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Driven by a sense of responsibility


At 61, Tan Boon Hock is nowhere near retirement. The managing director of Optimax shares about his motivations and what fills his time.

Many think of taking a slower pace in their golden years but you show no sign of slowing down. What keeps you going?

It is my responsibility to keep growing the company. We are given the gift and opportunities to help society through our business activities, which is through providing better eye care services and building hospitals.

But I must think for my staff too. If I am successful and my staff isn’t, I feel guilty.

An area that I look into is how motivated is my team. I always emphasise that everyone in the company must work together to add value to the company. They are here not just to pass time. The same applies to me. I, too, must add value.

How do you juggle your time between your businesses?

We have key people running these businesses and they are also the shareholders of the company. I have been fortunate to have dedicated staff who had been doing their best to grow the company. Growing a business means you have the right people in place to grow them with you.

One must also appreciate the people who is working with us. One of the ways is through giving them better career prospects as well as being able to remunerate them accordingly. Everyone wants a better life. Keeping our staff excited with our expansion plans is important.

As the company grows, the staff will continue to benefit from the growth through our remuneration systems.

In 2015, we achieved a revenue of about RM40mil and we are planning to open five more centres by end 2017.

My time is spent more on strategising the direction of the company, and also identifying new growth areas.

What do you do during your free time?

I love golf. People see your character when you are playing golf. Whether you are one who plays by the rules or one who would cheat, people can notice this.

I am also interested in horse riding. It is a good exercise and it trains me to be alert. I have to understand the animal and the tempo of its trotting. Through this, I also have a better understanding of synergy. You have to steer the horse in the right direction while your body follows suit. It is not as simple as just getting on top and start riding. You will fall.

And I did fall!

I also take it as a challenge to try something different. You get a sense of achievement. I fell more than five times but I don’t give up.

It reminds me to remain brave and not to give up.

What is your philosophy in life?

In life, I believe everyone wants to be happy. I achieve this by being able to help people, beginning with my family and my staff to business associates.

Helping people makes me happy.

There are instances where we come across patients who could not afford our treatment, we simply give them free treatment. I also have people whose children needed money to further their education and I willingly provided them an education loan.

I made it clear that they can repay me when they start to work. The main purpose of this is to encourage them to become responsible.

Everyday, I do my best to make a difference in people’s life and their smile makes me happy.

Another thing is this: winning is not everything.

Contrary to popular belief, one might win but is the victory worth it? One could end up feeling very tired or simply be unhappy just to gain that victory.

For instance, even for some contracts where we are certain that we are in the right and the other party owes us money for the jobs we’ve done, we will have to let it go.

Why? Always think of the other side.

During bad times, we have to understand that the other party is also in financial difficulty. If we can reflect, and realise, and appreciate the fact that they gave us jobs in the first place, it will be easy to understand and deal with it amicably.

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