Leaders in the Spotlight
In this Q&A segment, Berita Sunway gets to know the leaders across Sunway Group
Danial Abdul Rahman, Director of Sunway Education Group CEO’s office
Eleanor Choong, Chief operating officer of Sunway XFarms
Letchumy Adekan, Director of Information Technology Shared Services Centre at Sunway Group
1. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Danial: Being able to work with a diverse team of talented individuals, meeting potential collaborators and partners, as well as supporting student development and growth.
Eleanor: I’ve spent years working with intangible digital products so I love the idea that as farmers, we get to use our skills and time to literally sow seeds and see them come to life. It’s fulfilling to know that we are nourishing our customers with safe and fresh food, making an impact in the health and wellbeing of our communities. Every minute spent on work is a step closer towards improving food security in Malaysia.
Letchumy: I enjoy the versatility of being able to handle a variety of digitalisation initiatives and working with various businesses across Sunway. Besides being a part of the Group’s new digitalisation adoption, driving various IT projects from ideation to launch brings me great satisfaction, especially seeing businesses across Sunway benefit from the innovations, and how it transforms users’ experience. Of course, it is a joy to work alongside collaborative and supportive leaders across the Group.
2. What is the most challenging part of your job?
Danial: Being part of the Sunway Education Group (SEG) COVID-19 Management Committee over the last two years – ensuring that government SOPs are properly interpreted, communicated, and implemented across the campus. Many hours were spent discussing the constantly changing rules from the original lockdown, to the National Recovery Plan and encouraging vaccinations, as well as preparing the campus for the current endemic phase. All in all, my role in preparing the COVID-19 Advisories (53 and counting!) to ensure a safe university and college experience for all has been truly rewarding.
Eleanor: Leafy vegetables are fragile and need tender loving care. During the pandemic, our farms continued operating and our teams travelled to work daily. We are always on alert to monitor the health of our farms, and to ensure that our vegetables are healthy and happy 24/7. Our next biggest milestone would be to launch Sunway XFarms @ Sunway Tower, the largest indoor vertical farm in KLCC.
Letchumy: Keeping people on the same page when it comes to decisions, alignment, goals, direction, culture, and team spirit. It requires strong strategies to ensure the whole team is on board. I view this as a crucial part of my leadership, so I make the effort to be on the ground and take the necessary steps to ensure it.
3. What is your best management decision? And your worst?
Danial: The best was the collective decision to allow students with needs to access the campus during the various MCOs to ensure learning continuity. This required essential staff to be present on campus to provide essential services. It was truly inspiring to see it all come together in the end.
The worst was in a previous job, I had hired and trusted someone who unfortunately abused their position for self-enrichment. Police reports were lodged, and it was an unpleasant experience all round. It taught me to ensure better due diligence when hiring, and that trust is a premium.
Eleanor: Recruiting an amazing team was by far my best management decision to date. They are humble, hardworking, fun and 100% committed to their work, which brings out the best in one another.
My worst would probably include some of the decisions I made during our first year of launching Sunway XFarms. We were constantly exploring various products, business models and service options without a key vision and identity. This stretched the team beyond their abilities without giving them sufficient space and time to grow and thrive.
Letchumy: I decided that the best thing that I could do for myself, and the company, was to delegate. I strive to empower my subordinates so that I can focus on areas that matter most in my current role.
The worst decision was when I decided to swap out a person whom I felt was not working very well on a project. I later discovered that the same person performed tremendously in another project. Had I invested a little time to guide and coach the person at the right time, it would have made all the difference.
4. What is the best management advice you’ve received?
Danial: “Knowledge is a trust. Don’t just keep it to yourself, find ways to impart it to the next generation”. This is the reason why I’ve been in the education space for the longest time in my career.
Eleanor: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”. That we see our purpose in life as a marathon and run each step with strength, endurance, faith and hope. Rather than focus on the ups and downs in the short term, I try to focus on the long-term vision of why we do what we do, and how we can constantly learn from our failures and advance ahead with boldness.
Letchumy: “Success is made by many and not all by yourself. Get to know your people well and use the right resources to get things done”. I learnt that I cannot do it all by myself and need to invest my time in getting to know the people within and outside the organisation who can be a part of my success.
5. How do you unwind after work or on the weekends?
Danial: Spending time with family, playing badminton or going for a run. I am also passionate about my two cats, Ram and Mo. My wife and I co-manage their Instagram account. Do follow them @tuanramses, as it would make them happy!
Eleanor: As a mom of two young kids and two furkids, I don’t exactly get to go home, turn on ‘airplane’ mode and declare the day over. My very colourful kids keep me busy in the evenings and weekends, but they are my source of inspiration and in a way, seeing them safe and happy is what I find comfort in.
Letchumy: I enjoy cooking more elaborate meals for my family over the weekend and planning family trips. For my self-care, I find time to exercise and spend time in solitude especially if I need to get a different perspective on things. It works well for me for a fresh start to the day or week.
This article first appeared in Berita Sunway Issue 75