Managing DirectorCompanyEastport Maritime Pte LtdBio
Growing up from humble beginnings, joining the Navy after my education has taught me to be disciplined and practical, equipping me with leadership lessons as I learnt to connect with my men on the ground which allowed me to lead effectively. Having seen the world through my sailing onboard the naval ships prepared me for my shipbroking journey.
Spearheading the move into China was not without its difficulties, having to learn their culture and their way of life in a place where people relations are a top priority. This eventually taught me one of the most important lessons in life; to be people-oriented, and this lesson has served me well, even as I moved up to become the Managing Director. Being people-oriented allowed me to always be in touch with my people and never losing sight of why I do what I do, whether at home or in the marketplace.
My career began as a Naval officer with the Republic of Singapore Navy in 1976
after my training with the Singapore Armed Forces. Serving as a training officer in the Naval Midshipman School and later on as a Staff Officer in the Fleet HQ, I rose the ranks to eventually become the Commanding Officer of a Naval ship. It was then that I made the decision for a career switch to pursue my passion in shipping and the maritime industry.
I joined Eastport (then M.T. Maritime Management Pte Ltd) in 1991
and have played an active role since then, going through an exciting journey to where I am today as the Managing Director of the company. With the sea-going knowledge and management experience garnered from the Navy, I was soon given the opportunity to establish Eastport China in Shanghai as its head in 1994
, and expanded Eastport’s foray into the Chinese market while it was still a fledgling economy, positioning Eastport as the first Asian shipbrokerage in China.
With the experience and network from the Chinese market, I returned to Singapore in 1997
to helm the vegetable oil brokerage and increased our vegetable oil shipments into China, moving Eastport to another level of business profitability as a whole. Later on, I also took charge of the Projects team which paved the way for me to finally head the company as the Managing Director, leading Eastport towards its vision of becoming a world-class shipbrokerage.
Areas of Expertise
Bringing people together to solve problems and pushing boundaries is my expertise, having worked and staying connected with people from diverse environments and cultures from the structured environment in the Navy to the dynamic and ever-changing shipbroking industry. With the rise in technology and digitalisation, our people are in fact the key to ensuring we do not get replaced totally by technology, but partnering technology to provide the best possible services to our customers.
What have been the main lessons you have learned in your career and how do you implement them in your management?
Investing in our people and serving our best to the customers – this is the biggest lesson in my career and the guiding principle for my management.
In a brokerage, people are our greatest asset and preparing them to be ready is essential so that they can manage and handle our services in the rapidly changing business environment. Employee training is always part of the agenda in my annual work plan, developing in-house training programmes to pass on the experience and knowledge of our people, and collaborating with external agencies to work on the skillsets of our people, whether in soft skills or technical knowledge. This also aligns our people to the company’s vision and core values. While we train them, connecting with them is equally important whether through formal meetings, social get-togethers or celebrations to have a heart-connection with them. I also advocate people-oriented management at the workplace where every employee is respected and communication is clear whenever there are changes. Leading by example, I also set aside time for my department heads to understand their needs and challenges to guide and encourage them. Such mutual engagement is key to the success of any organisation and ownership of their roles will come naturally.
With this, our people are well equipped to serve their best to our customers, which is crucial to our business. They are the people who make our success happen and such excellence in service begins with them. As the people are aligned to the company’s vision and core values, they are able to demonstrate the Eastport spirit of excellence in all that we do and that is where our customers continue to see the value of us as a shipbrokerage despite the rapid developments in technology.
“以人为本” - at the heart of all that I endeavour is being people-oriented.