In this episode, I interviewed Rowena Morais, a Malaysian entrepreneur who is also an editor, writer, publisher and programme director at Vertical Distinct with offices in Malaysia and Australia.
Rowena is a lawyer by training who morphed into a communication and HR expert thanks to the businesses she started.
She started her entrepreneurial journey in the most unusual way – she got herself a working visa to New Zealand which later landed her in Australia which turned into work for a startup!
That startup experience during the heady days of the dotcom boom eventually turned into the dotcom bust but that didn’t stop Rowena from coming back to Malaysia to launch her business, armed with what she had seen and done in Australia.
In this episode, Rowena talks about:
- How she took her startup experience to help her start her conference business in Malaysia for HR professionals
- How that led her to her publishing business even though she had no magazine publishing experience!
- How her business evolved into more private executive briefings and exclusive HR breakfast roundtables that were the talk of the town (which was creative but terrifying as she was the pioneer of such a concept)
- Why she banned Powerpoint slides from her HR briefings
- How she made safe spaces for authentic discussions with senior HR professionals
- How her internal marker shifted each time she undertakes a role she’d rather not take as she admits she is more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person
She also talks candidly about the imposter syndrome when she was running her publishing business as she felt she didn’t have the HR experience when she was interviewing HR experts.
With an array of interests in career development, communication and marketing and edutech, Rowena is a woman who is constantly curious and always learning! She admits to her fears but she also forges ahead despite the fear.
Some of her favourite books (and she says “more than I can possible mention here but these are highlights”) include:
- The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It by Michael E Gerber
- Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal
- Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel
- Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
- Seth Godin’s blog (not a book but the one blog she has kept a subscription to and read regularly through the decades)
I definitely find that 3 of her fave reads are also on my list of fave books too namely Gerber’s, Ferriss’ and Seth’s blog.
Her favourite musicians – Bic Runga, George Michael, Andrea Bocelli, Pink and JLo. I like asking these two questions (fave book and music) because this also gives us all insights into the person. I am pleased my guests usually humour me and give me some really good books and musicians, some I have not heard of, like this Bic Runga!
As to who she is inspired by, Rowena says: “My family, Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and the women in my Thrive network.”
To connect with Rowena, check out her online hangouts:
And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, please leave us a rating on your podcast app or leave us a comment below or better still, share our episode! Remember to use the hash tag #womenpreneurasia whenever you’re mentioning us.