Francis Yeoh recounts an enriching, humbling experience
- The Edge Malaysia
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, managing director of YTL Corp Bhd is the first Malaysian winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) award in 2002, as well as chief judge of the World EOY in 2011. This year, he is returning to the global entrepreneurship competition in Monte Carlo as a keynote speaker.
Reminiscing about that win 15 years ago — one of many accolades he has received as he built up his family's business empire after taking over the reins from his father in 1988 — he says: "I normally don't like to accept accolades and I reject many. I don't like to talk about myself. I prefer to talk about God and give him glory. But it was EY and I did it because EY is a great international organisation that stands for transparency and integrity, is known for its credibility, for promoting entrepreneurship, and they do it very transparently. They thought I had a story to tell and nominated me. I was honoured and [the experience] was fascinating."
Through his experience with EOY, his respect for entrepreneurs has grown as he saw the creativity of their ideas, how they sustained themselves and kept on providing jobs. Which is why, to him, "we must continue to promote their stories, and promote their stories well, so that hopefully we will encourage a culture of entrepreneurship".
To young entrepreneurs today, he says: "Don't have too much clutter in your head, just have faith in God and don't give up. It's never going to be easy, and don't expect it to be. But if you work very hard and are willing to learn from existing entrepreneurs, I don't think you will do that badly. And nowadays, with the tools we have, there is no excuse for anybody to be an idiot. You may not know the answers but you must know to ask the right questions. The answers are there, they are in your handphone."...