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Celebrated for a lifetime of accomplishments

The executive chairman of M&L Hospitality banks on boosting reserves to stay fiscally fit

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"Surviving tough times has taught me the importance of having sufficient cash reserves and sound financial management strategies, which led me to inculcate this as one of the guiding principles of M&L Hospitality." - Michael Kum, Executive Chairman, M&L Hospitality

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR MICHAEL KUM, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF M&L HOSPITALITY

The Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards has been conferred on Michael Kum, Executive Chairman of M&L Hospitality. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit, and contributed to the society for a sustained period of time.

M&L Hospitality is an international real estate investment platform with offices in Singapore, Sydney and Amsterdam. It invests in carefully selected hospitality properties that are strategically located in key gateway cities.

"I am pleased and honoured to be receiving this award. The Lifetime Achievement Award is a prestigious one, and when I look at who are some of the past recipients of this award, I am humbled at the thought of joining a group of highly successful, entrepreneurial leaders who have done much for their industries and society," says Mr Kum.

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"It has been a long journey since my days in offshore vessel chartering and then to the founding of Grandline International back in 2009. This award not only represents my work and contributions to the industry, but also the support and dedication of my family and team at M&L Hospitality over the past decade. All that I have achieved would not have been made possible without them, and this award is therefore a testimony of their efforts too." Mr Kum believes that he is being recognised for his entrepreneurial spirit and his business acumen. This can be seen from the risk he took in buying his first property, the Four Points by Sheraton in Sydney, back in 2009 during the peak of the global financial crisis when money lending opportunities were limited.

The process of acquiring the property was difficult and it took him a lot of time and patience to complete the acquisition. It was a good deal and he was determined to proceed. Today, this has clearly paid off, he says. "My achievement in business has also given me the ability to help others by giving back to society."

When asked what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, he says: "You must have business acumen. Business acumen can be achieved through learning or natural ability."

"Given the current market conditions, I believe this is time to be prudent. Wealth preservation should be the absolute focus. However, you should still keep a lookout for prospects.

"It is also important to build a strong team that you trust and have diverse skills and experience that complement yours. My daughter Jocelyn Kum, Executive Director, and CEO Neil Maxwell, have been with me since the founding of M&L and have played an integral role in helping it become the success that it is today."

"We will continue to explore new opportunities in other markets, while maintaining growth at a steady pace. We are always on the lookout for new opportunities.For instance, we have made our foray in the healthcare sector in 2014 and most recently, we have ventured back into the offshore vessel chartering business," he adds.

Mr Kum's journey as a businessman started with the desire to run his own business. "I started my career working in a company in the marine offshore chartering industry. Then I struck out on my own, setting up my first company, Offshore Charters, with limited financial resources. I borrowed from family, friends and banks."

Among all the challenges, the most difficult one to overcome was the fundamental requirement to secure the charter contract, ownership of the vessel and bank financing concurrently.

"Surviving tough times has taught me the importance of having sufficient cash reserves and sound financial management strategies, which led me to inculcate this as one of the guiding principles of M&L Hospitality," shares Mr Kum.