Women in Leadership Series: Featuring Suet Huay Loh (EMBA 2019)
Suet Huay Loh, Founder of Best Value Mart, is a self-motivated individual who strives to better improve herself every single day. She is an entrepreneur with a passion to help people by ‘giving back’ to society. To implement this, she created Best Value Mart, a business that replicates her persona.
Best Value Mart (BVM) believes in delivering great values to serve the customers. The purpose behind this e-commerce business is very meaningful, in that, the company promotes sustainability (reuse, reduce and recycle) within the day-to-day operation and always sets aside a portion of the revenue to give back to society, each day.
Suet graduated with a Diploma in Facility Management and then started her career with customer service roles for local developers. Eventually, she moved to Business Development roles because she felt that it was better for her career growth and personal development. It also broadened her perspective as she worked directly with higher management, relating to business strategies and future planning of the company.
After working for a while, she pursued her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Management which helped to expand her knowledge. However, her life-changing moment came up after completing her Executive MBA with SP Jain School of Global Management – that’s when she was exposed to a team of world-class professors. She also got to meet a lot of peers who are high-level professionals in different industries and this significantly expanded her professional network.
We caught up with Suet to know more about her journey as an entrepreneur. Read on to find out about her inspiring journey.
Q. How has the experience in the e-commerce business been for you?
Suet Loh: In an e-commerce business, it is challenging because there are a lot of direct and indirect competitions around. At the same time, it is very fulfilling for me because I get to learn something new each day. Even though e-commerce has been such an integrated part of our lives, there are always new things to explore in this business. The experience has been wonderful for the past year and it is truly motivating for me.
Q. What leadership style do you use?
Suet Loh: I always believe in using a collaborative approach for leading a team to achieve a positive winning outcome. Towards my internal team, I love to hear new ideas and suggestions on the operations before introducing new processes. Sometimes it depends on the situation; if the team feels lost then in those circumstances, I will take the lead to share my thoughts and guide them to achieving the results needed.
Q. Do women still need to be fearful to start their journey as an entrepreneur? How has that changed over the years?
Suet Loh: Not at all, women can still thrive and shine in their own business. In the past, we are used to seeing male leaders holding high positions in companies. However, times have changed. In this modern society, we have seen a lot of successful female leaders who managed to juggle both, family and career, at the same time. There are many of these female leaders whom I admire and they have inspired me to learn from their success stories over the years.
Q. Was was it like visualising and executing your brand?
Suet Loh: Visualising the idea is easy, but the execution is not so straightforward. The concept ended up being too much for implementation during the initial stage. For example, my initial plan was to introduce at least a thousand items onto the platform during the launch. We worked long hours to prepare for the execution. In the end, we only managed to launch a fraction of it due to time constraints.
We had been visualising a lot of perfect scenarios on running the e-commerce platform, but after going live, we realised that there were a lot of unexpected bugs and errors in the system. We spent a lot of time coordinating with our web developers to resolve these issues over a few months’ time. Many-a-times, when I had an idea of how I wanted it to work, I would be informed by the technical team that the system has its limitations and we were unable to execute the plan.
Q. As a leader, what is it that you look for in your team?
Suet Loh: I would say that attitude is the most important factor in my team. Having the right positive mentality is all it takes for the team to achieve the goal we have set. So far it has been great and I am thankful that the team is motivated with a very positive attitude.
Q. What are the distinct changes that you’ve witnessed in the last 10 years of your tenure in the corporate world?
Suet Loh: I realised that the pace has become faster and there is more adoption of smart technologies over the years. I remember when I first started my career in a local developer 14 years ago, most of the work and record processes were done manually. However, throughout the years, I have seen many companies adopting new systems to automate processes and using software to organise and integrate cross-departmental records. After the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are adopting virtual meetings and it is now already integrated as part of our lives.
Q. What was that one eureka moment that led you to the realisation that, ‘Okay, this is it. Entrepreneurship is my goal now’?Suet Loh: I have always been inspired by my father. He has always encouraged me to be an entrepreneur. In my eyes, I see my dad as a successful businessman. I wanted to follow in his
footsteps and create something which represents myself.
The reason why I stayed in the corporate world for so many years was that I felt that I do not have the knowledge and resources to start my own company as a fresh graduate. I do not wish to ask my parents for the resources as I want to be 100% accountable for my own business and wanted to set it up on my own. Therefore, I took several years to learn, while I work. I have gained more knowledge through my full-time jobs and also during my EMBA program.
Over the years, I have built up my network and saved enough money to finally start my own company with the resources I have. When the pandemic happened, I told myself that the time has come, and I am ready to be an entrepreneur.
Q. How does BVM create a social impact? Could you elaborate on this?
Suet Loh: I believe in giving back to society and working towards a more sustainable world. For all revenues which were generated from BVM, there is always a portion that is set aside for charity. For example, since the start of the business operation, consistent donations are being made to both, local and global charity organisations. Other than monetary donations, the company also donates food and household products to needy families and non-profit organisations to bless the less fortunate families in Singapore.
Whenever our customers or business partners approach us to make purchases for sponsorship or charity events, BVM will support with discounts for such initiatives.
Within our day-to-day operation, the team practices a good habit with the “reduce, reuse and recycle” rule which the company has set. We eliminate the printing of Delivery Orders receipts to reduce paper usage. We reuse and recycle the product carton boxes and use them for parcel deliveries. Our customers are also very understanding of this initiative and they have been very encouraging so far. For any product which has a shorter shelf-life, the team will put it up for clearance sale and also donate it to the local food bank with food items that are more than a month from expiry. In general, most of the recourses have been well-used and there are no wastages so far.
Q. What qualities do you think makes for a successful leader and team player?
Suet Loh: It is very important to have good communication skills and to bring out the full potential of the team. In a lot of companies, most problems arise due to miscommunication. A leader must have the patience to listen and at the same time, to be able to provide guidance whenever necessary. Mutual respect also makes the workplace a more open environment to encourage the honest sharing of ideas amongst the team.
Wish to learn more stories about the SP Jain alumni who are making a difference in the world? Click here.