Humble beginning of a management consultant
Born and raised in a small kampung in Butterworth, Pulau Pinang, Justin Ong spent a major part of his childhood at the beach and paddy fields – playing, cycling, swimming, and fishing. In 2008, he graduated from the University of Malaya. Armed with a simple kapchai and great ambition, his career journey began.
Today, Justin is a Partner with Deloitte Asia Pacific. Based in the Kuala Lumpur office, he leads the Malaysia Risk Advisory practice and is also Deloitte Malaysia’s Innovation Leader.
Staying ahead with a growth mindset
“Be gritty and embrace a growth mindset. Your best performance today will be your baseline tomorrow.”
The eldest in a humble family of six, I first gained a taste of the working world in secondary school. While I was a student during the week, on weekends and school breaks, I took up various part-time jobs – from being a factory worker, a carpenter, a supermarket cashier, to a baker trainee. My first paid job was at RM3.50 per hour!
While completing my university, I also took on and completed four internships across various industries – accounting, management consulting, consumer, and banking. I believe these internship experiences prepared me and provided me valuable insights into the various professions – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In the early years of my career, I was determined to invest much of my time expanding my network as well as technical knowledge. With a keen interest in the banking industry, I pursued qualifications which I thought would benefit my career - Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Financial Risk Management (FRM), and Bank Treasury Risk Management (BTRM).
I am a firm believer that learning doesn’t stop. Currently, I am undertaking my biggest challenge yet — completing a PhD in Islamic Finance with the Global University of Islamic Finance (INCEIF).
Thrive, not just survive in building your career
I believe that a career at Deloitte Risk Advisory is akin to a hands-on “MBA school”, which provides an excellent experiential learning platform for young professionals. Every day, we listen to clients’ issues and work with them to resolve it in a pragmatic manner, despite various constraints and challenges.
My initial years at Deloitte was filled with travels across Southeast Asia to serve our clients in this region. I remember being in and out of the airport every week! As one of the largest consulting firms, working in Deloitte also means having the opportunity to engage and work with a large international, dynamic team. It is definitely interesting to hear and learn from our colleagues overseas, especially on how to serve our clients better.
Aside from my work and studies, much of my career experiences and network can be attributed to my involvement with CFA Society Malaysia, as an active volunteer since 2015. Having served in various leadership positions, I am passionate to work with regulatory bodies, industry participants, universities and other like-minded associations to discuss and advocate various important topics for the financial services industry and capital market. “Create jobs, build bridges and ensure prosperity” for the industry is a principle that guides me well throughout my involvement with CFA Society Malaysia and CFA Institute.
This was made possible by the support I received from my family, clients, colleagues and friends to develop not just a career at Deloitte, but as an individual.
Note: Team outing at Skytrex Sungai Congkak.
Wearing the hat of Deloitte Malaysia’s Innovation Leader, what does Innovation mean to you?
“Making an impact that matters” lies in the core of everything we do at Deloitte. This is how we define success. In the heart of it, innovation plays a huge role in our work. We are constantly thinking of new innovative ways to deliver value in a more effective manner. If I can summarise, the tip to being innovative is as simple as ABC – Acquisitive, Bold, and Collaborative.
We need to build an acquisitive mindset. This simply means having a growth mindset. The world is constantly changing. We cannot afford to be complacent and content with our current capabilities. We should always be hungry for improvement and aim to be better than we were yesterday. Ask yourself, what can I do differently today?
We also need to be bold when making decisions and encourage ourselves to step out from our comfort zones. Innovation is top-down, and at Deloitte, we encourage our talents to do things that are extraordinary and that makes a difference.
Finally, we need to be collaborative among ourselves and leverage on our talents firmwide to offer a complete and comprehensive solution for our clients. In every engagement, we combine deep sector specialisation with a breadth of subject matter knowledge and experience.
The five-hour rule - focus on improvement, not just being busy
I encourage younger professionals to adopt the five-hour rule (coined by Michael Simmons). The concept is brilliantly simple: No matter how busy or successful people are, they always spend at least an hour each working day, i.e., five hours a work week, focused on deliberate learning - reading, reflecting, and experimenting.
My learning journey has been a fruitful one, but it is still being written. What did you learn today?
About Deloitte Risk Advisory
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Managing a business in this current complex and ambiguous environment comes with various types of risks, with some being so critical that they can potentially destroy a business. It is therefore critical for organisations to pre-emptively sense risks and strategically mitigate them.
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