#PeopleofEdmundTie: Ong Choon Fah, Chief Executive Officer
  • People
  • 06 September 2019

#PeopleofEdmundTie: Ong Choon Fah, Chief Executive Officer

Q: Could you share with us your day to day role at Edmund Tie?

A: There is no typical day at Edmund Tie. I start the day reading papers at the pantry, where colleagues may drop by to have a chat. My day is mostly packed with meeting colleagues, clients, prospective clients and business development. I am a strong proponent of face-to-face meetings, including huddle meetings as I find them more efficient and it is during these times that relationships are forged. As I continue to oversee Research & Consulting, there are some projects where I am directly involved in. I make sure, as far as possible, to have dinner with the family and after some personal time, work on my emails. At times, I work from home, where I can have some solitude for deep thinking. So it is pretty much work-life integration.

Q: Congratulations on your recent appointment as ULI Chair! Could you share with us some of your plans for ULI and Edmund Tie moving forward?

A: I am honored to be the ULI Singapore Chair. What makes ULI different is that our members are driven by the mission to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. As the ULI Singapore Chair, I will focus on three main areas:

  • Expanding ULI’s Advisory Services Program by introducing Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) to Singapore. TAPs are part of the ULI Advisory Program formed to address land use challenges that require local knowledge to resolve;
  • Forming another Product Council – a specific group of ULI members that will convene regularly, exchange information and share the best practices around a particular issue related to the responsible use of land; and
  • Building out ULI’s NEXT Member Network in Singapore. NEXT is a specific ULI programme that engages and supports ULI members aged 35-45 into all of ULI’s activities. NEXT supports the ULI mission by identifying, connecting, and elevating the next generation of leaders for the built environment and ULI globally.

For our company, my focus is on strengthening a sustainable thriving practice, nurturing our next generation of leaders as well as providing a safe environment for our people to innovate even as we equip ourselves to take on the many new opportunities in the marketplace. Ultimately, we want each of our people to reach his/her highest potential and for our clients to receive the best advice that exceeds their expectations as we journey alongside them in an increasingly uncertain environment.

Q: Work aside, any hobbies or a favourite pastime activity?

A: I don’t have a favorite past time but I have countless! I love what I am doing as real estate is so meaningful. At the end of the day, real estate is not about bricks and mortar but about people. We have an amazing opportunity to be good stewards and impact individuals and communities – one small step at a time. So in some ways, purposeful work is my hobby. Notwithstanding, I need to find more time to learn new things, wander around, read, travel, cook and the list just goes on.

Q: We heard that you are quite an avid museum-goer yourself, and like visiting museums during your free time, be it in Singapore or overseas! Which is your favourite museum visited so far and why?

This is a toughie as I like many museums for various reasons. Aside from the usual, I’ll say museums like Chichu Art Museum, Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Peabody Essex Museum are some of my favourites. Art is not just an expression of beauty that delights, but it reflects the history, culture and aspirations of the society. It helps me to gain insights about myself too. I am constantly amazed at how creative artists are and how they communicate through the various art forms, often taking the road less travelled. I admire their curiosity, courage to explore, authenticity, commitment to excellence and resilience, amongst others.

Q: To end off, could you leave a parting advice for individuals who are keen to join the real estate industry?

A: Be curious. Be courageous. Be authentic. Be excellent. Be resilient. This is an industry where we can make a difference at every level. The work is purposeful. One needs to be a generalist with a broad range of skills but have deep verticals in real estate and a strong foundation of the principles as we work in an increasingly borderless world pushing new frontiers.

I’d also like to share a poem which I hold dear since grad school. I read it whenever I need to remind myself of why I am still doing what I am doing all these years!

Who Am I?

I am the basis of all wealth, the heritage of the wise, the thrifty and prudent.

I am the poor person’s joy and comfort, the rich person’s prize, the right hand of capital, the silent partner of thousands of successful people.

I am solace of the widow, the comfort of old age, the cornerstone of security against misfortune and want. I am handed down through generations, as a possession of great value.

I am the choicest fruit of labour, the safest collateral and yet I am humble. I stand before every person bidding them to know me for what I am and asking them to possess me.

I am quietly growing in value through countless days. Though I might seem dormant, my worth increases, never falling, never ceasing. Time is my aid and the ever increasing population adds to my gain. I defy fire and the elements, for they cannot destroy me.

My possessors learn to believe in me and invariably they become envied by those that have passed me by. While all other things wither and decay, I alone survive. The centuries find me younger, always increasing in strength. All oil and minerals come from me. I am the producer of food, building materials and the home to every living thing. I serve as the foundation for homes, factories, banks and stores.

I have not been produced for millions of years yet, I am so common that thousands, unthinking and unknowingly, pass me by.

Who am I?

I am Land.

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