Category Archives: Captains & Legends

An in-depth personality profile of the elites and leaders across various industries from all over the world

Rock & Light

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.

From a home computer to a global technology company

Datuk Kenny Goh

Co-Founder and Group CEO of MACROKIOSK

by Karina Foo

The formula that enabled a hobby to become a successful business is simply one based on passion, hard work and inquisitiveness.
Such attributes belong to Datuk Kenny Goh who found that his fond love and interest in computers would one day pave a lucrative way together with his two brothers to start their business, MACROKIOSK, a digital communications company.

“Electronics have always been a part of our lives since we were young. Our father had always been very supportive of our interest in electronics, particularly in the area of computerisation. Computers were still a niche thing and were considered quite costly back then, but our father bought us one computer to share amongst ourselves and it just sparked and grew our interest in technology,” said Goh who co-founded the business in his early 20’s.

Goh and his brothers, Datuk Henry Goh and Datuk CS Goh, established MACROKIOSK in 2000 boasting an impressive range of products and services to efficiently and securely bridge the gap between businesses and their digital audiences.

Goh is the company’s group CEO and with his strategic vision, perseverance, determination and a sharp business acumen, he has been the driving force to build MACROKIOSK into a leading digital technology company across Asia and beyond.

Innovation at its core and more
The company is at the forefront of delivering innovative digital products and solutions to enable businesses and individuals to embrace the digital economy. It has a presence in 14 countries and regions, supported by more than 250 multinational employees, and powers over 3,000 clients in 37 countries across 24 industries.

These impressive accolades are the results of the humble when Goh and his brothers would play and experiment with computers as children.

“When our father’s business attained the master distributorship of a Japanese-brand mobile phone in Malaysia, we were further exposed to the world of communications and we realised the importance of communication and the prospects of it. Our entrepreneurial journey actually started out as a hobby but has now become our careers and mission in our lives,” recounts Goh.

They say that when you work together with close relatives, the business could either steer your relationship for the better or worse. For Goh and his brothers, they’ve forged a strong and admirable bond that is reflected in the evolution of their business throughout the last 20 years.

“MACROKIOSK is a collective effort between my brothers and I who bring different capabilities, strengths and knowledge to the business. Being the eldest brother, my initial contribution involved strategic-based approach in steering the company’s direction. For example, I was the only one who was eligible at the time to register a company at the age of 21,” recounts Goh who’s current hobby involves constructing Legos and solving mechanistic puzzles.

The business has evolved substantially over the years as it was initially set up to provide computerisation and internet technology services, then to paging and mobile technology. Today, it encompasses key digital technologies focusing on digital usages for all industries. It is evident that this business has evolved and innovated through ever-changing consumer and market demands.

Turning Crisis to Opportunity
With the Covid19 pandemic that has inadvertently affected many businesses globally, Goh has been able to mitigate the effects for his business by structuring a strategic Business Continuity Plan (BCP) even before the pandemic.

“We are very fortunate during these unprecedented times because we’re an ISO27001-certified company which has protected us from the effects of the crisis. Our ever-evolving business model combined with the dynamic mindset of the people within our organisation has enabled us to turn crisis into opportunity.

Now when it comes to opportunity, Goh advises that it is vital for budding entrepreneurs to identify their unique opportunities and market gaps.

“Starting a business out of necessity alone (because everyone else is doing it), will not make you survive; you will only survive and thrive when you’ve discovered your opportunity and how to take advantage of it.”

Despite the dire repercussions for many from the worldly events in 2020, Goh remains optimistic and even opportunistic for his business and outlook in life.

“Everything has a cycle and we need to strike a balance in everything we do. I believe we should not sacrifice our health for wealth at the beginning of our lives in order to sacrifice our wealth for health at the tail end of our lives.

As for the business, we’re proudly Malaysian and therefore have always championed ‘Ciptaan Malaysia’ (Malaysian creation) – which is a good testament to our faith in the prospects of doing and growing business in Malaysia.”

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

June Goh, PJM

Managing Director of Wealthy Homes Expert Solutions Sdn Bhd

by Billie Ooi-Ng Lean Gaik

I bulked in large quantities of condos at low prices, restructured the marketing plans and cleared the stocks within a period of time.”

Aprominent face on billboards and magazine covers, June Goh is a force to be reckoned with.  Managing Director of Wealthy Homes Expert Solutions Sdn Bhd, she runs the company with great drive and motivation, resulting in big ticket property deals.     

Being an accomplished wife and a devoted mother of three are never easy but Goh does it with panache.  From super mum, she challenged and re-invented herself as an astute real estate entrepreneur.  “Work life balance.  Organisation, focus and productivity are important. Build downtime into your schedule. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.  A little relaxation goes a long way.”

Her Bachelor of Science with Honours is in computing science and information systems, but somehow, she was drawn to the property business. Company slogan ‘June Goh, the Gateway to Property’ rings true for locals and visitors alike, when in search of that dream house.  The Wealthy Homes comprehensive care package takes the client from property inspection and selection, leasing, renovation and interior design to Experience-Penang tours, limousine transfers and MM2H services.  To those entering the property market as an investor, Goh advises, “Use leverage to buy properties.  Line up your financing early. Invest in single-family homes first and turnkey real estate.  Aim to be cash flow positive.  Focus on your ROI and buy what you know.”

Conventionally an all-male bastion, Goh’s trajectory in the business is progressive and result oriented. “I’m thankful as it allows me to work harder and excel when compared to my gentlemen peers.  Determination is everything.  Focus on growth. Think bigger, use the power of dreams and your imagination. Massive action and do what you love. ”

Sincere, warm and friendly, she is well – liked and respected in business and social circles. Her company regularly organises talks and conferences to share critical information about property investment.  “The market may be a little soft now, but it is a cyclical phenomenon. Penang’s property market is supported by the state’s strong economic fundamentals.  I firmly believe in the Penang Chief Minister’s Master Plan 2030, especially in the upgrading of transportation and infrastructure, the green and sustainable projects. ”  

Her meteoric rise in the property industry is astounding but Goh has more goals to achieve. Her 2020 vision is to break traditional boundaries and go beyond the glass ceiling. What do you hope to achieve in life?  “A developer, probably.  A philanthropist, definitely. ”


Never Stop Learning

Koong Wai Seng
CEO of Quill Group

“Change is like the wind and there’s no stopping it. Therefore, it’s imperative that we continuously evolve for the better.” 

Humility is important for all of us, and more so for people who are successful and highly revered. 

The belief that once you’ve achieved everything (or most things) you’ve strived for, you’ve lived and learned life. But that’s quite the opposite for Quill Group’s new Chief Executive Officer, Koong Wai Seng because he never stops learning and doesn’t limit himself to only what he’s good at. 

“Regardless of your position or level in your company, I believe that you shouldn’t stick to what you know, rather, explore what you don’t know. If you only practice within your expertise, you’ll never expand your knowledge. Continue to learn, because the more you learn and immerse yourself in the areas outside of your abilities and skills, the more you’ll grow,” explained Koong. 

Perhaps, that’s the “secret” to his success with an impressive accolade of more than 20 years of experience in a variety of industries including audit, financial advisory, leisure, hospitality, healthcare, property development and property investment in a number of listed property development companies. 

He is a member of the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). Koong started his career at Arthur Andersen & Co before joining a public-listed property group for 13 years, where he served as chief financial officer and later as the group finance director. He was also the executive director of Sunway Group and Tropicana before assuming his position in Sunsuria in 2016 and moving to his most recent at Quill.

But he doesn’t boast about these C-Suite positions, rather, he would prefer to be known as a Change Leader because “Change is like the wind and there’s no stopping it. Therefore, it’s imperative that we continuously evolve for the better,” he said, adding that this is the core of his management philosophy.

According to Koong, part of growing and becoming a good leader is being curious, or in local layman’s term, a “busy body”. 

“I make myself participate in various departmental meetings like marketing, finance, HR and logistics as it helps me to acquire knowledge of the company’s operations in its entirety. 

Part of all this is also to be present and be part of your team regardless of their positions – talk to them, take them out for lunch or coffee and really get to know them. It builds meaningful relationships and trust.” 

Koong made it all by merit and hard work as he was born in a low-income family where his mother would sell fruits by the roadside to support the family. 

“Regardless of your position or level in your company, I believe that you shouldn’t stick to what you know, rather, explore what you don’t know. If you only practice within your expertise, you’ll never expand your knowledge…”

“I studied very hard and always set high standards for myself. I met my wife (then girlfriend) and we now have three boys,” he said. 

Koong will be 62 in 10 years but he is not aiming to retire by then. In fact, he wants to be more involved with his work on a deeper level taking on a more philanthropic mission so that he can leave a legacy for his kids. 

“For the new generation who want to be successful, it’s imperative that you associate yourself with high achievers because birds of a feather flock together – you will all lift each other up to reach your milestones sooner, so that you can achieve financial freedom earlier.”  

Aligning The Way of Life

Dr Hayden Pooke
Chief Executive Officer of Tonic Asia Group

My own personal purpose is to be the vessel for transformation, that is the reason I get up in the mornings, to try and make a difference

There is a higher purpose in life and for chiropractor, Dr Hayden Pooke, it is to transform people’s lives and make a difference. Not one to letthe small things irritate him, he believes strongly in being the light that brings changes to people and in any situation. This was translated into his profession of helping his patients gain pain-free lives. “My own personal purpose is to be the vessel for transformation, that is the reason I get up in the mornings, to try and make a difference,” he said.

Pooke and his wife, Dr Tamara Gien Pooke, came to Malaysia a decade ago when he was headhunted by Tonic Asia Group’s founder, Dato’ Dr Thomas Ong. Ong, who founded Tonic Asia Group in 1997, wanted Pooke to help him transform his clinics and expand throughout Malaysia. South African-born Pooke, had wanted to migrate to Australia when he came to Malaysia. He arrived here in 2009 and is now in the midst of applying for permanent residency here. “My wife and I love it here. There are a lot of opportunities especially to introduce chiropractic and integrative physical medicine in Malaysia,” he said.

The brand, TAGS for Tonic Asia Group, was developed after Pooke joined the company and in a few years, the group has expanded to include 11 centres and two hospitals in Malaysia, including East Malaysia. “It put chiropractic medicine on the map as a serious healthcare provider in Malaysia,” Pooke said. Soon, the TAGS clinics that started out as spine and joint specialist centres, integrated the centres to include physiotherapy. As Pooke puts it, chiropractic and physiotherapy services work hand-in-hand as one deals with the body’s alignment while the other on the core muscles.

The TAGS Spine and Joint Specialists Centres nationwide were proven to be successful with its focus on providing low-risk, healthier and non-invasive care for issues involving the joint and spine. Pooke said they meet their patients’ expectations 90 per cent of the time. “Seeing a chiropractor and being adjusted is not invasive and it facilitates and optimises movements for the patients,” he said. In many cases, he said patients find themselves pain-free after a few sessions at TAGS but stressed that treatment for each individual patient is different as it involves various factors that includes lifestyle, posture and diet.

“Treating Asians are different from caucasians as their physiology makeup are different.”

The recent popularity for chiropractic treatments mean that there is a future in this profession and the International Medical University Malaysia (IMU) is the only university in the country to offer a Chiropractic Bachelor’s Degree. Dr Tamara is a programme director for the degree in IMU and Pooke said this spells a bright future for the industry in Malaysia. He said chiropractic degrees offered by universities outside of Malaysia are focused on treating Westerners so most chiropractors learn how to treat Westerners and not Asians. “Treating Asians are different from caucasians as their physiology makeup are different,” he said. He said chiropractors who graduate from IMU will be trained to treat Malaysians and this will give them the advantage over foreign-trained chiropractors.

When he is not adjusting a patient’s alignment, Pooke is an avid wine collector with a growing collection at home. He also likes to spend his time in the kitchen whipping up creations to entertain his guests, family and friends. “I love to cook, I learnt to cook since I was six years old,” he said. He said his love for cooking has become something that he can use for business networking too where he brings business associates home and treats them to delicious home-cooked meals. 

The Zing of Life

Dato’ Seri Damien Chua Wei Kee
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, JD Resources

“It was not easy but each challenge that came my way, I always find ways to overcome it.”

If there is only one formula for success, it would have to be seizing an opportunity and make it work through pure grit and hard work. This was how Dato’ Seri Damien Chua went from a waiter to become the owner of 30 companies in nine countries within a span of 26 years.

It can be said that his early years as an adult striking out on his own was an invaluable lesson that taught him independence and a strong will to succeed. Coming from a middle-class family, Chua had wanted to study aeronautical engineering or chemical engineering when he finished school. Yet, aware of his parents’ financial limitations, he gave up that dream and started working various jobs to fund his own education. “Since engineering was too expensive, I chose the cheapest course – accounting,” he said. To fund his education, he did a slew of different jobs that ranged from tutoring to waitering and coaching. He worked in McDonald’s, Parkson Store as a promoter, a lifeguard, a swimming coach, a tuition teacher and a waiter in a restaurant.

He ended up working in a zinc distribution company while studying ACCA part-time. It was this job that gave him the most experience in the zinc industry. When the 1997 Asian financial crisis hit, Chua lost his job in the zinc distribution company as the company was so badly hit, it went under. Desperate for a job, he decided to apply for the accountant post in a Melbourne zinc supplier company. Instead of landing a job, he was unexpectedly appointed as an agent in Malaysia. With no other job offers, he decided to give it a try and this saw the establishment of JD Resources in 1998. “It was a challenge taking up the risk at a time when we were still facing the effects of the financial crisis but somehow, I managed to face up to it,” he said. It was not all smooth-sailing and yet for each challenge that came his way, Chua somehow managed to overcome it and came out unscathed. “It was not easy but each challenge that came my way, I always find ways to overcome it,” he added.

Today, JD Resources holds 30% market share of the zinc supplies and 55% market share of zinc alloy supplies in the Southeast Asia market. The company started out as a sole proprietorship distributing 15 to 20 tonnes of zinc products two decades ago and now, the company is large enough to be publicly listed and is distributing 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes of zinc products. “Last year, when everyone was pulling out of China due to the trade war, we were going in to set up our factory there because we wanted to tap into the China market,” he said.

Other than continuing to expand his growing business, Chua is involved in 16 non-governmental organisations (NGO) and was recently appointed as the Honorary-Consul of Hungary. He also makes sure he allocates time for his family every weekend and spends most of his free time, if any, reading at least one book each month. “I must read to continuously improve my knowledge, it is a life-long process that must never stop no matter how busy I am,” he said. 

“I must read to continuously improve my knowledge, it is a life-long process that must never stop no matter how busy I am”

Living A Beautiful Life

Professor Enzo Di Mambro
Consultant, Professor & Academic Board Member of EMBA

“I grew up in Rome where I was constantly surrounded by beautiful things and this was emphasised with my travels, particularly when we stayed in China because of its rich culture and people.”

Life is short, so live it to the fullest and always be happy. This has been heard so often and can even be cliche to many. Nevertheless it’s the mantra that Professor Enzo Di Mambro lives by and while life is not perfect, he certainly is happy. 

The Professor of the Inner Mongolia University in Penang lives happily ever after as an expatriate in the Moonlight Bay Apartments in Batu Ferringhi very much enjoying life and living it to the fullest. 

He is also the Consultant and Professor and Academic Board Member of the university’s EMBA (Executive Masters of Business Administration) programme as well as a professional chef with more than four decades in the hospitality industry. 

Enzo was born in Italy, but not in a hospital or even at home. Rather, he greeted the world alongside his twin brother under a pomegranate tree in the middle of nowhere as his mother went into labour while she and her husband were traveling.

“I grew up in Rome where I was constantly surrounded by beautiful things and this was emphasised with my travels, particularly when we stayed in China because of its rich culture and people.” He loved China so much that he even married a Chinese woman but interestingly, decided to settle in Penang under the programme, Malaysia as my Second Home (MM2H). 

“I am culturally successful because I believe that throughout my 63 years of life, traveling and working, I have developed worldly wisdom or a deep “knowledge” of people, how and why they behave the way they do. ”

“This decision happened years ago when some of my colleagues and I were in Perth. We had dinner and some drinks and started talking about where we want to die! So I said that I want to LIVE on a nice island, in a villa, with beautiful views and great weather. A few days later, a friend showed me an advertisement of the Moonlight Bay apartments in Penang. I did some research about Penang, then bought a unit almost immediately,” he quipped. 

It wasn’t a rash and misguided decision however, as Enzo had considered other nearby islands. But Penang called to him because of its very laid back way of life – “There’s also a lot more to do here. I think Bali and Phuket are more short-term tourist destinations while Hong Kong is quite chaotic,” he said. 

To him, everything about Penang is value for money from entertainment, shopping to properties. The people are warm, friendly and hospitable, the weather is warm throughout the year, food is delicious and the hospitals offer one of the greatest services among the other countries he’s been to. 

“So with these reasons, Penang is my home. But the main issue is the traffic, but I think many others share the same sentiments,” he said. 

You may believe that Enzo is successful as he nonchalantly refers to his luxury cars as his “toys” and owns a number of properties in other countries. But he thinks he is still “working” to achieve success. “I am culturally successful because I believe that throughout my 63 years of life, traveling and working, I have developed worldly wisdom or a deep “knowledge” of people, how and why they behave the way they do. Money is just a bonus. In fact, I’m just lucky because life has been very generous to me,” he explained. 

Leading By Example

Tan Lay Seong
Founder & CEO of Great Ideals Group

Leadership is not a position or a title but it is about leading by example and making things happen.

Tan Lay Seong from Great Eastern is a name majority will know or at least have heard of in the Malaysia insurance industry. Coming from a poor family of eight, Lay Seong has endeavored this journey through hard work, determination and self belief. “The spirit of believing in whatever you do is very important, we cannot change where we came from but we can always decide what we want to be in the future,” said Lay Seong. Immediately after graduating from the National University Of Malaysia (UKM) in 1995, he joined the insurance industry and never looked back. 10 years later, he successfully built his own empire, won numerous awards and wrote his first book ‘The Champion Path’, documenting his life journey to encourage people to live their dreams. The book was later translated into English and subsequently sold internationally. 

To date, Lay Seong’s numerous outstanding achievements include the first and only Malaysian to be selected twice for the Worldwide 500 Chinese Insurance Agency, Top 10 Outstanding Youth Malaysian Awards (Merit) and Agency Leader Of The Year 2018. When asked why investing in insurance is important, his answer was short and precise saying that this is an alternative investment to protect or at least to ease the burden of families or corporations when encountered with unfortunate business or financial stress. He firmly believes that insurance is not only a wise investment as protection, but this is also a good career path for those who have good leadership qualities with proper management systems. “Leadership is not a position or a title but it is about leading by example and making things happen, ” Lay Seong explained.

Besides insurance, this remarkable gentleman is also the National President of PUMM and the Advisor for PCCC Youth – Personal Development Bureau. This father of two loves soccer and badminton for the persistence and fighting spirit of the games. 

Last but not least, Lay Seong’s principle in life is “Let us use our lives to influence others to do better!” 

“The spirit of believing in whatever you do is very important, we cannot change where we came from but we can always decide what we want to be in the future.”

Penang’s Own Wonder Woman

EZMY54_Mei Tan.png

Mei Tan

Founder & CEO of Scoopoint Sdn Bhd

“We want to see people working together to achieve a desired outcome. It’s not just tables and chairs where people work in isolation like you see in cafes. Scoopoint focuses on  entrepreneurial minds to enable them to start and develop successful projects.”

Leaving a legacy is not something that many 30-something year olds think about, let alone are dedicated to invest their whole time in.

But Mei Tan is working on making her mark in Penang’s talent pool and at the same time, hoping to leave her legacy where others can follow.

The Founding CEO of Scoopoint Co-Working envisions multi generations to collaborate and work together in order to grow Penang’s talent pool and competitive advantage. These are big aspirations for this youth, hence setting up Scoopoint as a creative community of like-minded people to share ideas and collaborate on projects.

“We want to see people working together to achieve a desired outcome. It’s not just tables and chairs where people work in isolation like you see in cafes. Scoopoint focuses on  entrepreneurial minds to enable them to start and develop successful projects. Think of it as a supportive community for budding start-ups and this is where they can come to grow their businesses and teams,” explains Mei Tan who refers to herself as a “Creativentreprenuer” – someone who is creative and also business-minded.

Scoopoint.jpgScoopoint’s concept is only planting a small seed to her bigger plans that is to encourage more talent to stay in Penang. “I envision supporting and growing the system and creative entrepreneurship in Penang. We have the potential to venture internationally and make a name for ourselves and I hope to achieve this one day.”

Mei Tan is also the COO and creative director of Asia Green Group, one of Penang’s premier high-end property developers. One does wonder how the young lass has time for herself with multiple projects under her belt.

“My schedule is really busy, but I always spend some time with my family. I also enjoy traveling, outdoor sports and working out. Working out is time for myself where I can just focus and get a good sweat.”

Mei Tan has certainly come a long way as she admits that she was once shy and self-conscious about her appearance. Not too long ago, she was often teased and called “fat” which affected her self-esteem. But when she left to the US to work, it helped build her confidence and her passion for fitness and public speaking soon saw her metamorphosing into a confident and affable young lady.

Currently, she sees a gap between the older and younger generation in the business arena and workforce. She believes that both can learn from each other’s strengths.

“The millennials certainly appreciate their seniors and what they have done to shape Penang to what it’s become today through their hard work and persistence. But we always want to encourage all generations to be more open minded and think about how we can better work together to embrace new technology for businesses to thrive.

Mei Tan_2.jpg

By Karina Foo 

For The Love Of Animals 

EZMY54_Dr Lim Ban Keong.pngDr. Lim Ban Keong D.V.M. (UPM)

Group Managing Director of Rhone Ma Holdings Berhad

We want people to not only see how we’ve transformed the company, but how this transformation can benefit  them and the society as a whole in terms of their health and animal welfare including their lovely pets.

We often read about the success of thought leaders in property development, retail and the automotive industries. It is not common to hear about the growth and success of businesses in animal health products that have made an impact in their country of origin.

One such company in Malaysia is Rhone Ma Holdings Berhad, an end-to-end animal health solution provider in Malaysia and is headed by its Group managing director, Dr Lim Ban Keong, a former veterinarian in the livestock industry.

Under his leadership, the business has transformed from a local trading company into a Bursa Malaysia Main Board listed company in December 2016. Rhone Ma was established after a management buyout of the animal health division of Rhodia Malaysia in year 2000.

Lim, who holds a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine from from Universiti Putra Malaysia, is also a registered veterinary surgeon with the Malaysian Veterinary Council since 1997 and also a member of the Veterinary Association Malaysia since 1998.

Studying veterinary science may not give most students much insight into the world of business operations, But the Penang local already had a head start in his career as a technical sales executive at Pahang Pharmacy Sdn. Bhd. in 1997. One year later, he joined Rhodia Malaysia as a Techno-Commercial Executive in the animal health division where he was in charge of the product portfolio covering veterinary pharmaceutical and biological products. He joined Rhone Ma Malaysia in 2000 which acquired the animal health division of Rhodia Malaysia.

Lim was subsequently promoted to General Manager in 2010 and assumed the role of Managing Director in 2013. The journey has been anything but easy, but Lim, 46, is grateful for the experience and guidance given by all his mentors along the way, especially Dr Raymond Choo, his predecessor in Rhone Ma. “I also feel blessed to have role models supportive partners like Mr Foong Kam Weng and Dr Karen Yip, who are also founding members of Rhone Ma. In fact, they consented and supported my appointment as the general manager.” 

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Commemorating the launch of Bioeconomy Day 2018 with Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry YB Tuan Sim Tze Tzin and CEO of Bioeconomy Corporation Dr. Mohd Shuhaizam Mohd Zain

I wanted to take the opportunity to realise my transformation dream for dream of transforming the company.

“When I reflect on what I have been through, I felt like a newborn when I accepted the challenges because everything was new to me. But I wanted to take the opportunity to realise my transformation dream for dream of transforming the company,” said Lim who also credits Vistage Malaysia for their exemplary CEO coaching programmes.

Not surprisingly, one of Lim’s biggest milestones was when the company became public as it only took three months to happen since the date of application for IPO.

 “As a public listed company, it is our responsibility to meet investors’ expectations. Though we have more complex obstacles to overcome, this is all part of business growth and corporate transformation,” explains Lim.

Our IPO proceeds will is used to fund our development plan for the construction of a new GMP-Compliant Plant in Nilai and a warehouse with three storey offices in Klang.” says Lim. The Group has commenced the construction of the GMP-compliant plant with completion estimated to be in the end of 2019. The new warehouse in Kapar was completed towards the end of 2018 and is currently awaiting for the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC) by the local authorities. Once fully operational, the warehouse is expected to increase storage space to cater to increasing storage needs for both animal health products and food ingredients.

“We also aim to expand our product range and introduce new pharmaceuticals and feed additives through our in-house R&D capabilities and finally, to expand regionally to broaden our international customer base.”

In addition to being the exclusive distributor of Boehringer Ingelheim’s companion animal product range in Malaysia, Lim also notched another achievement when he successfully signed on two big names in the animal health and nutrition industry to distribute their products in Malaysia, namely Ceva Sante Animale S.A. (Ceva) and Zoetis Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (Zoetis). Ceva, on 1 January 2018, appointed Rhone Ma as the Exclusive Distributor of its swine-related products, while in April 2018, the company signed another Distributorship agreement with Zoetis Malaysia Sdn. Bhd, a subsidiary of Zoetis Inc., for its poultry related products.

Lim further pursued his dreams of transforming Rhone Ma, where in early 2018, the Company incorporated a new wholly-owned subsidiary,  APSN Healthcare & Diagnostics Sdn. Bhd. (APSNH) in their effort to foray into the human healthcare segment. Under this new business segment, APSNH aims to provide test and diagnostics services for human healthcare, conduct R&D in biotechnology and distribution of human healthcare and related products. Although it is still in its infancy stage, Lim believes that the segment will grow due to its vast potential.

It’s not just the business that Lim wants to grow, but also enrich public perception on the animal health industry. “We want people to not only see how we’ve transformed the company, but how this transformation can benefit  them and the society as a whole in terms of their health and animal welfare including their lovely pets.”

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Dr. Lim and his biker buddies at The Distinguished Gentleman’s ride