked each other how we would say a different phrase/ expression; we asked whether rendang (a dish available in both ID and MY) was available in Indonesia and whether there was Soto (an Indonesian soup dish) in Malaysia. And of course exchanging swear words were necessary as well.
I was there during Bersih 2.0, the rally mounted against the government which was pretty heated during that time in the lead up to Malaysia’s Independence Day. This was actually quite an experience for me. We had deep discussions (amidst eating coconut ice cream) about the government in Malaysia, the latest situation on racism between ethnic groups and how some Zenoids claimed that Malaysians were not as united as they should be. Here in Indonesia, we don’t really have that racial problem as each and every single one of us we can proudly call ourselves “Indonesians” , but our problem sometimes? Religion.
Seeing how organized Bersih 2.0 was also blew my mind. In Jakarta, if we have a rally at the central part of the city, all other areas will be affected due to traffic and rerouting of roads. But in KL? Everything was very organized and while my friend told me to stay in the Mid Valley area, I went to central KL anyway and saw that the rally did not disturb other activities around town.
My choice of Tour De Zeno was between Vietnam and Malaysia. Because in terms of the market, the two made the most sense for us to adopt it back in Indonesia. Everyone had been buzzing about Malaysia even before my final decision of choosing KL as a destination and now I know why.
For an office that recently opened in 2013, Zeno Malaysia has skyrocketed in the past few years. From 3 employees in 2013, now they have 20 in 2015. They have won PR Agency of The Year award and continue to wow with the work that they do. So what’s the recipe? Zeno Malaysia has the perks of a startup, where the GM, the awesome coffee-lover David Lian can create a team from scratch and envision how Zeno Malaysia wants to be perceived as an agency. As a result, the agency directly began as an integrated communications agency – meaning all their consultants are involved in not only PR but also social and digital. The way their team are structured are divided into three ways:
The Consultants (team in charge of day-to-day correspondence with clients and overall campaign strategies)
The Creative Team – the creative director, copywriter and designer that help to bring to life the visions of their client campaigns as translated from the consultants
The Tech Team – 2 awesome geeks who make microsites, intranet and mobile applications from scratch!
During my one month stint at Zeno Malaysia, I had the privilege of working with more than half of the Zenoids and I was spread across half of their clients as well. To put it into perspective, I thought this was pretty good considering I only had one month there so I couldn’t really delve deep into each account. But I had the chance to work alongside my Zeno colleagues and understand what they did for each client. I was fortunate to be able to participate in a media event for TaoBao (Alibaba Group) and Audi, contribute ideas for a proposal for a new business pitch, test my copywriting skills for content for Intel, as well as learn internal communications for GSK and community management and social media trend report for the client. I even had the chance to interact with Malaysian media during those media events and I was glad to see how open they were about having an Indonesian on the team.
The overall experience
Overall I must say that my Tour de Zeno experience was truly memorable and that I made the right choice to come to Kuala Lumpur. I was quite nervous at first not knowing exactly what I would be doing as there were no “itineraries” for me during the month. Then I realized that it was up to me to make my stay worthwhile and to really maximize the one month I had in KL. Luckily, my Zeno KL colleagues were very welcoming and made me feel like I’m part of the team since day one.
So thank you, Zeno, for the opportunity. Thank you David Lian for taking me in, for involving me in projects around the office, the lunches and dinner and really ensuring that I was taken care of by the team.Thank you all Kuala Lumpur Zenoids whom I can’t mention one by one but ya’ll are in at least one picture in this blog (I hope!). Those whom I worked with, those who took me out for ice cream, drinks, nasi lemak, those who brought me lekor, kopi peng and air mata kucing, those who I asked about checking out Zouk, those who took me sightseeing and those who took me to eat a whole durian.
My facial expression seeing this giant Roti!
It was such a fruitful one month and I hope there will be a chance in the future to work together with the KL folks. Until then, stay fearless and enjoy your life!
And for those Zenoids reading this, “Jom!” (I hope that’s the right way of saying it) I urge you to participate in the next wave of Tour De Zeno if you’re looking for the professional enrichment that I had and to meet great new people along the way 🙂
To follow our Tour De Zeno story check out #TourDeZeno, for my personal Zeno adventure click #MyZenoDiary, for SG and MY Zeno Diary check out #AnotherDayAtZeno. Thank you for reading!