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– with inputs from Wani Azahar
Beh Chun Chong, CEO, property division, Paramount Property Development, talks to Nicole Chew about the importance of inclusiveness, teamwork and interdependence, as well as how HR can better contribute to organisational goals.
Joining Paramount Property Development in 2014, tell us how did you get to where you are today with the firm?
I was headhunted to be the deputy CEO of the property division about three and a half years ago. It was part of the succession plan that I would assume the CEO position in five years time. However, due to a sudden illness to the then-CEO, I was made acting CEO when I reported to work. I was promoted to CEO of Paramount Property six months later and still hold the position.
With every leader managing differently, how would you define your leadership style?
I would like to think of myself as the “chief listening and learning executive officer”. I believe in inclusiveness, teamwork and interdependence. I like to listen to the team for their ideas, feedback and suggestions and discuss things with them. They would know that my door is always open. I do believe I need to get the team to buy into our company vision and management direction. American army general and statesman Dwight Eisenhower once said: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.” However, in order for an organisation to be effective I believe that good management is democracy in decision-making and dictatorship in implementation.
We’re sure you have busy days. However, what do you enjoy most about your work?
Since my childhood days, I have wished to build many great buildings. Plus, I’m a civil engineer by training. So now, as a developer, I have the opportunity to create and build good places for the community. I have a great team to support me and I enjoy working with many different consultants and professionals. This gives me energy every day.
Being a leader calls for making tough decisions. What’s your most difficult one yet, and what did you learn from it?
The toughest decisions are not the business decisions, but the ones involving other people. The toughest time is always the end of the year when I have to decide the promotions, increments and bonus payouts for the team. Through this, I’ve learnt that communication is key. On one hand, I have to make my expectations clear to the team; and on the other, I have to be responsible towards the shareholders. It’s tough when you can’t satisfy everyone.
Besides the normal recruitment, succession planning, retention and payroll, HR plays an important role in talent development. Not only limited to training, development is also part of ensuring that our corporate core values of TRIBE (trust, respect, integrity, bravery and energy) are present.
When you’re struggling with stress, how do you tackle a bad day?
One of my strengths would be the ability to stay calm in a pressing situation, and I try put myself in other people’s shoes and see their perspectives. I’m also blessed to have a great superior and mentor, our group CEO, Jeffrey Chew, who never fails to give me good direction when I am faced with a tough situation. Besides that, I’m a member of Vistage, a CEO-mentoring and networking organisation. My group consists of 16 CEOs and business owners from different industries. We are mentored by a well-respected chairperson, and meet at least monthly. By listening and sharing with other CEOs, it helps to improve my management business acumen, hence, indirectly reduce stress. On a personal level, I love to travel. Despite working between 12 to 16 hours a day, I will aim to go for a short break with my wife whenever we can. It helps me to unwind, learn new ideas and re-energise.
How do you engage and motivate staff when they are struggling with work?
I’ll roll up my sleeves and help them, or if the situation calls, find them the help. Making time to share meals and drinks with them occasionally, I do remind them that there’s no shortcut in the industry. The more challenges they have, the more they learn, and the more it will benefit them in the long run.
On a broader topic, how do you think HR can contribute better to organisational goals?
Besides the normal recruitment, succession planning, retention and payroll, HR plays an important role in talent development. Not only limited to training, development is also part of ensuring that our corporate core values of TRIBE (trust, respect, integrity, bravery and energy) are present, and that the wellbeing of staff is maintained through gamification or exercise programmes. For that, I believe that HR has to embrace technology and future working trends such as a co-working environment.
What has been your most memorable moment with the organisation?
I’m still relatively young in the organisation. However, I’ve always enjoyed our annual appreciation nights where the management gives thanks to colleagues and business associates. At the end of the day, we really treasure our people.
Image / Provided