In the previous article, we have published the list of Malaysian-based IR 4.0 so-called “Silent Heroes”

In this article, we will feature Leo Lee, the CEO and Founder of  TraitQuest.

Tell us about your background (family and education)

Leo Lee has served in various MNC priors to have founded TraitQuest, Gamification in Human Capital Development Solutions. He has vast experience in Hewlett Packard Malaysia and Hewlett Packard Singapore since 2008 and left in 2014 to join Microsoft Malaysia. During his tenure in HP Malaysia, he has grown the channel business in commercial & consumer notebooks and desktops to USD 10 mil per quarter from USD 1 mil when he first joined. Under the team efforts, IDC market trends for HP grown and overtook Acer in the South East Asia region as No.1 Notebooks and Desktops most preferred provider. He left to join Microsoft to grow the Strategic Partnership division with various partners to enable all Notebooks and Desktop preloaded with Microsoft Windows and Office software. In 2016, Leo Lee was headhunted to join AirAsia Big Loyalty Commercial Division serving all AirAsia Commercial partners namely Ford, CitiBank, Mydin, Nirvana and also collaborate internally with various AA group cross business units and functions including Tune Hotels, Tune Prepaid Card, and AirAsia X in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. He believes strongly in building people and the people will build the business. An online cloud system will enable business owners having transparency and better clarity in how they able to engage and drive the high-performance teams. TraitQuest adopts 3R methodology in RECRUIT, RETAIN & REWARD in providing solutions to their clientele.  

It’s inevitable that we will have a younger generation working in any given organization. Besides being a startup founder, he also actively contributes to the local association and is assisting in digital transformation for Organizational Development, MIHRM, SME Association, and MIRM to name a few. He’s also a diving instructor and game thinking advocates.

Can you share the background of how you start your Company?

I founded TraitQuest in 2017 to serve the greater market and provide solutions in the SME sector in reaching talent, managing talent and retaining talent.  The idea came about from my personal experience working in various organizations, where I noticed without a proper system in place, there tended to be biased in reviewing performance be it in appraisals or even in giving regular feedback. Whilst one’s roles and responsibilities are being communicated from day one, most employees don’t really have a clue about what are they gaining from their workplace? Gone were those days where talents were after the money. To be more exact, from the viewpoint of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, most employees today no longer strive to fulfill their basic needs as we move towards the status of a high-income nation. The importance of having HR even in startups and SMEs has been severely downplayed. 

HR has sadly been referred to as ‘boring’ and ‘not crucial’ to most businesses, especially in Malaysia. If you talk to anyone who’s an HR personnel, they would share that employees nowadays identify HR as the ‘recruitment person, payroll person, admin person’ and even the ‘handyman’ who fixes the light bulbs or repairs the broken air conditioner! Jokes aside, HR actually plays an important role in business decision making, talent management, succession planning, and the list goes on. So, the idea of gamifying something so boring and rigid like an HR management system is truly refreshing, fun and engaging! As a matter of fact, you can be a professional gamer and earn big bucks competing in MMORPG (they even have a manager to their team like in football)! By leveraging on the behavior and strategies employed by players while engaged in gameplay and implementing it in the workplace, it’s not hard to imagine how powerful that can be.

With the surge of employees who are predominantly millennials and iGen (Gen Z), we have to be creative in managing talents and engaging them. Thus, it’s natural (and smart) to marry the best of both worlds to help drive organization goals and increase business performance. If you look at gamification, it’s not a revolution but rather a retrofit to what we are doing today. Gamification can be implemented into key areas such as Education, Entertainment, Serious Play, and the Workplace. If I were to give some examples, the education sector utilizes a fair amount of gameplay in E-learning, entertainment uses it via social interaction platforms like Foursquare, serious play comes in the form of a surgery simulation game and of course, there’s us, TraitQuest for Workplace gamification.

Can you share with us the uniqueness of your Company?

TraitQuest provides cloud-based enterprise solutions for ease in workflow management and collaboration to drive your employees’ motivation and engagement, cultivate a healthy corporate culture thereby retaining your valued employees.

What does TraitQuest mean? If you break it down and look at the core words, ‘Trait’, is a distinguishing characteristic or quality of one’s personal nature and ‘Quest’ is the search for something precious. We aspire to be the leading performance management system and regional benchmark for talent identification and development in Asia and globally. Our solutions aim to set a benchmark of excellence in workplace engagement focusing on people’s development and empowerment, as well as, demonstrating how HR integrates seamlessly with Tech in the new millennium.

TraitQuest aims to bridge the gap between employee and employer relationships – by managing performance, engaging employees and retaining talents. Our continuous efforts leverage on data-driven decision making, derived traits profiling, workplace gamification via a well-rounded multi-level engagement platform, will ensure the organizations we work with are always at their top level of productivity!

What are your views regarding the Industrial Revolution 4.0 in Malaysia?

It’s a big and robust term when it comes to any layman that’s understanding it for the first time. If you look into the effort and landscape that’s happening, it’s still very much on e-commerce and going digital. IR 4.0 is not just being online, but combining all the available technology in IoT, Cloud, Big Data and etc into a very smart and robust application.

It’s an extension of our intelligent where IR4.0 helps us make smarter, faster and accurate decisions. Not forgetting automation and robotic. We are still very lacking as a nation in implementing it, if I may in my own personal opinion we are still very much sticking to IR2.0 to IR2.5. I think the biggest obstacles are the entrepreneurs and business owners mindset rather than the availability of experts. In actual fact, many feared that it’ll be replacing jobs making more unemployment. Looking back into some of the information found, it’s our stubbornness of not upskilling, wanting to be in comfort zone and not making progress or changes that are keeping us at where we started.

What is the potential that you see in this industry?

There’s massive potential in applying IR4.0 in all sectors to increase yield, productivity and being more effective and efficient. As entrepreneurs, we have to be innovative and creative in our solutions, as users, we ought to be more progressive not just looking for the cheapest alternative. Cost control is important, but so is Sustainability. We are so caught up with the immediate low cost and sacrifice long term returns.

If the changes are not coming from all of us, we will be replaced by a foreign company and yet face tougher competition in the international market. I urged businesses to look into integrating IR4.0 in their offerings and enhancement to their processes to stay competitive.

How did you manage to get the first 10 or 100 customers?

Our target market primarily comes from businesses with an employee size of 50 and above. In our efforts to educate and build awareness among SMEs on the importance of performance management, we are also looking into organizations with more than 20 employees. We are focusing on industries like Financial Services, Technology, Outsourcing (BPOs), Manufacturing and Project Management Services. These are the industries where various key departments are in place with significant headcounts. We recognize that Malaysian SMEs are still ingrained with the traditional mindset where employees are deemed to be a ‘liability’ rather an ‘asset’, thus they will only reach out when the need arises. As such, we want to position ourselves to be the first people they get in touch with when that happens via creating awareness now about how our performance management & employee engagement system works.

What are the biggest challenges in doing this business?

We have our ups & downs like any other business. However, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Holistic Performance Management Systems will become an indispensable and powerful tool for employee engagement and feedback when organizations start appreciating their people and are serious about retaining their talents. We recognize that market acceptance is still growing as we speak, and we are thrilled that HR leaders love what we have to offer.

Who inspires you to become what you are today?

If I have to pick a few from my list of inspirations I would go for Simon Sinek and Gary Vaynerchuk. They are both significant icons who inspired me to do what I do till today and continuing on. Especially their focus on people and how people in your organization will be your biggest assets echo very much in why I focus to do something very different.

What’re your future plans in expanding the business especially in the year 2020?

We have recently brainstormed and set the milestones we would want to achieve not only in Malaysia but expansion in the ASEAN region namely Indonesia & the Philippines. At TraitQuest, we believed in our unique business position in Organisation Development and Talent Management. I know these sound foreign and technical but it’s the basis of any business expansion for an organisation where they put employees at the center of development.

If you had one piece of advice to youngsters just starting out or just step into working life, what would it be?

Don’t chase for money or results, focus on experience and the journey. When the process is right, the results will come. We are living in a capitalist society where we think of earning as much as early as possible should be what we are striving for. Learn and gain from your workplace as much as you can, because that’s what will be the biggest investment for your future endeavor.


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