By: Siddharth Menon, Student Reporter
Leadership Lessons from Mr Loh Kin Wah, Managing Partner, Beijing Jianguang Asset Management Co. @ the Saturday Sharing Session on 25th March 2017.
Step to Leadership
With an illustrious career spanning 35 years, Mr Loh certainly knows a thing or two about the semiconductor industry. Formerly as the President & Chief Executive Officer, Qimonda AG, Munich, Mr Loh today is tasked with the responsibility of managing funds amounting to 100 billion, investing into semi-conductor resources around the world.
‘‘I am a career engineer. You can’t take the engineer out of me,’’ he chuckled when asked if he found his existing jobscope rather different from what he had done in the past. With a background in Chemical Engineering, Mr Loh started his career as a quality engineer and moved on to process engineering, manufacturing, R&D, sales and marketing.
‘‘I was fortunate,’’ he said, as he took centerstage to address the students gathered for his talk. In the 1990s, Singapore was transitioning itself to a manufacturing hub attracting top MNCs to set up shop on the island. It was at that time that Siemens expressed interest in establishing itself in Asia. Shortly after graduation, Mr Loh joined the company. The rest they say is history. His first job lasted nearly 30 years.
Siemens provided a structured training programme and many opportunities for his personal development and growth. His wide spanning career saw him working in various parts of the world and engaging with different cultures.
Grasping Opportunity with Both Hands
However, said Mr Loh, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
To further hone his skills, Mr Loh studied law with a focus on contract law. He also attained a Postgraduate Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance from ACCA, United Kingdom. It was difficult, Mr Loh admitted, having to juggle both work and night classes but he emphasised showcasing your capabilities was a way to stand out from the crowd.
He recalled an incident when he and his German supervisor did not see eye to eye on a technical detail. His supervisor was adamant that he was right. Mr Loh burnt a weekend to gather evidence to prove his point. That grit and determination, he says, resulted in him having to face tough situations, but have brought him to where he is today.
Leaders Continuously Unlearn
‘‘Continuous Unlearning,’’ is Mr Loh’s mantra. Continuous Unlearning as defined by him, is the energy to drive oneself to unlearn in order to learn. He sees it as key to improve and grow.
Mr Loh illustrated how one can become a leader this using the ‘WE’&’I’ concept.
‘I’ is a reminder to the leader of needed key attributes:
- Values: Be a contributor, strive for excellence and adopt a committed work attitude.
- Ideas: Share sound ideas for shaping and motivating the organisation.
- Energy: Constantly create a positive environment around you.
- Courage: Winning leaders never take the easy way out. They stand by their decisions and are willing to make tough calls.
‘We’ reflects the importance of dealing with others and with change. It emphasises the need for good social skills, people management skills and adaptability to keep up with the times.
When asked what he thought contributed to his success, Mr Loh commented, ‘‘Being focused, attentive and not giving up helped me tremendously.’’ He cited the word ‘to highlight his point. The Chinese character has many active elements of listening including using your eyes, ears, & heart, and to listen with respect like you would listen to a king.
Mr Loh firmly believes in empowerment. As a leader, he felt that when handing out responsibilities to his team, he valued both trust and character. ‘Trust’ to him reflected one’s competency level and character illustrated one’s work attitude. Having both allowed him to empower and nurture his employees, to their best potential. Today, is active in mentoring start-ups in the semi-conductor space, providing assistance in the field of engineering electronics, and encouraging the growth of young leaders.
Mr Loh frankly admitted the path ahead for Singapore will be fill of challenges. Ever the optimist, he advised that through hard work and by constantly seeking out new opportunities, one would be able to ride out any storm.