“We must strive to become the best versions of ourselves.”

By Delani Philips

One day when little Amy was at a tailor with her mum and she flipped through some fashion magazines and was captivated by the impressive-looking women in business suits…

She asked her mum who they were, and her mum replied, “office workers”.

Amy didn’t know what that meant, but she knew she wanted to be just as confident and empowered; she wanted to rise to the highest level of office workers.

Although Amy started her career as a Management Trainee at fashion company Zara, she soon found her career trajectory at Permanis working on the Revive and Mountain Dew brands.

In 2017, she started managing their overseas businesses in Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia as their Senior Marketing Manager of Group New Product Development and Brand Marketing.

“It was a very different function from the marketing I was doing before but I felt it was time for me to learn something new as I didn’t know much about New Product Development.”

Helping the blind “see”.

In 2020, Amy joined Atlas, a subsidiary of Etika (previously Permanis) as Head of Marketing and Ancillary Business.

She had to figure out how to use the vending machines to drive increased sales by turning the vending machines into an advertising medium for other brands, apart from Etika’s own products.

During the lockdown, Amy was using an ATM when she realised that the machines had braille keypads, whereas their own vending machines didn’t.

“We couldn’t adopt a similar braille keypad because our machines were built differently. I worked with the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) and learned that more than 90% of visually impaired Malaysians are only partially affected. They could see lights!”

So she created LED lights – blue to highlight the drink selection area where braille dots would spell out product details: Red for cash payment option, Purple for cashless payments and Green for drink collection. Motion activated sensors would offer simple instructions that explained how the machine worked. Atlas had created Malaysia’s first inclusive vending machine.

“Siti, our liaison from MAB, helped us test the machines. Although she was visually impaired, lived alone and travelled widely, Siti had never used a vending machine. When she successfully purchased a drink from our braille vending machine, she actually cried tears of joy. For me, this is purposeful work.”

Her experience there led Amy to Etika, “I had the opportunity to help launch the Wonda Coffee brand in Malaysia!”

Scoring the goals

Amy’s marketing approach is deeply rooted in purpose.

Her campaigns have consistently garnered impressive results and numerous awards. Under her leadership, all 18 Etika brands under her watch have shown growth despite challenging market conditions.

Amy’s efforts have earned her over 50 awards, including the prestigious Marketer of the Year for Etika at The APPIES 2023 for Malaysia and Asia.

One notable campaign was for Wonda Coffee during the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Despite not being a World Cup sponsor, a localised campaign was devised that embraced late-night football matches and positioned coffee as a functional element, keeping fans awake during thrilling matches.

And a Guinness World Record for orchestrating the “Largest Online Video Chain Of People Doing Football Kick Ups”.

Within the RTD coffee category, Wonda emerged as the fastest-growing brand, with a growth rate that outpaced the industry’s average of 25%.

Unlearning and Relearning

In Amy’s 14 years at Etika Holdings, she has moved twice within the organisation to take on more challenging roles.

“You must be willing to adapt to a whole new environment and it’s really about unlearning and relearning.”

A standout idea is the ATLAS Trybot, a B2B service provider offering human-less sampling, data collection, and compliance capabilities.

Additionally, Amy supported e-sports through a partnership with the Ministry of Sports, using the Goodday Charge brand to launch awareness campaigns in schools and universities. Goodday KidSTART, an entrepreneurial challenge for children aged 7-14 to foster financial literacy drew nationwide participation and earned recognition in the Malaysia Book of Records.

Etika also introduced the RM1 Drinks Initiative with the Ministry of Economy, launching RM1 drinks across 3,300 Atlas vending machines to support economically challenged individuals.

“Marketing campaigns can take months to complete and often come with daunting challenges. The key is to stay resilient, keep pushing boundaries, and strive to become the best versions of ourselves.”

Amy Gan won CMO of the Year at the prestigious Malaysian CMO Awards 2023 for Best In Non-Food FMCG Marketing.

This article is excerpted from the coffee table book Who’s Who In The Malaysian Marketing Landscape – a ready reference to the leaders who are making a transformative difference in the industry. Available at https://marketingmagazine.com.my/shop/books/cmo-coffee-table-book/

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