I was fresh from high school when I started learning architecture and at that point, I was so green I really didn’t know what I didn’t know,” says EcoWorld General Manager Chau Chun Hoo as he looks back at how he first started his journey into property development.
The only hindsight, Chau says, was realising how little he knew just from learning things academically. “I only knew whatever the teacher taught and was in the syllabus but there is a lot more out there. You have to be curious enough to ask questions,” he adds.
According to Chau, curiosity and the bravery to ask questions are two important traits; curiosity begets the need to ask, which opens the doors for further learning that ultimately leads to growth. “As you progress, you know how to ask the right questions and you will learn to pose questions to the right people who will then give you guidance and insight,” says Chau, who has 17 years of experience in property development. “From there, you then link all these dots and through your own thought process, you take everything into consideration and you will come up with better answers to your problems.” Chau proudly recounts how he was offered his first job well ahead of his graduation. “I still remember the interviewer asking me how certain I was that I would graduate. I told him no problem because I believed in myself and true enough I was awarded a diploma with merit,” says Chau.
You know how to ask the right questions and you will learn to pose questions to the right people who will then give you guidance and insight.
He was assigned to a series of construction-related works that eventually landed him at defect rectification where he had to deal with angry customers who were not happy with the final fit and finish of the property they purchased. It was a tough experience that saw him work during Christmas to rectify a water pressure issue at a customer’s townhouse unit while everyone else was away for their holidays. “That experience put me in the position of understanding things from the user’s perspective, which is a change from seeing things from the designer’s perspective. Sometimes, when you design a building, you have a concept in mind but once it is finished, it might not be well received by the customers; I learned from there to think like a customer,” says Chau.
Learning is something that never ends; even now we are learning new things so it is always important to be receptive of change.
EVERY SINGLE OPPORTUNITY MATTERS
Reflecting on his experience, he advises young graduates not to be disheartened by the tasks given to them that might not fit their own interest and instead to use them as an opportunity to learn. “If I have the opportunity of starting fresh from school again, I would still encourage myself to not be so concerned and demoralised with the task given. Grab the opportunity, learn from there, master the skills, and you will progress,” says Chau. “Learning is something that never ends; even now we are learning new things so it is always important to be receptive of change.”
He recounts his experience interviewing a more senior individual for a job opening a few years ago where the candidate boasted that he had 20 years of experience and didn’t need to be told on how to do things. “He was very confident with his experience but when I talked to him, I sensed that he cannot relate to our experiences in solving problems. It was there when I realised that despite having 20 years of experience, the individual was not exposed to as many challenges as I was,” says Chau. He however says that he is not discounting the candidate’s experience because everyone has their own pace and goals in life.
When asked who he sees as his main competitor in the property development business, Chau’s answer is EcoWorld itself. “We should always compare ourselves to our previous work. I feel that is the best way to see how much we have progressed and not to rest on our laurels,” he says.