I am no conformist. The rebel in me stays young even as I age. I grew up in an ordinarily humble but big family of that time, doing little, some not even what I wanted. But, whatever I set out to do, I was never happy until it was really done well. That, together with a very hard working attitude helped me to overcome setbacks and excel, mostly doing things that were not done before. I inherited the habit of thrift from my parents, learned to hate waste, save and invest even with meagre income. I also learned in schools, how one could lose and regain confidence because of a particular teacher’s attitude towards him or her. How that confidence is so important to a being. That sets me out to always give a chance to someone who lacks it.
I received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University at Buffalo, State University of New York and combine a western-based training with an Asian affinity.
My professional experience includes sales, marketing, negotiation, strategic & operational planning, research and management at operational up to CEO level in shipbroking and chemical shipping. I left the corporate in 2015 to start a 10-year pursuit in investing and developing people and technologies in maritime applications.
Younger, I served as a national service Police Inspector with the Singapore Police Force (serving minimum 2-week stints every year after a 2-year full-time national service initially) until I was 45 years old. This kept me really in touch with real life, while I climbed the corporate ladder.
I spent over 30 years with a Singapore-based ship-brokerage and was responsible for its continual growth, regionalisation and globalisation activities which led the company to become the largest ship-brokerage in Asia and also the only Asian ship-brokerage to have made inroads into the West.
Areas of Expertise
I am particularly keen in solving real problems that matter to the shipbroking and chemical shipping industry. Recently, my pursuits are mainly in bridging the gaps between the shipping domain and technology world; leveraging Industry 4.0 technologies to help maritime companies ride the digitalisation wave, one at a time.
What have been the main lessons you have learned in your career and how do you implement them in your management?
BELIEVE IN INTANGIBLE. Real power is invisible. It is a strong spirit that can drive incessantly that will achieve something great. Naysayers will see obstacles and stay in comfort zone. Look for someone with this kind of strong spirit, set him a high goal, support him and let him run.
CHANGE IS HARD. There is usually no common goal in change. Find each people’s or team’s motivation, try fear or greed – the ‘what’s in it for me’. Then trade it for the change that we want.
BUSINESS IS PERSONAL. Don’t believe it when we hear: “it is strictly business”. Don’t say: “don’t take it personally”. Everyone takes it personally. Every business is personal. That is how business works.
For every two persons around me, there is always one that can teach me something new. There are numerous people in my life and work that continue to impress me and motivate me. If I have to restrict to three only: 1. my mother, who taught me to be watchful of flattery; 2. my father, who taught me that life is too important to take it seriously; and 3. Mr. Michael Peacock, who was a Math teacher in pre-university days, and a friend for many years now. He put me, then one who could not even make a complete sentence in English, in an English-speaking play and through a rigor that eventually sent the play on stage at the Victoria Theatre. He boosted my self-confidence. He also gave me counter-arguments that helped broaden my way of thinking and eventually my worldview.
Beauty is everywhere, capturing it is an art. I try to apply this in my work.
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