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Success is making a positive impact

Mr Louis Tan: 'I always stress on the importance of fairness in each HR dealing. Wage increment and promotion are strictly merit based.'

Mr Louis Tan Leong Chuin
Executive Director
Saudee Group Berhad

The Saudee Group of Companies was founded in 1985 and was born out of the recognition of the food industry's need for cost-effective, time-saving and high-quality products.

Saudi Gold products, the group's flagship brand, is represented in all major retail outlets throughout Malaysia. Saudee Group is among the largest and most progressive processed packaged food manufacturers in Malaysia with a total workforce of 500 personnel.

It is also one of a handful of producers with an ISO 22000 certification. Its Executive Director, Mr Louis Tan Leong Chuin, 34, shares his experiences.

What are the most difficult challenges your business has faced?

The rapid rise of production cost is the most difficult challenge. We are purely a food processor with no upstream advantage. Hence the increase in raw material prices will have a huge impact on our costing.

How do you think your employees view the company?

We might not be the highest paymaster in the game, but I believe our employees see the company as a dynamic and progressive organisation. Wage increment and promotion are strictly merit based. We provide subsidies to our employees to encourage them to obtain professional accreditation that is in line with their roles and responsibilities.

What is your educational background?

I obtained my undergraduate degree in Food Science and Technology from Ohio State University. While doing my Bachelor's Degree, I was an FST Canaga Scholarship recipient. I did my MBA at the University of San Francisco and graduated with a Dean's Medal of Excellence.

Being thrust into the Managing Director position in SIMA Frozen Products and being named Chief Operating Officer in Saudee Group Berhad at the age of 30 years old, I needed to learn all the necessary management techniques simply by doing it.

Are there any business people you admire?

I have deep admiration for Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, Hyloop, Paypal, who is more famously known for leading Tesla Motors to where it is today.

How different are you, in terms of personality and leadership style to other peers in your industry?

I would humbly consider myself to be a contrarian, an adventurer and am more innovative. I have a habit of always wanting to do things differently than others.

What kind of a leader are you?

My style of leadership is deeply impacted by my education in the University of San Francisco. USF is a Jesuit University that preaches Servant Leadership. I'm not used to the hierarchical top-down approach, but am more inclined towards a flat collaborative approach.

With that said, decision making is usually not conducted by me alone, but collectively agreed upon by all major stakeholders.

Effort is not put in in order to accumulate more power, but to empower others and relentlessly collaborate to find the best way for the company.

How do you tackle human resource issues? Are you hands on, or do you delegate?

Never delegate human resource issues. The HR department, along with Finance, to me, are the two most important departments in any organisation.

Corporate cultures are heavily influenced by human resource policies. Hence, I believe a good HR department will have a higher chance of cultivating good leadership.

Apart from doing well financially, what factors are important for a person to be considered 'successful'?

To me, being successful means bringing positive impact to the community, society, and the world in general.