Shirley Ong Siew Chen, Vice President – Mutual Benefits Realty Pte Ltd Singapore
Shirley has been in the Real Estate industry for over a decade and truly enjoys helping clients migrate to Singapore, Malaysia, Hongkong, Australia and Europe. Part of her portfolio includes bringing developers overseas to Hong Kong, Taiwan and China as well as bringing in huge sales for developers and the company. A Real Estate and Immigration specialist, who deals in high net worth individual and companies portfolio, she recalls how an extreme career change made her switch to Real Estate from a corporate job which wasn’t’ exciting any more.
Shirley has strong connections in Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. This is because she has immersed herself in these countries for more than 10 years. Being well versed in English, Mandarin and Bahasa, she finds her job much easier to converse with clients and colleagues. About 60% of her clients are from these countries.
As a top NUS student with a promising management career, becoming a Real Estate Agent wasn’t easy for her; however today, she is glad that she made the decision. Shirley is very passionate about empowering people particularly two groups – the Young Entrepreneur and Women. Well equipped with counselling and psychology skills, she uses it smartly to reach out more effectively. Her other interests include reading books, travelling and shopping.
Amongst many other accolades, Shirley was recently presented the Women Icons Asia 2018 Award by BERG Singapore. Team AsiaBizToday (ABT) captures some more insights from her journey in this interview below.
Who is your greatest inspiration & Why?
Many people inspire me including my clients & my family members; especially my mother. She is the woman who made me the person I am today. She is super positive and gives me room to make mistakes. She always believed in me. Her positivity has rub me so much that people always wonder why I am so positive. She is such an encourager and always tells me I am born to be successful and she believes in whatever I do.
Entrepreneurs who decide to create a path of their own also inspire me a lot. I love to read about their life journeys and their successes are like vitamin to my soul. As a Real Estate Agent, my clients include successful entrepreneurs of which some are multi-millionaires. Chatting with them and learning their life stories works like a steroid for me. Their pains and their past push me forward and often uplift my spirit and inspire me to do better everyday.
What led you to the path of Entrepreneurship?
I guess it runs in the family. As young as 7 years old, I started my own business. I sold french fries to my siblings and opened a library to help borrow books to my friends. They were charged a fee if books borrowed were overdue and this helped me position myself as very practical person to the world.
I love doing business as it allows me to dream the impossible and I enjoy challenges and it thrills me when I overcome the impossible. Even when I was working, I had already a few joint ventures with my friends who were working on different business. I reckon my decision to leave the cooperate world as it was a matter of time & the Entrepreneurship calling in me, that forced me to take the plunge.
Do you face any challenges as a Woman Leader?
Definitely. As a woman leader, you face the critic not only from men but also from other Women. It sometimes makes me puzzled when one Woman puts down another Woman. However I learnt that it is often people who are not confident themselves, decide to stumble another individual, hence this is not limited to gender but a general human trait.
As a woman leader, you also often face critic from your inner self and one is quick to correct and self-blame oneself. I feel, as a Woman leader, it is important to trust ourselves that it is time we take up this role and we are empowered to do “the” role. We must also believe in our decision and it is a must be open to suggestions. We must learn to take praises from people; not just only give praises and learn to stand firm on our decision, given other uncertainties & the dynamic business environment.
If you were to do any one thing differently, what would that be?
If I could re-live my past, I would probably continue my studies in the medical field and become a doctor. I often tell people around me, “there is no ‘What if or if only’, but there is only “fruits and consequences.” Hence I try my best to live and make the best decisions so that I have the right fruits.
Whenever I made a wrong decision, I’ve suffered the consequences boldly and I believe that is better than being in a position of regret, asking myself, “if only or what if I could have done something”. On that note, I probably won’t do anything differently cause I have given my best at any given circumstances. Life is anyways about no turning back and learning from the mistakes and move forward with a positive attitude.
How do you describe your leadership style?
I think I am a good Coach. I feel that developing people for the future is important. I am never afraid of people overtaking me, as I believe that a good leader must grow with the people and a great leader is capable to stepping down at the right time. I believe in helping teammates build personal strengths which makes them overall successful as it is least effective when teammates are not willingly to learn or change or if the leader is not well equipped himself.
What’s your advice to Young Entrepreneurs?
Always believe in yourself & note that in everything you do, the timing should be perfect. Nothing is impossible in this world, it is all only in our perspective, you read it either as IMPOSSIBLE or I AM POSSIBLE!