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Dato Sri’ Dr. Eric Yap, CEO of Technology Revolution On-Net (TRON)

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This dynamic CEO of Technology Revolution On-Net Sdn Bhd (Tron) is undeterred by competition amongst giants in the technology arena. In fact he relishes the challenge and sees it as an opportunity to engage in technology- related businesses. His mind does not cease to amaze those who work closely with him.

Born and raised in Kuantan, to parents from Fujian, China, even at a very young age, Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap’s thirst and passion for lifelong learning helped set him on a path as a serial entrepreneur which led him to various industries, including insurance, property, construction, travel, security and telecommunications. He attributed the success to his mother who had set high expectations for him from his early days. After passing all his exams in the country, he continued his higher education in the United Kingdom.

In June 2014 he was bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Business Administration by an American University for outstanding achievement in his business career and contributions to society.

In 2012 he was conferred the title DIMP (which carried the title Dato) and in 2013, the SSAP (which carried the title Dato’ Sri) both by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Pahang. It was in October 2015 that he was awarded the First Diamond Entrepreneurship by the Sultan of Pahang on the occasion of His Royal Highness’ 85th birthday.

On 10 March 2016, Tron was awarded the SME’s Corporate Award Best Brand in ICT by the Brand Laureate SME’s Best Brands Award 2015-2016 and Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap was awarded the SME’s Brand Leadership Award. He attributed his leadership style to the many articles he read from books and management articles, singling out Jack Ma as the person he most admire and who inspired him most.

Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap started his career at MAA Bhd as a life insurance agent and quickly rose to up the ranks to Agency Supervisor and subsequently Agency Manager. That earned him the much coveted Million Dollar Round Table membership where only the industry’s top 1% is recognized. From Insurance he went on to Property Trading and established two companies dealing in investment and property holdings in Malaysia and Hong Kong. It was inevitable for him to diversify his business to furniture and home furnishing as well as an interior design firm having managed property trading since he was in the property line. Later he went on to set up a travel and tour agency, a security company and recently Tron.

“I don’t believe in doing things halfway as it is a waste of my time, money and efforts. I always push harder telling myself that I’m nearer to my goals and success is just within my grasp.” Holding on to this principle, he transformed Tron into a lean and mean team with just 46 people when he took over the company. The revamp, including successful partnerships with different partners, set Tron on the right path and it is looking good today.

Rather than jumping into the price war game, Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap believes in leading with innovations and providing more value added rewards to Tron subscribers. Tron is the first Telco to offer unconditional 365 days validity without extra charges to subscribers so long as they reload on a monthly basis. Besides that, Tron subscribers will also receive Tron Points for every purchase and these points can be used to redeem reload coupons and other offers from Tron and partners. Hence Tron’s tagline ‘It’s Good to Share’ is to consistently provide economical and value added services such as incentives and promotional plans to Tron subscribers. Tron was also the first in the country to launch a 4G Global SIM that allows ultra-fast browsing and downloading. Tron is constantly looking into introducing new products to the public. “We are also expanding our network to South East Asian countries like Thailand (already started operations), Indonesia and the Philippines.”

Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap’s stand on ‘leadership by example’ proves he is a leader to be reckoned with when he made the first RM500,000 sales for Tron after he took over the reins. In his books, nothing is impossible “if you set your mind on it.” He had to make some pretty tough decisions and set goals and objectives for all his employees to accomplish. He even had to sacrifice his own personal time and learn as much as possible about the MVNO industry which was totally new to him then. A firm believer in providing opportunities to all his employees to grow and shine, he looks to loyalty, dedication and teamwork. His tenacity paid off when the route he took was not the usual MVNO way and that made some of the competitors sit up and take notice. In fact he even promoted his personal assistant to the position of Assistant Vice President of the company.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a term that is dear to Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap and he has a soft spot for the less fortunate, especially orphans and the elderly. He takes pride in being able to give back to society and what better way than to engage the entire company on CSR activities where 10% of the proceeds from sales of reloads will be contributed to selected charitable organizations on a monthly basis. Tron is the first in this region to embark on such a CSR initiative. The first project kicked off in January this year with festive gathering for the less fortunate both young and old.

Crime prevention is another topic close to his heart. He wants to educate the young and old alike on crime prevention and security. As part of this initiative, Tron has sponsored CCTVs to Sekolah Kebangsaan Batu Lima in Kepala Batas Penang in the beginning of 2016 and sponsored festive dinners for ‘warga emas” and orphans. Tron also launched and introduced a GPS tracking device that will enable parents or guardians to keep an eye on their children and the elderly. The device allows parents or guardians to check their children’s whereabouts and whether they are in a safe surrounding. For the elderly, the device allows SOS calls during emergencies.

On a personal note, Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap believes that everyone has to shape his or her own destiny. “When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen” and “that means you are in control of your own life and the directions you take.”

Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Arthur Lam, Co-Founder of Synergy

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Arthur Lam’s business, Synergy offers B2B energy saving solutions.

What’s your story?
I am Arthur Lam, Co-Founder and Vice Chairman at Synergy (1539.HK). I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 13. Then, I lived in boarding schools in Melbourne and California during my high school years. After that, I attended the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 2008.

Upon graduation, I came back to Hong Kong and worked for a hedge fund. The financial crisis in 2008 wiped out a big part of the industry and gave me a chance to rethink and reposition myself. After the financial crisis, companies stopped spending and everyone was on cost-cutting mode. As an entrepreneur with an engineering background, I co-founded an energy management company called Synergy, offering B2B energy saving solutions. The idea is simple – clients don’t have to pay anything upfront, we do all the engineering and upfront capital investment. In return, we share part of the savings we create for the client over a period of time. We first started with energy saving lighting technologies based in Hong Kong. We are now also in the field of cooling & refrigeration, solar PV and battery storage with operation in over 10 countries. Synergy is one of the first and few energy management companies listed on the Main Board of The Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
On the side, I started a student co-living space with about 80 rooms.

What excites you most about your industry?
Sustainability, renewable energy and energy efficiency are some of the few industries that can ensure the continuity of our existence! We do not need to quantify the potential market size to justify our effort to provide a more sustainable future for the next generations. Practically every nation and business leader have pledged to work collaboratively, trying to undo the harm we have done to the planet for the past century. As a result, more energy efficient technologies and solutions are always in demand.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My great grandparents were from Chiu Chow and Shunde. I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 13. I spent 3 years in Melbourne during middle school before heading to US for high school and college. With Synergy, I was able to travel and work in China and most of the major cities in Asia such as Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok. Besides Cantonese and English, I speak Mandarin and took 4 years of Japanese during high school. I’m also trying to pick up Bahasa slowly.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Every city has its own merits and it is extremely interesting to learn about the intricacy of cultural diversification and different ecosystems. As a business owner, I believe in top quality service. No other city would exemplify world class service better than Hong Kong with respect to speed, quality, effectiveness and robustness of the financial and legal system.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Life is a journey – you come to this world to enjoy life, to be happier and healthier – Jack Ma

Who inspires you?
Elon Musk

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I am always amazed by the rapid advancement of technologies and innovations around the world. Everyday there may be a breakthrough coming up in different areas. One thing I learnt recently is the possibility of extracting clean water from air anywhere! Previous technologies require very high energy input, high cost and certain environmental conditions such has high humidity levels to extract water from air. However, MIT and The University of California provide a new method which has the potential for use in any locations. They developed a foam-like material that draws moisture into its pores and is powered entirely by solar heat. Today there is another commercially available product which is also a self-sustaining system, using sunlight to generate electricity to drive a cycle of condensation and evaporation that can produce 2 to 5 litres of clean water per day. People now may obtain drinking water anywhere with no external energy usage and this may solve severe water shortages in some areas in the future!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would love to learn more languages and learn how to code better. These are two important skill sets which I find very useful wherever I go.

How do you unwind?
On weekdays, I try to visit the gym at least 2-3 times a week after work. A good workout definitely helps to de-stress. Occasionally, I have the luxury to play a round of golf with my father or friends after completing a major project.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Sipadan, Malaysia is an amazing place for scuba diving.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Book of Changes “I Ching”. I make most of my business decisions based on the philosophy from the book.

Shameless plug for your business:
Victoria Park is one of the most famous parks in Hong Kong and it has about 3,500 trees. The amount of energy we have saved in the past 8 years is equivalent to planting 1,000 Victoria Parks worth of trees from the carbon emissions we saved.
Synergy is ranked 2017 top 100 most potential public listed companies in China by Forbes.

How can people connect with you?
Linkedin: Arthur Lam
Email: [email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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