“Human resources are the greatest asset in companies” --Interview with a managing director of a distribution company of imported beauty care products in Myanmar--
New Link Marketing Ltd.
Ms. Thida Thant (Managing Director)
Many business people from abroad including the emerging countries have participated in AOTS training programs. Positions of the targeted audience vary with the programs, and there are some programs aimed for top executives.
We conducted an interview with a managing director of a marketing and distribution company of imported beauty care products in Myanmar.
Distributing well-known international brand cosmetics
New Link Marketing Ltd. is a marketing and distribution company that was started in 1996. Since then, the company has grown to have a total of 500 staff. We import and distribute well-known international brand cosmetics, beauty care, and consumer products, such as Revlon and Kimberly Clark from the USA, and other brands from Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and France. Our annual sales are about 9 to 10 million US dollars.
I established this company with my business colleague in Singapore since I wanted to challenge myself. When I was little, I moved all over the world with my family because of my father’s job. This experience enabled me to easily fit into new environments.
Integrity, transparency, quality and consistent services
I consider integrity, transparency, quality and consistent service as the key values to corporate management. I think creating a happy and healthy work environment is very important to motivate all the employees. In our company, each department deals with and is dedicated to one brand. Since each brand has its own marketing policies and goals, each department of my company is expected to achieve different goals and receive incentive pay for accomplishing its goals.
We also have sales representatives who are dedicated to a local distributing area which they visit every day to stay close to the market for providing quality products and services.
Challenges we face
First, sustainable business development could be a challenge, since more competitors in the market are aggressively trying to gain market share now. Second, recruitment of qualified staff for the right position is another challenge. Third, increasing costs is another issue. The sales and marketing budget increases due to competition, and administrative costs increase due to higher income level expectation of employees.
We need to expand capacity to be in line with growing market size and trend.
Training programs through a person’s whole work life
Continuous training programs throughout a person’s whole work life are needed to address challenges we face. We have been implementing some essential training programs for the staff members. Not only should we focus on sales, but we should keep focusing on personnel development. Besides the typical training such as make-up training and customer service training, we have ethics training.
I would like to have a comprehensive HRD program to develop and upgrade the knowledge, skills, and vision. This involves having various kinds of training, knowledge sharing, and motivational talks. As people are the greatest asset in any company, I would support my staff in transferring their acquired knowledge into action. This is a major challenge for me to overcome.
Business in the global market
Currently, we are dealing with a few regional and global suppliers including a Japanese company (OJI). We are distributing baby diapers called “Genki”. It has been one and half a year since we started dealing with them.
Successful business expansion with overseas companies
We are open to any opportunities with any countries to expand our business. We are looking for good quality and affordable products for our market.
I think having a consistency in operational excellence and comparative advantage is the key. In 1996, our country was still a closed country and we could not easily do business overseas. However, I could establish my company and started its operation as I had a business partner in Singapore who had his own company, and he facilitated transactions for my company.
We should not be content with our status as the first-mover, since there are so many competitors in the beauty care industry. We need to be consistently innovative and comparative advantage to provide our customers with superior services.
Current market environment in my country
The Myanmar market has recently opened up. Although we had the first-mover status in 1996, more competitors are now in the market fighting to get a bigger market share. We are distributing “masstige” products (in-between mass and prestige). We have recently entered into a new segment, the premium segment, as the current lifestyle becomes more modern. Since more people have the chance to travel overseas these days, in Myanmar, demand for high quality products imported from foreign famous brand is rapidly growing, especially for beauty care products.
Difference between Myanmarese and Japanese People
Generally speaking, Myanmar culture reflects our business customs. Comparatively, Myanmar people are passive, fun-loving, and obedient. They have less patience, perseverance, time management skills, consistency, and are less detail-oriented than Japanese counterpart in general. This is based on my encounter with some Japanese business colleagues.
Impression of Japan and Japanese companies
It was the very first trip to Japan for me, and I was deeply touched by the superior hospitality and customer service of Japanese young and old people. Regarding Japanese companies, I was again very motivated and inspired to learn the best practices (Kaizan, Gemba, JIT, Jidoka) executed by the companies that I had the chance to visit during the EPCM program (e.g., Tsutsumi Plant, Toyota Corporation). I also appreciate the very humble nature of the President of Tokaibuhin Company and the way operation is run in Omron Company by the employees there.
Thank you very much for your cooperation.