“The knowledge gained was effective in knowing how to better manage an enterprise. We learnt about being responsible decision makers, especially to our stakeholders.”~ Mr Lam on the education he received at the NUS Business School
Mr Lam Kwong Yu (APEX-C MBA 2003) may have been in his 50s when he enrolled in the NUS Chinese EMBA course in 2003, but the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starlite Holdings Limited is, in his own words, “enjoying the second peak in my career” now.37 years ago, Mr Lam started his business with a HKD5000 second-hand printer. Today, it still stands in his printing factory in Shenzhen, reminding him of his hard work over the years. Starlite Holdings Limited is now a listed company that owns subsidiaries in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shaoguan and Singapore. It also has representative offices in Shanghai, London, Los Angeles and New York.
While bringing guest visitors through his Shenzhen factory, including former Dean of NUS Business School, Professor Christopher Earley and Vice-Dean of NUS Business School, Professor Quek Ser Aik, Mr Lam shared how grateful he is of the education he received at NUS Business School.
“I knew nothing when I started my business 37 years ago. I networked extensively and practised due diligence to bring me to where I am today. I continue to rely not only on my experience, but also on continuous learning. In fact, I feel like I’ve equipped myself with an encyclopaedia of business management and administration tools after graduating from the NUS EMBA programme.”
Studying in his 50s was not easy for Mr Lam since he had to juggle managing his company, overseeing projects and attending classes. He had even thought of withdrawing from the programme and his subordinates even doubted if he could focus on the lectures. But Mr Lam overcame the challenges and even shared the knowledge he gained during the lectures with his management team.
“The knowledge gained was effective in knowing how to better manage an enterprise. We learnt about being responsible decision makers, especially to our stakeholders.”
The “Second Spring”
Enjoying the “second spring” of his career, Mr Lam continues to believe in continuous learning to enrich himself with new knowledge so as to bring Starlite into the next leap.
“I keep pumping new elements into the enterprise so that it grows. We introduce new projects to attract new talents and hence through such optimization, Starlite is able to develop.”
Today, Mr Lam focuses his strategy in the China market and is targeting the animation and comic sectors. Previously serving the Europe and US market, Starlite changed his strategy when these mature markets showed slower growth and profit margins reduced. For him, the current environment poses challenges different from those faced when he first started out.
“There still are risks, but the process is not as long as the first one. The period of time from success to failure is shorter, the uncertainties lesser, and strategy planning is much clearer and more accurate. Therefore, the chances of success are higher.”
An Active Alumnus & Environmentalist
Despite his busy schedule, Mr Lam keeps close links with his alma mater and fellow alumni. He not only supports alumni events, he also serves as Chairman of the Advisory Board of Southern China Alumni Network (SCAN). Further, as Chairman of Meizhou Association in Hong Kong, Mr Lam was responsible for recommending more than 30 government officials to be trained at NUS.
On top of his business, Mr Lam also ensures he makes time to care for the environment. Besides making trips to learn about environmental protection, Mr Lam has also promoted environmentalism in his firm by investing in aforestation in every Starlite factory.
Having worked on environmental protection over the last 10 years, Mr Lam still feels he is very much alone in his efforts. Despite the many times he has been put out of his pocket, he is still determined to play his part for the environment.
Continuing His Dreams
The “second spring” for Mr Lam has come as a dream come true as he focuses his business on his personal interests, animation and comics. His vision for Starlite “to be the world-class visual media enterprise in 2010” has pushed him to bring in new items and products to evoke new ideas, and to be committed to grow these projects in the next 20 years.
To him, “Everyone has a dream. And to dream about animation is not about looking for more money, but to develop a business and to do something meaningful.”