Life Lessons
PORTFOLIO Magazine|December 2020
Kenneth Goi, COO and Executive Director of GSH Corporation, looks back on important life lessons that allow him to forge on with confidence.
Alfonso Pereira

December is typically an opportune time for introspection, particularly for a curveball of a year like 2020. While things may not have gone right for most, it presented us with lots of time to reflect; to look back on better days, assuring us that the light at the end of the tunnel is hopefully just around the corner.

This dictated the approach of our conversation with Kenneth Goi, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of GSH Corporation, and son of billionaire businessman Sam Goi, who is the chairman of both Tee Yih Jia Foods and GSH. For the 47-year old father of three, his childhood was a good jumping-off point for the conversation.

“Growing up, I remember how busy my parents were building up the business, so I spent a lot of time hanging around the Tee Yih Jia factory or office. It was normal for my siblings and me to help out with tasks here and there, which seemed like a fun thing to do as a kid,” recalls Goi. Compared to most families, this might not have been the norm, but Goi appreciates it, as he was able to witness his father’s hard work and sheer determination.

From the Ground Up

Even as a child, Goi knew that his father was an entrepreneurially driven person who believed that if a product is good, it can be sold to anyone. “As a teenager, he would bring my siblings and me to work functions, and we’d have an ‘informal debriefing’ later on. He would explain to us what the work event was all about and tell us more about the people we met. Since this was the norm in our household, it was instilled in us that being an entrepreneur is all about curiosity. It allowed us to be aware, to start wondering about things, to ask why people do what they do. To a certain extent, that’s probably deeply rooted in the DNA of being a successful entrepreneur.”

Speaking of his own experience at Tee Yih Jia, Goi reveals that everyone was hands-on, starting from the ground up. To this, Goi poses a valid question: “How can one be a manager if he doesn’t know what’s happening in the warehouse or production? This is something I experienced in the early days of my career. I, too, was posted in the warehouse, in manufacturing, and later on in China to witness an entire factory being set up. This experience allowed me to get to know both management and staff, which helped in the long run, especially when I am tasked to manage the entire operation.”

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