Erina’s Mind of an Engineer in the Business World
9th #GreatHeights Series – Erina Zahara binti Ellias
By Muiz Zafri
Up next on our KYSER #GreatHeights series this month is Erina Zahara binti Ellias, from class 2003, – the owner of a renowned telekung brand, Zaahara, which is currently one of the nation’s top competitors in the telekung selling business. Erina is a proud graduate from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), completing her degree in Chemical Engineering.
Aside from running the business, Erina is also the mother of two beautiful children, Aisya and Luqman. From the interview, we were able to understand Erina’s rollercoaster ride of a journey from high school till this very day.
Truly an institution which instils the will to succeed
It’s true that KYS truly brings out the best of our capabilities and it was no different from Erina.
“I was quite an introvert back in primary school. I was shy, scared to go up in front and voice out my feelings or opinions, but KYS somehow managed to get that fear out of me.”
She was an active student in school having to contribute in the College Committee as well as the History Club. A memory that Erina remembers vividly is that she was always known amongst the teachers as the female trumpet player in the school orchestra before anything else. Sports? Say no more. Erina was not only a school representative for swimming, her talent and hard work in training brought her to be a part of the district team.
The all-rounder mentioned that she was able to maintain a good track record on her academic results and co-curricular involvement by just following the schedule prepared.
When it comes to her aspirations, she knew that she was going to pursue a professional career since high school. “It was either engineering or pharmacy. So my vision at that time was only clear up to university. But I know at that time, what’s clear was that, whatever path I choose, I will do my very best to excel – just as how KYS had trained us.”
She would’ve never expected herself to be a part of the corporate world. As we know, running a business is totally different from what she put in years of studying into. Despite that fact, Erina still maintains her spirit to excel in all her endeavors.
Securing a scholarship from MARA and studying in Australia
Right after SPM, Erina’s interest in managing a business began to spark as she assisted her parents in their first F&B venture, running a 1901 Hot Dog franchise.“It was a pretty interesting experience – handling cash, working on staff’s schedules, understanding the back end of the business”. This opportunity opened her eyes to the real world, where learning was a hands-on experience.
Erina eventually continued her education after obtaining a scholarship from MARA and continued her studies at theInternational Education Centre (INTEC) in Shah Alam. Her efforts in the Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) program allowed her to secure a place in the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia. At that moment, she was still passionate in pursuing a science related degree and career, so she grabbed the opportunity to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering.
University was the peak of fun in her life as she already had 7 other friends from KYS to begin with. The bunch had a ripping good time together in Sydney. Erina did not miss the chance to involve herself in many social clubs and student organizations while completing her tertiary education.
After completing her degree, she returned to Malaysia and decided to do her Masters in UPM part time while working for Sapura Kencana -currently known as Sapura Energy. Erina worked as a planning and cost engineer during her time there. The skills and training that she managed to acquire turned out to be really helpful while she runs her own business today. Talk about a blessing in disguise.
Creating her own destiny, from scratch
After a long 5 years in Sapura Kencana she decided it was time for her to take a leap of faith and look for other opportunities. Eventually, she began her own telekung business, Zaahara (zaahara.com) and has been in it with her husband for 5 years on the running.
Erina began to see the beauty of running a business. Her work and family life was something that she could balance independently, without the influence of a higher authority.
Up to this moment Zaahara is recognized as the top 10 telekung brands in the nation, and had been called by Astro GO Shop and WowShop. We can also find her products in our everyday online fashion stores such as Fashionvalet and Zalora. In terms of achievements it had also been recently shortlisted as one of the Top E-Commerce Merchant Awards 2019. Erina and her husband were also chosen to attend the Alibaba Netprenuer Program in China in November 2019.
“What I love most about my career is having the flexibility of time – between being a business owner, a mother, and a wife”.
Here are a few of Erina’s tips on how to have a successful business and fulfilling life:
- Persevere through all your hardships even when things seem impossible
- Have a nice balance between work time and fun time
- Be brave to explore new things because you might just find a career in which you are passionate for
“Running a business isn’t always rainbow and sunshine. When you fall, you can fall really flat on the floor, and you have to just have to pick yourself up, and keep going, knowing at the back of your mind, that you will fall again one day. But when things are good, ahhh… the feeling is just, satisfying!”
A piece of advice to the younger generation
Due to the rapid growth of digitalisation in society, Erina believes that the future generation should focus on developing the necessary skills and get specialized on them.
In order to succeed in a business, she advised that students must understand The Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) and harness their creative and innovative skills starting from today. “Students need to stay relevant for future job markets. In fact, create your own jobs – focus on skills. You might end up working in jobs that haven’t been created yet!”.
A little treat
Teachers, KYSERS and current KYS students are all entitled to a 10% discount when purchasing on zaahara.com by using the code ‘KYS’ during checkout.