Behind Datuk Edwin’s Easy Demeanor Is A Core Of Brick, Mortar

Those who clap eyes upon Joland Group Managing Director and Executive Chairman of Paragon Globe Dato’ Sri Edwin Tan Pei Seng will find him an unforgettable person. He strikes a stately figure, oozing with refinement and a commanding aura that quickly defines him as a business leader.

“Joland Group, founded by my father, Dato Tan Eng Boon, in 1990 and is headquartered in Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia,” said Tan in an exclusive interview with BusinessToday.

Over the years, the group has diversified its business into property development, hospitality, mall management, education industry, and the medical industry. Some of the major development projects include 32 units of semi-detached factories known as Bizhub Skudai 8.

On the other hand, Paragon Globe is a public listed company on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia, with diversified interests in property development, construction and investments.

Undoubtedly, leadership is a vital skill for a person presiding over a vast business empire. Tan said every leader has a very different approach to leadership.

“As a leader, I believe in developing a clear vision for the business and creating a strategic plan to achieve it. The property business is constantly evolving, and I believe in continuous learning and adaptability. Staying updated on industry trends, seeking personal and professional growth, and encouraging innovation and experimentation enables me to navigate the dynamic business landscape and make informed decisions,” he said.

Since 2008, the property market in Malaysia has been sluggish due to the global financial crisis. However, both Federal and State Governments have initiated and implemented economic and development plans and policies to boost Johor’s economy, including improving the new commercial areas and tourist attractions and attracting foreign direct investment.

Tan believes Johor Bahru will transform into an international metropolis, hence the group’s decision to invest in the hotel industry. Since then, Joland Group’s business has diversified.

“I believe in a mindset of openness and actively listen to our management team’s fresh solutions for every obstacle we encounter. Our progress is a result of our unwavering resilience and determination to move forward,” he said.

Tan is of the opinion that business is not just about aggressive competition or winning at all costs. Instead, he focuses on creating unique value propositions that set his company apart from the competition. He understands that standing out and differentiating oneself in the market often involves taking calculated risks.

“Rather than viewing competitors solely as adversaries, I see them as potential sources of inspiration and opportunities for collaboration. Learning from their successes and failures helps me refine my business strategies and offerings, ultimately leading to a stronger competitive advantage,” Tan said.

It was his father who inspired him to enter the property market. Tan joined Joland Group and became the personal assistant to the chairman after graduating from Deakin University Melbourne Australia in 2004.

“My father owned quite a bit of land and with his guidance, we aspired to build our own property business as well. We slowly started building a roadmap of development projects under the Paragon brand,” said Tan.

Tan added that although the group may not be the largest or most prominent in the industry, they approached their business with humility and a commitment to excellence.

The group will continue to focus on sustainable practices, ethical decision-making, and contributing positively to society. According to Tan, his family is his motivation to work harder and to be someone they can be proud of.

“My father is my role model and he inspired me to steer the company to greater heights. Hence, my brother and I decided to chart our own path. I want to leave a legacy to my children vis-a-vis my father to us. Growing a company is not a walk in the park and my other motivation is my team. I want to inspire and motivate the team to continue doing work that is meaningful,” he said.

Owning and running a thriving business empire should be tough work. Hence BusinessToday inquired Tan about the things he does during his free time.

“Somedays I enjoy just having a drink after work. My preferred drink is Hennessy X.O either neat or on the rocks. With the hustle and bustle of work, sometimes it’s nice to just destress with a glass while I ponder about the day I had and reflect on my thoughts. I come up with some of my best ideas during those relaxation times as well,” he said.

He loves playing badminton and golf to recharge and destress. Tan enjoys the exciting rallies and competitive nature of badminton. Golf, on the other hand, provides a peaceful escape from everyday life. Tan appreciates the beautiful surroundings and the precision required for each swing. These hobbies help him find balance and bring joy into his life, a much-needed break from his busy schedule.

When asked about the values he held dear in his life, Tan did not hesitate to mention Adaptability as one of them. He believes the property market is dynamic and ever-changing.

“We must be willing to adapt to market trends, economic shifts, and changes in demand to stay relevant and successful,” he said.

He also sees Collaboration as a vital trait. The idea was to foster positive relationships with business partners, contractors, and the community. Collaborative efforts can lead to more efficient and successful projects, as well as a harmonious working environment.

Lastly, Tan finds it important to embrace Sustainability. He embraces environmentally responsible practices in his projects.

“One thing I always believe in is to have a plan for the long term. It is important that when someone decides to be on this entrepreneurial path to build their own business and legacy in any industry, they do not just focus on making money to sustain for the short term, there needs to be foresight for the future of the company, be it 5 years or even 10 years,” he said.

Tan advises those aspiring entrepreneurs out there to be flexible and to take risks. He said flexibility is key in navigating the challenges when they come.

“My father was my role model and I followed in his footsteps because I had a passion for the property business and if my children decide to follow in my footsteps, I would be very happy,” said Tan, adding that he will support his children in their decision, even if they do not follow in his footsteps.

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