Story of Successful People : The Man behind the Courage to Manage

A “Malaysian Boleh” who not only thinks he can but is also willing to break with tradition; acts with guts, gusto, and gumption.

Simon Choy is the Vice President of HR Asia Pacific for Tupperware Brands Corporation.  A Malaysian born Chinese, he is truly a Malaysian Boleh!

When asked about how he grew to be courageous, he replied, “At a very young age, my grandma instilled in me to never be afraid of asking people, especially when it comes to directions. The golden rule is – if you don’t ask, you will not learn new things.”  ‘Ask and it shall be given to you’ has been one of his life’s dictums.

He is quick to add that integrity and keeping promises are the twin pillars of success.
The Life journey
Courageous people are contributors and humble at the same time. He is the oldest of three children. Being the second generation Chinese born in Malaysia, he grew up in a hardworking Chinese family. He left home at the age of 6 years old to live with his uncle and aunt at a remote village in Malaysia to start his primary education. At a very young age, he faced all kinds of adversities and challenges. He faced discrimination in a school that had only a handful of Chinese students. That did not stop him from having the courage to stand up for himself. Those life lessons have built a strong foundation in Simon.

A fascination with America
At the age of 11 he made up his mind to go to America. He was fascinated with the culture and opportunities the country had to offer. “America has so much to offer to those that are willing to explore new territories without any boundaries”. Not bound by tradition, a common characteristic of courageous people, he left the only life he know and flew to America to continue his undergraduate and graduate studies.

Immediately after graduating with a Business degree in Finance and Computer Information Systems, he landed a job in Washington D.C. Simon Choy has lived and worked in the United States for the last 30 years. Prior to joining Tupperware, Simon worked with three other Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.

Simon started working with Tupperware Brands in 2001, and he has been with the company for 12 years. “Tupperware is a great place to work. I am as passionate today as I was the day I started 12 years ago. Tupperware Brands is a leader in driving positive change in women’s lives.”

What is the key to his personal success?
“Determination,” he uttered without a flinch. “I have a pencil case since primary school, and it is still with me. It comes with a motto – ‘Determination is the road to success’. My grandmother taught me never to give up.” Having courage to keep trying and not giving up has paid for him.

Simon is passing this legacy on to his three children. He has a daughter who is attending university this year and is doing an internship in Asia. She flew all by herself from America to Malaysia. His three children are black belts in Tae Kwan Do. The daughter is a second degree black belt, the sixteen year old son is a third degree black belt and the eight year old has just passed his first degree black belt earlier in the year. His two boys compete competitively in the US ATA circuit. “My two boys came in 2nd place in the ATA World Championship this year in the age category. They were happy but not satisfied.” According to Simon they will be back next year to compete to achieve the number one spot. Simon has definitely passed on his legacy to his three children.

He also mentioned the need for all of us to stay flexible and adaptable at all times. This quality has enabled him, and Tupperware, to innovate and stay relevant in today’s ever-changing world.

Why is having the courage to manage important to us?
“Having the courage to manage is especially important for Asians because of our inclination to be submissive to authority, be it right or wrong. The danger of group-thinking has been well researched and documented. Managers need to have the courage to speak up and senior management needs to have the courage to listen. Isn’t it ironic that innovations often come from unexpected sources and new discoveries from the periphery?”

Simon shared the following parting thoughts, “The world has become borderless, so we just have to be nimble and have the courage to explore new things.”

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