Take a hands-on approach, learn how to manage cash flow
IN THIS success of the week: the Insight Story column, SunBiz establishes relationship with General Manager of Aima Construction Sdn Bhd, Khor Ken Yeon (picture).
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
My career started in my father’s company eight years ago, but when I started, no one in the company knew who I was. I was treated the same as other new hires and this arrangement gave me the chance to learn from scratch as a young executive. Without the privilege as the boss’s son, my superior was upfront with me and that helped sharpen my character and skills effectively.
It was through hard work and training that I was able to climb the corporate ladder and become who I am today.
What characteristics do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?
Humility, honesty and determination – these are the three traits that I deeply appreciate. High academic qualifications alone, without the three traits I mentioned, do not add much value to the organization. If you are not humble in your work, you can only go so far because you refuse to learn. If you are not hardworking, you tend to find shortcuts in your work and you will not be willing to go through the difficult paths. And if you’re not honest, you just can’t be trusted.
So, I prefer to hire someone with low skills but with a good attitude, and train them accordingly.
How do you think the industry you work in will evolve?
I am involved in the construction industry, which has generally lagged behind in the use of technology. However, I foresee the industry transforming with the help of advanced technologies. By integrating greater technology in the office and on the construction site, such as the industrialized construction system, we will be able to reduce our operating costs and also shorten our construction period. A significantly shorter construction period will result in effective cost control and lower property prices for end buyers.
What advice can you offer to those looking to start their own career/business?
Be active in your work, don’t expect others to take care of your business the way you do. There is no shortcut if you are starting a business and you must be prepared to devote more time to building the business. You have to sacrifice your time and your life, and like it or not, it’s hard to talk about work-life balance.
Learn to seize opportunities when they arise, because the good odds aren’t always there for you. On top of that, you have to learn how to manage your cash, which is an art. Without a good cash flow, you will fail in the event of business difficulties.
Finally, identify your risk accordingly and don’t let your excitement about the business blind you to potential risks.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?
My father is my mentor in life. He influenced me enormously, especially in the risk assessment of projects. This is how I learned to measure the risks involved whenever the opportunity presented itself. The initial focus is not on the benefits, but on the risks.
The lesson is to be skeptical at first to fully understand a situation or a project. It also helps me control my mind, I won’t get overexcited about a new project, and instead I learn to see possible problems. But, of course, I’m not just being skeptical. I accept risks or problems with an open mind and seek the best solutions.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
My goal is to diversify the revenue base of my business. My ambition has always been to develop a solid company and make it grow. The ultimate plan is to float the company in Bursa Malaysia within the next five years.
This is my personal plan and that of the company. Raising the company to greater heights will continue to be my personal goal. The more the company improves, the more I gain in satisfaction.
The most admired business leader? Why?
Elon Musk, because of his futuristic thinking. He sees the future of human history and dares to dream big. A lot of people may think he’s crazy, but he’s here to prove people wrong. Of course, he is not only an ideologue, but he also makes things happen as he envisioned. He is determined and admirable. We need more of these people to make the world a different place.
How do you stay on top of issues affecting your industry?
I consume most of my information from various media platforms. I also enjoy engaging with people through business networking sessions and chambers of commerce to expand my visibility. I believe in learning from people by engaging with them. It is not only useful for my business, but also for my personal development.
In order to remain relevant in the market, one must learn from the professionals and put into practice what has been learned. Never give up on learning.
What man-made innovation baffles you? Why?
The Internet. It connects people across borders. With the internet, we can easily consume information at a rapid pace. Imagine going through the pandemic without the internet, the impact will be very severe. Thanks to technology, we can get the latest updates on Covid-19 cases and viruses at our fingertips. Business transactions can also be concluded through virtual meetings without physical presence.
A must read for every business owner/manager is…
Sun Tzu – The Art of War. This book provides advice on how one can better handle a situation. Globally, many leaders apply Sun Tzu’s methods in politics and business, although the book is already a few thousand years old. It is an influential work of military strategy that has affected Western and East Asian philosophies.
Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you don’t have to fear the results of a hundred battles.
So, you should never underestimate your competitors, you should know what they do, how they do it and revamp your weaknesses and improve yourself.
What are the top three factors you would attribute your success to?
I believe that I have not yet achieved “success” because there is a lot to learn from the best leaders in the industry. If I had to choose three key factors that have shaped my personality today, it would be honesty, hard work and determination.
I stand for honesty and refuse to be a scammer who only cares about profit and margin. If you prioritize only profit and margin for all your business transactions, it tends to cloud your judgments.
I believe in working hard and looking for better solutions whenever I am faced with a problem. Without the constant determination to achieve better results in life, one will not be able to climb the corporate ladder and establish a reliable brand presence for his organizations.