'Successful companies are run by successful entrepreneurs who hire successful employees'

THIS week we pick the brains of property developer NCT Group of Companies group managing director Datuk Seri Yap Ngan Choy

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

Growing up, I've always enjoyed learning and even today I'm still learning new things. I started my career at an early age as a porter in a tiling company and grew fond of it. I had a master who taught me everything he knew about tiling. Upholding the "learning through hard work" philosophy, I managed to save enough money to become a small contractor. From then on, I continued to seek for any opportunities that will teach me how to grow along the road of self-improvement. Since young, my mother inspired me to persevere. These life experiences that I've gained throughout the years, have also taught me to be bold and to always attempt any opportunities that come my way. I'm glad to say that these are the traits that I try to cultivate amongst my team as I believe that if they succeed, I will succeed.

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

Any businessman would agree with me that the key to organisational success are the people – the employees – who are engaged in their work, enjoy what they do and do it well. To me, knowledge is essential but hard work is what drives you forward. Perseverance in the midst of trials will help weather any storm. That is what I want to see in the talent I hire.

Considering this, it is only astute that I keep the company's future in mind when identifying talent. We pride ourselves in adhering to strict quality measures and professional work practices to ensure that our esteemed customers only get the best from us. We want people to know that NCT Group is synonymous with quality and timeliness.

How do you think the industry you are in will evolve in the future?

The property market is a very interesting industry. I acknowledge that it has lost its vibrancy of a few years back due to a number of factors including the weakening of ringgit, which has caused the market to slow down. However, despite the market slowing down, I would say that it remains attractive as property is a fantastic long-term investment. I expect that the market will gradually climb and move into positive market and we will be able to see it peaking in 2020.

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

Persevere. A dream will not simply turn into a reality. It requires a strong determination and hard work to make it happen. Like life, you will face ups and downs in your business, which is normal but you will need to learn to bounce back after every setback, to adapt to unexpected and rapidly changing circumstances and to never give up. As the saying goes, "Fall down seven times, stand up eight."

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

The property industry is still highly dependent on manual labour. Take tiling for example, it still requires a skilled person to lay them and it would be costly to build or acquire a machine just for tiling. Perhaps in the future there is a better way of doing it but for now, that is the most effective way.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?

Personally, mentoring is something that I find truly rewarding, not only to the mentee but also to me. Being able to help shape the minds of the younger generation is personally fulfilling as it allows me to give back to the society and help them realise their utmost potential. Furthermore, mentoring has also helped me strengthen my soft skills. I have learned to listen instead of only hearing which has helped me to communicate better with everyone around me. Another useful benefit is that I am able to learn new perspectives by working with someone from a different background, I gain a fresh perspective on things and learn a new way of thinking which I can apply when contemplating a decision or path to take in the future.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?

There are a number of things that I would like to accomplish in the next five years. Professionally, I would like to see NCT grow bigger and be known regionally if not globally. I want to continue inspiring the people around me and being inspired by those I cross paths with.

How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?

I usually stay abreast of current affairs and industry news through reading. There's no excuse for me to not be up-to-date with the going-ons of the industry with information and news at the tips of my fingers. Other times, it is through conversations with my peers which can be enlightening. Sometimes we pick each other's brains on current affairs, and it is a brilliant way to gain some insights from another point of view.

How do you expect policies on climate change to impact businesses in the future?

I think the biggest concern most business owners have on their minds is how can they continue to grow while cutting their environmental impacts? Lucky for us the government has outlined some plans in the 11th Malaysia Plan to help lessen the effects of climate change including strengthening disaster risk management, improving flood mitigation and enhancing climate change adaptation. With these plans in place, business owners will need to re-evaluate very carefully their business models, business priorities and business sustainability and to consider what climate change may mean for their objectives. Most would agree that to embrace and adapt the policies may result in additional costs but the lack of adaptation will cost more. But I do believe that the policies will ultimately bode well for the businesses in the long run. It is after all, for the benefits of not only your business but also mother nature.

What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?
As I've mentioned earlier, perseverance and tenacity are some of the factors I would attribute my success to. Having had to work from a young age, and to go through hardships while trying to build my own business has taught me to always push forward whenever life drags me back. I have learned to not give up and celebrate every success and reflect on every challenges and failures for the future. Having said that, I will also attribute my success to the support from the people around me including my family and my employees. My family have stood by me through every ups and downs have continuously spurred me to do and be better. Meanwhile, the support and dedication of my employees are inspiring. They are the epitome of professionalism, their motivation to help grow NCT is the drive that keeps me pursuing excellence in everything that I do. You know what they say, successful companies are run by successful entrepreneurs who hire successful employees.