1. Know what you are good at and don’t give up
Mr Ang Chin Koon is the CEO of myCK, a budget-friendly retail outlet chain around Singapore with 19+ outlets. His story in business is one full of roller-coasters, from reaching incredible heights with an almost IPO, to a nasty fall-out with family members in their family business, personal bankruptcy and an incredible rise from the ashes (a real fire was involved).
After a drawn-out family feud and bankruptcy, Mr Ang has this to say:
"I decided to go back to what I'm good at, which is to sell things. It was the only skill I had." - Mr Ang Chin Koon, CEO of myCK
From there, he re-built his retail roots and created myCK, which is doing better than ever. What we can learn from this? Even the biggest setback should never get you down. Being self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses is important. Stay positive and re-build from the ground up by focusing on your strengths. You can achieve whatever you set your mind to.
2. A good leader will have many followers, treat everyone with sincerity
Dr Ng Chin Siau is the CEO and Founder of Q&M Dental. Q&M started from a small private practice, listed on the SGX in 2009 and today, its market cap stands at $545 million with over 60 outlets in Singapore alone.
Dr Ng has this to say about his successes:
“During Secondary 3 and 4, I opted to study Confucian ethics. I would say my beliefs were moulded and shaped then, though I realised it only later. … Even though it is very tough to practise this in a cut-throat business world, people respect you when you do it. … It dawned on me then that if the recipient is happy, he would not hesitate to return the favour. A good leader will always have many followers. Arrogance can lead to failure, as I’ve witnessed. We tell our dentists to treat patients like family. When they feel that you are sincere, they refer others to you. We believe in word of mouth. … It’s a marathon, not a 100m sprint.”
- Dr Ng Chin Siau, CEO and Founder of Q&M Dental
Amazing insights from Dr Ng that we can unpack. Whether in the business world or in climbing the corporate ladder, it is common to believe that in such a cut-throat world, we can only win by retaliating in the same way and by “playing politics”. While there are possible short-term gains in playing office politics, making effort to be an exemplary leader, to lead by strength and integrity is more difficult but will allow you to win in the long-term. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Show that you are a responsible team player and manager, own up to your mistakes and avoid short cuts. Do the right thing and you will reap the rewards.
3. Combat Change with Change
Goh Choon Phong is the CEO of Singapore Airlines. The airline industry has been wrought with disruption from low-cost carriers to fluctuating fuel prices. Staying relevant in such a challenging industry is difficult and Mr Goh is leading the charge.
This is what he has to say about leading Singapore Airlines:
“The skills needed to be an airline CEO depend on the circumstances of the particular airline. I think every airline has needed a CEO with different strengths at different times. Everybody involved must accept the need for change and be prepared to lead that change. For Singapore Airlines right now, because of the massive structural changes I have highlighted, it was important to be willing and able to make fundamental changes. Remember though, one person, no matter how capable, cannot bring about successful large-scale changes. That requires a team working together, from frontline staff through to the boardroom. Everybody involved must accept the need for change and be prepared to lead that change. That is the only way to make it work and to make fundamental changes to the business.”
– Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines
Our takeaway, fight change with change. In times of difficulty and changing circumstances, always be prepared to re-evaluate your strategy. Being adaptable can help you survive big changes in your company and give you the impetus to ensure that you remain relevant even if your industry or job scope changes.
Be open to change and being willing to adapt is vital in today’s world with technology causing disruptions and job instability. Having this awareness to continually up-skill and upgrade will ensure that you will not be left behind. (Use your SkillsFuture !)
Mr Goh also mentions the importance of a team. Being a cooperative team-member or managing your team’s expectations so that everyone is equally on board is vital in times of change. Nobody is an island, and there is no ‘I’ in Team.
4. Dream Big and Over Deliver
Terry O'Connor is the CEO of Courts Asia. He came to Singapore in 2003 and has steadily risen in the organisation. From listing on the SGX in 2012 to a turnover of around $800 million, Terry has led Courts from milestone to milestone.
Incredible career advice he has shared:
“Fundamentally, dream big. It may be a cliché but think about your 3-5 year goals. That will set the tone for what learnings, what exposure, what development you will need to achieve these goals. If you are only ever thinking about the next 12 months, you will limit your options.
Scaling your career is important, but so is making sure that you are operating at a level that is above your pay grade. I always say to people - be knowingly underpaid or knowingly be over delivering so that you get noticed as someone who is a differential. Think differently, offer more.
To build your career you need three things - ability, knowledge and commitment. Eventually you want to move from being the star striker to the head coach, and your source of pride should not be from what you do, but how you influence others.”
– Terry O’Connor, CEO of Courts Asia
There is so much to unpack from Terry’s amazing advice. First, having a long-term plan and dreaming big. Having a job is short-term, having a career requires long-term planning. Who are you and what do you want? Think big and think long-term. If you shoot for the moon, you just might reach for the stars.
Next, operating at above your pay grade. This is A++ wisdom from Mr O’Connor. Especially at the early stages of your career, you should focus on learning as much as possible rather than thinking in terms of how much you are paid and how much effort you should then put in. Absorb everything you can, volunteer for projects outside your job scope, lean-in, network and just be an all-round go-getter. By doing more and putting yourself out there, management is sure to notice. Over-delivering makes you a superstar and will help you in invaluable ways in your career.
Finally, Terry summarizes how to build your career into 3 factors – ability, knowledge and commitment. Work on yourself, learn as much as possible and commit to doing an A+ job every time. Nothing gets done if you give up halfway, be willing to put in the work and the hours and to commit for the long-haul. Incredible success is sure to follow.
Author’s Bio: SuccessGoGo connects job applicants with insiders in their industry. Every great resume needs a second opinion. Step up your CV game and secure an interview for your dream job today. Learn more about our services here.