Dato’ Robert Wong Lum Kong FCPA (Aust.)

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Dato’ Robert Wong Lum Kong FCPA (Aust.)

Robert WongFrom modelling, selling haircare products, and establishing the best-selling car in Malaysia, Dato’ Wong has done it all.

The Group Managing Director of Oriental Holdings Berhad, has more than 50 years business experience and has been instrumental in propelling Honda to become the highest selling car in Malaysia for 11 consecutive years, a feat that is yet to be matched.

At the helm of Oriental Holdings, Dato’ Wong oversees the group’s 76 subsidiaries and associates, an extensive range of industries which includes automotive assembly, plantation, property development, financial services and healthcare.

Having achieved extraordinary feats, the one thing this businessman holds most dear: “Family. Without family, life means nothing.”

He recounts how his parents worked hard in ensuring he obtained the foothold he needed to succeed. At 16, Dato’ Wong was given the opportunity to study accounting at Perth Technical College. “The accounting profession was deemed quite lucrative and the safest industry to be in,” says Dato’ Wong when asked why he chose the accounting field.

He recalls the years he spent in Australia, admitting to working and playing hard as he spent his breaks travelling and working. “My semester breaks were mostly spent saving up on allowances, so I involved myself in a number of things. I modelled for a fashion show on the Gold Coast and waited tables at hotels in Brisbane. It was fun and I got free food,” says Dato’ Wong.

In 1966, he married the eldest daughter of Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, the founder of Oriental Holdings Berhad. Dato’ Wong attributes much of his success to his wife, Datin Loh Ean, whom he said has stood steadfastly by his side through his countless late nights and client-entertaining antics.

Between 1967 to 1971, Dato’ Wong worked at an accounting firm as a Senior Accountant. In 1971, he opened his own accounting firm, Wong Lum Kong & Co. The following year, he joined Oriental Holdings as the General Manager and Advisor.

Dato’ Wong has always had an innate entrepreneurial ability, which was spurred further by his parents who started a business in haircare products. “My mother started a hair salon and I often helped her promoting products and repairing the hair dryers. It was not easy work and the frequent electric shocks from faulty gadgets reminded me to work hard and persevere,” he says. The company eventually flourished and the Wongs established haircare products Wella and Just Wonderful as household names in the region. 

Having always been a people-oriented person, Dato’ Wong sought to strengthen the automotive sector of Oriental Holdings through its dealers. “I spent time developing car dealers who have high levels of integrity and trust. This was vital for the company’s sales growth as they were the front line personnel," said Dato’ Wong while adding that the informal sessions with the dealers mostly took place in casual and familiar Chinese coffee shops. While the dealer meetings have now advanced to overseas trips, the foundation of creating credible sales people and appreciating their contribution has remained intact.