Lam Kwong Yu moved to Hong Kong from Guangdong when he was just a teenager. Back then, his life was not easy. During the day, he worked long hours at a printing company. After his shift, he took up evening classes so that he could improve his lot in life.
“I’m a Hakka from Meixian, Guangdong,” he said. “A thousand years ago, our people moved from Southern Sichuan to Guangdong. Among Hakkas, Confucianism is our fundamental principle. There is a saying, ‘Education is of the highest priority. ‘ Without proper education, your life will fall into a vicious cycle.”
Propelled by that philosophy, he persevered and eventually completed a degree in business administration at the University of East Asia in Macau. Much later, he decided to sign up for the Chinese Executive MBA course at the NUS Business School.
For him, getting the Executive MBA was not a quest for mere paper qualifications. He has no need to prove himself. His company, Starlite Holdings Limited, is listed in Hong Kong and has operations in Shenzhen, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Shaoguan, Malaysia and Singapore. Instead, for him, it was about learning and being able to apply those lessons to his business. That is why he enjoyed his EMBA course.
“The EMBA program in NUS is life-enriching, with a lot of vivid case studies and real-world role play,” he recalled. “All of these drove us to be more rational and objective about our business growth, instead of institutional and emotional approaches.
“Take investment for an instance. We invested in a major environmental business in China, which failed at the end and almost drove Starlite into bankruptcy. If I had taken the EMBA program before that, I would have implemented market research, financial evaluation, risk assessment and other measures, which would have helped us to prevent this serious mistake.
“Every mistake has its substantial costs. As a business executive, we need to take care of our business. It requires continuous education to avoid serious mistakes along the way.”
Fortunately, that incident did not bring Starlite into bankruptcy. Instead, the company, which specializes in printing, is now a stalwart on the Hong Kong stock exchange. He attributes the remarkable growth of Starlite to its corporate culture. “I believe that corporate culture matters, which is the soul of a business. It can be summarized as Integrity, Love, Diligence and Sensitivity.
“Integrity means honesty at all times. As for ‘Love’, we need to love our people, the community and the nature. ‘Diligence’ means to be hard working. In particular, in the time of difficulties, it calls for greater efforts than others. ‘Sensitivity’ is important because we have to remain sensitive to new ideas and things, and be eager to learn. To succeed and further grow in the future, Starlite needs to stick to its culture and philosophy.”