Mentor of the Month
31 May, 2016
Football aficionado and CEO of Asia Miles, Stephen Wong, has inspired our blueprint startups tremendously through helping them implement design thinking into their business models.
We had a chat with him to find out more about what he's doing when flying around the globe, or simply relaxing at home in Hong Kong.
What do you do when you are not mentoring startups?
In my day job, I run Asia Miles which is a travel and lifestyle rewards programme in Asia. We have 8M+ members and over 700 business partners worldwide.
Also, I am passionate about Design Thinking a collaborative and customer-centric problem solving methodology. I teach and speak at academic seminars and business conferences in Asia and around the world and I love it!
In my spare time, I coach youth soccer. I am an AFC - Asia Football Confederation - certified coach.
And in your downtime, what keeps you vital?
Football be it watching, coaching or even once in a while playing it on video games.
I also enjoy hanging out with family and friends to stay vital.
What skills do you bring to the blueprint tech community?
I've worked in strategic planning, loyalty marketing & CRM, innovation, eCommerce, sales and marketing as well as distribution management.
I'm also a keen advocate of Design Thinking and take special interest in a stakeholder-centric approach that uses the convergence of innovation, customer insights and technology to drive business. Recently, I hosted and taught the Design Thinking Immersion programme to blueprint startups. I am more than happy to have a chat on any of these topics.
You've managed so many teams across the globe at Cathay Pacific and Asia Miles. What management mistakes do you see startup founders commonly make?
A common mistake that startups usually make is inadequate understanding of the target market and their true needs. Many are fixated with their own version of a brilliant business idea and do not spend enough time researching their idea and its viability.
That's why at Asia Miles, Design Thinking is in our DNA. All our staff have gone through Design Thinking training and have hands-on practice. The methodology is instilled in everything that we do. We adopt the approach in many of our projects and identify pain points from the customer point of view with in-depth and qualitative study. Ideas are being tested repeatedly before putting into action and we learn and improve throughout the process.
How can founders incorporate better design thinking when it comes to designing their own product / service experience?
Never start with the solution. Start with the need and ideate often. Whether you are a start-up or in an established large corporation and whether you are the founder or a staff member, you need to be stakeholder-centric. Throughout the process of development always ask if the voice of stakeholders and customers is represented.
And finally, what is your best Hong Kong life hack?
My hack is to take in Hong Kong in all its splendour by taking the ferry across Victoria Harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central and sit in the lower deck. Then take the tram from Central all the way to Shau Kei Wan and sit in the upper deck. You get to see Hong Kong in the most authentic way.