Wong Mei Wai, Founder, CEO and Chief Change Catalyst
Newton’s ‘law of inertia’ postulates an object’s tendency to stay at rest or in a state of motion unless acted upon by an external unbalanced force. In simpler terms, an object tends to keep on doing what they are doing, and it is their natural propensity to resist change.
If we think of it, such a phenomenon is not just limited to the physical realm; the same pattern can be seen in human psychology as well. Once we get comfortable with a particular way of life, it becomes really difficult to embrace change suddenly. Nevertheless, in the business sector, such psychological struggle can often result in disjointed and antiquated operational processes. Even though organizations transform their legacy workflows and infrastructures through expensive digitalization initiatives, the endeavor fails to achieve its desired outcome if the management doesn’t bring their workforce up to speed. And, while it is easy to theorize a Newtonian law of motion for the study of the human mind, it only takes an expert to provide that kind of “external force” to prepare, support, and help organizations for a successful organizational mindset makeover.
“A curated and closely monitored change approach in tandem with psychodynamic talent management, and culture alignment is the key to drive sustainable end-to-end change,” opines Wong Mei Wai, a leading APAC marketing entrepreneur who is also the well-earned winner of “Pioneering Women Leadership Award” and “Woman Super Achiever Award.” This conviction drove Mei Wai to establish her company, APAC Global Advisory (AGA). Mei Wai had led iconic branded businesses globally, regionally, locally through complex change and mergers and acquisitions integration - working with multi-national teams globally spanning industries like personal care, food & beverages, banking, luxury retail, hospitality, building infrastructure and IT industry for more than 2 decades. Therefore, Mei Wai cemented AGA’s cornerstone around delivering holistic change management to global, regional, and local organizations in both sophisticated and emerging markets. “Based on our unique understanding of clients’ intricate and complex operational processes, we journey with them with bespoke end-to-end change management solutions,” shares Mei Wai, the Founder, CEO, and Chief Change Catalyst of AGA.
Elaborating on the typical challenges of business transformation, Mei Wai states that the current approach of brand change in the market focuses mostly on the “outside” change areas. Conversely, the HR teams mainly address an organization’s “inside” changes—consisting of talent and a firm’s cultural aspects. Because of this disjointed outlook towards change management and lack of inter-department seamlessness, the overall initiative falls short in achieving the desired outcome for organisations making Change to deliver integrated solutions and customer experience due to the lack of alignment of internal and external aspects of Change. This is where AGA’s change transformation service differs from a strict brand- or HR-focused change management approach by leaps and bounds. The company seamlessly integrates all the typical corporate functions: human resource, customer and marketing, technology, research, and operations, to develop a proprietary brand change framework that brings the layers of “outside” and “inside” brand change together.
This framework, combined with Mei Wai’s “outside-in” change matrix, helps is identifying the unconscious areas of a change process to deliver a transformational brand change strategy that highlights a business’s legacy. Building on these two concepts, AGA’s hand-picked global experts offer a flexible approach in tandem with psychodynamics, talent management, and cultural alignment that aids brands and businesses in confidently going through an organizational change.
Notably, AGA’s change planning offering covers two parts: change architect and family business change planning. The change architect proposition helps corporations get a good start to stay ahead of the change curve. On the other hand, AGA helps family businesses juggle change through an integrated approach and aid in family succession planning—a unique requirement that needs an exceptional understanding of family dynamics and business. In both these segments, AGA works with clients to set clear change objectives, vision, mission, etc. and develop a strong portfolio plan. “We also help the leaders to reflect and evolve business models that unleash the full potential of their brands,” adds Mei Wai.
Explaining how her “outside-in” approach works for her clients, Mei Wai shares a recent success story of a family-owned multinational company. The client’s rapid growth meant that many new employees might not be in sync with the global umbrella brand and lack clearly defined vision, mission, and purpose. The client needed solutions across different business categories that would resonate with its internal and external stakeholders and customers in multiple channels. AGA started interviewing the company’s key business leaders and the leadership teams before designing the final change plan. And then, the firm defined the “inside” business areas that needed to be retained from the family-run business’s legacy. Based on that understanding, AGA designed, defined, and aligned its global brand’s core drivers. Such clarity of the global direction and purpose (the “outside” brand image) helped the client embed its “inside” brand image globally, raising the standards of the company’s innovation and development, culture, and talent development.
These proven capabilities have also helped AGA correctly position itself as a real catalyst for change during the COVID-19 pandemic. On that front, AGA has launched a virtual LIVE webinar with Laura Cozijnsen to arm organizations and individuals in the Asia Pacific region with various change topics during the pandemic. Additionally, the pandemic has not dampened AGA’s spirit from continually enhancing its competencies. For example, AGA’s market insights change catalyst, Kwan Chong Wah, is delivering high-quality solutions driven by client intimacy and supported by innovative technologies. His strong collaboration with innovative MRtech partners further is ensuring AGA’s creative research methodologies remain cutting-edge.
Similarly, for business change solutions in retail, food, B2B, and B2C related solutions, AGA’s ecommerce Co-creation Satellite, Jeanette Lau, is helping set up omnichannel ecommerce to impact the consumer experience. With many such global experts adding to its prowess, AGA is now poised to leverage its agile and flexible change management framework to meet the new needs in this dynamic and challenging environment and help businesses move to the next stage in their path to success.