Many people enjoy their jobs, however, not everyone would go so far as to describe it as their hobby. But that’s exactly how Rodney Wong sees his role as CEO of Munchy’s. After five years working at the Malaysian snack food company, he still loves his job as much as he did on day one.
“To be great at whatever you do, you need to have fun doing it, because it then becomes like a hobby. I wake up every morning and I’m still very excited to come to work because I don’t look at it as work,” Rodney smiles.
“What I really like about my job is it gives me the opportunity to help people grow. I feel that many companies approach business from a very transactional point of view. However, I tend to focus on how I can add value to people’s lives. So whenever I’m making a decision, I always think about how I can help my employees realise their potential, through guiding them, developing them and giving them access to opportunities. That’s what drives me.”
Recognising that his decisions can have far-reaching consequences, Rodney doesn’t take his role as CEO lightly. “As the leader of an organisation, my decisions affect people’s lives. So the most important thing for me to do is to ensure that my people are being taken care of and to be very sincere and genuine in everything that I do. I think if you do that, the world will be a better place,” he says.
Rodney also believes that business success is strongly linked to employee happiness, which is why his staff are his top priority. “At Munchy’s, we focus our energy on keeping our people happy,” he adds. “For me, people come first, customers come second, and shareholders come last. Why? Well, if you take care of your people, they will be engaged, energised and motivated. They will then serve your customers very well and create the best experience for them.
If the customer is happy, they will support your product. They will buy more from you, which then makes the shareholders happy. At the end of the day, it’s the result that counts. If this is the way we can deliver results, the shareholders will be happy as well.”
“I wake up every morning and I’m still very excited to come to work because I don’t look at it as work.”
There’s no doubt Rodney’s approach to business has been a success for Munchy’s, given the company has achieved significant increases in profit and market share over the past five years. “When I joined the company, I realised they had a good brand, good people and good processes. But strategically they had been focused too much on growing supply and not taking care of the bottom line, because you need the bottom line to fuel investment into supply,” he recalls.
“So I introduced a profitable growth strategy and in 2014 we increased profit by 150% compared to the previous year. In 2015, we grew by another 150%, and that was the best year in the history of Munchy’s. Since then, we’ve been growing both the top and bottom line.”
The history of Munchy’s dates back to 1991, when the Tan brothers started making wafer using a second-hand machine. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength. Munchy’s is now the number one homegrown biscuit brand in Malaysia and exports its products to more than 50 countries.Munchy’s main competitors are large, multinational companies, however, Rodney believes its smaller size can also be an advantage.
“We can’t beat them on resources, but we can with our agility and the speed of our decision-making.
A typical multinational would have to go to the regional office for approval, then go to the global office for approval,” he points out.
“We don’t need to do that, so we can turnaround our decisions very quickly and we are able to accelerate bringing new product to the marketplace. I believe that gives us an edge.”
Munchy’s also prides itself on consistently producing high-quality products. “We use the finest ingredients to make sure that we have the best product. This is where the cooperation with our suppliers becomes very important,” Rodney says.
“We try to forge very strong relationships and most of our key suppliers have been with us for 20 years. Our suppliers give us the best ingredients at the most competitive prices in a very timely manner.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the Munchy’s team is talent acquisition, which means Rodney spends 30% of his time on recruitment. “In today’s market, you are competing not only for the consumer, but also for the best talent. If you don’t have the right people for the right job, then it’s going to be very challenging for you to execute your strategy,” he explains. “One approach that we take is creating a fun and highly engaged workplace.
We tell our people that our business is about fun and we should have fun at work.” When it comes to measuring success, Rodney just wants his team to be happy. “My personal philosophy in life is to make people happy. I believe that’s how life should be lived. So I tell my colleagues or employees, if they are happy, then I am happy,” he grins.
“If there’s an index I’d like to measure, it’s the happiness of people. If you get that right, I think success will come. If your people are happy and they’re enjoying their work, they will be very passionate, they’ll put in more effort and the business will be successful.”
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