Part 3 of a three-part interview with the new chief executive officer (CEO) of Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak) Amelia Roziman.
By Tania Lam & Petronella Langita Felix
BUSINESS Events Sarawak (BESarawak), a non-profit organisation that is fully backed and funded by the Sarawak government to connect meeting planners, now has a new chief executive officer (CEO), Amelia Roziman. With this new blood at the helm there is no reason why the organisation should not reach greater heights even with problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has not been plain sailing along a fast track for Amelia as she came up through the ranks. In fact, she started as a sales coordinator when the umbrella body, the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB), was first established in 2006.
She knows the workings of her organisation very well and has sufficient knowledge and skills to be confident that she can lead her specialist bidding organisation to attain bigger achievements.
New Sarawak Tribune (NST): What are your biggest accomplishments so far?
Amelia: BESarawak has won a total of 16 awards for creative marketing and branding campaigns. Personally, I have won five professional awards. One of them was the Most Influential Women Leaders (In MICE Industry) award from Global MICE Congress & Awards in 2019. In 2019, I was also one of two awardees who got the European School of Management and Technology Berlin’s Women’s Scholarship for the Executive Transition Programme.
How do you keep your team inspired especially during this pandemic?
We keep motivating our team members and we also set a clear direction. Communication is very important. The Covid-19 situation is very fluid and things change, so I keep encouraging them to be innovative.
What do you expect from your employees?
I expect four things from them. The first one is skills. I want them to never stop improving their skills. That’s why we encourage and support them to be certified internationally.
How do you do that?
We get the employees and industry partners to participate in the Digital Event Strategist (DES) certification from the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), which is based in USA and widely recognised. There is also the Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) certification. This year, we have about 26 of our team members and industry partners taking it — the highest number in Malaysia.
Secondly, I want them to gain experience. I always encourage them to do something beyond their comfort zone to gain as much experience as they can.
Is that because of your own experience?
Yes, and also based on the experiences of others. I started in 2006 as a sales coordinator, which is one of the lowest positions in the organisation. If I had just stuck to my role of sales coordinator with the view that my job is just to assist the manager, answer calls, key in data, reply emails, and carry out office work, then I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What extras did you do?
I willingly did bidding work, sales, research, and I also looked into management. I was learning. I wanted to know how things work at the higher levels.
What about your colleagues?
Some of them, the pioneers, were like me — hard workers. We were so lucky because our CEO then, an Australian lady, had a very different mentality. We were allowed to be anything we wanted to be without forgetting our jobs.
The third expectation is positivity. We all have our ups and down, but we must stay positive. You need to look at things from different perspectives and look forward.
Fourthly, there is teamwork. No matter how skilful you are and have lots of experience, if you have a bad attitude and not a team player, it will not work. You will not succeed. Teamwork is very important, not just in BESarawak but also outside with the industry partners and everyone else.
What do you do during a typical day?
I spend many hours in the office and I also wear many hats. I’m very upbeat and productive. When I open my eyes in the morning, I already know what I want to achieve for the day, not only at work but personally too.
What’s your team to you?
My priority, that’s what. I make a lot of time to socialise with them. We have an open-door concept here; we can just come in and out to say hello and they do not have to make an appointment to see me. I do my rounds and talk to each one of them too, not just about work. For work, I have proper ways of going about it.
Since I have been here from the start as a sales coordinator, I want to bridge any gap between us. I don’t want them to feeling of say, ‘I knew you before as a friend. Now you are my boss, so the way we interact is different now’. I want them to know that I’m here for all of us.
Of course, we also need to remember to be professional as well with regards to work. We need to be able to differentiate between personal matters and work.
What do you do when you are not working?
I love outdoor activities. I do a lot of things such as rock climbing, hiking, mountain bike riding, camping, and fishing. I also like to visit villages and the interior parts of Sarawak.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
I look up to many people. When you are at different stages in your life, you have different mentors. But one thing that is common about all of these mentors to me is that they have helped me become the best version of me. I want to achieve the standard that I have set for myself.
What is your advice for the younger generation, especially young girls who aspire to be future leaders?
The first step is, of course, education. Secondly, you need to be focused and determined to achieve what you want. Always try to make a difference and to change things for the better.
What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
There are a lot of important attributes such as integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity. All of these come to inspiring people to do things that they never thought they could do.
For me, if I have a team member that I have been trying to convince to do something that is beyond his or her comfort zone and at the end of the day that person changes on a different level — nothing can beat that, not even all the other achievements and awards.
I know I have just been appointed as CEO, but I am not going to be in this role for another 20 years or so. I can see that there will be a lot of talented successors that can take over and continue the legacy of BE in the years to come.