In collaboration with King Living, Prestige seeks wisdom from successful individuals who have blazed a trail in their respective fields.
Zikry Kholil, Pamela Tan and Jack Yap share with us how perseverance and determination have pushed them to where they are today.
ZIKRY KHOLIL, Co-founder & CCO of Incitement
Wanting to make a positive change in the world, Zikry Kholil started a movement that would see an encouraging growth and come to be known as Incitement. “I started the movement back in 2011 to incite youths and young professionals, so that they can make real change for themselves and for society,” says Zikry.
“Somehow this movement grew in 63 countries, so my co-founder (current CEO Daniel de Gruijter) and I took this as a sign, as an ‘Aha! moment’, to quit our full-time jobs and do this full time instead because we see the real impact that we’ve done,” he continues.
His background as a customer support intelligence lead at Mindvalley – where he segmented data from customers’ responses by crunching the numbers identifying which customer email data has correlation to various feedback, issues, financial impact, and products of the company, he elaborates – allowed him to flourish his entrepreneurship.
In turn, it enabled the founding duo to start Incitement as a movement that eventually evolved into a full-time technology company in 2014, providing solutions focusing on CSR, ESG and sustainability initiatives for Fortune 500 companies and charities in Southeast Asia. Currently present in MENA and parts of Southeast Asia, the company is looking to expand beyond Europe and Africa, Zikry states, adding that their main countries will be Indonesia and the Philippines.
His experience of growing up in the United States, and several other countries, did contribute to shaping him into the successful man that he is today. He honed his skills of communicating to different types of people from different walks of life and adapt to his surroundings by adopting various ways to live and thrive together. “There are specific ways to work through in being accepted or tolerated or gain your trust and friendship with others. It’s helpful for me to be able to apply this during my college years and my career, too,” he adds.
It’s additionally honed his leadership skills in having to navigate among various characters and situations. “A good leader is someone who is a good listener, someone who puts himself or herself last, and someone who could give you straight-up advice in reality check – in other words, tough love,” defines Zikry as he lounges comfortably on the King Cloud V. The state-of-the-art recliner is developed in Australia by the King Living design team. As adaptable as a good leader should be, the ultimate luxury recliner sofa can be configured to suit any home, with a reclining back mechanism that allows ultimate comfort in one’s own living room.
“The most valuable advice I’ve ever received in my career is that whatever problem that you face, personally or professionally, know the fact that the moment will pass,” Zikry shares. “And when it’s passed, you can reflect on it and find the inner strength to push yourself further.”
As for his own words of wisdom that he wishes to share with budding entrepreneurs, he advises: “Do not give in. Do not give in to the naysayers, to people who are discouraging you, whether they are your friends or family. Just keep going. At least find out if you’re going to make it or not.”
PAMELA TAN, Founder & Director of Poh Sin Studio
Despite having a thriving career in architecture, Pamela Tan had always known her true passion lay elsewhere. “I ignored it at first because I didn’t understand myself better,” the multidisciplinary artist says, referring to the combination of curiosity and innate desire within her to test out the ideas she had brewing. She continued to focus on “what is practical and logical” so as to be able to maintain a safe and stable career, one that won’t be riddled with risks and uncertainty.
“However, that route had me feeling unhappy and almost meaningless,” she admits. “As soon as I acknowledged how I truly felt, I decided to just go with my intuition, which was to leave my ‘comfort zone job’ and try out the ideas I had in my mind.”
It was this courage to venture into the unknown that led to the formation of Poh Sin Studio, where she now has the space and freedom to bring to life the creative designs that her mind conjures. The amalgamation of her architectural knowledge and creative instincts produces murals, installations and sculptures that exude an organic aesthetic with a futuristic appeal.
The uniqueness of her works has not gone unappreciated. Among the accolades she has received are the Tan Sri Chan Sau Lai Architecture Award 2016; the Bronze and Merit awards in the Design for Asia Award 2020’s Environmental Design category for her projects “Eden” and “Projection Kite”; and the German Design Council- Iconic Award, also for “Eden”, an installation that embodies Pamela’s work of blurring boundaries between nature and man-made wonders.
While winning awards is no necessary validation for someone’s creations, it still stands as a valuable reward for Pamela’s determination and endurance in following her dreams. The contemporary art scene in Malaysia is one that is still developing, but it evident that Pamela has found her feet in it. “My work is very experimental and the kind that has never been done before. I have to admit that it can be quite a lonely battle. It’s because it’s very niche and not many are familiar with this field.”
“However, after putting myself out there and being involved with a like-minded community, I managed to get a good amount of advice,” she says, beaming while leaning back on the Jasper Sofa she is contentedly lounging on. The multi-award-winning flexible and modular sofa by King Living is the ultimate expression of relaxed style and luxurious comfort, perfect for relaxing on after a long, hard day of work.
“There’s a saying that every leader is an artist. I think being a good leader and artist is about enabling conversation or discussion regarding our social condition – aside from enabling awareness and appreciation of our culture, our world, ourselves and the choices we make,” the young creative imparts her wisdom.
As evinced by her impressive oeuvre, despite having only carved out a career in art in less than a decade, her words carry weight and should be heeded by budding entrepreneurs and anyone out there who is contemplating carving their own path instead of walking the well-trodden road. To the next generation of leaders and artists, she shares the advice that has encouraged her to go far in life: “Don’t be afraid to be different. Just do your thing.”
JACK YAP, Founder & CEO of Phuture
Sustainability is a big issue in today’s world. Understanding this, Jack Yap is devoted to reducing the negative impact on the planet by introducing food alternatives that are less taxing to the environment to produce. “Because we care for and love the world,” he states. “We are committed to ensuring that we will have a better planet, better now and better future.”
Having led a vegetarian lifestyle for about a decade now, Jack is an avid advocate of plant-based foods. He founded Phuture Foods Sdn. Bhd. in 2018 in his effort to reduce environmental damage and redefine the future of food. Innovative technology and in-depth research contribute to the manufacturing of meatless products that convincingly mimic the texture and taste of meat, using plant fibres combined with natural colours and flavours.
Many who have come across his plant-based products might not have noted that it was meat-free foods that they were consuming. If there is any difference at all, it is not discernible, thanks to each product – from minced meat to burger patties – being produced with the highest quality. This ensures that its flavour profile, appearance and texture do not deviate from the original animal products, thus offering an alternative that is healthier to both the people and the planet.
“During the early days of manufacturing, upholding to the highest standard of quality was extremely difficult and expensive,” says Jack. “We are glad that we had chosen quality yesterday, and quality has chosen us today.” He adheres by the advice given to him, which reminds him to stay focused until he has built what he wanted to build and achieved his goals.
His perseverance in researching and developing until he’s achieved the desired result, while never sacrificing quality, is what’s earned his brand well-deserved recognitions and a wide appeal. To date, Phuture products can be found in well-known outlets in Malaysia, including the Korean fried-chicken restaurant KyoChon and Korean convenience store CU. It also counts five-star hotel Grand Hyatt among its notable clients.
Sharing his thoughts on what leadership means to him, Jack reiterates the importance of perseverance and determination. “Good leaders are people who are crazy and determined enough to the extent that they will never, ever give up,” he asserts.
He also advises fellow entrepreneurs like him to never lose sight of their goals, stating, “I personally believe that success is not an achievement of results, but an attainment of positive attitude towards continuous management. The moment you are not willing to do it, that will be the moment you start to fail.”
To truly savour nature’s bounty, enjoy it at the Issho Dining Table by King Living, which is crafted from sustainably-sourced American timber. As its name indicates (issho translates to ‘together’ in Japanese), individual base parts unite harmoniously under the tabletop to form the dining table – each component easily removed and replaced when necessary, as it has been designed with sustainability in mind.
Photography WENG BAY
Photographer’s Assistant MUHAIMIN
Hair & Make-up JOEY YAP, NICOLE NG