Know the business in and out
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years? My mission now would be doing whatever it takes to elevate the Manulife Malaysia brand. At the moment, we are on the eighth rank among 13 other industry players. In the next five years, my goal would be to carry out initiatives that would boost the Manulife brand and bring it to the top tier.
Best piece of advice you ever got on your career? Throughout my career, there are two very important lessons that I have learnt and I would very much like to pass them down. When I was an agency manager, I was told by a wise man that insurance is not a product to be sold. Instead, insurance is a product that helps people get what they want and need in life.
Often times, people at different stages have different priorities but inevitably, everyone wants to have a better life, better returns in investment, protection, medical support, retirement savings etc. Insurance makes that happen for them. Interestingly, by looking at the job from that perspective makes the job even more meaningful.
The second advice is on taking risks. Twenty-two years ago, I had a huge decision to make, which is moving from Washington DC to Singapore. That was a tough call but I thought about taking the chance; taking the risk and what would happen should I miss the opportunity. I knew I would regret it (if I missed the opportunity) and the thought of regretting it was far worse than the thought of taking the risk. I took the risk and I have no regrets today.
Most-admired business leader? Why? Steve Jobs. I admire his passion for getting into what customers needed. Having said that, he took into consideration the fact that customers don’t truly understand or know what they actually need or want. His creativity and detail-oriented skills have brought change in the way people live their lives. Not forgetting the quality in the way business is conducted and the legacy that he has left.
Blue or red ocean strategy? Or neither? Why? Blue ocean. I would like to bring innovative solutions to the needs of consumers. We have to do things differently, we have to take chances on how we conduct our business or acquire and interact with consumers, especially company like ours, which is smaller than other market players.
Practising the blue ocean strategy takes us one step above the others and is an important strategy that will help elevate our brand.