How did your life experience make you the leader you are today?
Being the youngest of my family, I had many opportunities to network and learn from my family, who started out as a real estate developer in 1989. I learned the ropes from my father, and I also learned the character and work ethic in terms of what’s right and wrong. Even today, these principles remain dear to me as I strive to lead the company to greater heights.
She worked in the corporate world before joining the family business, having worked at ADT and Canon. Having worked for corporations, he also helped me shape and guide the company’s principles from what one would call his hometown champion to where Lagenda Properties is today a player listed in affordable real estate.
What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?
I think each person is gifted with their own special abilities. However, getting the right person in the right place takes time and investment. What I am looking for are individuals who are willing to learn, adapt and be able to take notes to change for the better. At Lagenda, our core values are all related to improving one’s personality: integrity, ownership, teamwork, appreciation and appreciation.
How do you think the industry you are working in will develop?
Recently, the affordable segment has received much attention. With the pandemic, housing has become very expensive as people struggle to survive. In fact, many M40s are also slipping into the B40.
I expect the industry to be and remain more competitive, with more attention given to affordable homes by developers. However, we sell homes at prices below what the B40 can afford, which is below the MYR 200,000 threshold, while complementing a high-quality lifestyle. Our cities differentiate themselves from other developers in the affordable sector through our dedication to ecosystems within our flagship townships. In home construction, we offer amenities such as clubs, swimming pools, tropical gardens, cycling and jogging tracks, badminton courts, and more, which are not usually found in our price range.
What advice can you give to those looking to start their own career / business?
For business owners, responsibility and competence are important criteria. For an entrepreneur, patience is important, as one needs to go when the opportunity is right or when the time is right.
A certain amount of patience, trial and error, and calculated risk are important. It took up to two decades to learn that real affordable housing is less than RM200,000. Hence, by offering the right product at the right price, we’ve definitely found a great place.
We all know about the Industrial Revolution, are we on the verge of a technological revolution?
It has definitely been speeded up by the pandemic. Everyone is forced to accept a new standard and we adapt to it. In terms of construction work, much of the current process is labor-intensive.
As the revolution makes more technologies viable, we will implement more efficient processes – Industrial Building Systems (IBS), 3D printing and more. This does not mean that we are stuck in the past, as our new project phases already use IBS. I expect our shift will be greater in the future as it becomes the logical choice. Ultimately, we cannot rely too much on foreign workers and will integrate IBS further.
How has mentoring made a difference in your career?
Certainly. It improved my communication skills and also taught me to think about myself.
Regarding the communication aspect – it is the act of making sure people understand the message I’m conveying to them, without room for misinterpretation. Rather than being persistent, I prefer to have a dialogue when convincing my team to take on a task and stay open to feedback, because communication is not a one-way street.
I also believe that self-reflection is important – when we think about what worked and what could have been done better, we can adapt and grow.
What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
Nowadays and historically, the mismatch in housing affordability is acute nationwide. We need to ask ourselves – What is really reasonable price for all Malaysians? How do we balance affordability and affordability?
To support this, it is clear to me that affordable housing is in short supply. According to Bank Negara Malaysia, there are 1 million people who need housing. If I build 10,000 homes, I only solve 1% of the problem and the problem increases every year.
With that, I would like to focus on what I’m doing today and keep focusing for the next five years on the affordable housing market in Malaysia. In this short term, we hope to be able to acquire more land banks nationwide in our endeavor to develop across the various states where the needs of the B40 are most evident.
The best advice you have ever received in your career.
We can only choose to speak or listen, so choose wisely.
The most admired business leader? why?
This will be my father, Datuk Doh Ning Cheung. He found opportunities for every problem he encountered. Back in the late 1980s, he saw the plight of Sitiawan homeowners such as civil servants, police officers, teachers, nurses and those serving at the Lumut Naval Base.
My dad saw that many couldn’t afford to buy their homes very well in their 40’s and 50’s, and he decided to reverse engineer his (homes) products, and price them according to the affordability of the market. He then set out to build homes starting at RM32,000, a price that was low even in those years.
Although small, in 400 homes, I saw his mission as important.
How do you stay up-to-date on issues affecting your industry?
Open communication is important to have others trust you enough to share openly. I often stay in touch with regulators, civil servants, suppliers, and members of my team, which allows me to get first-hand information about what is happening on the ground.
For example, with regulators, if there are new policies and problems, we are able to respond quickly and thus address them. For my teammates who deal directly with buyers, we understand the B40’s psyche, the preferences of the younger generation, and also what they’re looking for.
If you could spend an hour with any thought leader in the world, who would it be and why?
James Dyson, founder of Dyson. In his time, he was a beloved inventor, and now he is a billionaire who is not afraid to reveal his opinion. His story is interesting – he was disappointed by the degradation of the vacuum cleaner performance. After he had recently built a tornado tower to separate paint particles from air, he applied the same principles to vacuum.
After 5,000 prototypes, he invented the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner as it is known today. Making this connection between two separate things is genius to me.
What’s the strangest business proposal you’ve heard before?
I’ve heard a lot of strange business proposals. But I’ll always keep an open mind because, who knows? It may lead to the next best invention.
What is the man-made innovation that confuses you? why?
Dyson is very creative and innovative in their designs. Who would have thought to use inspiration from a hurricane to completely change the way traditional brooms and other home appliances are made.
Malaysia’s greatest brand.
While Grab is now known as a Singaporean multinational corporation, both founders were Malaysians and had their first break in Malaysia when they launched MyTeksi. Grab’s achievement has been inspiring and surprising and has fundamentally disrupted how future transportation is perceived by its brand name synonymous with e-marketing in Southeast Asia.
What are the three most important factors that you attribute your success to?
The Right Time: First and foremost, it is the right time when there is an urgent need in a nation. Malaysia now needs 1 million affordable housing units, for example.
The Right Team: It also takes the right team, and I have a very supportive team. We are helping each other fulfill our vision and mission, which is to provide affordable housing for Malaysians.
Right Support: I also attribute our success to my family, who understand my busy agenda as well as affiliates and partners who are now friends and have supported me through opportunities and challenges.