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After being faced with witnessing a serious workplace accident, Dennis Heng helps put quality and safety at the forefront of all businesses.

What’s your story?
I develop systems, processes and people, and embed a company culture in quality and safety that helps eliminate the pain in business operations.
Quality and safety co-exist in a system where any failures in either area would lead to serious consequences. A product or service that fails to meet basic customer requirements, and does not perform its intended function may potentially lead to loss of lives or customer retention. I witnessed this at first hand, in 1997 what this meant, when I was in the military. A catastrophic accident led to the loss of lives including my close friends during an overseas live artillery live firing. An investigation committee concluded that the most probable cause of the accident was due to a defective product supplied by a supplier to the military.
This accident deeply shaped my thinking in years to come and developed my drive towards quality and safety. Someone’s life could depend on it – or yours could.

Reference article of accident:
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/1997/jun/28jun97_nr.print.img.html

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me is that I believe that a career in quality assurance is a great choice in today’s world.
A poor economy makes consumers much pickier about where and how they are spending their money. Companies today are spending more and more money ensuring that consumers will not be disappointed with the products or services that they are receiving. It is much less expensive to catch faults and fix them before it hits the market than it is to release something defective and have to recall it, or worse yet, ruin the reputation of your company.
That is where you bring in a quality assurance professional, to help develop, train, and make sure that items not only meet but exceed expectations. Since 1997, I have dedicated my life to driving quality and safety, creating awareness, changing behaviours through different communication and management platforms.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born, educated and lived in Singapore for over 40 years. I’ve travelled extensively in Asia and the Middle East, for management systems development, auditing supply chains and conducting training. I’ve worked with companies in Rayong, Thailand, where it is also the centre of the chemical and automotive industries, and the ever growing China manufacturing sector, in Shenzhen and Shanghai. Competition is stiff but opportunities are in abundance for greater growth.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
You have got to just love my home country, Singapore – The ease in setting up businesses, partly due to the hassle-free way in which administrative matters are handled. Singapore helps simplify the process of setting up by making it simple to incorporate a company and register for taxes by using the same online form. In areas of human capital, Singapore has one of the most skilled labour pools in the region due to sound education policies, the ready availability of training programmes and attractive incentives for local and foreign talent. The mind-set of Singaporean talent is generally positive and makes for a productive working environment.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Stop focusing on results. Focus on getting better at executing the plan that will produce the desired outcome result.”
It might sound contrarian when I say stop focusing on results, especially because people regard it as a good thing to be results oriented. But, I believe the results will come if we stay focused on consistent execution and consistent improvement. The reason why this was such a hard lesson I think is because we live in a world where we are constantly marketing “overnight results” and “instant gratification.” You can all fall into the trap of expecting immediate results the first time you try to implement a new idea to grow your business. But, I’ve learned time and time again that’s not how it works.

Who inspires you?
Anyone can be a role model, and often, it’s the people in our everyday lives who inspire us and shape us like no one else can. In Singapore, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a legendary figure in Asia, widely respected for his strong leadership and statesmanship, our founding father of modern Singapore. His undying determination, commitment, character and ability made him a formidable leader who took a small island country of Singapore over 50 years ago, and transformed it to a country that is respected by Singaporeans and the international community alike. 1 man, 1 vision, turning into reality. We need more leaders like him.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The importance of making mistakes and learning from them. It is easy and human to hold on to past glories and what life could have been, and prevent yourself from letting go of the resentments and disappointments of the past. We get stuck in that moment. Well, Don’t! Loss is a gift, be it in business or your personal life. It taught me to be resilient, humble and made me better in countless ways.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would start immediately to focus on one passion to become a world expert on it.
Whether it’s photography or just learning to play the guitar, I would give a lot of hours through deliberate practice to become the best person in the world in my field. Thinking back, it was a real challenge when you are a teen to dedicate a lot of hours through practicing your passion. Many distractions are present to make your time less valuable. In the long run, people who accomplish a lot are the ones who follow that precious rule. Find your own way to success. There are no miracles besides true dedication. Now that I have my own family, I have my 2 daughters who embrace this.

How do you unwind?
To unwind personally, spending time with family and friends is absolutely key. I will make time for this part of my life. I love my work, but family is also what it is all about for me. I create new experiences and learning for the kids, through experiential play. Tell your kids you want to play house, but you’ll let them be in charge. Let them make the rules and not only is this a great way to let yourself be a kid again, but it also lets your little ones stand in your shoes and see things from your perspective. For some extra fun, act like they do and see how they like it.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I am a lover of countries where there are small communities, like Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Places that are focused on the preservation and appreciation of nature, and the general feeling is one of calm. I need that quiet time to recharge and have that sense of appreciation of life.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos. He is the winner of two Overseas Press Club awards and the Asia Society’s Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia.
I found it to be an engrossing description of modern China. It covers the period of China’s ascendancy. This book describes the buildup to what we see today. From a very acute observer who has been on the ground for long enough to figure it out, and who obviously has a gift for communicating directly with a people who are often characterised as inscrutable. An excellent book.

Shameless plug for your business:
Chain Reaction Partners – We are the preferred solutions partner in delivering Quality Assurance training, auditing and programs to maximize your business profitability. Your Suppliers create problems. We invent the solution. With potentially 70% of the total cost of your product/services outsourced to external suppliers, and the fact that you are only as good as your worst supplier, it is essential that all key suppliers are performing at optimum levels.

How can people connect with you?
E-mail is the most convenient. I can be reached at [email protected]
Drop us an email to discuss how we can assist you.
Or visit the company’s website at: http://www.consultchainreaction.com.sg/

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/hengdennis

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

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