Category Archives: EZ 56 – Captains & Legends

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.”