[This is a sponsored post with SEA Gamer Mall.]
In 2010, when Tommy Chieng first applied for a job at SEA Gamer Mall (SEAGM), which was founded in 2007, he admitted that he wasn’t even a gamer. At the interview, he also told the company’s founder that their website was far from impressive.
He followed that up though with his research and ideas on how to improve the company’s operations. This impressed his soon-to-be co-founder who hired him as a supervisor instead of rejecting him on the spot.
It’s been just over a decade since that incident, but the values Tommy showcased and was shown then are ones that he still holds onto today as CEO of SEAGM.
Namely, an open-door policy, embracing change, adapting to current developments, fostering a family-like culture, ensuring work-life balance, and more.
Care as a core value
At the core of how Tommy runs the company is care. It manifests in various ways, from ensuring that his staff feel empowered to openly speak to their head of departments to even providing staff with the funds and tools to maintain their wellbeing.
For example, staff are given plants to care for and are encouraged to share updates on SEAGM’s internal Facebook group. Then there’s the company’s “Thank You month” where employees are encouraged to actively show appreciation for fellow colleagues.
Back when Tommy was COO, he also introduced an initiative called “SEAGM 3F” to cover staff wellbeing in the aspects of family, fitness, and finance.
Under it, the company began giving staff a Family Outing Day Allowance (FODA), with a quarterly allowance. This has been especially helpful for their 24/7 customer service staff who work on rotational shifts and may not be able to spend time with their families normally.
Other than these, staff can also get a Because of You allowance (RM250/month) that lets them purchase a higher speed internet service so they can WFH better.
Thus, these allowances encourage staff to pamper their family whenever they can. Staff can even spend a certain allocated amount (according to the management’s discretion) for a gym membership, to rent a sports court, or to enjoy a Zumba class.
“The only one that we haven’t really kicked off yet is the financial aspect, but what we are trying to do is also to help our staff purchase their first house, etc.,” Tommy shared.
He explained that because the company is located in the small town of Sitiawan, many excellent students there tend to leave for KL to study and work, while those who didn’t score similar grades will stay back.
The latter students are ones that SEAGM then takes in to nurture from a young age. And, owing to the company’s values and its culture, 48 of 177 staff at SEAGM have stayed with the company for over 5 years, as of 2021.
This dedication to the company is why Tommy feels it’s necessary to give back to his staff, not just out of appreciation, but also a desire to see them further flourish.
A company that walks the talk
Fifi, HR Manager at SEAGM, told Vulcan Post, “It is coming close to a decade since I have been with SEAGM and that in itself says a lot about the company’s positive and thriving work culture that has always extended a feeling of comfort and a sense of family-oriented work environment.”
She also shared that SEAGM is a place where both team and individual achievements and milestones are openly shared, not just with staff, but also with their family members.
But though successes are celebrated, it doesn’t mean that mistakes and failures are shunned.
Raymond, Marketing Head at SEAGM since 2019 told Vulcan Post, “Compared to my previous companies, in SEAGM, we are allowed to make mistakes, allowed to try new things even if we have never done [them] before.”
“But, we also are required to keep scouting, keep optimising, and never [settling] for what we have done, even if it was successful.”
He’s also been able to hone his skill of swiftly adapting to ever-changing digital trends, which is crucial to his work in identifying potential and profitable markets, monitoring performance across regions, and staying up-to-date with game releases.
Even one of SEAGM’s newer hires, Olivia, who has been the E-Commerce Executive since May 2021, has already felt the impact of their company culture.
What stood out to her in particular though was how visible and accessible its leaders were as well as how genuine their interactions and intentions were.
“After a few weeks, I can feel that our colleagues are not just colleagues, we build genuine connections as friends and work better as a team too.”
Building a data-driven gaming ecosystem
Company culture aside, SEAGM’s ambitions are clear:
- To be the best online game digital goods and services distribution platform globally,
- Continue to be known as a customer-centric company,
- And to empower gamers in making a living by playing games.
While constantly improving their UX and UI is important, Tommy shared his strategy to future-proof the business—build better experiences and relationships with existing and future users.
These approaches must be data-driven too, which is why this year, SEAGM is focusing on growing its data team and data capabilities. All these efforts will serve to develop SEAGM’s gaming ecosystem plans.
It already has its own esports organisation called SEM9 with teams competing on an international level in games like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, and more.
Trivia: Tommy shared that the “9” in SEM9 can be read like “久” (jiu), meaning longevity, and “SEM” actually stands for SEAGM Esports Malaysia. “SEM” also is the first few letters of sembilan, “nine” in Malay. At the same time, it embodies SEAGM’s goal to grow SEM9 in 8 other countries besides Malaysia.
Currently, SEAGM is in talks with Alex Yoong, a Malaysian professional racing driver who was in Formula One, to bring some members of his simulator racing team onboard SEM9 too.
Earlier this year, it also started its own custom PC and hardware company, GLADAX, with the aim of eventually building its own branded products.
The overall goal is to have SEAGM be the core of all gamers’ needs, whether it’s for purchasing game goods, pursuing an esports career, buying PCs and gaming hardware, and more.
Growing the SEAGM family
To fully realise these dreams, Tommy and the rest of SEAGM are now seeking to hire more like-minded individuals who believe in their mission and vision.
Key roles they’re looking to fill include data engineers, data analysts, a revenue manager, and a business development executive.
In the past 4-5 months, they’ve already hired more than 30 people as they ramped up the workforce number in their KL office.
A candidate would have an edge if they can show that they’re self-driven in what they do, and being a gamer is a plus point too as it would take them a shorter time to understand the company.
But most of all, Tommy places priority on culture fit. Skillsets matter, but he’s learnt that no matter how skilled someone is, it won’t work out if they simply do not align with the team’s core values.
This is very important for us so that we don’t disrupt the harmony of the company, because disruptive characters will destroy whatever good things we’ve already built in our company culture.Tommy Chieng, CEO of SEAGM.
- Find out more about SEA Gamer Mall here and take a look at the open positions here.
- Read up on what we’ve written about SEA Gamer Mall in the past here.
Featured Image Credit: SEAGM