Teh Hong Piow: A Banking Thoroughbred

Teh Hong Piow

I’ve just finished reading a book entitled Teh Hong Piow: A Banking Thoroughbred. For those who do not know who Tan Sri Dato Sri’ Teh Hong Piow is, he is the Chairman and Founder of Public Bank.

The book was produced to celebrate Public Bank’s 40th Anniversary and Tan Sri Teh’s admirable achievements.

The book was written without consulting Tan Sri Teh himself. Rather, the author of the book, Datuk Paddy Bowie, compiled bits and pieces of Public Bank’s history, accompanied with numerous amount of testimonials from Tan Sri Teh’s peers.

To be honest with you, I thought the book was a bit dissapointing. I was expecting a full-on autobiography on the life of Tan Sri Teh. However, the RM50 I spent to purchase this book did not go to waste. All the proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated by Public Bank to charity.

Anyway, I’m going to share some interesting phrases and quotes from the book:

“Teh Hong Piow substituted empowerment for qualifications. This should strike a chord in modern day Malaysia. Today there are 18,000 jobless graduates in the market who don’t seem to be employable. Nothing wrong with their degrees – nor is it just their lack of English which is after all the language of business. They are just not business savvy; are unprepared for real life.” -Page 62-

“… if our Chinese compatriots had been afraid of risk they would never have left China in the first place. At the same time prudence dictates that with Tan Sri Teh it is always a calculated risk.” -Page 72-

“Tan Sri Teh he maintained kept his fingers on the pulse – read widely to keep up with the fast-paced world of finance, on the one hand, but combined with a hands-on approach to his own backyard.” -Page 126-

“Branch managers in those days were just people who did what they were told with nothing like the empowerment Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow was later to give them. Nor was Tan Teh necessarily governed only by professional qualification in his people. However impressive a man’s resume, experience came first. Branch managers without a degree often proved themselves to be very practical. The graduates on the other hand often had to be made to go through the mill.” -Page 189-

“Achieving greatness yet remaining humble”. -Page 340-

“To be a billionaire is already difficult but to be one with humility, and to be generous, caring for others, is a precious gem.” -Page 342-

“He was never doubtful about the success of his venture. Contrary to what some people might have thought. Nor did he see it as a gamble. As with all businesses, you need to take calculated risk. Which is different from gambling.” -Page 366-

“His working habits are no secret. He meticulously reads every memo… studies every sentence and all the details, reading between the lines, in order to keep his finger on the national pulse. He doesn’t want to be taken by surprise.” -Page 390-

There are indeed a lot of things in the book that we could learn and exemplify. Read the book if you have got the time. Plus, the proceeds from the sales are going for a good cause.

It is also befitting to end this post with a quote by Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Teh Hong Piow himself:

“Success is not a Destination but a Journey. The Journey Continues…”

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