THE MAN BEHIND THE SCENES… of the McMillan Woods Global Awards

Dato’ Raymond Liew

President of McMillan Woods

A man so engrossed with his 24/7 work routine and for what he is today, one may think that this gentleman would have no time for his family and loved ones. On the contrary, this gentleman who is none other than Dato’ Raymond Liew, leads a simple life, shying away from high society where he was there, saw it all, and enjoyed it; now, he spends most of his leisure with cherished family and friends.

In a world beset by strife, vulgarity and the inequities of human existence, it becomes almost inevitable that one develops a sense of cynicism – a kind of intellectual flak jacket, against the countless bits of inspirational fiction and half-truths that bombard our consciousness.  It is an unfortunate corollary of a post-Facebook society that every other tale of triumph over adversity and circumstances is either one of pure fiction or otherwise heavily exaggerated.

At first glance, Dato’ Raymond Liew mightn’t appear as someone who would normally associate with the blue collar way of life. To his peers, it would seem like he is just another well-heeled man amidst a vast and bountiful sea of excess and capitalism. Dig deeper however, and you will find that Raymond – yes, that’s how he wishes to be addressed, is the product of an environment as unforgiving as it was unfair. Raymond stands tall as a self-made man despite or perhaps even because of the circumstances of his early life.

Of roaring heights and spectacular falls

“I attribute what I have today to the upbringing provided to me by my parents,” he enthuses. “My late father may not have been educated in the academic sense but as far as business and family ‘values were’ concerned, he was a giant in my eyes.” Raymond went on to elaborate: “My father inculcated in me a strong sense of integrity and accountability – where integrity comes from the heart! What you practise in front of others, you must also practise behind closed doors – that’s integrity!”

Raymond continued, “When I was very young, my father was rich – in my early years we lacked for almost nothing but because my father was by nature a very trusting person, his once thriving business collapsed around him. People owed him a lot of money but they never paid. In traditional Chinese culture, my father valued their friendship far more than he valued pieces of printed paper.” Raymond, being the third youngest of eleven siblings grew wispy as he trudged on with his father’s tale of roaring heights and spectacular fall from grace.  Lesson learned. “Certainly, it is one thing to rise up from difficult circumstances but it is something else entirely to witness the good things you once had disappear.”

Family values

“Which is worse? To be born blind, never having seen the blue ocean? Or to behold the majesty of a cloudless night sky, the sight of a perfectly tailored suit on one’s frame – the vision of beauty that is one’s lover, only to have one’s eyesight taken away in a horrible accident? Believe you me – the latter is far more difficult to handle.” Raymond went on to expound, “But what choice did I have? My family and I had to go on living – we had to eat, so my father did the only thing he could at the time – run a small coffee shop in Jalan Ipoh. We would wake up at 5.00am to prepare for the breakfast crowd. Initially, it was difficult to come to terms with, especially with memories of what we used to have in the back of our minds.”

Nonetheless, Raymond knew that the good things in life had to wait – and wait he did. “All of us, brothers and sisters made a pledge that we would never be poor again so long as we could do it with a clear conscious.”

To this end, Raymond’s father insisted that all his children receive formal and extended tertiary education. “Unlike him, my father wanted each of his children to be qualified professionals. That way, no matter what happened in the future his, children would have their education to fall back on.”

Raymond has an almost innocent, childlike adoration for his mother, who is still going strong at 88 years young. “My father was the one who held the rod, who disciplined us whenever we needed it but mum was the one we would always run to for help – even today! She never lost her temper with us. I believe she knew there was a need for a softer, gentler touch to compensate for my father’s stricter ways.”

Raymond’s mother was the backbone of the family. “She was always there to comfort us and listen to our to our error-riddled adolescent stories. All of us brothers and sisters now take great care to ensure our mother is comfortable. After all, with the sacrifices that our father made for us, one of the small ways in which we try to honour him is to honour our mother.”

When asked about his wife and nearly two-year-old daughter, not forgetting his grown-up son, Michael Liew who is pursuing his own dreams, Raymond can’t help but light up about two of his three favourite women. “My wife and I always yearned for a little girl and God blessed us with our beautiful little Jenna. Having our daughter at home – it makes everything else seem so trivial now,” he shares. “The wealth, the career, and the material possessions – all of that does not matter to me anymore!”

Raymond became very philosophical when talking about what the future holds for his daughter. “I want my daughter to have a better life than I did when I was young. She will live differently than I – she will have all the love that my parents showered on me but I also want her to be comfortable.”

McMillan Woods – The global network

After completing his professional degree and post graduate studies in London, Raymond spent the better part of 20 years living and working in England, he decided to make the bold move to return home to Malaysia to set up the global advisory firm with a group of highly powered individuals on 9th January 2010 with its global Head Office in London, United Kingdom – McMillan Woods.

Raymond opines, “The McMillan Woods network is very different from others – we do not believe in making money off our stakeholders. We collect no royalties beyond a cursory annual fee for the upkeep and maintenance of the global network.”

One of the key factors behind the network’s explosion in size in such a short span of time is the sense of camaraderie and brotherhood that member firms and individual members feel. “When they join us, they are no longer alone – they become part of the global community of firms.”

McM Care programme – CRS drive!

Raymond is also very proud of the McMillan Woods’ signature ‘McM Care’ programme, which is primarily a corporate social responsibility drive. Over the years, McM Care has donated hundreds of thousands to charity to include nurturing Mother Earth by planting 201 trees at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, thus lending the McM name to conservation and eco-sustaining efforts. “At the end of the day, we need to bear in mind that this world belongs to our future generations as well – we need to work for their well-being too.”

McMillan Woods Global Awards

When asked of the McMillan Woods Global Awards, Raymond explains, “The Global Awards recognise recipients who do what they do with the sort of integrity, accountability, responsibility and professionalism not seen anywhere else.”

His motto is “Nothing is insurmountable if you put your mind, body and soul into attaining the intended goal.”

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