5 Memorable Lessons From My 5 Former Bosses

Love them or hate them, we all had bosses at one time or another in our life. As much as we hate to admit it, we always learn something from them.

This is my take on the recent article I read on Valuables Lessons Learned From Bosses on Forbes. I find that it gives a good reflection on how it has help guided me in my career since the younger days and it’s always good to share the wisdom with others who may not have the direct benefit of having them directly as your boss.

  1. An Advantage Is Always A Double-Edged Sword
    This came from my first mentor in Sunway Group, Mr.Wong Fook Chai who was then the senior General Manager & Director of Sunway Marketing (and is now CEO of ┬áTrading & Manufacturing at Sunway Berhad). I was a management trainee back then, and I remember vividly that he cautioned me that any privileges or opportunities (including those granted to a management trainee) is always a double-edged sword. I didn’t really understood fully when he told me that, but later one day, a situation unfolded when I did not report my actions to him but directly to my supervisor instead (yes, I had multiple reporting lines as a management trainee which I am sure everyone can relate to). Turns out that I should have informed him personally first instead of my direct supervisor. And that was when he took another chance to remind me of the advise and its consequences again. From then on, I always kept it at heart to always analyze a perceived advantage or strength for its downsides, so that I can always make contingency plans.
  2. The Art of Pointing
    Since presentation is always a passion of mine, I always vividly remember any advice about them. This came from my 2nd management trainee supervisor, Mr. Yap Kuan Kwong who himself has been involved in technical presentations on enterprise software for more than two decades! He thought me that it’s important to use hand gestures to point out key items during a presentation and that for dramatization/emphasis, walking towards the projected image (without obscuring the important item) always helps. Most importantly, if laser pointers are used, use it precisely, briefly and not wavering all around like a red glowing fly which definitely confuses the audience!
  3. The Japanese Are Good At Marketing (So are the Koreans and Chinese of today)
    Though my time with S&I’s then COO (current CEO), Eric Sng was very brief, he is a very sharp and brilliant IT businessman. I recall a very important conversation I had with him when I was convincing him to start a new division focused on cloud software solutions, I had proposed that we get into the SaaS business ASAP to become a pioneer in Singapore. He responded that even if you are a latecomer to an industry, you can always make good profit and establish a brand. He told me an example where in the early 90s, the Japanese waited for the American companies to create products, and then when a market was established they would enter it with better pricing, branding and at times adding innovative features. This is how they reduced the risk of entering a market.
  4. You Are Only As Big As Your Target Market Size
    One of the central figures who shaped my business instincts and foresight was Mark Lee Tian Hock (previous CEO of S&I Systems Pte Ltd). He thought me to always look into the current and potential market size before developing any business strategies, because if a market is too small then it can only sustain so many players meanwhile if the market is big enough there may be more opportunities. Undoubtedly this may appear to be a basic item to anyone who took business degrees or went through an MBA, but for me then as a Computer Science graduate with zero business experience, all these advise was very important to me.
  5. Enrich The Lives Of Everyone Around You
    My previous investor, mentor and personal friend, Max Foo (previous Regional Director in M.TEch Pte Ltd) once shared with me that his reason and passion for starting a business is to enrich everyone around him, not just a selected few within management ranks. As he said that, I truly understood what he meant because if it wasn’t for him founding the M.Tech Group of Companies in Singapore, I would not have met him and have the opportunity granted by him and his team to start off and head the M.SaaS Solutions business. I found his motto to be very enlightening and has adopted that approach ever since in everything that I do.

These are just some of the lessons which stood out, I am sure there are many more from other supervisors or bosses within my career which I have not mentioned here. I would like to personally thank all of them for having the opportunity to be on the same team. Hope this helps out the rest who are reading this post.

5 Memorable Lessons From My 5 Former Bosses

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