Success: The Insight Story – Character and personality trump qualifications

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

The ebb and flow of life is a constant reminder of the frailty of our human existence. It has both toughened and humbled me at the same time. I’ve learnt to filter out the debris and refined my core values and principles, upon which the basis of my decision-making and choices are found. In addition, I’ve been lucky to have people around me who have supported my decisions and my dreams.

What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?

Through my experience, I have discovered that, often, character and personality trump over qualifications. I keep a lookout for those who have a certain spark about them: that drive to prove themselves, the tenacity to handle pressure well, the ones who assess calculated risks yet bold enough to go above and beyond, and those with the ability to adapt and think quickly on their feet. Ultimately, the candidate who is right for the job will also be someone who fits into the workplace culture and is equipped with good social and networking abilities.

What advice can you offer those looking to start their career/own business?

An idea remains an idea until and unless one commits and acts on it. It’s ok to stumble and fall. It’s much better than never trying at all. So I would say plan and execute.

We all know about the industrial revolution, are we in for a technological revolution? Your thoughts.

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No doubt, the technological revolution is bringing about massive changes in the way industries operate. However, we still require the necessary backbone industries to be in place such as manufacturing and distribution. The inexorable shift is already in motion but the infrastructure has yet to catch up. Business leaders, governments and regulatory agencies need to understand the changing environment and collaborate closely to bridge the gap. Within this framework, we also have to rethink talent and organisational forms as a whole. Don’t forget that some economic theories don’t really hold true today with the imbalanced availability to capital to some new startups that are able to dominate markets through disruption.

Best piece of advice you ever got on your career.

Coming from an engineering background to taking on diverse roles and positions, the best advice I have received would probably be keeping an open mind and being brave, especially when faced with new challenges. They may lead you down a different path in life, but change is inevitable as we keep growing and evolving. Challenges are often opportunities; embrace them.

Most-admired business leader? Why?

Steve Jobs. Although he did not invent something, he sure did reinvent it. I have always been fascinated with how he applied imagination and design to technology and business.

How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?

I read, I watch, I listen. I follow the industry experts on social media. I touch base with my mentors and friends in the industry for some exchange of perspectives. Podcasts are a good way to make the most of a commute.

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What man-made innovation confounds you? Why?

Quantum computing. It will allow us to transcend the limitations that current binary computing has with regard to artificial intelligence and processing large amounts of data sequentially. These are still early days in evaluating what can come out of this, but once the technology gets more commoditised and available, there’s going to be a huge leap forward in terms of computing, automation and robotics. Although exciting, it’s also a little scary.

A must-read for every business owner/manager is …

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He expounds on the behavioural economics that explain how our mind comes to conclusions and makes decisions. It will rearrange the way you think… about how you think. It’s always prudent to look at an issue from different vantage points.

What are the top three factors you would attribute your success to?

These are the values that I go back to over and over. They are still a pursuit.

> Having the ability to bounce back from failures.

> To embrace the fact that there will be periods of hard work and to set your mind and body to commit to that.

> Not to finger point but to hand raise. It’s often easy to blame other people and our environment when things go wrong. It’s much harder to roll up one’s sleeves and find solutions. Always be the one that volunteers for additional assignments.

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