Starting her career as a lawyer from 1994 to 2007, Chih Ching moved into real estate, investment and management. This is where she realised that she was good at real estate concepts and then the transition into luxury properties and hospitality came naturally.
With a passion in real estate, interior design and hotels she was constantly looking to invent new concepts that have not been previously thought of by others and are lacking in Singapore. When she was younger, she would save enough money to visit and see buildings and hotels that caught her fancy, no matter how far or exotic the destination was. Most of the time, her travel destinations were highly influenced by hotels.
Today she is most passionate and determined to build things that are value for money. She believes that the notion “value for money” doesn’t always have to be synonymous with low cost and low pricing. Instead, it is about offering enough to make guests or buyers feel that their money is well spent.
A young Chih Ching always dreamt of building the most expensive residences. Today, she would rather build the residence with the best value. This entails using quality and sustainable products along with the best use of spaces.
Ong Chih Ching , Executive Chairman & Executive Director at KOP Limited speaks to AsiaBizToday on what it means to be a woman leader in the property development business.
Can you talk us through your current activities?
Being the executive chairman of KOP sounds like a glamorous position, but it also means that I have to be responsible for every aspect of the company. While it is customary for me to give a broad and overarching direction, on some days, I do find myself dealing closely with my team on small issues of the business. I would like to think of it as a hands – on approach.
What was your trigger and motivation to get into this?
I am mostly driven by my sense of responsibility. In my position, I have to be quick to make decisions to help move the business forward. Once we say that we are going to do something, we will complete it regardless of how difficult it is.
What have been your experiences in this leadership position?
As a leader, I believe it is very important to have a vision. And I am always clear of my vision. It is about articulating and communicating the vision clearly to the team, and I believe I have done that successfully thus far.
Which are the important factors that keep you going?
First of all, I am a very driven and curious person. I have a lot of creativity and I am constantly inspired whenever I travel and would apply new ideas to real estate. Furthermore, I always look for ways to turn my inspiration into opportunities to enhance people’s lifestyle and fill up the gaps in the real estate business.
Have you faced any obstacles in your initiatives? Do you think you have faced specific challenges because of being a woman?
Yes, all the time. Being a woman in a male dominated world like real estate, we have to always prove ourselves more through our creativity and uniqueness. It is also important to be more vigilant, sensitive and detailed.
Where do you usually find inspiration from?
From every aspect of my life. My inspiration comes from my travels and daily interactions with people, especially the younger generation. I am fascinated by the zeitgeist of their generation. These days, whatever you pay and play online turns into something real. That is something I would like to achieve in Wintastar Shanghai — to create an atmosphere that is immersive and highly experiential and have activities that are more exciting and challenging, which they cannot get from their phones.
What’s your proudest moment so far?
I am proud of every single project we have done. But if I have to pick one, it would be Montigo Resorts and I think of it as a miracle. In a way, Montigo has made Batam an accepted place to visit and has in fact become a landmark for Batam. Nowadays, if you ask people where they are staying in Batam, most of them will say Montigo Resorts or have heard of Montigo Resorts. Before Montigo Resorts came about, I had a vision: as long as you create something nice, it does not matter where you are.
How would you define success?
I think KOP has created a lot of iconic projects around the world such as Singapore, London, Indonesia etc. and currently we are embarking on one in Shanghai. All these have led to a trail of legacies and the next thing is to create a sustainable cash flow. I think it is very easy to say you have arrived but it’s more difficult to arrive and stay there. Success to me at this point is to be sustainable and have longevity.
What advice do you have for other aspiring Entrepreneurs, especially women?
First, do not follow your passion, because passion is an emotion that changes. Always do what you’re good at. Even if you don’t like what you’re good at, when you start to achieve results, you will begin to love it. This is especially for women, as many young women entrepreneurs have this quest and urge to change the world. While it is a very noble aspiration, it is more important to have a real business plan where the business can be profitable and sustainable. I believe in living to fight for another day.