SUNTRACK Development Sdn Bhd chief executive officer James K.K. Tan learnt from very early on that supporting and grooming talents is crucial if you want to grow together as a team, and ultimately, as a company.
As a leader fuelled by passion and having technical expertise in property development, Tan, 38, strives to expand the company in every aspect, from business development, marketing, design and construction, to liaising with the authorities.
As the company grows, there will be more people of different characters and personalities coming together, and this diversity is something which Suntrack openly embraces.
“There is nothing more powerful than the employees’ passion because a company is nothing without them,” said Tan.
Having a passion for work gives people a sense of purpose. Without purpose, people have nothing to look forward to, and in time, work becomes a chore.
“Having just graduated as a civil engineer at 23, my father thought I was ready to take on the construction business and gave me a project with 18 lots of land to work on.
“As a newbie then, I remember sitting in my car outside the Kajang Municipal Council for the first time for a good 10 minutes, wondering where I should begin.
“I didn’t know the first thing about how to get a building plan approved.
“But my father had faith in me. So, I took it as an opportunity to learn, did whatever I had to do and got the job done,” said Tan.
In 2000, he completed the company’s first development project Puncak Mutiara Balakong and has not looked back since.
Having started with only three staff members on a project with a gross development value (GDV) of RM7mil, the company now has 30 staff, and to date, managed projects with a cumulative GDV of RM630mil.
“We brought in new procedures and processes, but more importantly, instilled a culture of learning together as a team.
“Because we started very small, everyone was multitasking and learning from each other, which in turn, gave everyone a broad exposure to the nature of the business.
“We don’t know everything, and we can’t do everything on our own. To be successful, we need to build each other up to bring out the best in us,” Tan explained.
“When it comes to sourcing for talents, it isn’t about taking in the best graduate or the most experienced candidate, but about taking in people who have passion and learning from them,” he said.
What makes Suntrack stands out is its belief in youth empowerment, and Tan attributes much its success to his team.
“We don’t just want to create a winning team, we want to have corporate professionalism within a family-like environment; having a touch of rebellion is also good because you create great things when you think out of the box. We also want high amounts of energy.
“There is so much potential in young people and we want them to be themselves. When we allow them do what they are best at, we enhance their strengths. This encourages them to achieve more,” Tan added.
To help identify talents, Suntrack practices a close-knit work culture whereby its staff works cross-functionally, cross-departmentally and rotate between senior management discussions and meetings.
“No one is an island. This way, we can also identify, brainstorm, solve and learn from the challenges and constraints faced by other departments so that we can improve as a whole,” Tan said.
Besides that, the company also ensures that its employees undergo a minimum of eight hours of training per year, focusing on personal growth topics such as building confidence, conquering fear, handling rejection and failures, project management techniques and public speaking.
This is in addition to training on development projects in construction and sales administration, updates on policies and technical knowledge.
Before searching for talents externally, Tan advised companies to look for ways to improve and develop internally first to ensure career progression opportunities for its employees.
“The learning culture has to start from the top management. When they are enthusiastic about building talents, they will grow and make room for new learners,” he added.
Suntrack won the Best Employer (above RM25mil) Gold Award at the Star Outstanding Business Awards 2016.
On top of the benefits and activities which Suntrack offers its employees, the company will be relocating to its new office in Cyberjaya by the end of this year to provide a more comfortable workplace with better amenities.
“We practice flexible work hours because we know our employees have other responsibilities, and it could sometimes be difficult for them show up on the dot.
“As long as they complete their work, there is no issue as we have a high element of trust and respect for our staff.
“When there is consideration, employees are happier at work, more productive and, in turn, stand up for the company when needed,” Tan explained.
“At the end of the day, it is up to us to help them believe in their own talent and shine. You can train people to do anything, but you can’t train passion, and that is what helps to sustain a company,” he stressed.
With its tagline “Building With Passion”, Suntrack is a socially and environmentally-conscious developer whose philosophy is to build high quality properties with innovative concepts, which give value-for-money to their purchasers.
Some of their current projects include Kanvas SOHO @ Cyberjaya, The Riyang @ Happy Garden and Selesa @ Happy Garden.