leadership-lessons:-in-conversation-with-group-managing-director-pang-fu-wei

Leadership Lessons: In conversation with group managing director Pang Fu Wei

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This is the final article in the Leadership Lessons series.


Tackling the Covid-19 crisis

“Last year was a strange time because at the beginning, we managed to take advantage of the early onset of panic buying. I had never sold so many thermometers in my life before. The circuit breaker period was tough and it’s impossible to do well as a brick-and-mortar retailer. Even though our online sales increased by 400 to 500 per cent, it was impossible to cover the hole made by in-store sales.”

But we took the opportunity during the downtime to work on the business. Now, we’ve fully digitised our business platforms. We launched a Digital Nursery Advisor. We revamped the website and started a one-hour click-and-collect service. We’re ready for the recovery.”

“Honestly, if you ask me, the tentative economic downturn will still continue this year. The signs of recovery are barely there because there’s still so much uncertainty. A conservative estimate would be about one more year before we fully recover.”

A vital business lesson

“The crisis is not just a test of your leadership skills, but of your values. When times are good, you can keep saying that the company is one family and we’ll stick by you through thick and thin. But, it’s only when a crisis happens that this is tested. Imagine if you let people go. That will shake the confidence of your team.”

“When the crisis hit and we didn’t know if government support was coming, the first thing I did was to gather the management team and tell them that we had to take the first and biggest pay cuts. I’d rather that all of us suffer a little than a small number suffer a lot. For our lower-wage workers, we didn’t institute pay cuts because we knew it would disproportionately affect their lives.”

“We started hiring again at the end of 2020 because I didn’t want to put too much stress on our existing teams. It’s not good if you burn them out. Take care of your people. Then, they will take care of your business.”

(Related: Leadership during a crisis with Wee Teng Wen of The Lo & Behold Group)

The next goal for the business

“Success is a constantly moving target. I’ve learned that there are two kinds of people in life: reachers and settlers. And I’m definitely the former. Success is always the next target.”

“But one thing that hasn’t changed for me is that success means creating value. When I was younger, that meant developing my skill set and improving myself. Now, at this point in my career, it’s about creating economic and social value for my staff and the organisation.”

“The goal now is to mentor my team and create a platform for people within the organisation to also create value. That is the next target.”

(Related: A Ferrari fan reflects on Lego’s latest Technic set, the 488 GTE

The search for speed

“Oh man, I look for a car that can put a smile on my face and get my heart pumping. It’s not about the destination when you drive a supercar, it’s about the journey.”

“The sound of a car is incredibly important for me, and the Ferrari Roma has a good sound. It’s also comfortable to drive and the proportions of the car are not too difficult to figure out. Sometimes, even with some of the sports cars I have, I tend to appreciate them more when I’m not driving it. You tend to forget how beautiful your supercar is on the outside because you’re always sitting inside driving it.”

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