The Building Trust Programme

Towards the end of 2019, we entered the fourth year of our Building Trust programme with renewed enthusiasm and little knowledge of a global pandemic that would be ahead of us.

Since 2015, PwC Malaysia has been engaging various stakeholder groups in conversations about the importance of trust in business. Two key avenues through which we do that are The Building Trust Awards and Trust Builders Challenge (for university students). Beyond these, the wider Building Trust programme works to keep the trust conversations fresh by exploring different avenues to engage our stakeholders. From January 2020 to May 2021, we have directly engaged 106 corporate leaders and influencers, 35 members of the startup community, 1,298 members of the public,  673 students, and 11,004 employees from the 2021 BTA finalist companies.

The following are some of the outcomes from these engagements.

Startups: a fireside chat about mentorship and trust

From left: Freda Liu, Mark Koh, Malek Ali, Lennise Ng

On 27 November 2019, three startups celebrated the end of their six-month mentoring journey with three partners from our Assurance, Deals and Tax practice in a graduation ceremony. They were the first cohort of the PwC-MDEC Immersion programme, a two-way mentoring programme to immerse, exchange ideas and discover new paradigms for businesses in the digital world.

The highlight of the event was a fireside chat themed ‘Start Up with Mentors’ moderated by Freda Liu, Producer and Presenter at BFM 89.9. Mark Koh (CEO and Co-founder, Supahands) and Lennise Ng (CEO and Co-founder, Dropee) shared their takeaways from the mentoring programme, and how trust played a role in allowing them to make the most of their experience. Malek Ali (Founder, BFM 89.9) rounded off the panel and shared his perspective as a business leader and mentor of several entrepreneurship programmes. 

When asked about how trust was established in his mentoring relationship, Mark Koh said: “We invited our mentor over to Supahands to experience how we do things on a day-to-day basis, and I was part of multiple meetings on his end. There was this open relationship of trust and transparency between both sides.”

Corporates: influencing business leaders through our points of view on trust

For conversations about trust to take hold, it needs to be relevant for the times we’re in.

(i) Trust in adversity: a study on the state of trust in medium-sized public companies during the COVID-19 pandemic

When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, we started seeing an uptick in the volume of discussion around trust in business in Malaysia. The surge of interest in the topic prompted us to find out how companies are building trust in times of uncertainty and what we could learn from them. The decision to focus our research on medium-sized public companies was also part of our efforts to extend the trust conversation to smaller companies.

A key finding from the study was that high-trust companies suffered smaller initial loss and rebounded quicker in the early months of the pandemic. 

(ii) ‘Trust in resilience’ article series

As Malaysia entered the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase in June 2020, topics like economic recoverytradedigitalisationwellbeing and upskilling were high on businesses’ agenda. We believed as the country and business took on these challenges, trust would play a central role in helping them prepare for the post-pandemic world.

Each of the five articles, authored by five leaders in the firm, offered our perspectives on trust in the context of current issues, under the banner of 'Trust in resilience' in The Edge Malaysia. The themes explored in the articles were based on the five priorities around reopening the Malaysian economy highlighted in our publication Restart Malaysia.

Youth: Trust Builders Challenge went virtual and borderless

The Trust Builders Challenge continues to serve as a platform for university and college students to showcase their critical thinking skills and business acumen while learning about trust in business. They do this by solving a trust crisis in teams with guidance from their mentors. The challenge is now in its fifth year since its inception in 2017.

We have had two Trust Builders Challenges since our last report. Our 2020 pilot run with Malaysian students in the UK marked the first time we brought the challenge beyond our shores. Students from 18 UK universities took part in the challenge. While the finals were initially planned to take place in London, the travel restrictions saw us switching gears and making the challenge virtual weeks before it was due to happen.

Team Rojak, winning team of the 2020 Trust Builders Challenge: UK Edition. Click the image to watch an interview with the team on our Instagram page.

As we planned towards a fully virtual challenge in 2021, we took the opportunity to expand the challenge to undergraduate and diploma students in Malaysia, the UK and Australia.

With society and business taking heed of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues heightened by the pandemic, we framed the latest problem statement around ESG to allow the students to have a voice on this pertinent topic.

Chart: How students’ awareness of the importance of trust in business changed before and after taking part in the challenge

One participant told us through our impact survey:

“I think what PwC did was incredible. This challenge has given me the opportunity to learn something new and to gain experience which I can use for the better in the future. I would love to receive new challenges from PwC!”

Our mentors consisted of a group of PwC managers as well as industry influencers who were passionate about building our next generation of leaders. 8 out of 10 mentors said that their mentoring experience has made them reflect on the importance of trust in business; while 9 out of 10 mentors said that working with their team has changed their perspectives on Malaysian undergraduates' understanding of the issue of trust.

“The team's ability to come up with and present their solution about trust surprised me since they have no working experience and are so young.”

a Trust Builders Challenge mentor

Watch an interview with Team Fourte, the winning team of the 2021 Trust Builders Challenge below:

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What’s next?

The fourth year of the Building Trust programme culminated in The Building Trust Awards in December 2021, where we recognised and celebrated companies that are making strides to build trust through their communications and interactions with stakeholders.

Malayan Banking Berhad emerged as the winner in the FBM KLCI category of the 2021 Awards, followed by Sime Darby Berhad and Axiata Group Berhad in second and third place respectively.

This year, the Awards also recognised companies in the FBM Mid 70 Index. Sime Darby Property Berhad clinched the top spot in this category, while KPJ Healthcare Berhad and Yinson Holdings Berhad jointly took second place. Read more in our Special Report on the Awards in The Edge.

Contact us

Pauline Ho

Pauline Ho

Chief Operating Officer, PwC Malaysia

Tel: +(60) 3 2173 0946

Florence Tan

Florence Tan

Corporate Sustainability Director, PwC Malaysia

Tel: +60 (3) 2173 0334

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