08 October 2021

Koh Cheng Soi Business Development Manager Asia Region, Sepura Ltd.

Koh Cheng Soi Business Development Manager Asia Region, Sepura Ltd.

What was your big career break?
The experience gained as a Signals Officer in the Malaysian Army has given me an excellent technical understanding of radio communications and a deep understanding of the user community’s requirements and security concerns.

Since moving to the other side of the business by leading on Sepura’s sales efforts in the Asia region, I have been able to translate these skills into the commercial world. We have spent a considerable time building our knowledge and experience of the Asian Metro community and have taken this knowledge of mission critical requirements to support users here.

The Indian market in particular is renowned for its extreme competitiveness and the high demands that customers place on their suppliers. We took the time as individuals and as a team to understand the market and local culture to blend into the ecosystem. With the backup of Sepura’s extensive support network and my experience of radio solutions, we have been able to deliver a significant amount of business into the region.

This has proven that the business strategy, trust and long-term relationship with our partners and clients was correct and it is a significant part of our business for the team. We shall continue to improve our services to ensure we have happy customers not only for India but across all of Asia.

Who was your hero when you were growing up?
My late Ah Pa (Father). He had a firm and fierce character, yet he was also kind and caring to his family. His life lesson on how to treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves is still deeply engraved in my mind. There was an incident when I was a child when I was given an extra change of 10 cents from buying a piece of roti canai (pratha); he made me walk back to the shop to return the extra 10 cents. He told me to never take what is not mine and to earn everything I make. He has inspired me in many ways that have shaped myself into who I am today, including being disciplined and kind to others, especially the elderly.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked in an interview?
Well… this question for a start!

Someone recently asked me if I will use my military and commercial experience to develop a career in politics in the future. This is increasingly seen by ex-military personnel as a career choice these days, but it was still a real surprise to me.

For now, however I am too busy working on the projects we have in the next two to three years, providing mission critical solutions to public safety, transport and utility users. Achieving success with these projects is most definitely my vision for my future. After that … who knows!

What would you do with US$1m?
First take care of any family business; pay off my debt and support any education needs my family have. I would keep some back as an emergency fund and contribute a large portion back to charity; something close to my heart such as supporting ex-military personnel, or perhaps disaster relief teams.

I think it is important to remember though that life is short, and you have to live in the moment so… perhaps a nice car too, or tickets to the World Cup or the Olympics – something to give me an amazing experience to always remember.

If you had to work in a different industry, which one would you choose?
I have always had an interest in catering and hospitality. I grew up in a state that is famous for its wide culinary palette, featuring a mixture of Malay, Thai and Chinese cuisines. I would be fascinated by the challenge of creating a vehicle to introduce these flavours to the rest of the world. This is something that I would love to do with the rest of my family, to take on a team challenge is something meaningful to me and my family and would be a project for us to embrace together.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
I was once told; if you have the choice between building a business relationship or making a deal, always choose building the relationship. Having a meaningful relationship with your customer, based on knowledge and trust will bring opportunities for long term success and growth, but a deal done to win a short-term business is solely that – a short term success.

Trust is the major ingredient in every business; each industry is a small community; your personality could spread like a wildfire to be the trusted voice delivering solutions to users. In an industry such as ours, where organisations are making long term investments in solutions that will provide mission critical solutions, this relationship is the basis for every piece of success I have achieved.

If money was no object, where would you live?
Malaysia is my home now and would always be my first choice. I am fortunate to have grown up in a multi-racial, multi-cultural country and have enjoyed the benefits of this throughout my life. This comes in many forms – from experiencing different foods and cultural backgrounds, to having the opportunity to build a successful career in a field I am passionate about.

The experience of growing up in a positive environment of tolerance and racial harmony have given me support when building my career.

A dream of our family is to upgrade to a house with enough land for my wife and me to farm our own supply of fruit and vegetables, would be the one change we would look to make.

What’s the greatest technological advancement in your lifetime?
The smartphone! It’s painful to admit this but we can’t live without it, either at work or at home. It has become our one-stop tool for so much; communication, banking, shopping, fitness, navigation, entertainment, home automation, office work and so much more.

It is fascinating to see the new ways that people have to tie in their products with the smartphones – who would have thought five years ago that we could programme our washing machines from the beach, check who was arriving at our front door whilst in the office, or create business ready documents from a seat on the plane. It is a real revolution in the way we connect to people and devices, and in the way we live and work.

They do have to be used with care though – too much use can lead so easily to over-dependence and health issues such as lack of sleep. For me the greatest risk is smartphones replacing human physical interaction and increasing the fear inside us all of missing out – the world is out there to be experienced, and we should all go and see as much of it as we can in real life, not on a small screen! (when allowed to travel again of course….)

Which law would you most like to change?
I would make it a priority to challenge the ease with which people can use online forums to bully and attack other people. It is so easy for anyone to commit cyberbullying when everyone has a smart device at their fingertips. There are cases that lead to mental health issues or even suicide due to this, even high-profile figures who feel they cannot say what they want to say for fear of being attacked in this way. We need to have a law to protect our society from this, and co-operation from the tech giants who own the platforms to moderate and act on aggressive online activity.