Category Archives: Captains & Legends

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

THE PERFECT WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Datin Yap Shin Siang

CEO of YYC


Be ambitious and have courage when chasing your dreams! It is not easy to strike a balance between chasing dreams and family, but I believe we should go all out and live life!”

Beautiful, Inspiring, Bold, and Ambitious are probably the four best words to describe Datin Yap Shin Siang or Shin, CEO of YYC. Kids commonly do not fancy following in their parents’ footsteps because they have spent so much time with their mums and dads while growing up and have their own dreams. On the contrary, Shin’s ultimate ambition since she was young was to take over her dad’s accounting firm. When asked why this was her biggest ambition, she laughed and said: “Dad told us that accounting is a very glamorous, respected, and high paid job. I later only found out that none of that is true.” 

A graduate of Melbourne University, Shin spent 2 years in the Big Four before entering her dad’s accounting firm. “I felt like the Chinese character Mulan, who in the ancient times took the place of her father and went to war. Initially I was very excited to join the firm, but after some time I got bored.” Her dad told her that there was a Chinese saying that goes: “The first generation creates the business whilst the second generation defends it.” Shin started off strong, but it was short lived because the Chinese saying really affected her and she believed that she had to strongly defend the business. 

Soon she realised that it was not her mindset that was the issue but rather working for someone and not owning the business. She decided to step up her game and started playing both defensive and offensive. This was not the only hurdle as good old thrifty dad was not all that flexible to changes. “There were many disagreements and I got very upset. I eventually became emotional and cried which made Dad give in,” she said, revealing her secret weapon. Her younger brother, Chau, joined the company immediately after his graduation. “I thought that we will be making changes smoothly together, but we ended up arguing a lot. Chau had a few side businesses, and we did not have a clear direction for the company. I was also going through post-natal depression after having my first child at that time,” said Shin. 

2010 was the turning point for the company, Chau discovered a strategic business programme from abroad that increased YYC’s performance from 30% to 4000%. 2019 was yet another milestone for Shin and Chau as OCBC became a partner of YYC. Shin told EZ Malaysia: “OCBC invested in us because of our past achievements and they have faith in our dreams to become an international homegrown accounting firm.” Since then, YYC has been searching and investing in good accounting firms both locally and internationally. 

Today, Shin is probably better known as the face of YYC and an inspiration to many young successful and emerging women entrepreneurs. “Be ambitious and have courage when chasing your dreams! It is not easy to strike a balance between chasing dreams and family, but I believe we should go all out and live life! I was afraid of public speaking before, but today I enjoy it as I can share my journey and advice to so many individuals in the business industry. Being a female entrepreneur does have its advantages as we sometimes stand out among the men,” Shin explained. 

When it comes to what she thinks success is all about, her answers were very well defined. According to her… 

Success is doing better every day and every time. 

Success is being able to empower entrepreneurial success. 

Success is positively impacting 100 million lives. 

Success is being able to inspire everyone to overcome their odds, unleash their potential and find fulfilment in life. 

When Shin was asked about her brother Chau, she acknowledged that they both did struggle initially but then managed to work brilliantly together by utilizing each other’s strengths. She said: “My brother is very good at mapping and strategizing whereas I am good at executing the strategies. It is a perfect business partnership.” Shin also expressed that she is very blessed to have a husband who support her unconditionally and two beautiful children, Megan and Cristian,  This very busy lady makes it a point to exercise daily, love to read biographies of successful entrepreneurs especially on topics how they overcome challenges in life and watches Korean dramas to release stress if any. 

Journey Of Chef Nette

Annette Isaac ‘Chef Nette’


Chef Nette has worked with a wide range of companies to introduce innovative local flavours to diverse audiences, not only  Malaysians.

In the time-honoured tradition of apprenticeship, Annette Isaac, better known as ‘Chef Nette’, learned early at the kitchen tables of cherished Aunts whose culinary arts hail from across Malaysia and the world. While studying in England, she became an avid traveller, picking up flavours and developing recipes from Southampton to South America. Upon returning home, it wasn’t long before Chef Nette set up a restaurant that became famous for its classic specials, Ayam Masak Merah, Roast Beef, and even Lancashire Hot Pot. 

After nearly a decade, Chef Nette has focused on being an entrepreneur and today, she is one of the country’s most sought after food stylists, providing culinary consultancy services in Recipe Development, Culinary Lessons, and Catering under the brand ‘Nette’s Nosh’. 

Chef Nette creates new recipes and styling for international brands including Nestlé, Unilever, Quaker, Hellman’s, ABC Indonesia, Care Food (Asian Meals), MAS, and Air Asia, among other favourites. She has also travelled again, although this time as a professional chef, attending food exhibitions and often promoting Malaysian food in countries in Europe,America and Asia .With a fervent belief that cooking is a vital part of heritage, as important as art and music, Chef Nette has worked with a wide range of companies to introduce innovative local flavours to diverse audiences, not only Malaysians.

Chef Nette has an exclusive book series with publisher MPH, which will see her tastes, talents, and creativity become even better known.

Turning a crisis into an opportunity

Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa

CEO of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE)


“The crisis is real for a lot of businesses, but we’ve seen it as an opportunity where digital operations are the new norm, even for MATRADE.”

While he’s affectionately called “Mr Nice Guy” by some, Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa prefers to be recognised for his strong principals in honesty and integrity.

As CEO of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), he firmly believes in treating everyone equally, to give them a fair go. In addition, he constantly strives for transparency and accountability in order to create a successful organisational culture. 

“I didn’t know that I’m ‘Mr Nice Guy,” he chuckles. “There could be a number of reasons for that, but when it comes to running this organisation, I follow the traditional Japanese management style which is to ensure that everything is planned carefully, implemented and followed through with comprehensive measured outcomes. This applies to the entire organisation because everyone must be on the same page with the same end-goal to achieve.”

Wan Latiff is likely referring to ‘Kaizen” – a Japanese philosophy that means operations to facilitate “change for the better” or “continuous improvement” that involves all employees.

He’s been heavily influenced by this practice after spending more than seven years working in Japan and quietly admits that he can speak some Japanese.

Wan Latiff’s appointment as CEO of Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency in January 2019 was a natural progression in his 36-year career in export, trade and tourism. 

“I’ve always worked in these sectors from the time after I graduated to now. I started with Tourism Malaysia after graduating and stayed there for 13 years (that time it was a tourism development cooperation at that time). In my time there, I had the opportunity to serve abroad for more than five years. I joined Matrade 12 years ago and my last post before CEO was the deputy CEO. 

“I won’t say I have a big job. Everyone who works for MATRADE has key responsibilities to meet the same goal- Help Malaysian businesses become and remain competitive on a global scale.”

Putting Malaysian companies on the global map

While many admire him for his top role in this agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), he carries with him overwhelming responsibilities that have little margin for error.  

MATRADE is a fully integrated organisation, whereby it is the coordinating agency for all export activities in the nation undertaken by various ministries and agencies. With over 46 members operating in 37 countries, it’s no doubt a challenging appointment to ensure that the entire organisation stays aligned and clear to its mission. 

“I won’t say I have a big job. Everyone who works for MATRADE has key responsibilities to meet the same goal – help Malaysian businesses become and remain competitive on a global scale. “

“Realistically, we can’t cover all bases so we collaborate closely with ministries from other countries who have funds to promote specific sectors that will feature imported goods (from Malaysia) into their country, whilst our network of officers promote our products worldwide,” explains Wan Latiff.  

Getting to the top

Currently, Malaysia ranks as the 25th trading nation in the world out of 160 members in the World Trade Organisation. While that’s certainly something to be proud of, Wan Latiff says that Malaysia can further improve its position. 

“98% of entities registered in Malaysia are SMEs, yet their export contribution is only 17-18%. The larger contributors (82%) are from MNCs and foreign investors. We want to assist SMEs to contribute more to exports and create more job opportunities, especially during and post Covid19 because this sector has been hit hard. 

We are helping them revisit the need to export to sustain their business and to operate, then later to create jobs. We do this by working with other ministries and agencies who are responsible and critical for SME development. We hope SMEs will leverage on our provision to help them on their entire journey of their export value chain.

A pandemic that turned into an opportunity

While 2020 has been a turbulent and distressing year for many due to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid 19), Wan Latiff observes that technology companies are thriving from the event.

“The crisis is real for a lot of businesses, but we’ve seen it as an opportunity where digital operations are the new norm, even for MATRADE. We physically can’t bring Malaysian companies abroad so our online business matching activities have been key to continue our mission.

The agency’s programme, E-Biz Match (E-Business Matching) is like its trade matching services but for online platforms including webinars and business pitching for trade related enquiries and activities. 

He remains optimistic for the rest of the year and 2021, despite exports falling by 20% when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was put in place in late March 2020. “COVID 19 has actually brought new opportunities to totally leverage digital platforms,” says Wan Latiff.  

by Karina Foo

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.  

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“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.