Home Insider Interview Interview with Justin Sway CEO of JobNet.com.mm

Interview with Justin Sway CEO of JobNet.com.mm

Myanmar best employer award was back after a couple of years of absence. How did the event go?

Yes, the best employer awards is a big awards program that we run, it’s the fourth year that we’ve run it, that we’re very excited about it. You know, we have two programs. One is the Myanmar Employer awards, and the other is the best companies into work for, in Myanmar. Both have been very popular. And it’s all about recognising and rewarding companies who are actively involved in supporting their employees, especially during the last few years. It was difficult times. But we’re here to support those companies. And it’s great to have, you know, many companies participating in there as well, both local and international, and making sure that we support the community and the HR industry.

With the changes taking place in Myanmar for the past two years, what have been your challenges and opportunities that your company faced over these years?

Undoubtedly, the last two years have been incredibly difficult, especially with Covid. That was a very difficult year for everyone in the world, and especially in Myanmar. Of course, the 2021 political crisis wasn’t easy either. And that will have a big impact. But we took that time actually back in 2020, to heavily invest in new products for our customers.

One of those products was a new website, an application that we launched called ‘Alote’ which is for blue collar, grey collar, lightly skilled workers. We actually invested over a year and a half, with IT development and strategy and research. And we launched that product late last year in December 2021. So it’s a great opportunity for us, one to keep investing in our products in the market and our customers. And we launched the product by using that downtime, to create more innovative products to help blue grey collar job seekers. And that’s been an incredible success, particularly this year, where we already have I think, 150 customers already using the site, and hundreds of thousands of job seekers. So it’s a great opportunity for us. But also what we found is, you know, during difficult times, it’s very difficult for companies and it’s difficult for your competitors, too. And no doubt, our competitors have struggled, unfortunately. But it means that we’ve been able to take more market share. In fact, there has been a recent announcement, that one of our competitors, from overseas, has now left the market entirely. So it’s a good opportunity for us to support those customers, but also gain market share, and aid with their vision and strategy.

What are your future plans?

We’ve been around just over seven years now. We have the same shareholders, the same investors. We have very strong international and local backing. So our plan is still the same, invest in more products, invest in the market, invest in our customers in the HR industry, so that we can keep supporting them, helping employers find the best talent, helping job seekers find the right jobs, for them. We will keep doing that for years to come. There’s no doubt. And especially in a tough market, we want to be there with our customers, not just in the good times, but also during the difficult times. Then we get to enjoy opportunities together in the future.

In terms of the recruitment agencies and portals, how would you rank yourself?

Well, firstly, we are a pure technology company. We’re not a recruitment agency. But we do work with many recruitment agencies, many corporates, even small SME businesses and with some of the biggest conglomerates in the country. Our technology is very advanced. We’ve been doing it for over 25 years in many countries all over the world. And matching technology is superior. Our job search is superior. I think we send almost seven, 8 million job alerts every month. And we work with our customers to find the best talent and, and especially in a difficult market to find the best talent available in the market, as well as, doing it quicker, easier, faster, as well. And we’ll keep continuing to do that and bring out more technology. So especially early next year, we’ve got some more technology that we’re going to release that nobody’s ever seen before, into Myanmar.

Please explain Job Net ownership structure and the eventual beneficiary.

The Jobnet business is a Myanmar based company. It is 100% owned by our Singapore holding company, which is SG One Online Company Pte Ltd. The beneficiaries, we have a number of shareholders, I’m one of the major shareholders. But we also have Jonah Levy, who is the ex-owner of Vietnam Works. Just like Jobnet, Vietnam works is still the number one job site in Vietnam. We also have Kingsway capital, a multi-billion dollar venture capital based in the UK, as well as VNV Global or Vostok new ventures in Sweden, which is the largest, publicly traded online classified company in the world. Actually, we’re very lucky to have great shareholders.

But we also have our management team, who were also employee share option holders or  ESOP holders. They form a big part of our business. And it’s because of that experience and my experience in recruitment technology previously, Jobnet been able to hold the number one position. We have the largest reach, the largest job seeker database, the most clients and the most jobs. And, our mission is to support our customers and help job seekers find, you know, the best jobs in the market.

How do you view the Myanmar job market right now?

I think the job market is very tough at the moment. But, I have to say it is also very tough in a lot of different markets, abroad in other countries in Southeast Asia, given what’s happening with, recessions, etc. Certainly the last two years has been very tough. We do notice it’s getting better. There are more jobs on both websites, Jobnet and Alote. It’s not the same as what it was, pre Covid, that’s for sure. But we do see an improvement. For example, food and beverage hospitality, construction, telecoms are picking up. In fact, we’ve won a lot of major contracts because of our expertise in recruitment technology recently.

But we do have some stats and I think the industries that are rapidly growing are finance, trading, FMCG, food and beverage. Construction is also back on the rise, which is really good to see. Retail and wholesale as well ,as Covid restrictions are easing. Telecom, manufacturing and marketing are the industries that seem to be doing very well. Banking is always consistent, as well, now that the banking systems are more stabilised.

For job function or category that are growing, still continues to be Sales. Everybody is looking for great salespeople. Finance has always been strong, even in good times. Customer service and IT are in high demand. Obviously, as things start to open up, logistics, construction, marketing, etc., will follow suit.

But there is a rise demand for blue collar workers as well. A lot of that blue and grey collar demand is as a result of a lot of companies that are growing. As they grow they also want to have, more affordable or cheaper labor, which created demand for the those sort of workers. They also need as many jobs as they can get as well.

What are your thoughts on the brain drainissue that many companies face in recent years?

That’s always been an issue for many years, perhaps more so now that the borders are open,  flights have reopen, lifting Covid restrictions, etc. There’s no doubt, there’s been a lot of people who are leaving the country, and that’s a personal choice more than anything. But if you look at that, the experience that Myanmar has previously, and even now is that it really creates opportunities for that next level of job seekers, who are looking for opportunities that they wouldn’t get straight away, or would take many years. It means that they have an opportunity to really advance themselves, challenge themselves for new career and work opportunities that, they may not get. There is a gap in the market, which is why we’re there for, but also an opportunity for those job seekers looking for new careers.

What do you think about the current job opportunities in Myanmar? How would you advise, the job seekers in general, to get the best job for themselves here, instead of getting out of the country?

If the job seekers want to stay in the country, because they have family commitments, or they want to have a chance for their own career, or may not be able to go overseas, then I think it’s a great opportunity. We saw reports that some companies have left the country for their own reasons. But I have to say, there’s many companies that have stayed. And obviously, the large local companies with joint ventures with other international shareholders, but also a lot of wholly owned international companies have stayed.

And those companies, both local or internationally, are willing to invest. And they’ve heavily invested in training, and they’re heavily investing in career development. So with that, to the job seekers that do stay, what a great opportunity to, find jobs that they might not have been able to get previously where the company is prepared to train them, invest in their career development, and also given an opportunity in positions that they perhaps wouldn’t be able to get.

From that perspective, there’s still many companies investing. In fact, we see it on most social media platforms, more companies investing in training of the management team, or in their sales team or the development team. And so for the people who do stay, they will get that opportunity. That’s for both white collar workers, and also blue grey collar workers. And that means more potential for senior roles, which they may not be able to get if they went overseas. So I think that’s a good opportunity for them.

What type of ethical standards you set for yourself and the company?

Well, for myself and our businesses, I think everything’s about doing the right thing, and that comes down to whether it’s morally, legally, financially and ethically, right. We’re an equal opportunity employer, we don’t discriminate. It’s important that we create a safe work working environment that’s free of harassment.

During difficult times, we supported all our team, particularly from a health point of view. We did all the vaccines and financial support where we could. Our reputation as a good employer is important because we also work with many employers. But it just comes down to simple do the right thing. And then your support your team, like, your own family would, and be fair to all parties. But that’s the same policy or philosophy that we have not just with our staff, but also with our customers, making sure we treat them properly, service them properly and support them properly. We look at the long term and the HR industry, as well as supporting job seekers. And if we do that, that is the formula for success in the long term anyway. And that’s exactly what our vision is.