Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fishing for Success

About 1,100 final year School of Business Management (SBM) students had the privilege of attending the second Annual NYP Business Lecture, Business Builders and Game Changers, featuring Mr Kenny Yap, Executive Chairman & Managing Director of Qian Hu Corporation last week. Mr Yap has been in the fishing industry for more than 15 years. His Singapore-based ornamental fish company exports to over 80 countries including Africa, Europe and even Oceania.

The session started off with an introductory video showcasing Innovation and Enterprise at SBM, shot and edited by final year Mass Media Management students. It highlighted SBM’s Entrepreneurship Day, Retail Seminar and last year’s Business Lecture. The audience was then treated to a jaw-dropping performance by the talented dance group, Foreign Bodies.

It was then time for the main event.

As a family-run business, Mr Yap emphasised the importance of good relationships with family members and their support throughout the years. However, behind every success story, lies a story of hardship and failure. His business once plummeted due to a heavy thunderstorm, and he lost all his fish, which nearly caused him to declare bankruptcy.

But Mr Yap’s positive attitude catapulted himself forward again and he is now one of Singapore’s most successful entrepreneurs.  His story about not comparing oneself to others was quite inspiring. Mr Yap also shared his sentiments regarding the current Generation Y.

“Gen Y needs a sense of reality; they cannot expect everything to be smooth sailing. If you know what you want, you will have a life as a colourful as a fish,” he emphasized, with gusto.

That struck a chord with me as the current era we live in has everything laid out for us. We are pampered but it won’t be long before we have to stand on our own two feet. The world out there is a jungle full of predators and inevitable situations.

Like Mr Yap, I too believe that we ride a sea of tumultuous waves, but, with proper rowing, the smooth and soothing waves of the ocean will eventually come.

After Mr Yap’s motivating speech, there was a panel session featuring SBM Graduate Entrepreneurs and current Student Entrepreneurs. They included Mr Barnabas Huang from Nutrifirst, Mr Dan Boon of Boon Software Consulting, Bryan Chang of Cadre Bikes and Chan Ying Ying, owner of Dawnyourstyle, a customizable diary business.
From left: Chan Ying Ying and Bryan Chang
Bryan Chang, a final year student from the Diploma in Sports & Wellness Management, started his business of selling second-hand bicycles at the tender age of 13 and his business capital was raised from his personal pocket money.

He shared the same sentiments as Mr Yap’s towards his business even when it was at its lowest – keeping a positive attitude. He initially faced difficulties getting customers as they were skeptical of him and his age when he started his business.

With a high degree of knowledge about bicycle parts, his customers soon realised that he knew more than the average bicycle enthusiast. Furthermore, testimonials from his previous customers attracted more prospective customers and thus, his business flourished.

Bryan also strongly abides by his own values when doing business – being honest, not selling inferior or imitation goods and not shamelessly trying to out price his competitors.
Mr Kenny Yap
One of the many students asking Mr Yap questions
The floor also asked Mr Yap burning questions from the funding of operations, to tough competition, branding problems and problems faced in a family-run business. I found that the answers provided by Mr Yap were tactical, direct and realistic. He also emphasised heavily on communication and perseverance.

It is no wonder that he is one of Singapore’s most impressive entrepreneurs.
Said Bryan: “Mr Kenny Yap was definitely insightful and his words have definitely changed some of the ways I viewed things. He has a very charismatic personality which made the lecture interesting throughout the session.”

By Farihin Joehari, Year 3, Diploma in Mass Media Management

Farihin Joehari has a penchant for cooking and wishes Nigella Lawson was his wife. He has a love-hate relationship with food and is a massive movie junkie! He loves going on escapades with his pals and might have a knack of whining too. He also enjoys going to concerts to be left in awe.

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