Firefly’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Izra Izzuddin, opens up about her career, aspirations and her journey with the airline.

Izra Izzuddin is currently the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at FlyFirefly Sdn Bhd, commercially known as Firefly. The 39-year-old Penangite is responsible for Firefly’s Marketing, Branding, Advertising, PR, Social Media, Digital Marketing, Media Buy, Events and  Ancillary Revenue activities across the network regions. Her efforts would include initiations, creations, development, partnerships, sponsorships and Corporate Social Responsibility serving the market and stakeholders’ needs. She places a key priority on further developing Firefly’s market demand via activations, market trends, value proposition, promotions and engagement exercises.

The Universiti Sains Malaysia graduate strongly believes in consumer engagement and connection, besides the need to highlight smart travel through ancillary offerings. The Firefly team has received multiple awards including the recent inclusion in The Malaysia Book of Records, Malaysia Tourism Council Gold Award, Top Brands Asia 2018, SuperBrands Malaysia’s Choice Awards 2017, Putra Brand Awards and the Brandlaureate.

Having graduated in 2004, Izra has obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from USM in 2004. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree (Hons) in Management, with a Marketing major and a Diploma in Business Studies from the same university; a PhD is still in the pipelines.

Izra has performed well in her field, is respected by her colleagues and staff as a leader and all-round humble down-to earth gal. However, not many are aware of her more “human” side – both her bright personality and the struggles she has gone through to get where she is now. Here, she shares some insights about her journey thus far.

What has your journey been like from the beginning to your current position at Firefly?

I started 15 years ago! (laughs) It has been quite a journey – and every part of it has played an important part in shaping me. I joined Media Prima as its Creative Marketing Executive right after my stint on Aspirasiku. The programme was an allfemale apprenticeship style reality show competition – a Malaysian version of The Apprentice, if you will, in 2004 that was aired on national TV. I entered under the Marketing category and won first place! It was then that I discovered my knack for marketing, being exposed to different problem-saving situations, I improved my
branding and business sense.

Aspirasiku was the turning point, when I began on my marketing path. It guided me towards my start with Nestle as Brand Executive, then later helped me branch out into a number of amazing companies. I believe things happen for a reason; and from that point on, the right pieces of my life started falling into place.

Ironically, marketing was never a dream of mine; I gravitated more towards music and arts after my SPM, but side stepped to marketing during my diploma days.

I joined Firefly after a one-year stint in Air Asia in the In-Flight Retail department. Retail was definitely not in my path, but I was exposed to the aviation industry, and that was a silver lining. Hence, when I left Air Asia, I joined Firefly, and am now the person you see sitting here today.

What are some of your morning or pre-work routines that get your productivity going every day?

Coffee! Coffee is my fuel. If I don’t have it in the morning, consider my work undone. Be that as it may, the very first thing I would do in the morning is to check my emails. Here in Firefly, the pace is ceaseless, and we work almost 24/7 – we get emails at 2am, 4am, anytime and any day. The same goes for our WhatsApp chat groups, which  act as the main channel of communication across all departments. So, checking emails is sort of embedded in all of us, not just in the mornings but anytime during the day.

For my outside-of-work routines, I used to run 10km every night after work, or at least get 40km in total for a week. But alas, my left knee has developed a problem and my doctor has advised me not to wear it out too heavily. I’ve left running now for about three years and melancholically have settled for the occasional power walk instead. Next is music; I need music to get amped up whenever I do work. If I’m not listening to BFM, I would jam out in my car to the likes of Nirvana or Metallica.

You are always so fashionable! What would be your go-to style for both work and play?

I base most of my looks on Audrey Hepburn. My favourite colour is black, although I’m fine with any colour as long
as it’s dark. The contrast on my colour coordination would be the shoes – they cannot be the same as what I’m putting on my body. They have to pop (chuckles). Fun facts: I love fashion and I occasionally look in Pinterest, Instagram or any platform online to keep abreast on the latest trends.

As an avid traveller, would you sharing some travel tips?

Even though I’m in the aviation industry myself, I am still a consumer. Being on both sides of the spectrum, I can say that the first thing you must consider is not to just look for cheap fares. You must take into account all costs involved even before you buy the ticket.

For example, how much would it take me to pay for Grab or taxi to the airport? Do I need to buy anything from the airport? Second, it is highly recommended that you equip yourself with a travel protection insurance plan. God forbid something happens while you’re travelling, then you’re covered.

Besides financial factors, you should also consider time taken for travel. For example, how far will the airport be from my house? Would there be any alternatives to make my trip shorter? You also have to take into account the stress involved when travelling. Travelling should be fun and also smooth and easy, and not make life more complicated.

As VP of Marketing and Communications, what do you hope to improve with Firefly ?

Technologies will come and go, and innovation is a must. Hence, regardless of what new technologies are emerging, it boils down to two questions; one, are the customers aware of the new tech? And two, are they ready for it. Realistically, technologies will only be as good as how well we apply them. You can have a hundred features built into your system, but if the customers only use five of them, it’ll only be perceived as good as having only five features. It’s how you sell the tech to the public and how well they receive it.

Nonetheless, Firefly is spearheading a number of digital implementations. We now have a Marketing Cloud, a digital collaboration with the Salesforce. We also have the Customer 360 Service Console; a concept that revolves around a customer’s journey in using our service. The tech is good, but at the end of the day, whether the public is ready for it or not, that’s more important.

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