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Developing harmonised societies

At 34, Fanny Cheng isn't a typical Assistant General Manager - but it's precisely her youthful outlook that has taken TEE Land places

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'We aim to be recognised as a quality Singapore developer, with a strategic focus on developing sites that have fewer than 100 units. Such developments allow us to have a quicker turnaround for our other projects.' - Fanny Cheng, Assistant General Manager at TEE Land.

THE next time someone tells you that young people don't stay in one job for long, point them to Fanny Cheng. At 34, Ms Cheng has been with TEE Group for almost 15 years; she joined the integrated engineering, real estate, and infrastructure group straight out of Singapore Polytechnic in 2004. She later furthered her studies in Business Management at the Manchester Business School and took up Executive programme in NUS Real Estate Finances.

She started from the bottom, as a business development executive for TEE International's engineering division. Since then, she has risen to Assistant General Manager of TEE Land, TEE International's real estate business, which in 2013 was successfully listed on the Singapore Exchange mainboard.

"Being in the company for 15 years, I've shared a lot of laughter with my colleagues, as well as a great deal of hard work," says Ms Cheng, who mainly handles land acquisitions, project development, and marketing today.

The mother of two notes that she was a fresh grad when she started at TEE International. "The company has seen me through lots of ups and downs - both work achievements and personal milestones. I was also diagnosed with cancer last year. Luckily, it has been treated and I am now at the recovery stage," adds Ms Cheng.

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Her youth is a major asset in a group where the average age is 39. Says the young leader: "I am fortunate to be between Generation X and the millennials. I believe I'm able to better understand them, and work together to deliver exceptional teamwork."

Indeed, with the company's international business presence, teamwork and cohesion are crucial. TEE Land's business presence spans Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand, where it develops residential and commercial projects. The Singapore-based developer also invests in properties.

Ms Cheng notes that TEE Land's strategy is to focus on quality, niche developments. "We aim to be recognised as a quality Singapore developer, with a strategic focus on developing sites that have fewer than 100 units. Such developments allow us to have a quicker turnaround for our other projects.

"Basically, whenever there are TEE projects, they will be synonymous with quality homes, great locations, and an overall solid investment."

To live up to this brand promise, Ms Cheng and her team make it a point to keep up with fast-moving trends, especially on social media. Noticing, for instance, that younger buyers prize developments with built-in smart technologies, Ms Cheng highlights a number of ways TEE Land aims to meet those needs.

"For example, guests coming into the development could register with just a QR code, eliminating the lengthy and tiresome process of physical sign-in checks. Or residents who want to book a barbecue pit could do so with a seamless app, versus an in-person booking.

"The idea is to have a paperless system, where residents can execute tasks anytime at their convenience. That's what smart technology makes possible: heightened convenience and environmentally friendly solutions - at a friendlier cost," she adds.

Apart from keeping abreast with ongoing trends, Ms Cheng picks up new and innovative ideas when she travels. On a trip to Hong Kong, for instance, she noticed that a property showroom was located in an Expo, and not at a location close to the development site.

"I immediately took this concept back to Singapore. For example, instead of launching 24One Residences on-site last year, we launched the project in Westway, a mall in Pasir Panjang. The convenient viewing location meant great time savings, and we managed to sell the project within three months," notes Ms Cheng.

She also enjoys staying in Airbnb properties during her travels, as this allows her to experience how people live in other countries. In Japan - where space is at a premium - she gained insights on space efficiency and various living configurations. In Europe, she was struck by their exceptional quality and unique design elements.

Says Ms Cheng: "These are all things we've incorporated in our upcoming developments, like Lattice One and 35 Gilstead. We will be launching these by the end of this year, or early next year."

Clearly, this strategy - of staying nimble and being unafraid to shake things up - has reaped dividends for TEE Land. Its Hilbre28 development, which is surrounded by landed housing enclaves, boasts triplex units from the fourth floor to the attic. This sort of elevated landed property proved popular, and was snapped up quickly by buyers.

"Most buyers were from multi-generation families, so they liked the common lift for all three levels. Not only did it provide more privacy between generations, it was also more handicapped-friendly, too.

"We were surprised that the biggest units were the ones that got sold out first even though the price was much higher - this means buyers believe in our ideas!" Ms Cheng enthuses.

Certainly, this is something the company can be proud of - especially when its vision is to create living and working spaces that harmonise societies, businesses, and people.