Quah Siew Heng - leadership by teaching

Quah Siew Heng, the 42-year-old managing director of Atos Origin ASEAN, feels that technology should be used to enable new ways of working and living, to push the boundaries of growth.

Quah Siew HengQuah Siew Heng, the 42-year-old managing director of Atos Origin ASEAN, feels that technology should be used to enable new ways of working and living, to push the boundaries of growth

Describe your achievement and impact on the industry.
Two memorable projects stand out for me. The first would be a community project in 1996 where I helped bring the use of technology and Internet to the heartlands of Singapore. This project involved the creation of a Computer Playground to deliver edutainment to young children from age five, to students and senior citizens above 60 years old. We helped to set up this center in the midst of a middle-income government housing estate.

The second memorable project is more recent and this involved the creation of eBizHub@Suntec in January 2000. Together with a few partners and Suntec City, we focused on transforming the tenants in Suntec City into an e-community. After the launch of the concept, we worked with partners again to deploy an e-procurement service for office supplies (same day fulfillment of orders) and an ASP offering for the use of a full function financial accounting package.

What helps you to sustain your passion for your job?
Technology holds the promise of improving all our lives. I truly believe in helping users to apply technology for productivity gains, for enabling new ways of working and living. I wake up each day constantly amazed at the ingenuity of the human race to push the limits of growth. There is so much to learn and I am growing in experience and knowledge each day.

What are your core values when it comes to doing business?
I believe in creating win-win situations in business. This is the only way for sustainable growth and long-term relationships. I also believe that sustainable business must be grounded in doing the right things for customers and doing the right things for your people. When all these elements are present, the business will look after itself.

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself to be successful?
Success to me includes both small wins as well as big wins. Life is a journey and we should live it to the fullest, enjoying every day and be successful every day with small and big wins. Being able to help a staff or colleague or customer, winning big contracts and delivering quality work would fall into my definition of success. I am happy to look back at all my working life and note that those were wonderful years of small and big achievements.

Any role model whom you look up to?
Jack Welch comes to mind. He is my role model for the way he committed a tremendous amount of his time to teach his people. By teaching, he practised his leadership style rather than talk about leadership.

What is your proudest achievement so far?
Building a dynamic organization that can deliver sustained high performance in Atos Origin ASEAN.

How about your biggest regret?
I am an optimist and so I don't dwell on regrets. I am not perfect and of course, if given the choice and hindsight, I would want to do things differently [if] these would lead to improved results.

How do you relax?
I am relaxed when I am with my family, watching my children grow up and enjoying the company of friends.

Which Web sites do you visit most often? What kind of books do you read?
I need my daily fix of news and so it would mostly be Web sites that provide news and technology updates. I like to keep up with business and management trends and development. Books on these are my favorites. One book in particular that I would strongly recommend is ‘The Leadership Engine’. This book is about how to operationalize leadership.

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