Working hand in glove for Margma’s success

THIS week we get thoughts and views from Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma) president Denis Low Jau Foo.

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

I was born into a big family, nine brothers and five sisters. Life was very tough especially when your parents are not able to make enough money. So, as a child, we were taught to be independent and that anything that you want and your parents can't afford, you have just had to go out and make some money doing odd jobs after school and weekends. It also makes you think economically. And this is where my business aspect/perspective started a long time ago for me.

It also made me realise that knowledge is important and that one needs to read and hear a lot to understand things better and to have a wider perspective of everything. I was fortunate that the public library in Penang was very well equipped with many books touching on many kinds of subjects and stories. I was such a regular at the library that the librarian, a very kind lady, allowed me to take several books at a time without having to pay ten cents for per-book-rental. This early hobby and passion for reading had pushed me to always inquire and search for new books, new knowledge and always looking for new perspectives as well. I believe that knowledge, logic and being practical gleaned from an early age had made me the leader I am today.

How has your previous employment experience aided your current position?

My first job was working in a family restaurant, and this is where I learn the importance of good service and consistency in quality.

My second job was in the timber industries, where I was involved in logging, sawmilling and timber export. This job gave me an insight into forest management, timber products industries and international trade as we were exporting to Europe and Japan. This is one industry where I took a course in forestry and timber grading. I became a professional timber grader.

My third job was initially in international operations whereby we exported so many made-in-Malaysia products and also most of the commodities that Malaysia has. This has provided me with a lot of experience in international trading and in the Malaysian context, it is very important as we are a trading nation with a lot of products and commodities to export to the world. As I move along in this company, I got involved in engineering, construction, fashion-wear, sports, cosmetics and heavy equipment. It was indeed a truly wide spectrum of experiences to be gained when I was in charge of so many portfolios. And it was also in this company that I was involved in all its Corporate Affairs and the activities of its subsidiaries. It was a blessing and a great opportunity to get into the corporate aspects of a company that was listed in the KLSE. This company also have listed concerns in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia. And it had definitely allowed me to gain an insight as to how a corporation works in these many countries.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenures at Margma?

When I was in the exco of Margma, it was a traditional association that was being run as just an umbrella body for the glove industry. The challenge here was to bring the association and the industry into modernity and be the mouthpiece of the industry in its liaison with the government, its agencies, the general public and the International regulatory institutions. While we are the association of the world's largest medical glove industry, our exposure and image were not widely acknowledged locally and abroad. This was a challenge that we took upon ourselves on an image-creating journey. Margma subsequently became the voice of the industry, the centre of data/information/statistics, the lobby group that is able to resolve many issues with the government, its agencies and also the international regulatory bodies.

Over the years, the Margma team of dedicated Exco members is able to organise and mount one of the biggest and most sought after International Rubber Glove Conference and Exhibition. Margma also establish a Foundation where the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme for the Industry is being carried out. Today, we have about 287 needy students receiving a monthly stipend from the Foundation to alleviate their livelihood. We are also embarking on providing scholarships to deserving and poor students in vocational training and education.

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

To be able to market my company and its products as a brand of choice in every corner of the world.

To make Margma into an institution where everybody in the world who wants to know about rubber gloves, would seek it out. That Margma will be able to publish its own magazine internationally that will give readers an insight of the productivity, technicality, market data and the ever changing regulatory policies of all the countries in the world.

To be able to make Margma Foundation a notable Corporate Social Responsibility institution that can truly benefit people locally and abroad ...

Medical rubber gloves means Margma and Margma means quality gloves …

Best piece of advice you ever got on your career?

Do not fear admitting and apologising to a wrong or failure, only be fearful when you can’t admit to a wrong or failure, because you have not learnt from it and will repeat them again and again …

Most admired business leader? Why?

Jack Ma … A pragmatic entrepreneur full of original ideas, passionate about the business and the people who works along with him and his high spirit of determination that saw him through the early years and now …

If you could have an hour with any thought leader in the world, who would it be and why?

An hour with Donald Trump would be very interesting. And why … ??? Well any person who is deemed to have said and done so many wrong things and yet can be voted in as the President of the United States of American, the most powerful nation in the World, deserves to be known better and to be studied in a wider perspective …

What was your biggest failure and how did you learn from it?

Venturing into a business that you know nothing about just because you see many others making profits is really foolish. Every business has its own peculiarity and one must really study and be focus in understanding it before declaring that I am rich and successful, therefore, I will know how to run any business. Any venture be it in business, relationship and the social, must always be given a thorough thought before embarking on it … Always remember that wealth alone does not make you a clever man.

Blue or red ocean strategy? Or neither? Why?

Many successful businesses are employing a multi-coloured strategy … ??? The success story of Apple, Google, Mercedes, Exxon and etc etc have been there long before some talk-shop guru coined Blue and Red. If it is football, I can understand Liverpool being a Red strategist and Chelsea being a Blue one… Remember the great Chinese President, Deng Xiao Ping, he said “it does not matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it can catch mice"

A must-read for every business owner/manager is …
The Art of War by SunTzu … It can be applied to so many situations, business, social, family and politics…