What Matters To Me: Dexter Lau, Executive Director Of Kim Teck Cheong
In the What Matters To Me series, a Generation T honouree describes what they do, why they do it, and why it matters
Kim Teck Cheong Consolidated was established by Dexter Lau’s grandfather as a small retailer in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Today, the family business is East Malaysia’s largest distributor of packaged goods and a public company, a meteoric rise he attributes to the robust values the company has built over three generations.
Here, he describes his work in his own words.
Everything comes in a package. I had the privilege of being exposed to many disciplines and many departments of a business at an early stage, and I was able to develop my skills at a faster rate. But these perks don’t come easy. Working for a family business, you need to put your heart into building it as a whole, whereas in a traditional working environment there are systems in place, all ready for you. When dealing with your own business, you need to establish processes, policies and governance that will help organise the company. Forging your organisation’s identity and modus operandi is a key challenge for each and every business owner who wants to create a lasting company culture.
Modernisation is just a matter of making yourself more efficient. It has got nothing to do with making the company more glamorous. Efficiency leads to effectiveness, which affects the ability to adapt to your business surroundings. The values set by my grandfather and father will never go out of fashion, in my opinion.
Integrity, trust, honesty, respect—these are the key values and principles that I’ve picked up from my predecessors and I know that it is my duty to pass them on to the next generation
Don’t put too much hope in the future. It may be common to think of passing your business on to an heir, but don’t get too caught up in it. Focus on the present. You should always build something for yourself first before thinking too far ahead.
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Integrity, trust, honesty, respect—these are the key values and principles that I’ve picked up from my predecessors and I know that it is my duty to pass them on to the next generation. Whether the next generation will use whatever I have built today is immaterial, as they will use the values I have imparted to establish their own vision of the company, fine tune them and decide on policies that will best suit the environment of tomorrow.
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Encourage yourself to reach for the stars. Challenge the status quo so that you continuously build your capabilities, your network and even the way you think. That way, you can pass on these lessons to the next generation. I think this is more important than passing on a business to your children.
See honourees from the Retail category of the Gen.T List 2019.