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In Memory Of The Grandmaster Of Banking: Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow

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I was in Taipei delivering a keynote address speech for Genting Plantations Group at their 39th Management Conference for the senior management staff and managers when I heard the sad news of the passing of Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow, the founder of Public Bank Berhad.

I got emotional because Public Bank was the place, I first started my career and Tan Sri Teh was my former top boss and mentor.  I was a Corporate Planner in his Division which was then called The Corporate Secretariat. I had worked with him closely as his speech writer as well as the Secretary of the Planning Committee and Management Committee where I personally witnessed how he chaired each meeting eloquently with his assertive leadership in steering the bank towards growth, profitability, and great stability year after year.  It was from these hundreds of meetings and the minutes I had taken that I learned the powerful lessons of his leadership and entrepreneurship.

It was indeed a great honor after many years that I left Public Bank in 2010,  I was invited to write the success story of Public Bank, called Lessons Of Success: The Legacy Of Tan Sri Dato Sri Dr. Teh Hong Piow. I count this as one of my greatest joys and satisfaction in life being given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write this significant legacy book of a man I most admired for his commitment, perseverance, and professionalism.   

The book published in 2011 was a bestseller; it captured the essence of his great leadership, entrepreneurial insights, and lessons of success.  The book covers over 430 pages and in brief touches on the 8 important principles which are:

  1. Know your purpose
  2. Be passionate about your chosen field
  3. Be people-oriented
  4. Persevere against all odds
  5. Be proactive in thought and action
  6. Practice professionalism
  7. Maintain prudence
  8. Be positive towards work and life

I totally agreed with Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim that  “his passing will certainly leave a big void for the Public Bank family, the banking sector, and the country” in his condolence message to the family of the late Public Bank founder and chairman emeritus, Tan Sri Dr. Teh Hong Piow.

I have always considered Tan Sri Teh as the change master. In one of my books, The Secret of Change which got into the Malaysian Book of Records as the first motivation book in rhymes, I had specially dedicated the book to him with a special poem called The Grand Master of Banking which most appropriately reflected his leadership and achievements.

Allow me to share it here:

Tan Sri Teh, The Grandmaster Of Banking

Once in centuries, comes a man of vision
Who can time his strategy with precision
To seize opportunities in speedy action
And grow the bank into great recognition.

Tan Sri Teh, a banker of rare distinction,
Has the mind of a mathematician,
The diagnosing skills of a physician,
To come up with a concise solution,
Whether overcoming a financial crisis situation,
Or brace for competition and globalization,
He sails through with proactive change and innovation.

A man of humility with an unparalleled contribution
Beyond the banking institution
Is providing  superb motivation
To all leaders with great aspiration.

Presenting The Secret Of Change Book To Tan Sri Dato Sri Teh Hong Piow in 2008

With Tan Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow at the launching of the book, Lessons of Success: The Legacy Of Tan Sri Dr Teh Hong Piow in 2011

I bid farewell to this great leader and mentor who has developed and inspired many to achieve greater heights.  He may no longer be with us now, but his legacy and influence live on providing shining examples for many to emulate. 

Dr. Victor SL Tan is the Chief Executive Officer of KL Strategic Change Consulting Group,  an international authority on change management, and the author of 14 books amongst bestsellers including Lessons of Success: The Legacy of Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow and the Secret of Change. His company is involved in consulting and training for organizations in the areas of change leadership and transformation. For more information, contact him at victorsltan@klscc.com or 012-3903168.

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