RELX International is a leading global independent e-cigarette brand with a strong presence in over 12 countries across 5 continents. Founded by Bing Du, RELX International was established with the vision to take the brand globally, after capturing close to 70% of the Chinese market, in just under two years. Within the next six months, RELX expanded to new markets across the world from Canada to New Zealand, guided by its mission to empower adult smokers and vapers around the world, ethically.
RELX International inherits the same values as RELX, namely Responsibility, Empathy, Leadership and (e)Xperience. These values underpin all the company’s endeavors from hiring to daily operations and set as reminder to always stay true to what the people behind the company stand for. RELX aims to develop industry-leading e-cigarette technologies that provide an experience beyond expectation, and inclusivity in hiring and employment practices, facilitates this. As the founder of RELX International, Bing sees to make the whole company a good venue and a perfect working place that sees inclusivity as a valuable component for a successful company.
We had the opportunity to ask Bing about the current state of their workplace and how work ethics and values play an important role in developing responsible leaders within their organization.
What are the work ethics that you think everyone in the company should possess and why?
“Obviously, I believe everyone in the company should uphold all of our four core values. However, if I had to pick two of those values that would be most important in guiding the work ethic of our employees, I’d have to say they would be responsibility and leadership.
As a brand, we expect all employees from consumer-facing to back office to conduct themselves and their business, responsibly. This extends to ensuring that as a company we act in a conscientious manner — for example by keeping our products out of the hands of minors as per the Guardian Program, and the Golden Shield, keeping counterfeit products off the streets. A sense of responsibility also ensures that all company employees continue to give their best.
Furthermore, as a startup, we need all employees to display leadership. In a small company like ours, leaders are crucial throughout every strata of the company. That’s what drives us and helps us grow and expand.
Outside of this, everyone in the company needs to maintain a sense of creativity, something I think is often overlooked in terms of work ethic. This is a rapidly growing and rapidly changing, dynamic industry and we need creative people on the ground to solve problems, consistently and efficiently.”
What are the challenges that you have encountered in your company that you think will drive more passion to the people you work with?
“This is a rapidly changing industry, which also means it’s rapidly growing. There are diverse regulatory environments in every country and region where we operate. This means that each day, there are new and exciting problems our team members will need to solve. I believe this presents an interesting challenge that inspires passion, at the same time.”
What skills and characteristics make a person an asset to your organization?
“I think the skills and characteristics we prize most at RELX International are, in addition to what I mentioned previously, commitment, creativity and thinking outside -the-box.
RELX International needs people who are committed to offering better alternatives for adult smokers and vapers. We need people who are committed to changing the industry landscape and doing what’s right for our consumers.
We also need people who are creative problem solvers that think outside-the-box. People that can meet a problem head on and think of novel ways to solve it. This is crucial in a dynamic and rapidly evolving industry, such as ours.”
During the conversation, Bing also shared with us the things he learned as the CEO and as the man who founded RELX International.
“I truly believe it’s crucial for business leaders to continue to stay humble. As leaders, our opinions are not the end all and be all, and we must listen to and understand others, including our coworkers and employees. People often expect their leaders to give directions but, in this day, and age, it is just as important – if not more important, that the management understand colleagues throughout the organization, the challenges they face, and how their feedback can affect positive changes in the company. Management must also acknowledge that it is not reasonable nor possible for them to know everything, and that down-up conversations should be a norm for business leaders to have a good understanding of their company, said Bing.
Bing is also pushing for glocalization with the local communities in mind. He said that it is important for every company to go global but foster and maintain a local mindset, at the same time. When companies expand their businesses, it’s important that local communities are supported and nurtured. Whether it is the hiring of local talent and establishing local capabilities, doing business is more than just sales, it is also about helping and supporting people and communities. Because of this, the company launched the Green Shoots program in the Philippines, as part of its RELX Pledge commitment of supporting entrepreneurs through skills training and development to equip more Filipinos to be their own business owners.
The Green Shoots program was specially designed and created to give back to the communities where RELX operates by using its vast experience to help other aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners get their businesses on track to growth and success, a three-fold initiative under the RELX Pledge.
RELX International launched the RELX Pledge, centered around its three-fold initiative of protection of minors, consumers, and economic livelihoods, while contributing to the communities where they operate through the Guardian Program, Golden Shield and the Green Shoots program.
The RELX Academy was established in partnership with edX and Liyab as part of the Green Shoots program which aims to empower the Filipino workforce and business industry in the Philippines. Currently, RELX Academy is accepting participants 21 years and over who are based in the country. RELX is confident to be able to roll out the program worldwide soon, to help even more budding entrepreneurs realize their business dreams.
“There is no limit to how many enrollees we will be accepting that meet the requirements I just mentioned. In fact, we hope to have as many enrollees as possible, because, to answer your last question, all we hope in return is that some of these students choose the option to become RELX store owners and take advantage of some of the attractive support programs we offer, to help get them off to a solid start, and quickly realize their growth potential,” added Bing.The Guardian Program is aimed at youth prevention which has been an integral part of RELX International’s core company values from the get-go. The program applies across all the company’s sales and marketing efforts and likewise supports effective legislation and regulation to prevent the purchase and use of products by minors.
Meanwhile, the Golden Shield initiative consists of a partnership with several stakeholders including an engagement with customs officials, which is primarily designed to safeguard consumers by helping eliminate counterfeit, contraband, and compatibles, from the e-cigarette market.
This three-fold initiative has created a sense of pride within the organization that they are doing the right and responsible thing. It is also starting to help foster industry talent, through the Green Shoots program, that will prove invaluable to the success of RELX International’s business moving forward.
What’s next for RELX International after the RELX Pledge and RELX Academy? How will the market of e-cigarette and RELX International make sure that they adapt to the challenging times, regulatory changes, and digital transformation?
As a brand that continues to uphold an innovative startup mindset, Bing shared that they will continue to work on creating and rolling out industry leading initiatives.
“Because we’re a startup with a young, dynamic, and creative team, I firmly believe that we are ready for anything. The industry landscape is constantly evolving, both in the Philippines and globally, and we are meeting these challenges head on and even thriving, at the same time.
We are interested in pursuing more digital avenues in the relevant markets in a responsible, ethical, and legal way, while ensuring that vapor products stay out of the hands of underage users.
Moving forward, we will keep leading the vapor industry with innovative products, services and business models,” said Bing.
RELX International continues to expand globally to provide adult smokers and vapers with next-generation e-cigarette products.