Learning From Robert Kuok – A Resilient Entrepreneur

An icon that cannot be missed, the man has built a multi-industry empire from trading sugar and he once controlled 5% of the world’s sugar market which earned him the “Sugar King of Asia” title.

Tan Sri Robert Kuok is what you call a self-made billionaire entrepreneur with a net worth of $10 billion, as reported by Forbes. Kuok started out humbly as an office boy, and eventually became the clerk of a rice trading department in Singapore. And the trading skills he learned from his early days led him to be a successful businessman.

Many have claimed that he has all the right qualities of a true entrepreneur. And what are those qualities?


Daring and Right Attitude

Keeping an open mind to every opportunity, he was never afraid to collaborate with the rest of the world and seized every opportunity from home and abroad unlike the conservative eastern businessmen those days.

When the Japanese troops invaded the Malay Peninsula and captured Singapore in February 1942, Kuok took a job with Mitsubishi Corp. When Japan was defeated in 1945, his family resumed doing business under the British.

With the right attitude, Kuok is one of the most successful businessmen of the east. Kuok, in his book, The Sugar Casino has warned that one should never be arrogant when trading:

“You have to be humble because you are never always right. You don’t need to convince anyone. You can trade as a very humble man.” – Robert Kuok


Determination and Perseverance


Many people went against him when he first started his sugar business, deeming it as a boring industry. But Kuok saw it as a golden opportunity grabbed it immediately. That bold move made him the richest man in Malaysia today.

Till this day, the 92-year old tycoon still watches the sugar market daily, and trades on the commodity.

“He’s so vital, so active and continues to be so personally powerful,” says Timothy Dattels, a director of Kuok’s Hong Kong-listed Shangri-La Asia Ltd.


Open-minded and Versatile

Kuok had tried his hand in not only in sugar-cane business but also in oil, mining, flour, hotels, freight, publishing and animal feed business that helped him flourish

Sharing his trading tips to Jonathan Kingsman, he said that, “there is nothing that can’t be traded”:

 “I have a simple motto in life: every single material thing that I have in life can be traded. It is for sale. It is a question of, when, where, to whom and price.”

He is also the man behind the Shangri-La Asia hotel group. He built the first Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore in 1971. Today, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts are renowned for their 5-Star luxury stay across the globe.

He also owns the South China Morning Post newspaper after acquiring a 34.9% stake in the South China Morning Post from Murdoch‘s News Corporation.


By Chris Tan

Image by Forbes.