Lim believes in giving his best


Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd's chairman Datuk Lim Say Chong has much to be proud of – a long and illustrious career as well as a fulfilling personal life. 

Despite his achievements, Lim remains a simple and modest man – one who is well liked and respected by his peers and subordinates. 

And what is the secret of his success? 

Lim's answer is simple: “Be willing to take advice, be at the right place at the right time and work hard. My parents always reminded us to give our best in everything we did and not sell ourselves short.” 

He has certainly been taking his parents' advice, having achieved a number of firsts in the country. 

Lim was the first winner of Universiti Malaya's (UM) best all-round student award in 1962.  

Datuk Lim Say Chong at the Carlbery Brewery in Shah Alam.

“My parents emphasised two things when my six siblings and I were growing up in Penang – the habit of reading and sports. 

“If my father found us in the house between five to seven in the evening, he would ask if we were sick and why we were not outside playing games,” he reminisced. An avid sportsman, Lim had represented Penang in soccer and hockey.  

He went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Economics from UM and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of British Columbia, Canada. 

Lim joined Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Plc group of companies in 1965 and in 1989 became the first Malaysian managing director and chief executive officer of ICI Malaysia. 

Another first for Lim was the management buyout (MBO) of Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd (CCM). 

Lim, together with colleague Oh Kim Sun, had initiated the MBO – the first such MBO of a foreign-controlled company listed on the local bourse – when they bought a 50.1% stake in the company from ICI in 1994. 

Labelled as the most meaningful milestone in his career, Lim said: “We saw an opportunity and we took it. It was a big challenge to take over a company set up by foreigners and we were delighted it was a success.” 

Lim was CCM's group managing director from 1989 to 2004.  

He was also the first Malaysian president of the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the oldest chamber of commerce in the country. 

The latest addition to Lim's 'gallery of firsts' was his appointment as Carlsberg's first Malaysian chairman in June last year.  

“I am very happy to be given the opportunity to contribute and serve,” he said of his appointment. 

Becoming Carlsberg's chairman had reminded him of the many loyal friends he has made throughout the years. 

“Soon after I was elected chairman, I met an old friend I had not seen in 20 years, who was a lifelong Tiger beer drinker.  

“He told me that after reading about my appointment in the newspapers, he not only switched to Carlsberg beer but also got his drinking buddies to do the same,” Lim said. 

Despite having a busy schedule, Lim is a trustee of the Ti-Ratana Welfare Society, which looks after 150 orphans and 50 senior citizens. It also provides shelter for unwed mothers. 

It does not look like retirement is in the works anytime soon for Lim, who is 65 and at an age where many would be taking things easy and living a leisurely life. 

“Looking back, I consider myself fortunate in life. I will continue to contribute wherever I can. I enjoy what I do and that is the most important,” said the grandfather of four. 

At present, Lim is also a director of Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Bhd, Opus International Group Plc and Rohas Euco Industries Bhd. 

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