“We must know the market well, identify our competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Build rapport with customers, find out what matters to customers, provide solutions, and solve their matters,” says May Yap. She is the Managing Director, and CEO of LHT Holdings Limted and accountable for strategic IT management and smooth day to day operations across operating sites in Asia and US.
May has Extensive Management Consulting Experience advising clients on business transformation initiatives; familiar with operations in Manufacturing, Government, pharmaceutical, Bank and Insurance, Telco, FMCG, Airlines and Logistics sectors.
In an interview with Insights Success, May Yap highlights the importance of customer service and understanding the market one wants to grow in.
“Deforestation is one major cause of climate change. Recycling is one of the many efforts that reflect our commitment toward mitigating climate change and global warming”
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a young and proficient shepreneur.
It all started In December 1977, after completed my secondary school, I joined former Lian Hup Timber Trading Co before it was retitled to LHT Holdings Limited as a multi-tasking clerk which handles accounts, administration, operations, and housekeeping. At that time, the firm had around 20 employees and on leasing land size of less than 1000 sqm situated in a remote area in the north region of Singapore.
During my 40 years of services at LHT, I have climbed the corporate ladder through rank-and-file from an admin clerk to a chairwoman. I have witnessed the changing landscape from a traditional company to an environmentally friendly company.
As time went by, wood pallets became prominent as many foreign MNCs invested massively in Singapore that required these pallets as export goods. And inevitably, LHT followed the same wind too. At that time, Singapore was on its journey toward development and the firm grew so tremendously that we had to pursue bigger land in Sungei Kadut.
Moving the factory two times, in 1988, the firm acquired a 35,680 sqm land, and the company staff strength went up to 168 employees, and with the right timing, the group renamed to LHT Holdings Limited when listed in the mainboard in 1999.
During this time, I was Sales Director-in charge of all sales and marketing functions. Perceiving the opportunity to be an Executive Director, I became one of the major shareholders during the company’s reconstruction.
I was appointed as the acting Managing Director in 2016 due to my MD had health issues. In 2017, followed by the retirement of my founder MD, I was re-designation as the chairwoman, Managing Director, and CEO.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to entice the target audience?
Wood pallets have been traditional for more than 60 years since world war two, to entice our target audience we need to provide a competitive one-stop solution. Besides selling wood and plastic pallets, we have technology pallets known as system pallets that cooperate with the RFID system. We also manufacture environmentally-friendly pallets that make from recycling wood waste. By 2013 we took over a big plant at Johor, Malaysia for Green innovative Gpac moulded pallet production, and became a multi diversity of wide ranges of ECO Green pallet leadership to distribute all kinds of Wood packaging and Champion the green journey and made company with more effective business model and longevity sustainable for success.
What are the vital traits that every businesswoman should possess?
A successful entrepreneur is focused on the business and its goals. At this digital transformation era, and Covid-19 had changed the way we do business. Creativity and flexibility, we need to embrace that changed and go back to the drawing board and restart, reorganize, relook on what is the better ways at the current situation, brainstorm, and amend accordingly. As a businesswoman, she shall have a charismatic character that possesses good knowledge in that field, a high level of confidence and trust to be built over the team or management working with.
As per your opinion, what roadblocks or challenges were faced by you in a corporate business? And how did you overcome them?
Nobody knows that the Covid-19 will hit and disrupt that hard in all kinds of business and make changes to the way we do business. As a pallet manufacturer, we are lucky to be considered as essential services as we provide logistic support to the supply chain. Without pallets, goods cannot be transported and stored in the warehouses. As for us, we remain status quo, except the reshuffle of our workforce to cope with the high demand from some sectors due to customers’ stop work.
Have you in any way contributed towards the cause of women empowerment.
In Singapore, I do not see any gender discrimination as long as you can do the job. This day, I do see many women are leaving their home as a housewife to join the society and many women are now holding the high ranking post. I could only post and set an example that a female clerk that it is possible comes one day she can be the top management.
How do you cope up with capricious technological trends to boost your personal growth?
Yes, we need to embrace the change and adapt the appropriate one. Firstly, we must understand the purpose of adopting the technology, which is to provide convenience or to make things simpler and not complicated and should be users friendly too.
What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future?
The Covid-19 pandemic is a testament that proof the company is sustainable over the majority of companies that were shut down due to the lockdown period and we were the few companies that provide the essential service to the community as well as the society.