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Saturday November 17, 2012
AS a youngster Carl Yee, was interested in making money so he aspired to become an accountant or businessman.
However, because of his excellent academic results, he was recruited to be a temporary teacher at his old school right after he finished his studies. He worked there until he won a scholarship to study at Kojadi Institute in Kuala Lumpur.
When he left the teaching job, Yee’s students requested for tuition classes with him. An hour of tuition cost RM10, which was better than some other part-time jobs that only promised RM3.50 an hour. The “tempting” business was irresistible, so Yee, decided to attend classes in the day and give tuition at night.
Tuition centres were not popular 10 years back, so many parents looked for private tutors. Through word-of-mouth and advertisement in newspapers, Yee’s business flourished.
He worked tirelessly and earned his first RM10,000 when he was just 18.
Yee’s original plan was to enroll in a degree course offered by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia after graduating from his diploma course in Business and Office Technology at Kojadi Institute, but the course was cancelled later.
One of his students’ parents encouraged him to apply for a scholarship from Kojadi to further his studies in the UK. He heeded the advice, and at the same time, partnered with a friend to open a tuition centre.
But before that, Yee looked for a job at existing tuition centres to learn their operations. He also rented a residential unit at Taman Connaught in Cheras and arranged for his students to come over for tuition.
A day before the opening of his tuition centre, Yee was informed that his scholarship application was approved. He decided to proceed with his studies in the UK and left the tuition centre in the hands of his partner. But the centre was closed down a year later.
Although Yee’s academic performance had always been excellent, English was his weak subject. Therefore, he used the opportunity in the UK to brush up on his English.
He worked part-time in factories, fast food restaurants and takeaways during his four years there while pursuing a Higher National Diploma in Marketing and a Degree in Business Management.
His language skills and diligence earned him recognition from his employers. The stability prompted Yee to think of his life.
“After buying a house in Malaysia and obtaining my degree, I lost some of my drive in life. I didn’t know where to go from there,” he said.
He knew he had nothing to look forward to except continuing to make money if he extended his stay in the UK.
Yee also felt it was only appropriate for him to give back to society after receiving scholarships twice, so he made the decision to return to Malaysia even though he had to start from zero again. He took comfort in the thought that he could go back to work in the UK if he needed.
Yee began with lecturing at Kojadi Institute, but reverted to opening a tuition centre because he could not earn much from the teaching job.
Many students of Yee’s Flying Colours Education Group come from low-income families. Yee realised that people are poor because they are deprived of knowledge. He knew only education could help a child escape poverty.
Yee said, “My father once struck a lottery worth RM20,000 but he spent it all. On the other hand, my friend’s father also won RM20,000 but chose to invest the money by buying housing property.”
This example illustrated the point that the rich and the poor think differently, and the difference determined their social standing.
Yee emphasises that if children are educated, their values would perhaps change and lead them to break free from the limitations of their existing social class.
Besides helping the students to excel academically, Yee puts a lot of emphasis on the students’ ambitions because an ambition is a great motivational tool.
“A teacher should not undermine the children no matter what their ambitions are. On the other hand, the teacher should encourage them, cultivate their confidence, and let them explore their possibilities,” Yee said, adding that these are the core values of Flying Colours Education Group.
Likening educating children to frying char kuey teow with a charcoal fire, Yee said, “Kuey teow is the basic ingredient while the coal fire is the core value. By combining both, a specialty is created.”
For Yee, a businessman is different from an entrepreneur. A businessman focuses his mind on making money, while an entrepreneur wants to create a value and then make a profit from it.
“We shouldn’t just keep thinking of earning money from opening a tuition centre. We need to put in our best effort to educate the students. Their good grades will speak on our behalf,” he said.
Therefore, Yee advises entrepreneurs to identify a core value before venturing into business. One also should not waver, or risk losing the essence of the business.
“We should be down to earth, but at the same time we have to let our creativity run wild when designing the business scheme. Otherwise, we will be stuck in the same place forever.
“We have to be bold but cautious. We
cannot wait to draw up our action plans
only when we have the ability. By then other people are already ahead of us,” he shared.
In addition to his four tuition centres in Bandar Sri Permaisuri, Taman Connaught in Cheras, Sri Petaling and Ampang, Yee is now finalising the preparation for a pre-school centre.
A language centre is also in the pipeline. Ultimately, Yee’s vision is to set up a Flying Colours Education Centre that encompasses educational institutions for all age groups.
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