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What I Learnt From Interning at Binomial

Cai Yuqian
Cai Yuqian

June 26, 2020

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From mid-January to the end of June, I was interning at Binomial Consulting as an associate consultant — a role that initially sounded fancy to me but became much clearer as I embarked on this half-year journey during an unprecedented time when the world fell into abrupt turmoil.

Looking back, I felt lucky to be given the opportunity, the autonomy and the trust to play so many roles at this young company that is still on its way of exploring the future path it should take while embracing constant uncertainty and challenges along the way. I appreciate being part of this team and the process. At the point of my departure, I would like to talk about Binomial through my lens and some of my biggest takeaways.

The Journey Is On neon light
Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

Enable Greatness

“We work on things that create joy, progress, or both for the world, and we help others do the same.”

We are living in an increasingly interconnected world where our action can have an impact on others we could not imagine before. Our culture is undergoing a shift from “me” to “we” — we care about the people around us, the society we live in, as well as the giant ecosystem we all hold the responsibility to take care of — and the definition of greatness is no longer only limited to the quantified dollar value any more.

This is what I believe in, and what Binomial believes in as a company as well. If there’s one thing that can determine whether you are in the right place to work, that is the mission of the company. As a Gen Z who needs motivation and a compelling vision behind the work I do, I would like to know how my work ultimately contributes to the bigger mission of the company, and that was fulfilled at Binomial.

We work by this value and advocate them to others. Ampersand Accelerator, the accelerator programme aiming to help design-centric startups grow, targets founders whose product/service seeks to create a positive impact on people, planet, or culture. When we design the curriculum for the programme academy, we intentionally incorporate sections that emphasise on the importance of business continuity and growth with positive impacts in mind because we believe business can be the best way to achieve that.

Ampersand bimonthly get-together session
Ampersand bimonthly get-together session

Meanwhile, we are always about being strategic. Much of our consulting work starts with a central focus on the client’s vision and mission. That’s what enables a strong strategy and brand positioning.

Get Things Done Well

“Our work stands up to scrutiny because we do the right things and do them right. We take action to solve problems because we know good ideas need great execution to become magic.”

Actions speak louder than words and good work speaks for itself. Kae Fong has more than a decade of experience which has shaped his attitude towards the delivery of high-quality work, as he said during one of the weekly team meetings (one of the memorable moments during my stay at Binomial is listening to fantastic, inspiring quotes of wisdom from Kae Fong):

“You do well because you do right and do good.” — Kae Fong

We hold very high standards for every piece of work we do because we are obsessed with being customer-centric: putting ourselves into our customers’ shoes is the bare minimum. We strive to go beyond that by looking at what’s in it for the customers in the long term. Whether that’s about coming up with the proposal for a new consulting project opportunity (and being very detailed about the colours of the bullet points), tweaking the programme workbook content for Ampersand Accelerator (and having friendly arguments about the Q&A exercises at the end of every curriculum module), or having multiple trial runs before running an actual virtual workshop (and playing with quiz games to see who gets the highest score on the leaderboard to ensure the activity will be engaging and fun for our participants), we let the work do the magic itself because we are confident in the result.

An office desk with a laptop
Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Stay Open-minded and Seize the Opportunity

The one thing that struck me most during this internship experience is the following quote:

“There will always be COVID-19s in our business, in our lives until we die. So we may just prepare for them. It’s a matter of opportunities.” — Kae Fong

The fact that opportunities arise from crises is old and gold — the Chinese word for crisis, “危机”, combines risk with opportunity. As a company that is in its early stage during the global pandemic, we know that a defensive and reactive mode is not the option, so we have been actively figuring out how we can seize the opportunity to create value for other companies: we continued to offer our insights on our blog, write a well-designed report about the trends that will stay after the COVID-19 crisis and work with different companies to relook at their business strategy and brand to emerge stronger out of this challenge.

Working at Binomial not only taught me many aspects of a business but also principles that are applicable in my own life. Binomial’s culture of open-mindedness and transparency encouraged me to receive and raise constructive feedback and criticism, reflect on how I can improve on the things I do, and keep learning with an open attitude. I initially heard the importance of open-mindedness from Ray Dalio’s book Principles and practising that at Binomial further proves its value.

“Radical open-mindedness and radical transparency are invaluable for rapid learning and effective change.” — Ray Dalio

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

For me, meaningful work consists of working on things you feel aligned with and passionate about and doing that with people who bring in different skill sets and perspectives on the table for the team to work towards a shared mission. I was lucky and grateful for having done meaningful work at Binomial. I believe the values will stay with me as I embark on another journey in my career, and I also believe people who are fascinated in the power of innovation, strategy, and branding and would like to join a team of strategic and supportive people would find Binomial an ideal place to realise their passion and value!

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