Ivan Wong is currently a rising junior at the Chinese University of Hong Kong studying Global Business Studies. He is an avid enthusiast for media and tech and eager to pursue a career in the respective field in the future. Before joining Meltwater, he interned at the Hong Kong Economic Times and the Boston Consulting group. He has diverse interests and is currently taking the opportunity to explore different careers fields through internships. Outside of school, Ivan runs a Youtube and Instagram page catered towards helping Hong Kong DSE students with schoolwork and especially exams. He also founded a startup called flowsophic.com, an online platform that provides study resources for DSE students, with a few of his peers.
Q: You’ve interned at multiple companies while studying, earned multiple scholarships and even founded your own company. How did you manage all your academics concurrently with extra curricular and internships?
When I first started interning at Meltwater, it was still during the work-from-home period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tasks would be assigned to me anytime when our key account clients need our consultation and expertise, it is important that I am being agile, especially in PR crisis cases. I did intentionally make time for the internship, because to me, I enjoy working hard for the things I am interested in media analysis and developing websites are things that I enjoy so the happiness from work is equivalent to the happiness I get from my extracurriculars.
Essentially, this is how I motivate myself and stay on top of my tasks. However, above all, I still place my academics first at the highest priority. During my final exam period, I put my 100%focus on studying. Personally, when a deadline is approaching, I would leave everything fun till later and focus on what I have to complete at the moment.
Q: What were your criteria for choosing an internship, and how Meltwater fit into that criteria?
When searching for an internship, I focused on positions that would allow me to perform my best and involved my interests, which are media and technology. Coincidentally, Meltwater excels in both those fields. Even though it is now a global company with 60 offices, it still has the startup-vibe that I longed for. I feel like I’m actually making an impact with what I do under a flat structure and instead of having a strong hierarchical structure like traditional companies.
When the task is handed over to me, I am the person in authority.
A very special aspect of my internship at Meltwater is the opportunity to grow and have task-ownership. I’ve learnt through my previous internships that interning at large companies usually infers that you will be tasked to complete small parts of a project. However, at Meltwater, my team invested a lot of time to teach me about business value propositions, products, sales methodologies and business communication. They guided me through each step and gave me the opportunity to execute real client projects by myself.
When a task is handed over to me, I am the person in authority. I recall an instance where my supervisor required me to complete a PR insight report due within an hour; I had to evaluate the legitimacy of alarming allegations that have been made to an FMCG client by a NGO. Under such a time restraint, I had to swiftly think of an innovative approach to complete the task efficiently and effectively. I used a combination of research and data collection using Meltwater’s tools to conduct an analysis on the NGO. I found out that the NGO has attempted similar efforts before, however, their efforts were not detrimental to the companies’ reputation. Therefore, I advised our client that no action was needed. Later, I was able to receive direct feedback and recognition from our client which was incredibly valuable to me as an intern. With the opportunity to take full control of my tasks, I truly feel that my contributions at Meltwater make an impact.
Outside of work, everyone in the office interacts with each other even if they aren’t on the same team. For instance, on Friday nights we would hang out together and order pizza, have a drink. My team even bought me a cake to celebrate my 3 months work anniversary! Contrarily, it hasn't happened in big companies so I think this is very special and precious.
I think this is what sets internships at Meltwater apart from others.
Q: Thinking ahead into the future, what is your ideal future workplace and what elements of that have you been able to identify at Meltwater?
Not to be a sycophant but my ideal future workplace would honestly be somewhere like Meltwater. Everyone is friendly and approachable which I think is pretty amazing. I haven’t decided on whether I want to work at a startup or big company in the future.
I am still waiting on an opportunity to intern at large corporations like Amazon, but I think the real matter is just deciding between wanting to work at a big brand name company or a smaller startup - where I may contribute more. So essentially, I’m still exploring different kinds of careers but I do really like the culture and structure here at Meltwater.
Q: At Meltwater, what was the most valuable thing you have learnt, and how will you apply this lesson or skill to your future career or life in general?
I think that would be the mindset to train up the next generation. I’ve experienced the reaping benefits of being properly trained and how big of a difference it makes in my work performance. I find that proper training allows for efficient work and this is something I will keep in mind as I move forward and become a leader in the future, perhaps at my own startup.
Q: How do you think the skills and lessons you’ve learnt at Meltwater will or have benefited the founding of your own company, flowsophic, and your other side hustles such as your youtube channel?
I’m actually trying to recruit interns for flowsophic and I aim to use the same intern training style at Meltwater to guide them. I find that passing your knowledge to interns empowers them and encourages them to be more confident in their work. So, I’ll be applying the Meltwater method to my future ambitions and endeavours.
Aside from this, I’ve actually used Meltwater’s tools to research and look up my Youtube channel and website. Of course, since it isn’t super popular, there weren’t many results, but I hope to get more exposure in the future.
Q: During your time at Meltwater, which project or client were you most excited to be involved with, which was your favourite project?
The most memorable project would be one that I did for a FMCG company. That was most definitely the most unforgettable project because it was a potential huge crisis that could hit the business badly.
I remember it was 2pm, I just finished lunch and my senior told me I have a project that needs to be solved in an hour. Turns out a client received a threatening email from an NGO stating that they would launch a big advertising campaign against them if they didn’t haut their unethical practices. The client urgently needed Meltwater to assess the situation and evaluate the potential impact on the business.
Originally, I planned to research the unethical practices that the client might have deemed by the media engaged in previously. I was going to look up keywords, such as, cow, chicken or polluted, utilizing Meltwater’s tool. However, I thought of an alternate way to assess the case. I looked into the NGO instead and found that they have sent similar threats to other FMCG companies in the past but their efforts have not been impactful, it was because their owned media channels don’t receive much engagement and have little likes and followers. So, I came to the conclusion that it was just an empty threat and wasn’t really a big worry. My senior actually commended my out of the box and insightful approach to solving this problem.
Any other funny stories?
Actually, yes! One beauty brand client found that their regional ambassador for China had expressively spoken about her standpoint on a sensitive political issue. Her standpoint was not commonly accepted by the Hong Kong public, so the client wanted to evaluate if that had impacted their brand image and sales negatively.
I monitored different Facebook groups with sentiments that aligned with the ambassador's political stance and locked in netizen’s responses on an excel sheet for analysis. It was actually quite amusing to see the ludicrous comments online about this issue. From the data collected, it was actually concluded that the Hong Kong public only cared about what the ambassador said and had not initiated a brand boycott or disruption, so the client decided to not take action on the issue.
Q: We've noticed that you have interned at other companies like Boston Consulting Group and hket, how have your previous internships differ from Meltwater, for instance in your involvement and responsibilities?
So all my internships have been very different. For instance, at hket, I fact checked and looked through a lot of editorial. In terms of workplace culture, the employees have limited chances to interact with executives. At BCG, I was a part time assistant to a senior manager. Since everyone was very busy and often had to travel, I had difficulty to ask for direct feedback and guidance from them. Most of the time I did self-learning if I came across difficulties at work.
There was a great amount of analysis and excel tasks assigned to me that needed extensive excel knowledge and needed to complete on a tight deadline so I had to read extensive articles and watch videos to self learn how to do things and tackle those tasks. As supposed to Meltwater, here I have a lot more significant responsibilities and I learn a lot of business skills and knowledges.
I think I was chosen because my analysis was different from the other candidates and that allowed me to stand out more.
Q: Why do you think you were chosen as an intern for Meltwater? What specific qualities do you think you possess that prompted you to be chosen?
The selection process at Meltwater was competitive and nerve-wracking. I went through 3 rounds of interview - 1st was a video interview, 2nd was a phone interview with the recruitment manager, last round of interview I was asked to prepare a sales pitch about InvestHK and present my ideas in front of panelists as well as the other candidates. I needed to research and analyze the business and find out the values for them using the Meltwater solution. I actually took up a rather unconventional perspective to analyze InvestHK and focused on how they are trying to expand their business; I think this was why I was chosen because my analysis was different from the other candidates and allowed me to stand out more.
Q: How has Meltwater morphed your perception of the media intelligence industry, specifically in social media intelligence or media analytics?
My initial impression of the media intelligence industry was very different from what I’ve come to understand now after interning at Meltwater for a few months.
I realized that there are many media intelligence companies globally and locally, Meltwater is the key player in this field with competitive and cutting edge solutions. Our consultants have quite a distinctive experience with passion to be our client trusted partner. For instance, me seniors work as media consultants to solve client’s problems by providing media intelligence. At the very beginning, I thought that the products were simply sold to companies for use but I realized that the core value proposition of Meltwater is about how our consultants interpret the data and draw recommendations on key stories impacting our clients. I came to understand that media consultancy in fact relies on human experts rather than only the applied artificial intelligence. Specifically, humans are relied on to elaborate on the culture and social insights and this is precisely what clients are looking for and the information they need to enter unfamiliar territories and markets.
The core value proposition of Meltwater is about how our consultants interpret the data and draw recommendations on key stories impacting our clients.