Category Archives: EZ 57 – Captains & Legends

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.