Coaching, an enriching experience for SH Wong

  • Helps entrepreneurs identify big picture, develop leadership and talent
  • Able to give back to ecosystem yet enriched at same time from CGP experience

Coaching, an enriching experience for SH Wong


RETIRED executives who have risen to senior management in their careers often have the luxury of enjoying a comfortable and leisurely retirement pursuing interests that they did not have time for during their busy careers. Some may take up advisory or board roles that require little time commitment but offer them the opportunity to stay mentally engaged in the corporate world.

But very few consider becoming coaches to entrepreneurs who are hungry to build their business but don’t know how to grow to the next level. Either because they are not able to see the bigger picture of where they fit into the value chain or they don’t have the talent to help them execute. Retired senior executives, with their experience in leadership, motivating and managing talent and their wide networks, are well suited to play a role to help entrepreneurs bridge this gap.

And so it is with Wong Siew Hai or SH Wong as he is called, a Coach & Grow Programme (CGP) coach for two of the three cohorts held so far. “Actually a big portion of my coaching time with them is spent around talent issues as that is the biggest factor they face – both in recruiting and then retaining talent,” says Wong who was picked as Coach Of The Year by the third CGP cohort that just graduated last week.

Having spent almost three decades in the semiconductor industry, Wong retired from Intel having served as its managing director for Intel Malaysia and later a vice-president.

He became a CGP coach with some hesitation, unsure if he could add any value, but decided to give it a shot as he did want to give back to the tech industry.

“I wasn’t sure what to do,” he admits. However he immediately felt needed when the first company he acted as coach for told him that it was his background that convinced them to join the CGP coaching programme. They are still in touch with Wong helping them out with his network.

An oft heard compliment from the companies that have gone through the CGP is, “money can’t buy this type of coaching.” With two coaches assigned per company, the format entails a two hour face to face session between coaches and the company they are helping, every 6-weeks for a year. This face to face is inevitably followed through with emails and messages between the two sides.

The idea behind two coaches is to offer the companies a more complete coaching experience as a single coach may not have the requisite background or skills set to help the companies with all the challenges faced.

And they face all kinds of challenges. Working with entrepreneurs has given Wong a much keener insight into the problems faced by them. “They have so many problems that you can almost drown in them. And that’s where we come in to help. Their journey is so tough, we coaches just play a small role,” he says.

Along with the insight into their journey, comes a deep admiration as well. “They are such a resilient group and just keep trying to find solutions and nobody has given up,” he says. And while Wong has not been an entrepreneur himself, he has come to recognise the importance of passion in the entrepreneur journey. “Because you are going to encounter so many problems, you need passion and inspiration otherwise you will give up,” he feels.

But good things happen to those who persist and fight on and he has seen how somewhere along the journey “good things happen” to help them unlock small and big successes along their journey to scaling up. And that has served to inspire him as well and to keep him growing. “I am learning from them all the time, as well.”

And though he has not been an entrepreneur himself and can never offer advice based on that experience, Wong does feel that the leadership skills he has acquired over the years is something he can pass on to the CGP entrepreneurs. That and the ability to look at the big picture.

“Many of them don’t see the bigger picture but I do and that’s where I advice them. At the same time, having led a large organization, I also help them develop their leadership skills and motivation of talent, as that is super critical for these companies to be able to execute their plans,” says Wong.

In helping the CGP entrepreneurs deal with their various challenges, Wong has found it useful to introduce the Pareto analysis to them. A technique used for decision making based on the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule, the Pareto analysis is based on the idea that 80% of a project's benefit can be achieved by doing 20% of the work or conversely 80% of problems are traced to 20% of the causes.

“You can really become paralysed by inaction thinking of all the problems you face and I find this Pareto analysis can help them focus and attack the problems that they have a better chance of solving,” he says.

And yes, Wong will continue to be a coach for the upcoming CGP 4, helping entrepreneurs solve their problems. So, please register your interest to apply for CGP Season 4

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