Hey! Tell us who you are and where you’re from.

I am Howard Leong from JA Malaysia. I'm 18 this year.


You are a JA/INJAZ alumnus: What did you do during the JA/INJAZ program and what was your role?

I participated in FedEx/JA International Trade Challenge back in 2018. My partner and I won the Malaysia finals. I was proud to represent JA Malaysia for the Asia Pacific finals. We created a business proposal on how we would market our product—mochi with chocolate coating and banana filling—in Japan.


How did your JA/INJAZ experience change the way you approach things now? 

First, seek to understand, then be understood. In the FedEx/JA International Trade Challenge Asia Pacific Finals, I was paired up with a Vietnamese student and I found out that there was a major language barrier. While being compassionate and mindful during discussions should be the way to make things work, I became frustrated and did not achieve the objectives of the partnership. At the end, we drifted in different directions and the proposal did not turn out great. Since then, I always keep in mind that I have to be empathetic when listening and also conveying my message concisely for people to understand. This has profoundly changed the way I interact with people.


If you had a choice between two superpowers—being invisible or flying—which would you choose and why?

Invisibility. With invisibility, I could help people anonymously. I would hope that act of kindness would create a domino effect and affect more people than I could have possibly reached alone. I really hope that my “superpower” is to be able to bring warmth back to a community and create peace in the world.


Imagine you’ve been given as much money as you want. What kind of company would you start and why?

I would start a company that helps consumers look for promotions and deals in their area. It will be an all-in-one platform for businesses to promote their upcoming sales and events. Consumers could access it for free and get notified about sales based on their preferences. This could be done by using data science to study each user's consumer behavior. This company would benefit not only businesses through more sales, but also consumers as they could save money on their purchases.


Imagine you could interview your favorite celebrity. What questions would you ask him/her?

I would interview Mark Cuban. I would ask, “What would you tell your 18-year-old self?” and “What was the turning point in your life that brought you to where you are today?”


What’s your favorite quote?

“Never forget why you're really doing what you're doing. Are you helping people? Are they happy? Are you happy? Are you profitable? Isn't that enough?” –Derek Sivers


What are you most excited about regarding the Gather Reporters?

I strongly believe that everyone has a story to tell, and all stories should be valued and shared. In the role as a Gather Reporter, I'm excited to listen and share stories about JA alumni around the world. I hope that what I've created and published will impact and inspire readers!

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