Dato’ CJ Eng
Chief executive officer of Asia Gemological Laboratory
by Billie Ooi-Ng Lean Gaik
“Focus single-mindedly on what you do best and your passion, then you can make a difference and stand out from the crowd.”
A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials. Polished and rather close to perfection, Dato’ CJ Eng is the inspiration behind the Asia Gemological Laboratory (AGL).
After graduating in accounting and finance from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Dato’ Eng spent the early years of his career in public accounting firms, developing accounting and financial expertise. Corporate management and business development came naturally to him. “CEOs who started their careers in accounting and finance tend to be successful and excellent leaders. I constantly engage in strategic planning of business, running a team and having commercial ownership of various products.” He is a firm believer of the Hedgehog Concept from the book Good to Great. “Focus single-mindedly on what you do best and your passion, then you can make a difference and stand out from the crowd.”
His dream team comprises the diplomatic ace turned corporate honcho Dato’ Zainuddin Yahya, pioneering genius and gemstone specialist Ng Lian Im and the fearless and multitalented chemical engineer Dato’ Billy Lai. Together with Dato’ Eng, the four of them have charted AGL’s course to the pinnacle of success in just three short years. “When I first met them, I knew that we share a deep passion for the earth’s beauty as well as an understanding for authentication and expertise in minerals and gemstones.”
AGL’s international group of professionally qualified and dedicated gemologists aims to make AGL the number one preferred gemological laboratory in Malaysia, providing comprehensive services like authentication and certification of gemstones, manufacturing and retailing, workshops and courses, and educational mining field trips. “We have the most sophisticated technology and equipment for gemstone identification, design and manufacturing.”
Future plans include establishing laboratories in mining countries like Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. “We are excited about these opportunities and we want to make Malaysia proud by being the Malaysian gemological laboratory providing assistance in the gemstones industry to these countries.”
Gemstones and jewelleries have always been a part of human society and history. Urbanisation has increased its demand.
“Eighty percent of the gemstone market is dominated by diamonds. However, there is a promising growth in emeralds, rubies and sapphires. There will always be interest in precious gemstones. During a recent Sotheby online auction, the ‘Tutti Frutti’ bracelet by Cartier was sold for USD1.3 million as the most expensive jewel traded online.”
Gemstones are revered by many, for the appreciation in value or simply for its beauty or the pleasure it brings to the owner. “I still remember vividly the magical feeling when I first held an investment grade natural non-heat Royal Blue sapphire during my first mining trip in Sri Lanka. It was an incredible feeling of pure joy.”
For adrenalin, Dato’ Eng loves football, golf and high-altitude sports. He once hiked to Mt Everest Base Camp, with his own chefs and porters, and descended by helicopter.