Tag Archives: ESSENZE

Breaking Limits

Infiniti Red Bull just warmed up their engines

Two days before April breezed in, there was a tempest of roaring engines and adrenaline brewing at the Malaysian Grand Prix. But the thunder of engines and clouds of exhaust at the Sepang circuit couldn’t catch up with the lightning speed of the racecars. EZ leaps into the fray for a taste of the action-packed pit lane with Infiniti Red Bull.

Infiniti goes beyond its recognition as crafter of innovative luxury cars, carrying its legacy of cutting-edge engineering into the fray at Formula One. The luxury carmaker joins forces with Red Bull Racing, the winning team of the 2013 World Constructors’ Championship, to form Team Infiniti Red Bull. Together, they battle against other motorsport giants Ferrari and Mercedes in a fight for the podium.

New rules beckoned the new season with a storm, sending all teams plunging into the unknown with a fresh challenge: reduce fuel consumption by almost 40 percent without concessions on speed and power. What sounded like an impossible feat was made reality, and Infiniti Red Bull Racing can lay claim to that with the latest Red Bull RB10. Born of form and function, the trusty steed brought Sebastian Vettel to the podium at Sepang with a third-place win. The man behind the steering wheel has nothing but accolades for the lean mean machine.

‘It’s good to see that the car is quick,’ Sebastian acknowledged, ‘The guys are pushing back in the factory – it’s been a massive job from them.’ And no wonder, for every inch of Infiniti Red Bull’s RB10 is a technological breakthrough in itself. Like a heart is to the human body, at its core is the engine which treads a delicate balance between being lightweight, compact yet viciously strong. Infiniti sponsors the vital organ that mobilizes the mean machine: the new electrified V6 turbo that takes the cake for being the most stressed component of the car. Comprising of up to six separate elements, it is so complex in itself that engineers of Infiniti Red Bull don’t call it an engine but a power unit instead.

The sleek combustion engine of the V6 is paired with Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) that bump up the mileage. The ERS absorb energy lost through heat and braking, and translate that energy into driving the turbo even after braking. This is a crucial necessity that drastically downsizes fuel  consumption to comply with race regulations. Yet, in no way does this feature detract from the power and speed of Infiniti Red Bull’s RB10. The power unit is more than capable of pumping out 750 hp per litre of fuel, which could rip the skin off your face if you are flying at full speed without a visor! With that much horsepower, the V6 is righteously as loud as a stampede of galloping horses as it tears up the track with a mighty roar.

However, Infiniti Red Bull cannot afford to rest on their laurels after a podium win because it’s always a game of playing catch-up with the Goliaths. ‘We knew that we had some ground to catch up to the Mercedes, so to finish as close as Sebastian did today was a really positive performance and, while we know we’ve got a lot of work to do, we can begin to realize the scale of our challenge,’ said Christian Horner, Team Principal of Infiniti Red Bull Racing. Vettel, too, shared similar sentiments with him, saying, ‘We still have a lot of work to do with the car, but it was encouraging to see that our pace was better than expected.’ Nevertheless, Horner and the Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team agree that the RB10’s win at the Malaysian Grand Prix was ‘an incredible performance.’

A Belle and Her Dreams

It is a story right out of a fairy tale; a girl dreams of making it big, chases her dreams and builds a fantasyland that makes other girls’ dreams come true! In a journey of self-realisation and exploration, one Penang-lass makes it to the big league with her large dreams and bold ideas. For this issue of EZ, we talked to Anne Lee, the bridal industry maverick and fairy godmother to a host of brides and brides-to-be.

When Malaysian king of badminton and world champion Datuk Lee Chong Wei decided to tie the knot with his sweetheart, former Malaysian badminton singles player, Datin Wong Mew Choo, only the best would do for the special occasion. He and his now-wife turned to Anovia Bridal, more specifically Anne to capture and immortalise the couple’s love.

To Anne, this celebrity wedding was the most outstanding one that she has been involved in and goes down as one of her most memorable projects. ‘There are a lot of celebrity weddings, but there’s only one Datuk Lee Chong Wei, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity and ability to handle his wedding,’ said Anne when met at her latest bridal boutique, Obsidian in Penang.

‘He is one of the world’s top badminton players and he makes Malaysia proud. He even asked to visit Anovia and have a look at the chapel. That made me feel very proud because before that, he already had his wedding photos taken at Sepang. He was training there, and therefore he couldn’t come to my place in Penang. But at the very last minute, Datuk Lee suddenly said that he wanted to come to Penang. ‘I want to go to Penang to take photos, your shop is very nice,’ he said.’

‘There are a lot of celebrity weddings, but there’s only one Datuk Lee Chong Wei, and I’m proud to have the opportunity and ability to handle his wedding.’

– Anne Lee, Managing Director of Anovia Bridal and Obsidian Production Studio

Long before Anne’s Anovia Bridal captured the attention of Malaysia’s golden boy, the bridal house was already generating positive buzz not only within Malaysia, but also overseas. Housed in a sprawling heritage mansion with an immaculate garden adorned with angelic sculptures, Anovia Bridal has a celestial wedding chapel built on its grounds where love-struck couples can pledge their love and seal their marriage.

The idea for Anovia Bridal came at a time when Anne had decided to take a break from the bridal industry, which she was involved in for almost two decades as a wedding gown designer, a sales person, a bridal house supervisor and then as a bridal house manager. Knowing the ins-and-outs of the industry and having worked with top bridal houses in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang had prepared her to build and run her own business in the bridal industry.

Invited by her friend to view a property, which used to house the famous Penang establishment, Bagan Bar, Anne was reluctant at first. This would however change the moment she entered the mansion. ‘When I reached Bagan, I don’t know why but I immediately felt a connection to the place. I could visualize so many changes to the place; this is where I could have my reception, and there would be the gown department, and I kept talking and talking about my ideas,’ recalled Anne, saying that it was almost akin to a ‘love at first sight’ with the mansion.

That deliberate maneuver by her friend was successful in reigniting within Anne the passion for the bridal industry. ‘From then on, my dream started once more. I wanted this, I wanted that, I wanted a chapel; I didn’t want this tree… I talked a lot with the designers to create and realize my own dream bridal house. When I first entered this area, the premises were derelict and unkempt. It was like a jungle, with trees here and there. But it had such a big compound that I could make a dream wedding house of my own,’ she said.

Any visitors to Anovia would feel like they are entering a surreal world, one that is magical and serene. The concept of this bridal house is very clear and tactical, and it is all credited to Anne’s vision. ‘Last time, my dreams and ideas were restricted by my superiors. But now that I had a place of my own, I could let my creativity run loose. I could have what I wanted at Anovia, like the statue, decorations, everything which was from my heart. I created a feeling that was welcoming, and with every step you take in Anovia, a story unfolds in your mind. We can feel it inside, in ourselves. That’s what I visualized, that every step is a moment of its own with a different scenery and perspective playing out in the mind of every visitor,’ explained Anne on her concept.

Having established Anovia Bridal in 2011 and receiving rave reviews and accolades for her celestial bridal concept, Anne has unveiled another exciting concept this year. Obsidian, which is right next door to Anovia Bridal, is like the hip, younger sister complete with its exposed brick walls, obsidian black ceilings and glam wedding gowns.

‘Obsidian’s concept is completely different from Anovia’s. It is urban, contemporary and bold – a different way to present a wedding. It appeals more to the young generation. Another thing is I think that in the whole of Malaysia, you’ve never seen a bridal house with a black or grey ceiling. It’s a very strong colour, and it’s such a bold concept that I had to spend a few months mulling it over,’ said Anne.

Introducing such a novel concept to an already saturated industry could be daunting, something that was certainly not lost on Anne. She had to ensure that the concept was not just a superficial one that was contemporary in its aesthetics but one that was daring to create new trends within the bridal industry. ‘One of the main products we offer here in Obsidian is short film productions. Out of the whole of Malaysia, this is the only bridal house with its own screening theatre. We create short bridal videos, and hold previews as well as screenings for the customers to present the finished product to their family and friends,’ said Anne.

‘In my opinion, photos capture memories without sound and movement. Many years after the photos are taken, they still evoke nostalgia but we can only make simple statements while looking at them. However, videos and short films are different. We create short bridal films because a marriage doesn’t concern just two people; it involves the joining of two families and their worlds. Only a short film can capture the worlds of the bride and the groom. So, one day, when the customer watches the short film of their wedding, he or she can listen to the voices of loved ones and relive the moment.’

Another key aspect of Obsidian’s short film concept is its technical and creative crew, which Anne assures are all professionals – both from the bridal industry and international film industry. ‘When a customer signs up for the short film package with us, we create a story for them. We prepare a script, a director, art director, producer … basically everything for the customer. Obsidian has invested in an overseas movie crew, and so we have a team of specialists whose expertise lies in making short-film movies,’ she said, ‘You can make a short film with your girlfriend, or a short movie with your friends. That means this service is not restricted to just newlyweds or engaged couples. This is Obsidian’s new challenge for the market. This is our new plan for the millennium.’

With Anne realizing her own dreams and ideas, what she has done is give this generation a channel to make their own dreams come true and to capture it for all eternity.

Rooted in Innovation

Fujifilm is an institution as much as it is a brand that has made a connection with countless people all over the world. Its constant innovation and high quality products that cross multiple fields are highly regarded in the business world; and so is the prominence of Fujifilm as a brand that is reliant. EZ talks to Paul Ho, the Senior Executive Director of Fujifilm Malaysia to find how Fujifilm has managed to diversify its products through the digitalization era and how the company has managed to conquer the global market

Photography, over the past century, has experienced quite a change. Combining principles of science with the aesthetics of art, photography has progressed from the days of creating images chemically through light-sensitive material such as photographic film to digitally capturing images electronically. Along the way, elements of photography have been used in diverse fields like medicine, sciences, art and so on. In its revolutionisation, the field of photography has seen many developers and brands rise to great heights and it has also seen the demise of many such great names. Among those who have not only survived the dawn of the digital era in photography but also to go on to become one of the biggest names in the industry is none other than Fujifilm.

Fujifilm, which started as Fuji Photo Film Co, Ltd, was established in 1934 in Japan. It was the first Japanese producer of photographic films. The first decade of the company saw the production of produced photographic films, motion-picture films and X-ray films, after which it expanded to produce optical glasses, lenses and equipment.  The decades that followed saw Fujifilm diversify into medical (X-ray diagnosis), printing, electronic imaging and magnetic materials fields. Driven by original research and development, the Fujifilm name boldly entered and conquered the digital revolution with its continuous innovation and leading-edge products. Today, Fujifilm is a world leader in the fields of electronic imaging, photofinishing equipment, medical systems, life sciences, flat panel display materials, and office products, based on a vast portfolio of digital, optical, fine chemical and thin film coating technologies.

Just as it is a prominent brand internationally, Fujifilm has been the leading name in Malaysia for a wide range of products such as photo and electronic imaging, data storage media, graphic arts, medical, information systems and life science products for over 20 years. Its marketing and sales operations include a service centre, warehousing, and technical back-up services with branches in key markets across Malaysia. For the company to have grown in Malaysia in the way it has, as much credit goes to the steering of the growth as it is with the quality and likeability of the products. Competent leaders would be able to recognise the tide of change and to lead the company along with the waves, not against them, which is clearly how Fujifilm – be it worldwide or here in Malaysia – has been managed.

Fujifilm Malaysia’s Senior Executive Director, Paul Ho, has been with the company for over 2 decades. He has seen the company grow exponentially in the heyday of film and is now steadily steering the Malaysian branch of this global powerhouse towards a digital future that looks only looks bright for Fujifilm. The key to excelling in the digital world is to be innovative, which Ho says is the fundamental principle behind Fujifilm’s success.

‘I think the whole principle is that you must continue to be very innovative. For Fujifilm, our R&D programme is consistently coming up with new products, no matter in which business domain. This keeps the company going; you cannot stay at one product. Every product that Fujifilm looks into, we invest in its R&D.  That is how we move along,’ said Ho before adding, ‘You cannot be satisfied at one product and say ‘oh, this is the one that will give us our next hundred years.’ You can always predict what the changes will be in three to five years, and you keep innovating.’

To be innovative and to come up with good products that will sell well, it is important to invest in research and development. More than just a buzz word, R&D, as it is more popularly known, is the hallmark of every successful company. ‘That’s why Fujifilm is very successful in entering the digitalization era; we’re continuing to move out across the region because of R&D,’ he explained. Recognising the need for a strong R&D department, Fujifilm reportedly spends over a billion dollars a year on R&D for the various fields it is involved in.

For instance, from its medical branch, the brand will soon see its new pharmaceutical product – the endoscopy – launched, and in the printing side, not only is Fujifilm content with providing digital printing services, it also produces digital printers, printer plates and even the ink used for printing. The direction to progress in this path comes from the top, in Fujifilm Tokyo, said Ho. ‘This is how they think – if  you just stick to one good product, say film paper and you do not progress, you just stick to it for the next hundred years, today you would surely be gone.’

This change was most prevalent in the area of printing, which was a ‘cash cow’ for Fujifilm during the days of analogue photography and film printing.  According to Ho, the future of printing is moving in two directions – a personalized form for consumers and the wide-format for businesses. Consumer printing has become much personalised. ‘People now have the option to either go to our shops to print their photos or buy their own equipment for printing,’ said Ho. It has become people-centric with a demand for variety in printing, such as calendars, event posters, photo cards and so on. This, in return, has led to the demand for big prints, which Fujifilm is able to meet. As for the business category of printing, Ho explained, ‘Outdoor advertising and images, this is where the future of printing is heading … into wide format. It has become very prominent. Fujifilm has developed equipment that can print very big, outdoor images that can get to 60-feet by 100-feet in high-resolution.’

It is important, said Ho, for the sales and marketing leg to follow in line with the direction of the company. Regardless how the advancements in product development, if the products are not marketed and sold well, any company would flounder. So when Fujifilm started moving away from film photography and more towards its wide range of products in the consumer and business segments such as digital photography, printing and medical imaging (Computed and Digital Radiography, Endoscopy, etc.), it was of utmost importance that the sales and marketing leg widen its focus and to recognize the areas of target or market.

The concept of diversification that Ho said needed to be understood from the ground up. ‘If we don’t accept the change in concept, we would have problems because this concept is very important for the company. As the leader there, if you see any changes happening, you have to really change, not just in terms of sales, but also in the timing. Let’s say after you have had good years with the sales of film, you wait until the very last year when you see the downturn which is not good – only then you start doing the changing, it is too late,’ explained Ho. ‘It took me three to four years to change the mind-set of our people.’

Human resources, Ho said is another key aspect of ensuring the growth of a company. In his professional life, he has only worked with 2 companies, one of course being Fujifilm, so to him loyalty is not only a principle he holds on to, but also how he leads his life. However, with the younger and newer crop of employees entering the workforce, Ho said that he has noticed a shift in attitude. Ho, who joined Fujifilm as a salesperson has worked his way up the management ladder and today handles the running of the company in Malaysia.

‘I started at the company as a salesman. I’ve gone through all the low and troubling times, but because of my attitude I continued to stay at one company,’ he said, adding that the current generation of employees ‘don’t believe in staying in one company. Like a tree, you grow roots and you become stronger. The young ones, they come in and then they go. That’s because they want to see a quick improvement in their career within a short period of time. If they don’t see it, then they leave it to look for another green pasture to progress. However, they will finally find that all the grass in the world is the same colour.’

The difference, Ho said, lies within them. ‘The only thing is their attitude – the attitude of working. Everything boils down to the attitude – how a person works. If someone is not a team player and they want to have a fast progress without putting in the hard work, then it won’t work anywhere,’ Ho elaborated further.

To tackle this human resources problem, Ho said the key was to recognize those who show the potential and those who were loyal. ‘For every ten workers, you can find three good ones – the three good ones will prosper faster than the rest. You continue to train up the new people, because they’ll still be good out of the group there. The majority of them won’t receive the training well, but there will be some good ones that we can groom,’ Ho revealed.

From the manner in which he conducts his life and the way he leads, it is clear that Ho is a person who is rooted in loyalty with clear ambition for the innovative aspects of business. It is through loyalty, diversification, innovation and pure calculated progression that both Ho and Fujifilm have sailed into the era of digitalization successfully.

Artful Living For the 21st Century

For some people, luxury is a way of life rather than an occasional indulgence. Only those residences, cars, wines, watches, jewels and gadgets that live up to the highest standards of quality and style can ever win their approval. These are the people for whom EZ was created. Thanks to the magazine’s unique distribution, these are the people who read it. With a vibrant mix of luxury, fashion and people, EZ is the essential lifestyle companion to Malaysia’s ultra-discerning society.

Published quarterly, EZ can be found for your reading pleasure at the following establishments:

  • major hotels and hospitals
  • selected upmarket boutiques and prominent art galleries
  • food outlets such as restaurants and cafes
  • major bookstores such as Borders, Popular, and MPH
  • selected local and international airports