TEO Tong Kooi is a man who believes in charting his own destiny.
This was most apparent when he left his position as chief operating officer (COO) of Hong Leong Bank Bhd in June 2002 to pursue a two-month business course in the US.
After his return, Teo did some business consulting before being approached by the board of Tasek Corp Bhd, to become its managing director. Even though a non-cementer, he decided to take up the challenge and joined Tasek in January.
Being in banking for almost 18 years, I wanted a change. As I was holding such a senior position, there was always a thousand and one things to think about, like whether companies would perform well and repay their loans, he quipped.
Having said that, Teo admitted that his position as COO of Hong Leong Bank, was a very, very difficult position to give up.
On whether he would go back to banking, Teo said honestly : It has not crossed my mind to re-join banking. There is still plenty to do at Tasek. I love every minute working in Tasek because of the challenge and the opportunity to learn new things.
A workaholic, Teo said: I carry a small notebook with me and, whenever I have a new idea or think of something to do, I write it down.
More often than not, Teo has been labelled an impatient man. However, he sees it not as impatience but as having a sense of urgency.
To progress one needs to have a sense of urgency and not sit on things. We must be proactive and not wait for things to happen, he stressed.
Teo derives the most satisfaction when he sees his people progress, be promoted and assume more responsibilities. However, he admits that he can be a very demanding boss.
I like my staff to be passionate about their work and give their full contribution. I always demand the best from them, he said.
His guiding philosophy in life is to work and think hard as there are no short cuts in life.
I come from a poor family and had to work to make enough money to put myself through university in the US. I don't count on others to do it for me. First comes hard work with luck in second place, said the self-made man.
Thriving on challenges, his favourite sport is golf as he is able to play against himself and be strengthened mentally. An avid reader, Teo's favourites are management books, biographies and books on history.
He graduated from the US with a degree in marketing management and a Masters in Business Administration and return to Malaysia in 1985.
Teo started his banking career in 1986 at United Malayan Banking Corp Bhd, before moving to Deutsche Bank Malaysia Bhd in 1989, and Hong Leong Bank in 1994.
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