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When the CEO is your mentor

Wendy Liang Wen Hui is one of the eight young talents from the Digi CXO Apprentice programme.

Wendy Liang Wen Hui is one of the eight young talents from the Digi CXO Apprentice programme.


EVER wondered what it’s like to be mentored by the CEO of a large corporation? To most, it seems like a distant dream, but with Digi’s CXO Apprentice Programme, it’s now within reach for fresh graduates and young professionals in Malaysia.

The programme promises an innovative and fast-paced working environment along with direct engagement with top management.

While hundreds of young Malaysian talents applied for the first edition of the Apprenticeship, only the top eight were selected into this programme. Of the lucky eight, Wendy Liang Wen Hui was the CEO’s Apprentice.

Working at Digi

Digi is part of the global telecommunications provider Telenor Group, and on Liang’s first day, she experienced the true meaning of global exposure.

She shadowed her mentor, Digi CEO Albern Murty, at the Telenor Asia Leadership Program where leaders from the Telenor Group’s business units across the globe gathered to discuss on topics of transformation and innovation.

Watching the discussions between the global business leaders unfold before her was truly a one-of-a-kind experience for the young graduate. While it was only her first day on the job, it already surpassed her expectations of the programme.

“I remember thinking, ‘wow, it’s only the first day and I already had the chance to listen to the opinions of top management,’” she gushed.

Shadowing the CEO of a company that is in the midst of a digital transformation was exciting for the ambitious apprentice.

Watching her mentor in action motivated Liang to develop her leadership capabilities and encouraged her to work on making her ideas a reality.

In less than six months into the job, Liang had the opportunity to pitch an idea to several heads of the marketing division about a strategy for a potential market segment that she had done extensive research on.

“It was a cross-divisional project and the opportunity was priceless, but I was concerned about the credibility of my work,” she explained. “I thought my ideas wouldn’t be taken seriously because of my age and my level of experience.”

When she shared her worries with her mentor, he reassured and encouraged her with the reminder that at Digi, every voice matters regardless of their background.

“I was very grateful to have guidance from my mentor during that time as he believed in my capability to contribute,” she said. “He empowered me to overcome my fear and supported me along the way.”

Liang’s efforts paid off as the presentation went well and the proposed idea was approved. She is now embedded in the sales team for two to three days a week to drive this initiative, enabling her to turn her ideas into reality.

“I am now in a position to create an impact for the company by directly contributing and driving revenue growth,” she said. “The experience was intense but very rewarding.”

Liang before Digi

Back in March 2016, Liang was a fresh graduate hunting high and low for job openings.

“I remember applying to other programmes and jobs with a fixed job description, but this opening at Digi was unique,” Liang said. “The exposure and opportunity to work directly with top management is what made the programme stand out.”

Another highlight of the CXO Apprentice Programme for Liang was the assessment process, where she participated in Digi’s full-day Freedom Challenge.

Candidates were encouraged to voice their ideas on digital products or services that they thought would work in the Malaysian market.

The challenge saw candidates being divided into groups tasked with the conceptualisation of a product for Malaysian youths, right from ideation to prototyping before a final presentation to a panel of judges.

“I was encouraged to be myself, to voice out my ideas and thoughts with no boundaries,” Liang explained. “There were also coaches there to support us throughout the entire experience when we hit roadblocks.”

At the end of the day, it was rewarding to receive the advice and feedback from their coach and the judges after all their hard work. The experience had been unlike other assessments Liang had been through.

“Before that, telcos weren’t my first choice. However, all that changed after the Freedom Challenge,” she said. “By the end of it, I wanted to join Digi.”  

“Digi is the kind of company that I wanted to work with one that allows me to be myself and to be supported by feedback and genuine advice as I progress in my career.”

Liang’s takeaway

Apart from that, Digi’s working culture that she witnessed during the Freedom Challenge played a part in Liang’s decision to join the company.

“Digi has an open office concept. You don’t have to knock on a door to see someone,” she explained.

“You can just go ahead and talk to colleagues. The idea of bumping into someone in the corridor or chatting in the common space somewhere could spark some new inspiration or ideas. The transparency and the willingness to share create a good vibe.”

A great working experience is not without challenges, however. Digi’s fast-paced culture was a far cry from her university days, pushing Liang out of her comfort zone, to be agile, learning continuously on the job and to be open to trying new ways of working to make a big impact in shaping digital experiences for millions of customers in Malaysia.

“The work we do could leave a real and positive impact in the lives of millions of customers,” she shared. “It is inspiring to know I’m empowered to make such an impact for our customers.”

Notably, her hard work was not without its reward Liang has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. In the beginning, working with the CEO seemed daunting but things have changed for the plucky millennial.

“After a year, I feel that my relationship with my mentor, Albern has been more than just a colleague or a mentor,” she said. “He’s more of a good friend or a big brother to me, someone who’s genuinely interested and invested in seeing me exceed at what I do.”

Digi has truly given Liang the experience of a lifetime. In addition to having an inspiring mentor, she’s experienced the ultimate kick-start to her career with this apprenticeship.

“You really get exposed to a lot of things here it changes your mindset,” Liang said. “Although you are the ‘master of your own ship,’ at Digi you are supported by your mentor and peers. It’s important to remember to be open, curious and ask all kinds of questions.”

Needless to say, Liang encourages other youngsters who are looking for an inspiring start to their career to take the challenge and fight for a spot on the latest Apprenticeship programme.

“I’m really excited for my future here. This first year has given me a glimpse of the possibilities for my career and how it could pan out – and I’m very, very inspired.”

This article is brought to you by Digi.

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