King Quah: What It Takes To Be A Successful Leader

By Tien Chew

The group managing director of SaltyCustoms and Generation T honouree uses his experience growing his company to explain how you can be a successful leader.

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Above  Malaysia Tatler April 2017 issue | Photo: Malaysia Tatler

What It Means To Be A Leader

King Quah, the group managing director of SaltyCustoms, is this year's Generation T honouree. His company, an expert at making quality customised t-shirts for companies through utilising tech merchandising to bring custom apparel into the modern era, started as pet projet but is on its way to accomplishing Quah's vision in becoming a USD 100 million company.

Serving a global clientele, exporting to over 36 countries to companies the likes of Facebook, Spotify, Airbnb and global gaming giant Blizzard, while attracting world class talent to work in Malaysia, is at the core of SaltyCustoms' growth.

"Malaysia is home to many unrefined talents, especially in the apparel manufacturing space. My aim is to revolutionise the apparel industry by introducing tech innovations in multifaceted approaches," says Quah.

To bring out the best of his team, he employs a multi-layered approach.

"We really have to understand our people by listening to them, observing them and understanding how they work and operate. Although this may take up a lot of time, I do try to spend a fixed amount of time with my teammates. For those that I can’t spend as much time with, I make sure that the organisation has learning and development programs on a regular basis so that the whole company grows in tandem with each other".

Coming from a financial background, Quah admits that when he first got into the business, his motivation was more monetary than anything else. These days, he now sees things in a different light.

"To be honest, it used to be money that drove my willpower but now we have a great cause and around me are people who believe in that cause. I wake up everyday energised and ready to take on the world because I know that all of us are driven by that same cause," says Quah.

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Above  Photo: Malaysia Tatler

What It Takes

It takes certain kind of qualities to be a successful leader and grow a small business into an empire. Forming a productive habit is one quality Quah endorses wholeheartedly.

"I strongly believe that every successful professional should stick to the plans that they have set out for. They should adopt the habit of 'I did it anyway', a concept formed from how we are always going to be swamped with numerous things to do in life," says Quah.

"The power of 'I did it anyway' refers to the fact that even it you do not have sufficient time, say your initial plan was to go to the gym, go ahead and still do it. Even if it isn’t going to be an ideal workout, you would be able to say to yourself that 'I did it anyway'," he adds.

Being able to buckle down and navigate the storm during any difficult moment is another essential trait, one Quah tackles through another conviction – the idea of attention over time.

"To understand this, I had to realise that there were moments in the day where I was more focused and attentive, that I needed to harness that time to work on the things I needed to complete. I had to prioritise tackling important tasks instead of mugging over matters that did not need my immediate attention," explains Quah.

"It took me some practice but it has proven to be very beneficial to me. When you spend attention over time on anything, no situation is too difficult".


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