IAA Malaysia Forum Series spotlights Work-Life Balance

IAA Forum Series : Work-Life Balance on 28 November 2019
November 14, 2019
Worklife balance in the spotlight
December 12, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, 28 November 2019 – What is a long festering issue, in Malaysia and around the world, was thrust into the spotlight by the International Advertising Association Malaysia at its Forum Series event today.

From L – R : Sandesh Singh, YP Lead of IAA Malaysia; Omar Shaari, Vice-President of IAA Malaysia; Prabha Nayar, Honorary Secretary of IAA Malaysia; Dr Milan Agnihotri, Chief Strategy Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network; Professor Harmandar Singh, Advisor of IAA Malaysia; Audra Ooi, Associate Principal, Corporate Communications at Digi Malaysia; John Chacko, President of IAA Malaysia; Meera Sivasothy, General Manager of BFM 89.9;  Deepa George, Managing Consultant, MYHRC; Services  Andreas Vogiatzakis, Group CEO of Star Media Group;  Dr Paul Jambunathan, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, ReGen Rehab Hospital; and Ng Li Lian, Honorary Treasurer of IAA Malaysia.

Over the span of this year, issues surrounding Malaysia’s work environment, specifically the lack of a healthy work-life balance, have been making headlines.     

“Uncooperative bosses cited as hurdle to work-life balance”, “Work-life balance still a distant dream for Malaysian professionals”, “Seeking better work-life balance in Malaysia with 40-hour week”, “KL lowest among 40 cities in terms of work-life balance”, “Workers in Kuala Lumpur have the worst work-life balance in the world, and they’re also one of the most overworked”, “Can Malaysia debunk the work-life balance myth?”, are just some of them.

To put the subject matter of work-life balance into a proper narrative, IAA Malaysia gathered panelists from pertinent fields, to elicit perspectives that can be discussed and debated.

Addressing these issues and its impact on the physical and mental state of Malaysians, the forum brought into the open, solutions to overcome this dilemma while still managing expectations.   

“IAA Malaysia’s purpose is to be the compass for the marketing communications industry. One of ways we do this is by providing the platform to create dialogue and conversation through our Debate and Forum Series, bringing to fore themes and topics that resonate with the climate in the industry”, said John Chacko, President of IAA Malaysia, in his opening remarks.

Meera Sivasothy, anchor of ‘Health & Living’ segment on and General Manager of BFM 89.9, was the moderator, armed with pointed questions to stimulate a healthy discussion.

To set the Forum in motion, Sivasothy framed the theme, declaring, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. It’s more of work-life integration”. 

To weigh in on the situation, the opening salvo was fired by Andreas Vogiatzakis, Group CEO of Star Media Group.

“Every situation is different. There’s a need to be prudent by evaluating the situation. For example, if a company needs to be turned around, 9 to 5 is not exactly workable. Put the ship right, then, the work-life balance will rightly fall into place and or can be made to happen. That said, the workplace environment has matured, it is far better than it used to be”, he said.

Dr Milan Agnihotri, Chief Strategy Officer at Dentsu Aegis Network, opined, “The industry is going through a seismic shift. Almost all projects are on the remuneration model, and, this puts immense pressure on completion. Everything is controlled by the bottom line. There’s a need to understand this, and here’s where attitude comes into play”.  

“Organisation. Leader. Employee. The work ethic principle must filter down. Reward should be on optimising work time. Work smart, not hard, that’s key”, stated Deepa George, Managing Consultant, MYHRC Services, who has immense experience on human resource related matters in globally renowned corporations.

Audra Ooi, Associate Principal, Corporate Communications at Digi Malaysia, gave her take, with “Build your work around your life, not the other way around. There’s no necessity for people to physically be in the office from 9 to 5. As long as the work gets done and KPIs are met, that should suffice. Our work culture must evolve with the expectations of young talent. Then again, when there’s much passion in your work, is it still called work?”.

From a medical point of view, Dr Paul Jambunathan, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, ReGen Rehab Hospital, highlighted, “People keep over rationalising issues. All of us have a choice. When we arrive at this choice junction, we should consider all options and on how to approach matters that matter in life. And, contrary to what some people say that young people are not resilient, actually, they are. Only in different ways”.

The diverse opinions and views drew a flurry of questions and comments from the floor, where close to 100 professionals from the industry seemed thoroughly engrossed with how the moderator engaged the panelists to elicit responses that were food for thought.

Indeed, work-life balance is more work-life integration.

In addition to BFM89.9 as the primary sponsor, the event was supported by corporate members Dentsu Aegis Network and Amphibia Labs, along with, Star Media Group, Marketing magazine and Interactive Rewards.

IAA Malaysia’s purpose for being is to connect, inform and represent the marketing communications community, with primary focus on knowledge and learning, and, networking.


The International Advertising Association is the world’s most influential network of marketing professionals. Established in 1938 in New York, the IAA is the only global association that represents all spheres of the marketing and communications industry. The IAA has played a strong role in supporting key industry issues such as freedom of commercial speech, self-regulation, responsible advertising, education and professional development. IAA Malaysia was established in 1993 and is the compass for the marketing communications industry.            

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *