CEO: Right work culture, systems vital ingredients for success

LOCAL companies should try to emulate their counterparts in Western countries in creating the right work culture and having the appropriate systems in place for them to succeed. 

BHLB Pacific Trust Management Bhd chief executive officer Paul Low Hong Ceong, in making this call, said the work culture and the appropriate systems were not present in many companies in Malaysia. 

Low, who has worked in the United States for eight years in insurance and financial planning-related companies, said the work culture in the US was more positive. 

“For instance, in the insurance and mutual fund industry, agents are more disciplined and committed. Therefore, there is an ideal existing system and environment pertaining to work already in place,” he told StarBiz

“Over there, about 99% of the sales agents in these industries are full time and dedicated, unlike in Malaysia where on the average, only 30% are full-time agents. They are very professional in handling matters and dealing with their clients.'' 

Good customer service is another important prerequisite for a service-oriented company to succeed. Relating his experience in the US, Low said his employer used to advise him not to neglect his clients whenever he bumped into them.  

“Paul, don’t you ever turn your back on your clients whenever you meet them on the street,'' he quoted the advice given by his employer. 

According to Low, walking away only indicates that the product you have sold is not a good one. A client, unlike a customer, is one who has close ties and a longer relationship with his seller when distinguishing the two. 

To this end, he constantly advises his staff as well as his agents to value their clients and place their priority and interest before other things. 

Low, who has a bachelor's degree in industrial technology and an MBA, worked in the US for eight years. He started as a sales agent with an insurance and financial planning company for three years before joining the management team of another company in the same field for five years. 

He joined BHLB Pacific Trust in 1998 as a general manager and was made chief executive officer in 1999.  

According to Paul, after his second year working as an insurance agent, he managed to make good sales and was awarded the Million Dollar Round Table award. 

Low said he owed his success to hard work, prayers and his role model Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Motor.  

He noted that Iacocca had also begun his career in the sales line before helming the motor company. 

To ensure the company's employees are more efficient and productive, Low has personally introduced the team-building concept into BHLB Pacific Trust.  

The concept involves going on outdoor trips and learning from nature, and at the same time deriving a common value which the company and staff members share. 

Low, 42, is married with three children. Where hobbies are concerned, Low said he loved swimming and outdoor activities such as jungle trekking. He plays badminton twice a week to keep fit. 

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