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Cover Story


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

In most Asian families, when a child tells the parents his/her dream is to become an artist or designer, the parents will most likely see it negatively and tell “You will starve.”

Zachary Haris Ong has proven that this is an outdated thought. Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Design from the Curtin University of Technology, Zachary is not only a designer. He is also a serial entrepreneur and a lead thinker of the new generation. He is passionate and committed to the transformation of the design industry in order to impact Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Post graduated, Zachary started his graphic design business at his own room within the four walls. When we asked what wakes him up from bed to work, he said, “I’m an ambitious man that don’t allow myself to lose.”

In 2012, he took an initiative to lead the Rediscovery: Icograda Design Week in Sarawak 2012. For seven months, he concentrated only on the event and stopped his business. It was a tough time for him because there were a lot of works that he needed to complete to make the event happen and he had no income at all. However, after the event launched successfully, the results were fruitful.

Everyone was looking at this young designer and in 2015, he has been voted President-elect of the International Council of Design (ico-D) during the 26th ico-D General Assembly in Gwangju, South Korea.

He is not only the first Malaysian but also ASEAN’s first ico-D President-elect. At the same time, Zachary is the president of the Graphic Design Association of Malaysia (wREGA).

He shared with us his ‘secret sauce’ of success is integrity. “Commit to what you promised. Then people will trust and respect you.” Besides, he also advised young people to honour their works. “The truth is, when you come to work, you can’t be self-centred. Don’t expect a high salary and good perks. Instead, proof your capabilities by delivering good results. When the thermometer of your value turns higher, they will come to you.”

Now, Zachary and his team are running Zachary Haris Ong & Associates (ZHOA), a design partnership specialising in graphic design, visual identity and branding. They are strived to create a direct impact on their clients’ business with the power of visual communication design. “According to research done by the Design Council, for every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues. Therefore, we believe our services play an important part in empowering our clients from various sectors including businesses, enterprises and governments.“

In 2017, Zachary was nominated as one of the 100 Most Influential Young Entrepreneurs of the year.


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