Career,  Lifestyle

A Day in the Havaianas of its Country Manager

What does a Country Manager do? What’s work like at Havaianas? How is it being a woman boss? All these and more as speaks to Kho Min-Jee, the Country Manager of Havaianas.

It’s not everyday you get to see or talk to a Country Manager for a brand such as Havaianas. Kho Min-Jee has been enjoying the ride since taking the helm at Havaianas in April. The hard work and dedication is eye-opening. She shares with us what her job means to her and the secrets of being a good boss. (VB): Tell us, how did you end up working in Havaianas? 

Kho Min-Jee (MJ): Erm, they found me! Haha. I was actually heading my own company doing PR, branding and marketing at that time. I got an email or text from someone, saying that the company was looking for a country manager for Havaianas and I was asked if they could send my resume in. I said, ‘wait and let me look at what Havaianas is about.’ I really didn’t know what Havaianas was six months ago in April. I looked it up and I saw it as a fashion item. I’ve always been interested in fashion, plus it’s retail, also something that I’ve always been interested in since my early 20s. The opportunity to be the country manager for a brand such as this, a global brand, and to be in the retail industry…I jumped at it!

VB: How has it been so far? 

MJ: Great! Absolutely amazing! I have a lot of confidence and support from my team, my bosses in Singapore; they have a lot of confidence in the work we’ve done in Malaysia. Plus, with the existing team in Malaysia, they’ve been very good and welcoming, very supportive and we’re growing, so it’s good to see.

VB: What’s a typical day like for you? 

MJ: A typical day is a lot of office work because I also take care a lot of many other areas, other than operations. There’s of course the sales, business development, finance and administration, basically there’s a lot of other areas that I cover, so the whole workday would revolve around covering all these areas.

VB: Wow, that sounds like a very busy day. How do you find the balance?

MJ:  Well, I enjoy work, but I do bring work home as well. The laptop is an evil thing, work follows you everywhere you go. My husband is also an entrepreneurial person, he has his own company, so we both bring our work home. Work is sort of part of our lives, so some days you can see me bringing my kids to the store. My kids love the brand as well, so it’s a part of all our lives. But there is definitely balance, I do get good family time. The work allows it.

VB: What do you like most about your job right now?

MJ: There isn’t just one thing. I think it’s hard to pinpoint to just one thing but with everything put together, I like the fact that I’m involved in so many aspect of the business. Not just operations but I’m also involved in the growth of the company. It’s a whole big picture. Being an entrepreneurial person, I started my own company, so I like to see things grow, I like to see things move forward so the fact that I’m involved in every aspect of it, I love that!

VB: So, what gives you job satisfaction then?

MJ: Doing what I like and being a part of a brand like this. I came from where I was my own boss for a very long time and then I came to something where I actually have to report to somebody again. There was a fear that I’d not be able to make the change back, but actually it has been great because like I said, they have a lot of confidence, so it’s not a problem. A lot of happiness, and a lot of satisfaction.

VB: In your opinion, what is the most important skill to be successful?

MJ: There’s a few…Well, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing. You need to love what you’re doing. Perseverance is also one. You need to have dedication and hard work but all that comes with passion. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, a lot of things comes with it. To be a good leader, you also need to be a bit understanding about the people that you work with and you need to care for their needs as well, understand them. So there’s a bit of that emotional side which is also required.

VB: So, do you think women can be good leaders?

MJ: Yes. Maybe some women do get too emotional but I think if you are able to balance it and not be too micro about things and be more macro when you look at things, it is very possible. Not micro-manage but macro-manage. I think a lot of times and most problem is that women tend to micro-manage and I think if we accept the fact that we are naturally that way, then we can do something to better ourselves.

VB: Good point. What are your plans for Havaianas?

MJ: Grow! Grow! Grow! Haha. I want more Malaysians to know about the Havaianas brand because it’s already well-known in every other country, even celebs are wearing it but we’re so new in Malaysia. We’re already in the fashion sense of wearing flip flops out, not just to the beach or market, but shopping malls and parties, so we’re already savvy in that sense but we just want to reach a wider audience with Havaianas.

Inspiration for women everywhere, you can be on top too! would like to wish Havaianas a Happy 50th anniversary! 

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