Khoo Gaik Eng – Grace Liu

Co-Founder & Managing Director

East Wellsum Industries (S) Pte Ltd

2015

TOP OUTSTANDING LEADERS IN ASIA

Khoo Gaik Eng – Grace Liu

TOP OUTSTANDING LEADERS IN ASIA

2015

Co-Founder & Managing Director

East Wellsum Industries (S) Pte Ltd

About Grace Liu

East Wellsum Industries (S) Pte Ltd was incorporated on 9 May 1979. It is one of Asia’s leading garment manufacturers, importing fabrics from Korea, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Europe to produce multi-product clothing from athletic wear, semi-dress pants and shirts, fashion wear, uniforms and luxury ready to wear for brands such as Haggar Clothing Co, Levi’s, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Reebok, and Tex Saverio which retails in leading stores such as Kohl’s, JC Penny, Macy’s, Nordstorm, Target, Galeries Lafayette and Dick’s Sporting Goods. In a very competitive industry with many large corporate titans and SMEs, Co-founder, Khoo Gaik Eng – Grace Liu, 69, has been able to carve a niche for East Wellsum by establishing the company as an important and reliable partner to the supply chain of its various clients.
What were the most difficult challenges your business has faced and how did that help build your leadership character?
The nature of the industry requires the bridging of Eastern and Western business cultures and practices. It requires us to establish manufacturing facilities in developing countries and often times in the poorest areas of developing countries. It requires commitment, endurance and perseverance to provide training and education to the staff from that country. This helped me to develop leadership because I had to learn how to bridge the cultural gaps. Helping people from different income levels to work towards a common goal helped me develop an almost altruistic style of leadership where we train for the greater good of the industry and society, not solely for the benefit of our company.

Did you have any role models when you were growing up?
My grandfather and my grandfather’s sisters were successful business people who had a lot of concern for society. They practiced CSR way back in the days where they contributed back to society by building schools from the profits of their business. Since they did business in the war, they used their finances to provide for their fellowmen who became refugees. developing countries. It requires commitment, endurance and perseverance to provide training and education to the staff from that country. This helped me to develop leadership because I had to learn how to bridge the cultural gaps. Helping people from different income levels to work towards a common goal helped me develop an almost altruistic style of leadership where we train for the greater good of the industry and society, not solely for the benefit of our company.
Are there any business people you admire?
Bill Gates, for his creativity and strategic mindset. He created a product and a collaborative platform that was close to indispensable for the world. It was his passion first that lead to his immense wealth. His charitable endeavors have no color and no geopolitical boundaries.

What kind of a leader are you?
I lead by example. I don’t see myself as different from others; I am a normal person. The only difference is my approach to daily everyday matters. I try to give my very best in each of the tasks I have to do.

How different are you from your peers in the industry?
I treat my suppliers and clients as partners. I take care of their interests before taking care of my own. I also take the time to nurture and train my suppliers and clients’ team especially on technical inputs contributing to their growth, both personally and in their business. Putting others before myself has given me intangible advantages, which have helped me grow my business as I have support from my suppliers, and clients that others may not be able to obtain.

Can good leadership be taught?
It is very difficult to teach leadership, as it is not just knowledge obtained from books. One can learn about the theory and the idea of leadership but it can’t be obtained without endeavoring to lead. Only then can one build their own leadership style and also merge what they read from books into an actual daily practice of leadership. Mentorship is also very important.

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