Graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in Salford UK, Brandon always believed, and wants to make life better and make the world a better place. After a year’s stint as an engineer in a local firm, he had decided it was time to take charge of his life and learn the ropes of the business world. He took a 50% pay cut and joined a financial consultancy firm. It was indeed an eye- opening experience for him, meeting with the top people from the financial sector. He learnt to see things differently and was truly inspired by the idea of ‘being ahead’.
In year 2000, dot com business was growing rapidly in Malaysia, Brandon was one of the early adopters who rode the wave of the internet boom. Together with his partners, they established Malaysia’s first and back then the largest ‘social network site’ – ahmoi.com. However, the popularity of the website did not translate to financial rewards immediately.
He learnt that ‘being ahead’ with just an idea is not enough; the idea must also have a ‘sustainable’ business model.
While operating ahmoi.com, he organized a few gathering and event for the members, and he realised that many event company in the market, provides all sorts of ‘services’ – AV equipment, entertainment, fabrication of props, design and etc. But rarely, a ‘solution’. With this idea in mind, he set up Star Event, with the aim to breakthrough from the conventional way of running an event. He wants to be a ‘solution provider’, not just a ‘service provider’. All events should have an ‘objective’, and his role is to achieve it by providing the right solution.
It was not an easy journey, with almost zero experience in event management. However starting with a clean slate meant that he could work creatively and in ways he thinks is right. He would always set long term and short term targets for the company, not just in terms of sales figure but also the company’s direction and positioning in the market. At the same time, he is adamant in setting and maintaining the core values and culture of the company.
“Every event must be specially designed to meet its objective, and this must be achieved through close communication with the client, detailed planning as well as thinking out of the box,” said Brandon.
He believes that only the right team, with the right mind-set will help the company to achieve the great vision. Hence, he spent a large amount of time sharing and instilling the company’s value and vision with his team. With strong backing from his team, the number of events organized per year has grown from 6 events to over 60 events in 2013 and the number continue to grow in 2014. What is really encouraging is the proof of the service quality – Over 50% of clients had been with Star Event for more than 3 years.
In 2012, Brandon took the company one step further by setting up a branch office in Singapore to service more clients. As a result, the company spread its wings out of Malaysia and into the Asia region by having organized events in Singapore, Shanghai, Yangon, Bangkok, Krabi, Taiwan and etc.
To achieve a high quality event, Brandon emphasize a great deal on training. His team members are given an operational guidebook detailing step by step instruction to ensure smooth delivery of events. Vendors and suppliers are scrutinised to
meet stringent standard and quality requirements. The team is often briefed and informed about the latest trend. A post mortem with the team will be conducted after every event to monitor the event quality and stress on areas of improvements.
Brandon believes that no sales technique or marketing strategy should stand in the way of delivering quality. Every event should be ‘an experience that money can’t buy’. He places great importance on audience experience – a real spirit of an event, where people enjoys the event and goes home with positive emotion and good memory. The event ‘experience’ is worth more than a massive set up or expensive food.
Brandon’s philosophy is very much influenced and developed as a sportsman as well as a sports fan. He is a loyal follower of his own football club since the age of 14, he learnt that the emotion connection and engagement is the main reason why people stay loyal and why they enjoy the game so much. Likewise for an event, it has to provide ‘experience’ to create ‘emotional connection’, and that will lead to a successful event ultimately.
As a person who plays sports actively, he has learnt that there is no secret to winning a game – discipline, perseverance, consistency and a desire to excel. He applies these principles to his daily routine – he is an early bird who wakes up at 6am every morning to plan his day ahead before he goes to work.
Brandon does not quite believe in ‘remote management’, he likes to be hands on at every event so that he knows what works and does not work during an event. By being on site, he can also feel the vibes of the audience and get direct feedback from client. His favourite saying is ‘Can be better’ because nothing is the best and there’s always room for improvement.
Despite his busy schedule, Brandon spends an average of 1-2 hours daily on reading, from world news to domestic happenings. This has increased his concern over the less fortunate and he wishes to bring awareness to his team by organizing small charity event every year to underprivileged homes and to share with his team about the importance of doing good deeds. He believes that the world will be a better place to live if everyone plays a part.
Ultimately, he wishes to bring the company to the world stage by organizing international events and to train up more event specialist and raise the standard of Malaysia’s event manager.