THE submissions for this year’s Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) have proven that companies are moving forward in the right direction, especially in the aspects of technology, green and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) advisor David Wong Nan Fay noted the rise in the number of submissions for SOBA 2021 – with more than double the submissions as compared to last year and almost 150% increase in bumiputera submissions – and said that companies could be seeking recognition as the economy increasingly opens up.
“The standards and benchmark have been set quite high this year, with quality content in the submissions for the innovation and best technology use categories. We’re impressed with their performance during the pandemic and there were several outstanding submissions.
“We’re also impressed that companies across different industries have totally shifted into digitalisation and that had made a great impact into their business growth and revenue.
“Those with foresight had embarked on their digital transformation journeys before Covid-19 and their efforts have paid off, as they were much better prepared for the paradigm shift and business disruption following the pandemic,” he explained.
For Junior Chamber International Malaysia 2019 national president Andy Lau Eng Leong, he believed that the quality of submissions can be even further improved to exemplify the effort and hard work that the participants have put in.
He shared, “For example, they need to ensure that they have a comprehensive CSR strategy, instead of doing piecemeal initiatives with bits and pieces here and there. There’s a visible gap between the ones that stood out versus the ones that don’t do so well.”
This sentiment was echoed by SME Association of Malaysia national vice president Datuk Grace Chia, who emphasised on the importance of in-depth understanding of the categories among participants.
“The submissions are interesting this year. We see more submissions from small and medium enterprises in the ‘up to RM25mil turnover’ tier for the categories of CSR and green initiatives.
“This is very encouraging, as it shows they are aware of the importance of these aspects in their businesses.
“What the judges are looking at is whether companies are incorporating these CSR or green initiatives into their company strategies. By building it into the foundation of the business, it’s much easier for employees to understand and align to these values and goals,” she said.
She added that the best companies are moving away from providing only one-off financial assistance or initiatives and incorporating CSR and green aspects into long-term initiatives that are sustainable.
The Federation of Malaysia Chinese Commerce Association committee member Agnest Chan Wai Fong, on the other hand, lauded the younger and smaller companies that participated in SOBA 2021.
She said, “The younger, smaller companies are not necessarily strong in financial performance, but I salute their energy. Their passion and thirst for doing business really shines through as they really transform their businesses.”
That said, more young entrepreneurs must show their entrepreneurial spirit and focus on sharing their individual leadership initiatives to transform their organisations, she said.
“I’d like to see a bit more of that. Young entrepreneurs must go beyond just providing sweeping staments and financial figures that reflect only the organisation, instead of the entrepreneur who drives the company. They must dive into in-depth details on their own original efforts to drive the company,” she added.
Besides that, in terms of the format for the judging sessions this year, the judges complimented the SOBA awards programme for incorporating a hybrid judging that included a presentation and interview session with participants.
As the judges were able to engage in two-way communication with the participants, they mentioned that among the plus points they mentioned include better insight from the ability to clarify points in the participants’ submissions or obtain supplementary information, which help validate the submissions.
However, Pikom’s Wong also noted that participants can improve their presentations for future submissions.
He advised, “The presentation decks and pitch should cater to the categories they submit for. For instance, it should be different if they are applying for similar categories, such as for innovation and best technology use, or CSR and green.”
SOBA 2021 is organised by SMG with CGC, Maxis, PKT Logistics Group and RHB as main sponsors and Matrade as official trade promotion partner. Supported by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and Bursa Malaysia, it is audited by BDO with 988 and Suria as official media partners.
For more information on SOBA 2021 and the SOBA 2021 Gala Night, call SMG Events at 017-231 1789 or visit www.soba.com.my.