Teo Yew Meng - No business starts without friendship

Teo Yew Meng

In a world where young engineers generally follow the conventional path, Mr Teo Yew Meng ventured out on a different route, commencing his remarkable career journey as a Marketing Officer with Asia Matsushita Electric (S) Pte Ltd, where he marketed components from Panasonic, to being headhunted by Future Electronics Inc. (Distribution) Pte Ltd, a prominent worldwide leader in electronic components distribution and third in world ranking then. At Future Electronics, young Yew Meng rose swiftly through the ranks. Within seven years, he achieved meteoric rise, assuming roles, progressively, as an account executive, sales engineer, group sales manager and regional account manager. Not surprisingly, his sales talents and abilities caught the attention of other players in the industry. In March 2006, he was headhunted by Taiwanese company, WPG Electronics (South Asia) Pte Ltd, the largest electronics distributor in Asia, to be its Senior Sales Manager and, thereafter, Sales Director. In September 2009, however, he was invited back by Future Electronics to be its Sales Director to open and oversee the ASEAN offices. He now helms the company as Regional Vice President – ASEAN.

Under his leadership, Future Electronics scored many achievements from customers and vendors getting it recognized in this part of Asia.

Yew Meng attributed the many achievements to his exceptional team members who had put in their heart and soul to achieve the outcomes. Without them, it would be impossible to bask in their numerous successes.

True to his forward planning nature, Yew Meng is a strong advocate of the tenet – “A product design must be for tomorrow.” To this end, he actively participates in trade shows, exhibitions, and seminars, both locally and overseas to gain relevant insights into emerging trends. In his current role, while focusing on introducing “product of the future” to his clients, he specially leverages his knowledge of the local culture and social fabric of individual country to give advice on the various product designs as well as the initiatives or practices that will suit a country’s requirements. The following account of his collaborative efforts with the Vietnamese bear this out.
When he was in Vietnam, he discovered a wealth of young engineers in their 20s to 30s. Recognizing that Vietnam lacked an international presence, he saw an opportunity for collaboration. Through an MOU with Hanoi University and exchange programs, he facilitated visits of young engineering students from Vietnam to Singapore; and connected Singapore manufacturers with Vietnam. Although Yew Meng did not benefit personally from this gesture, he gained the trust of the regional manufacturers and counterparts in Vietnam, leading the parties to forge strong relationships and ongoing collaborations beyond the first MOU.

Following this example, Yew Meng emphasized the importance of overseas exposure for students. He advised that by embarking on overseas stints and gaining first-hand exposure to life in our neighbouring countries, they would realise how much they had been blessed with in Singapore compared to what their counterparts experienced in other countries. This experience would cultivate not just an appreciation for the facilities they enjoy in Singapore but also provides an opportunity to actively seek potential project opportunities while abroad. Yew Meng emphasized that international experiences not only broaden students’ perspective and foster their global outlook, but also empower them to be self-reliant and responsible as their parents are not close by to render them Tender Loving Care (TLC).

Yew Meng encouraged younger alumni and fresh graduates to make time for networking despite their busy schedules, as nurturing genuine friendships and connections not only fosters trust and reliability, it also opens doors to unforeseen opportunities. He recalled a time in his youth when he bravely resigned from his company to pursue a new job opportunity with a US company, which unfortunately did not materialise, but left him feeling stranded and burdened with the weight of financial responsibilities. He hid his job loss from his parents, not wanting to worry them, and silently grappling with the daunting task of repaying loans. It was during this challenging period, that, upon reflection, he saw how others could keep their jobs because of strong networking ties. “No business starts without friendship. All things being equal, friends are more likely to lend a helping hand than strangers” he quipped.

Yew Meng also highlighted that perseverance is an important attribute for success. Relating his internship experience when he was a student at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), Yew Meng observed workers manually slotting connectors into plastic holders. To lessen the laborious nature of the process and make it less demanding on the workers, he proposed using air pressure to automate the task. To his surprise, his supervisor accepted the proposal and assigned Yew Meng and his buddy to develop a solution. At a loss at where to begin, they conducted research in the library to gather materials. Through sheer hard work and perseverance, Yew Meng and his buddy successfully designed a product that increased productivity by 100%. That was not all. With manpower freed up, Yew Meng suggested redeploying the workers to focus on quality control to keep them employed. They devised a magnifying glass mechanism to aid detecting faulty connectors. This innovative project, incorporating the air pressure solution and quality control measures, earned accolades from the company’s management.

When asked what alma mater meant to him, Yew Meng fondly recalled SP as the place where he acquired engineering skills through hands-on pedagogy and project-based learning, ensuring his readiness for employment. He revealed that, although initially offered a shipbuilding course, he chose to study Electrical Engineering and was adamant in doing so, even though those around him strived hard to discourage him from entering into what they deemed to be a sunset industry. Yew Meng has never looked back since as the rest is history. In fact, he proudly declared that he had achieved success with merely a Diploma in Electrical Engineering and choosing to seek employment after his stint in National Service, rather than pursuing degree studies after his diploma.
And now, to pay it forward, he hopes that that by sharing his life experiences, SP alumni and students would be inspired to take the plunge - to tread on a path that is less travelled in pursuit of their career progression and fulfilment of their personal goals.

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