Category Archives: EZ 60 – Captains & Legends

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