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Successful malaysian innovators and entrepreneurs


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An innovator or pioneer in a general definition is a person or an organization which is one of the first to do something and often opens up a new area or market for others and achieves an innovation. Meanwhile an entrepreneur is an individual who own a new enterprise, venture or idea and took calculated risk for a good output. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to the type of character who is willing to take risk and taking chances in a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome. A French economist, Jean-Baptiste Say is believed to have coined the word "entrepreneur" in the 1800. Innovator and entrepreneur do not share the same meaning but indeed, there is a significant relationship between innovator and entrepreneur. A person can be an innovator and entrepreneur at the same time.

In Malaysia, there are many innovators and entrepreneurs that manage to gain recognition at the international stage. Most of the entrepreneurs manage to achieve the success by running businesses that sell either products or services. Those successful people are Tony Fernandes, Tan Sri Robbert Kuok and Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar. However, some of them do not get fame by running business. They would think out of the box and be innovative. Some of the successful innovators are Eric Leong, Jimmy Choo and Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing. Their creativity in certain aspects such as interior design, shoes design and knowledge of designing let the whole world see them.

Among all these successful local innovators and entrepreneurs, they have their own ways to achieve success. Every one of them goes through different path of life. Some may get it in an easy way, some may be not. They have their own reasons to fight for, different motivation to work things out and various ways to achieve it.

For this assignment, we would like to know details about the entrepreneurs and innovators in Malaysia. The reasons and motivation that make them to be so successful is something that we are interested in. The sharing from them about it would be so precious that it would be guidance for us in life. Besides, we would collect feedback and opinion from the public about why and how entrepreneurs and innovators in Malaysia succeed. Hope that we can get the general perspective about it.


Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary was born in 1951 into a middle class family. His father is in the cow breeding business. His mother is a homemaker. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Due to poverty, he cannot afford education, thus he complete his secondary education without furthering it into university level. He starts to help his father in his business, by managing the account. He helps his mother during his free time by selling agricultural product and also roti canai before leaving for school . Life was a bed of roses for Syed Mokhtar during his childhood. [1,2,3]

He is a private man who does not like to show off his luxurious life. For your information, he can get along easily with other people. He is easily approached by everyone. He doesn't splurge on luxury car. For him, status is not something important in his life. There is time when he is up and there is time when he is down. Lifestyle is just like a disease for him that can deteriote people. His ride is a Proton Perdana and 20 year's old Mercedes which he use infrequently. [1]

Syed Mokhtar is a strong muslim, thus he always hold strongly to the muslim principal of giving out charity with a sincere heart. He helps the needy and even built mosques across the country. His generosity extended when he donated 1 million pound to Oxford University for the Islamic Learning Center in London.

He found his love late, especially when his age approaching mid 40's. The marriage was blessed with 2 boys and girls.


His hardship in 1951 has propelled him to the success that he have today. He and his father sells grocery to their neighbor around their neighborhood. As business grows, they expend from one state to the next, and they event imported cow from the neighboring country, Thailand to sell it in the local market [1,2] .

The cow business suffers a setback due to the foot and mouth disease. However this disappointment makes him more determine to succeed. He expend his business to different field to logistics [3]

His down to earth and humbleness makes it easier for him to cooperate with business man from other races. He take over a business that seems to fail and turn it around until he earn the profit.

From logistics, he turn in trading business. Famous for being know the rice bowl of the nation, he choose to trade rice. His continuous efforts in his trading earn him rice trading licenses from the authority, Lembaga Padi Negara. Due to his reliability, lots of contracts came pouring in [2]

He currently holds some stake in various companies like Mining Corporation Berhad (MMC), Bernas, Malakoff Berhad, Johor Port Berhad, , DRB-HICOM and many more others. He normally doesn't give many press interviews and prefer to keep in private life. His low key attitudes still grab media attention as he is passionate about charity and conduct his charity work through his foundation, Al-Bukhary Foundation. [2]

One of the milestones of the Al-Bukhary Foundation is the construction of the Rm 70 million Islamic Art Museum valued at RM70 millions. This also along with a few mosques that he build across the country.


Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar is not only a humble person, but he also is very supportive of national product. He could afford any luxurious imported car, but he still drive around in his Proton Perdana. His generosity also been highlighted by supporting local students who are qualified and eligible to pursue their studies in local over university abroad. He provides scholarship for 1000 Saudi Arabian student to study in Malaysia.

The first social contribution from Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary started with his mother asking him to donate half of his first salary as the director of a rice company (RM 750.00) to his poor neighbours. The other half was kept by his mother. Besides, his mother also asked him to send kerosene lamps to the mosques during the month of Ramadhan, so that activities can be carried out at night in the mosques. From that time onwards, that is how Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary was brought up to be a good personality and thinking person. He thinks that when God give us the wealth, we have to help the needy people. The god gives us wealth to us to help the others. There are some Malay businesspersons who do not want to help because they consider money as their priorities. [3] Syed Mokhtar is a down-to-earth person that will share his wealth with the others. He will feel nice when everyone has the chance to enjoy the same benefits together. He will not forget those who help him before. Humble is one of his life philosophies. No matter how great achievement he has now, he will still go back to Alor Setar and help those who really need helps. Sometimes, he will feel upset seeing some people forget their roots after achieving success in life. They should never forget about their roots no matter how. Wealth is meant to be shared. He likes to donate and contribute. He does not have the desire to keep all the wealth for his wife and children. Money will not last. He believes in Karma. It's not money that will protect him but what he is doing now.

There's no secret for success. Syed Mokhtar is only a human being that created by god but the difference is his way of getting mature. He believes that whoever will success if they really work hard for it. It may take some time. There will no short cut for success. There is reason why he works as if there is no tomorrow. Social and society issues are one of the reasons. He wants to make sure that the heritage would last long enough for my next generation. He knows his own strengths and weaknesses. He would ask for help from the other people when he is unable to do it. He go through the hard way but that is the right way. He has nothing at the beginning. However he will learn what he does not know, asks help from the others. He does not feel ashamed for that because he is not stealing. He works on his own. The attitude of being lazy and shame should be changed. He thinks that a person has to be patience and put more effort in order to run a business successfully. He keeps on searching for opportunities and business so that he can keep on helping the others to excel. He is not doing this solely for himself but for everyone. For him, God will only help those who are willing to work hard. Determination, hardworking and never give up easily are his keys in achieving success.


In a nutshell, everybody have an equal chance to be successful. Nothing can stop us from being successful unless it is you. If you want to achieve something, you have to work for it. We should follow what Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary did in order to gain a wealth for now and here after. He will not forget his own root and keep on helping those who need helps. Wealth is not meant for alone, but to be share around.

Al Bukhari Mosque

Eric Leong


Eric Leong is a name synonym to the world of interior decorating. He was born in Kluang, Johore and was raise in the capital, Johor Bahru . He further his studies in the neighboring country, Singapore after completing his formal education in Malaysia. Eric graduate with a double degree in Interior Design and Business Studies. [4]

With his cheerful and gleeful character Eric has won the heart of Malaysian and he was voted "Malaysia most favorite interior designer".


Eric make a breakthrough in 2001 through his reality interior design show, Casa Impian. The show help average Malaysia transform their home into heaven on earth with his extraordinary talent, he could turn a normal space into a work of art, which dubbed him as Raja Hias" / "the Design King" of Casa Impian. [4,5]

Why and how he can be success?

Eric Leong is a creative innovator that leads him to be a successful entrepreneur. He would think out of the box and try on new things. He is never been stopped by new challenges. For him, expose himself in new environment and expose in new things is great. He is good in applying the knowledge that he learn in university in real life. Designing may not be a simple things as everyone has different point of views & opinions. It is even hard to please all people's need. However, Eric Leong sees this as a challenge in life. He would try his best to create a design that can satisfied every each of the people.

Multi tasking Eric Leong holds a number of positions: [5]

1. Group Design Director for Designcity Sdn. Bhd.

2. Group Consultant/Acting General Manager for Beverly Home Sdn. Bhd.

3. Creative Consultant for Living Taste (Malaysia's first Chinese interior design magazine

4. Associate Producer/Host for Casa Impian (Malaysia's first interior design make-over show.

5. Associate Producer for Ratu Sehari (TV Wedding showcase).

6. Appointed stylist for Home Pride and Living Taste.

7. Columnist for leading magazines - Home Pride, Living Taste, Health Today, Herba.

8. Product Designer for Lush Living by Eric Leong the furniture series.

9. Product Designer for Playground by Eric Leong the lighting series.

10. Guest DJ @ FM988 - Chinese Radio talk show "U Stylish Living" (A Star RFM radio)

11. Guest DJ @ RED FM104.9 - English Radio Talk Show "Living With Eric" (AStar RFM radio)

12. Guest DJ @ SURIA FM105.3 -Bahasa Malaysia 'Decor' Radio Talk Show "Inspirasi Décor Bersama Eric".

13. Guest DJ @ SURIA FM 105.3 - Bahasa Malaysia 'Lifestyle' Radio Talk Show "Inspirasi Gaya Bersama Eric".

14. Lecturer @ Raffles International Design Institution (KL Campus).

15. Committee Member for Malaysia International Fashion Award (MIFA 2005)

16. Art Director for Malaysia International Fashion Award (MIFA 2006)

17. Chief Judge (Best presentation award for Malaysia International Furniture Fair (MIFF)

18. Media Spoke Person for Johor Interior Design Association (JiDA)

19. Ambassador of Homedec - Malaysia Premier home decoration exhibition.

20. Ambassador of Maxima - Thai Branded Walk-in-wardrobe system.

21. Ambassador of SSF - Malaysia premier home décor mark.

Robert Kuok


Robert Kuok Hock Nien more commonly known as Robert Kuok is the richest entrepreneur in Malaysia and also South East Asia [6]. He is currently rank 33 in the Forbes Richest Man Alive List [7]. Robert Kuok is the youngest son. He is born in Johor Bahru on 6 October 1923[6]. After graduated from the Raffles Institution, he started working in the grains department of Japanese Industrial company Mitsubishi from 1942 to 1945.


After the death of his father, Robert Kuok founded Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd together with his two brothers in 1949 [8].This business plainly deals with agricultural commodities. He managed to buy cheap sugar from India in the year 1961 right before the sugar price shot up. His business expanded heavily until he managed to control 80% of the Malaysian sugar market. Due to this, he earned his nickname "Sugar King of Asia" [9].

Robert Kuok expanded his varied his business field by involving himself in hospitality field. In 1971, he built his first ever Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, then he open his second Hotel in Hong Kong called the Kowloon Shangri-La [8]. He also owns a big stakes of the Hong Kong real estate group Kerry Properties. Other than that he also owns the freight interests include Malasian Bulk Carriers Berhad and Transmile Group.

Robert Kuok's compnies have investment in many counties. He even has ten bottling company for Coca Cola and the ownership of the Beijing World Trade Centre.

On October 31 2009, Robert Kuok has decided to sells his sugar units along with the land used to cultivate sugar cane to Felda for RM1.29 billion. This transaction had directly boosted his company's income as his sugar unit and sugar cane plantation were the second largest segment upon its grain and feed [8].

Robert Kuok has eight children from his two marriages. He has retired officially from the Kerry Group on April 1st 1993. He is currently resides in Hong Kong [8].


Robert Kuok has several hall marks which made what he is today.

I believe that in order to achieve success, a strong and noble family background is definitely a great advantage. Robert Kuok is famous for his strong noble family background. He was brought up by his mother. Since young, his mother had taught him according to Ru-Jiao which is also known as the teaching of Confucius. His mother is very particular with the values of honesty. That is why he managed to gain respect and trust from others. With this, his business expands smoother and faster than others.

Besides having a strong family background, Robert Kuok also has a strong family bond. This is justified as his company, Kuok Brothers Limited was established with the cooperation among his brother and cousins. All of them are very unite in this establishment of the company. They obey to Robert Kuok's mother's order. With a strong bond among them, it is very difficult for others to attack them. This is why the Kuok Brothers Limited can last for such a long period and still standing strong.

Robert Kuok also practice good attitude in life. He is a positive, hardworking and sensitive person. Robert Kuok once said that "As a young man, I thought there was no substitute for hard work and thinking up good, honest business plans and, without respite, pushing them along. There will always be business on earth. Be humble; be straight; don't be crooked; don't take advantage of people. To be a successful businessman, I think you really need to brush all your senses every morning, just as you brush your teeth. I coined the phrase "honing your senses" in business: your vision, hearing, sense of smell, touch and taste. All these senses come in very useful [9]."

The fourth factor is his way of hiring workers. Robert Kuok hires his workers wisely and he always remembers to acknowledge them. He has never forgets the contributions of all of his colleagues and employee. He even thanked his very first batch of workers personally in hisKuok Group's 60th Anniversary speech. Robert Kuok is very particular in hiring workers. According to him, honesty, hardworking and intelligence are the main criteria that he looks for. "When I look candidates in the eye, they must appear very honest to me. I do not look for MBAs or exceptional students. You may hire a brilliant man, summa cum laude, first-class honours, but if his mind is not a fair one or if he has a warped attitude in life, does brilliance really matter? [10]"said Robert Kuok.

Being humble is a reason that made Robert Kuok a successful man. He has been very humble all this while as he always remembers that once a person is arrogant, the person guard will be lowered. As a result, the person is defeated easily by his rivals.

Robert Kuok is very alert with every step he has taken. Most of us will think that if we can capitalize a field, we shall receive a great outcome. However, according to Robert Kuok, sometime capitalism will leads to destruction if we do not inspect it well. He said that "Capitalism needs to be inspected under a magnifying glass once a day, a super-magnifying glass once a week, and put through the cleaning machine once a month.[10]" He also said that we cannot let greed controls us. Once this happens, the result may be fatal.

At the end of the day, despite all the success Robert Kuok has made, he always makes it a point to repay the society. He had set up a foundation called the Kuok Foundation to help out students that are facing financial problem in order to pursue their studies. He even gives out scholarships to students who are studying in either private or public universities. "The Kuok family firmly believed in its social responsibility to share its wealth and good fortune with the less fortunate. [11]"


Robert Kuok has managed to win several awards for his success in his lifetime. He was honored on the Forbes's World's Billionaire list, ranking at a respectable number 33. He has also earned the title as Tan Sri in Malaysia. The noblest achievement by Robert Kuok is arguably the Kuok Foundation that was established by the Kuok family. The philanthropist's vision is to alleviate poverty and reduce the economic disparities between the rich and poor communities in Malaysia. The foundation offers scholarship for student from not well to do family, to provide them with education that they needed to bring them out of poverty.

Picture of Mr. Robert Kuok Hock Nien [10]



Lim Goh Tong was born in the year 1918 in Anxi. He was the fifth child in his family. When he was born, China was in the period of turmoil as the Xinhai Revolution was just over. However, Lim Goh Tong was lucky as he was brought up in a peaceful environment. He even had the chance to acquire knowledge from school until he was 16, which is when his father passed away [12].

Lim Goh Tong decided to come to Malaya in year 1937 as the condition of China was becoming worse [12]. He worked for his uncle as a carpenter for two years when he first reached here [13]. During that period, he learned to speak the Malay language. After gaining enough experiences, he involved himself in building a double storey secondary school as a sub contractor.

Picture of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong [17]


Lim Goh Tong is well known as a risk taker. Before the development of Genting, he had involved himself in various fields. During the Japanese Occupation, he had tried working as a farmer, as a petty trader and as a scrap metal and hardware trader. After the Japanese Occupation, he engaged in the second- hand machinery trading. From there, he managed to earn his first fortune. Other than machinery, he also involved in iron mining, and even construction field. His family construction company Kien Huat Private Limited became well known after completed many major projects successfully. One of the biggest deals was the Ayer Itam Dam [13]. However, he also faced difficulties throughout his life as a constructor. He even faced bankruptcy when dealing the Kemubu Irrigation Scheme.

Lim Goh Tong had the idea of Genting Highland when he was having dinner in Cameron Highland [14]. Then he started to collect information and decided that Genting Sempah is the most ideal place to build a hilltop resort. For this project, he had dumped in all of his fortune. He even put aside all the negative comments from his friends and relatives. Genting was granted the first ever Casino licence after Tunku Abdul Rahman. The whole Genting project was done in January 1971 and started the business in May 1971.

In the next 30 years, Genting has evolved from wilderness to a developed tourist attraction township. Cable car system is provided to tourist as an alternative route. He even built a new township known as Gohtong Jaya on a land around the Genting Skyway cable car system [14].

Lim Goh Tong's company, Genting Group has diversified into various field ranges from plantation to oil and gas and even to cruise boat industry.

Lim Goh Tong was married to Lim Kim Hua. They have altogether six children and nineteen grandchildren [12]. He wrote a book titled "My Story - Lim Goh Tong" and it was published in year 2004. Lim Goh Tong passed away on 23 October 2007 in Subang Jaya Medical Center leaving behind a USD4.2 billion fortune and a huge legacy [14].


Lim Goh Tong had won many awards throughout his extraordinary life [12]. After taking a huge gamble and setting up a hillside resort, and proving all the doubters wrong, Lim Goh Tong was awarded the title 'Tan Sri' in 1976 as a token for his contribution in booming the country's tourism industry. This is followed by the Malaysian Entrepreneur Award in 1985, his first major award. This is followed by the Manager of the Year award the following year. As his pet project bloom and in 1994 he honored the Business Achiever of the year in 1994. Genting was awarded the Number 1 ranking Malaysian Leading Companies in 1996 and icing on the cake was the Best Employer Award at the same year. Apart from his success in business he still gives back to the society through his foundation, the Yayasan Lim. The foundation helps out those who are in need by providing scholarship for deserving student, and contribute to charitable causes.


From the start when Lim Goh Tong came to Malaysia, he already shown the hallmark of a true champion. He can only speak hokkien, mandarin, Cantonese and some broken Malay language [16]. He can neither speak nor write English [13]. However, this limitation in language did not stop him in his negotiation of all of his business contracts. Against all odd, he prove that language is never a barrier to success.

When Lim first had the idea of Genting Highland, he received many negative comments from his relatives and friends. However, he had successfully put all of these comments aside. On the other hand, he put in more effort into this project. Lim Goh Tong once said that '

Once the goals have been clearly defined, with the greatest amount of determination and hard work, one can conclusively realise one's goals.'

[14].He a great determination shown is clearly admirable especially to the younger generation, that when we put our mind to it, we can achieve anything.

His humbleness that keep him grounded despite his success and status as a 'Tan Sri' have won applause and was admired among his peers. Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong, president of the Federation of Chinese Associations of Malaysia paid tribute and said in Lim's farewell word, "

He had undergone more difficulties and challenges than any other entrepreneur, before he became successful in his business. However, he remained a friendly, sporting and humble person who was actively involved in charitable activities.


Lim was well known as a risk taker. The idea of building a resort on top of the hill is very costly and the outcome is not guaranteed. He had spent all of his fortune in conducting this project [12]. However, he foresees that one day, Malaysians will desire for a cool mountain holiday resort. This is due to the country's weather and also the economy stability. He is very brave yet very careful in conducting this project.

Behind every successful man, there is a successful woman. In Lim's case, behind Genting Group, there are many workers. Lim always believed that is the people that run the organization. This project will never success if it's a one man show. The 'Best Employer Award' that he won in year 1996 has proven that he is a employer who care and look after his employees

Lim Goh tong had set up a foundation called the 'Yayasan Lim' which donates regularly to educational and medical institutions and other charitable organization [12]. Lim is never stingy in donating money. As a result of generosity, he gained more respect from others and of course adding his own karma

Picture of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong [17]

Tony Fernandes


The name Tony Fernandes or now, with the Title Dato Sri Anthony Francis Fernandes, is already a household name not only in Malaysia, but throughout the ASEAN region, and beyond especially in the aviation industry. Born 30 April 1964, inKuala Lumpurto aGoanfather andMalacca Portuguesemother, the late Stephen Edward Fernandes and Ena Dorothy Fernandez. When he was young, he used to follow his mother, who is aTupperwaredealer to parties and conventions [18].

Tony Fernandes was sent on a jet plane in 1976 at the tender age of 12 to Epsom College, London. The wishes of his parents on enrolling him into a fancy boarding school that is associated with Medicine, like all great leader, he made a total 180 degree turn and end up graduating in London School of Economics in 1987 [19]. But during his years in the boarding school, young Tony was home sick and pleas to be home, but due to the high airfare, his parents does not allow him to be home even during the holidays. From that day onwards it was his ultimate dream to provide low cost flights.


Tony Fernandes raise to one of the celebrated and successful entrepreneur and innovator start with unorthodox route. He took the road that is less taken. He start as financial controllerforVirgin RecordsinLondon owned by his current partner in Air Asia X, Sir Richard Brenson.Upon his return toMalaysia, he became the country's youngest-evermanaging directorfor Warner Music. He was responsible for turning ethnic music and transforms them into the mainstream Malaysian music.

He raise to the occasion and got promoted to be theSouth East Asianregional vice-president forWarner Music Groupfrom 1992-2001.During the merging of Time Warner merged with CNN, there are many unrest among the employee,, like many others, Tony protest the merge and resign [20]

Tony went back to London to pursue his dream to own a low cost no frill airline. His inspiration came from his friend, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who is the founder of the Easy Group, who made British Airways a run for their money. Flying Barcelona to Paris for less than 10£, amaze Tony and he thinks that business model is able to apply in ASEAN, with the capacity of 500 millions, the potential is huge [21].

Tony Fernandes return home, Malaysia to lobby his idea to the then Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamed who gave his blessing to Tony on the condition he took over an Air Asia, a struggling GLC, with a Rm 40 million debt and only 2 elderly 737s. Tony agrees and took over the company for a token price of Rm 1 [19].

And from there they say the rest is history. From an airline with just a couple of 737s, it currently has 76 aircraft, 25 Airbus A330s . Last year it carried 19millions passengers within the Asia Pacific region [22].


Like all successful leader, Tony Fernandes have the all the hallmark that made him who he is today. One of the main trademarks of his success is his vision and his know-how on what actually the consumer wants [23]. His hand on approach is one to be admired. Busy with various venture for example tune hotel, tune talk and Lotus Formula one, Tony Fernandes still find time for his main priority, which is Air Asia, his leadership based on the principal " Practice what you preach" always apply. Every month he spends his time in various division of Air Asia, from day as a baggage-handler to a cabin crew. He has even established a division to hold gathering among the staffs [19]. A close bond with his staff creates a friendly working environment with equal opportunities for everyone is the main ingredient behind of the success of Air Asia, according to Tony the company works as a family.


With Air Asia, Tony have won a lot of awards, locally and internationally, but the biggest honor arguably when he was inducted into the Aviation hall of fame in2009 for shaping the aviation industry evolve. During the same award ceremony Air Asia and its sister company Air Asia X also was awarded Airline of the year. To add icing on the cake, Tony was the youngest recipient of the award [24]. He quote saying "You would be a legend only because of the people behind you," acknowledging the Air Asia team behind his success. Apart from his award, the biggest award for him was gaining the landing right to Singapore breaking years of monopoly on the Kuala Lumpur- Singapore route by Singapore and Malaysia Airlines [25],also the exclusive long haul flight from Kuala Lumpur -London, achieving his boyhood dream [26] . Like his tagline "Now everyone can fly" , certainly everyone do now.



When mention about fashion and design, there are always 5 top places that are associated with. London, Paris, Milan, New York and Los Angles. These are regarded as the fashion capital of the world [27]. Top designers brand like Calvin Klien, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada, Burberry and Versace kept their base. Almost all the human race pick up a magazine like vogue to follow the latest trend.

But when mention Malaysia, there is a lot of blur facial expression and question mark. This is because Malaysia is not known to produce a lot of fashion designers, but when mention about Jimmy Choo, Hollywood leading ladies from the fashionista like Sarah Jessica Parker [28], latina beauty Jennifer Lopez [19] and even the English Rose, the late Princess Diana [30]. Thus there is no doubt about this Malaysian innovator have change the fashion industry with his sleek and creative design of hand-made shoe.

Born into a family of shoe maker, in Penang Jimmy's father Choo Kee Yinis a successful shoe maker himself. Jimmy also describe his mother as as being "very good at shoemaking" [31]. Jimmy made his first pair of shoe at a tender age of 11 [32]. He is perhaps the most notable of students of Cordwainers Technical College in London Borough ofHackney, Londonfrom which he graduated in 1983. The college is now part of theLondon College of Fashion.


Jimmy have a humble start, as he graduates, he works in a local shoe factory and slowly opened his own workshop in Hackney, London by renting an old hospital building [31]. His career took off when Vogue magazine feature his creation in a 8 historic page spread [33]. As his reputation grows, so does his client that is made out of royal family. From the British to Denmark royalty are faithful Jimmy's client. Perhaps his most well-known client was the latePrincess Diana. The England's Rose demise shock the world when she and her friend involve in a fatal car accident in Paris. This is just a few hours before Choo's appointment with the queen to present her with a new pair of shoes.

Choo and Princess Di met in 1990 when the princess ordered 6 pair of shoes from him. They have form a close bond over the year from business and also personal level years [34].He was quote saying "She was always eager to exchange ideas, and she never said no to anything". Another of his royal client is theQueenof Denmark.


Shoe making is already in Jimmy's blood, but what is success without hard work? Even though he have the raw talent, his stint in London College of Fashion did groom his raw talent. But to be able to afford the high cost of education, Jimmy worked part-time at restaurants and as a cleaner at a shoe factory to help fund his college education [31]. For his hardship, Jimmy vow to help those who are in his shoe when he is successful. He took his niece, Sandra Choi under his wing, on his route to stardom. Sandra who is still searching her feet on what is her forte, join her uncle Jimmy in his workshop making shoe. Now she is the Head of Creative Design in Jimmy Choo LTD. Jimmy realize Sandra's dream to be in the fashion world, and acted as her mentor, carefully groom and guide her with stern discipline and endless of hard work [35]. Jimmy's passion for guiding the young ones never ends as recently he announce to set up a shoe designing college within Malaysia in this three years. He was quote saying "there were many talented shoemakers from the older generation in the country but proper training must be provided to the younger ones so that the industry could continue to flourish". Unlike the old Chinese saying that a master should not teach his protégés all his skills as the students might one day be better than the teacher, Choo said he would want his students to know everything he did so that they could strive for greater achievement and contribution to the industry. This is how Jimmy is repaying the nation that supports him all his career [36], no matter if he is serving the biggest star or royalty, home is always where the heart is for this Malaysia Tourism Ambassador. "My shoes cost 30 pounds each but few people came to buy them. I was totally focused on making shoes. Instant noodles were my daily meals. I could not even afford my favorite roast duck when passing by Chinatown." He was quote saying reminiscence his past, but now from his humble beginning now a star on his own right.


Dato' Professor Jimmy Choo OBE received the Freedom of the City of London, at the historic Guildhall on 14th November [37]. Jimmy also received the OBE ( order of British Empire) , an honor which are rarely awarded for a outsider. Although he resides in London most of the time, he still considers himself a Penangite at heart, thus his biggest honor is when he received DSPN award conferred by Penang Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas [38]. Still humble and down to earth, "Being conferred this award is like a dream come true for me as it comes from Penang, where my roots are," he said [39].


From all the 6 arguable the most successful Malaysian Innovator and Entrepreneur, we learn their individual success are based on a strong foundation of determination and hard work. Although their path to success are different for example Tony Fernandes went to school in London [19], Rober kuok and Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar joint the family business [1,2,9] there are the tougher path like Lim Goh Tong who is without any proper academic education [13] but their similarities are they bulldoze through any obstacle that get in their way of success. Lim Goh Tong has his challenges from coming from China to Malaya without even know a word of Bahasa Melayu [13], even Jimmy Choo struggle to earn to get a proper meal when he was just starting as poor response for his shoe [36], regardless the obstacle, their drive from this struggle drive them forward, and no they never look back ever since.

To be successful one also has to be a visionary. Tony has a vision that he would provide affordable flight because he unable to return home from London even during school holiday as the flight ticket is too expensive [13]. Today his vision comes true with Air Asia X providing low cost air fare from Kuala Lumpur to London.

If we wonder why there are only a few success stories, well perhaps these successful entrepreneur and innovator took the road that is not taken. They defy critics, and belief in what they are doing. Many doubted Lim Goh Tong when he announce his plan to build a resort up in the hill [14] and also a lot of negative feedback to Tony Fernandes when he wanted to take over Air Asia, these master of their trade move on with their initial plan, and now they are the success story putting the critics to shame.

Some might say its luck, but to be successful you need the luck and to be at the right place at the right time. Robert Kuok bought cheap sugar from India right before the increases of sugar worldwide, thus he earns a major profit from it and earn him the nickname "Asia Sugar King"[9].

Humbleness can't be thought in any text book or university, it is something that is inborn in us. Being humble is one of the key of success of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary. He still kept his feet on the ground driving a humble Proton Perdana [1]. This is due to his close family bond. We also notice that all of the successful entrepreneur and innovator in the country are humble, and they are grateful for their success by giving back to the society. Like Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, his charity organization donated 1.25 million pounds sterling (RM7.5 M) to Oxford University for the Islamic Learning Center in London. He also builds more than 10 mosques in Malaysia. As for Jimmy Choo, he is planning to educate the younger generation by setting up shoe making collage [35].

These are some of the recipe of success by some of the most successful individual in the country. Their effort and hallmark of their success are similar even if they come from different ethnic belief and background, it's their attitude that what made them who they are today and what makes us admire them.


Do you understand the definition of innovators?

Most of the member of the public indicates that they understand the true meaning of innovator. With approximately 75% agrees and a minority of 25 % still are not sure the true definition of an innovator. An innovator or pioneer in a general definition is a person or an organization which is one of the first to do something and often opens up a new area or market for others and achieves an innovation.


Do you understand the definition of entrepreneurs?

The same can be said about entrepreneur where majority understand the term entrepreneur, and not confuse it with the term innovator. This is because these two terms goes almost hand in hand. There is a fine line between the two term, where we can see entrepreneur is define as is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome.

3. Do you think most of the innovators and entrepreneurs in Malaysia are successful?

Most of the respondent thinks that most entrepreneur and innovator in Malaysia are not successful, although minority parts of the respondent disagree with the statement. The statement is subjective on how the public or respondent to the survey view success. Some might think other neighboring countries have a lot of successful entrepreneur and innovator, or they are comparing it with a much more developed countries like the united state. While other would be just proud of this young country achieve so much in just 53 years of independent.

4. How well do you know the innovators and entrepreneurs in Malaysia listed below?

Some of the well known entrepreneur and innovators like the 'sugar king' Robert Kuok, the airline maverick, Tony Fernandes are the more appealing to the public. But the likes of the most successful bumiputera like Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and creative interior designer Eric Leong are less known to the respondent. This is probably due to the fact that some of them would prefer to keep a low profile and others have to face the member of the public to promote their product, like Tony Fernandes for example.

5. What is the reason/reasons behind the success of the innovators and entrepreneurs in Malaysia?

It is true and well documented that most the successful entrepreneur and innovator in Malaysia and also across the world will go through some hardship and poverty in their life before they became what they are today. While half of the respondent agrees that the success is due to luck. Perhaps to be more appropriate, these successful innovator and entrepreneur are at the right place and at the right time. Take Robert Kuok for example, he purchased cheap sugar from India just before the global price of sugar shoots up. High level of education surprisingly is not one of the main reasons that they are successful according to the survey. This is due to the fact that in time of poverty, education comes secondary as the priority is more to meet ends meal. Thus these successful entrepreneur and innovator gain something that even Harvard Business School doesn't teach, which is street smart.

6. How did the innovators and entrepreneurs in Malaysia achieve success in their lives?

2 main factor convince the respondent the driving force behind the success for Malaysian entrepreneur and innovator success. Being creative and innovative with sheer determination and hard work are the reason that made them successful. This can be related to their harsh up bringing especially with the Japanese occupancy and also migrating from new places to Malaya.

7. What aspect/aspects do you think is important to become successful innovators and entrepreneurs?


creative and business-minded


Enable to make the right choices and decisions




grab the opportunity


innovative and work hard


quality product




full of determination


good observer








grab the opportunity at right timing


ideas and determination


kiam siap(stingy)


think differently, willing to take risks


down to earth

The respondent view the aspect of self equip ability like hard work, determination, being creative and enable to make the right decision at the right time are crucial to gain success.

8. If you want to be a successful innovators or entrepreneurs, what is your step/steps towards that?


learn from expert


Acquire as much knowledge and experience as possible


create a blog 1st..


willing to work hard


work smart


learn from others, bravery, dare to make a change




working hard all the time


improve general knowledge




move to other country first..


step out the first step.


willing to learn everythings


read about other innovators or entrepreneurs, learn from them first!


yes...graduate 1st


cease every opportunity available


Go to the road that is not taken

The respondent also have their own recipe to achieve success, as a summary they would still look back at how the past master do it, as they highlighted all the characteristic that make the old master such a success like working hard but with a modern twist like learning from the expert and acquire knowledge. This is what the old master is lacking during their time as they doesn't have any mentor to guide them or chance at education, which is limited.

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