Ko Chuan Zhen, group CEO of Plus Xnergy, shared with The Sun about being a leader within the clean energy industry, factors he would attribute his success to and plans for the company. As clean energy continues to evolve in Malaysia, Ko shares how a smarter way of using energy will not only be a more sustainable way of living within the community but will improve the overall quality of life.
With the dedication to lead the reinvention of energy generation and application, progressively advancing communities, he covered his wishes to provide more value-added solutions within the region and widen the horizons of energy with digitalisation.
Find the coverage by SunBiz below:
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Since childhood, I was always full of curiosity and by nature, I was what you might call a “life explorer”. My mum is a good teacher, and that gave me a label as “teacher’s son”, where expectations were high from my parents and others. It was stressful for me and I wanted to let that go.
I was fortunate that I had great exposure. During my university breaks, I backpacked and travelled, speaking to many from various backgrounds and this really widened my view of the world. It played a major part in shaping me and how I think.
I was also a student leader for various clubs, a DJ at Multimedia University Radio, and a debater. Here I gained a more public persona of myself and learned how to position myself and my message with others.
My entrepreneurship journey for the last nine years (since I was 26) really changed and moulded me. Because of the many challenges and responsibilities I have had to carry, I learnt many skills and understood my own nature, talents and weaknesses.
What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?
My key is focusing on 3Ps – passion, purpose and persistence.
Passion. I look at whether a person has strong interest in some area or topic, and whether they are hungry enough. They might still be searching for a passion but it’s fine as long they have a flame that burns, I like to give these talents a chance.
Purpose, which makes a person look for a meaningful job instead of a “I just get my pay, that’s all,” mindset. This point is important.
Persistence. I like people who have faced obstacles and challenges in their past. This is because the more they have faced, the higher the chance of them having to bounce back. This makes them more resilient and agile – enough to face more challenges ahead. Persistent people also have growth mindsets, and they become such an asset and contributor to the company’s growth.
How do you think the industry you are in will evolve?
Currently, the energy industry is controlled and centralised by one entity, Tenaga Nasional Bhd. This industry will eventually decentralise where people will be empowered to power up their own homes.
A real motivation for me is to eventually empower people to use energy in a smarter way, to improve their quality of life. In the near future, hopefully I can help people power up their homes and neighbourhoods without relying on government support.
What advice can you offer those looking to start their career/own business?
I would tell them to firstly look at their passions and where they are at present. They should do something they really like. As the saying goes, “if you find a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Secondly, understand your own strengths. But strength and passion are different; just because you like to sing doesn’t mean you can sing well. So it is important to recognise and validate your strength.
Third is to look at global trends. Your direction should be aligned with global trends so you catch the wave of what is happening and developing at present. If you ride with trends, often you won’t go wrong.
Fourth, know what drives the economic engine for the nation.
Anyone who finds an overlapping area in these four circles will in fact find their dream job.
We all know about the industrial revolution, are we in for a technological revolution? Your thoughts.
After Covid, yes. A lot of people have started to see that “if I don’t lead change, change will lead me,” so awareness of the industrial revolution is definitely there already, more so than before Covid. However there are still gaps in the level of infrastructure and technology, in terms of hardware and also application.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?
Mentorship has made a huge difference in my life. From my parents and teachers who have shaped me to be a better person during my school days. And in my entrepreneurial life, where I have been blessed to have amazing mentors who helped me.
I’ve engaged with many great business leaders and professional managers (especially those in C levels). They are able to share much of their experiences, sometimes not just giving me answers but instead acting as my sounding board. They have helped me explore “what I don’t know”, in that they help me find my unconscious competencies or potentials I’m not aware of, while showing me my blind spots as well.
What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
Professionally, I would like to expand the business to more countries in the Apac region, providing them more value added solutions as well and bringing clean energy to many more.
Secondly, I want to widen the horizons of our energy solution, beyond just solar and into digital solutions, and other types of clean energy technologies. Also to focus on Source, our Energy Performance Management System system – which is an AIoT solution and look into deep tech.
In line with social impact, we are carrying out engineering workshops through our Plus Solar Academy. At present we have over 5,000 students. I want to see how we can expand this to include 20,000 students or even more than that in the next five years. I also aim to move into more countries to close the gap between academy and industrial needs.
Best piece of advice you ever got on your career.
This is unspecific to work, again I reiterate: “If you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life.”
And for living as a whole, “we shall live by design, not by default.” This advice applies not only to work but our lives, as we can design our own careers and other aspects of our lives as well.
How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?
I am part of a group of leaders passionate about energy solutions in the Malaysian Photovoltaic Industry Association. Together we discuss and face the issues surrounding the industry. We try to come up with directions that will help propel the industry and overcome challenges before us. Looking at global trends before us is something we do regularly and see how we can draw from those advances is a plus.
Globally, I look up to Tesla and try to model Plus Solar after them. They are very much our business role model in accelerating the energy transition towards clean energy.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced? And what did you learn from it?
As an entrepreneur, one of my biggest challenges I faced last year was the global crisis. It was a once-a-century problem, bringing complete uncertainty. In leading the company to survive this, I learned that being a principle-based leader and a principle based company is crucial, as only organisations and leaders that stay true to their principles are able to weather the storm together.
Another challenge I’ve had is to align myself, as in keeping what I think, what I feel, what I say and what I do, all consistent. This is important because often, uncertainty and uncomfortable emotions are triggered when our thoughts and actions don’t align. It can lead to internal conflict and low self-esteem, which makes this alignment so important, even though in being honest, I can say it is tough to achieve.
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Two books – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and From Good to Great.
How do you expect policies on climate change to impact businesses in the future?
I expect that future policies on climate changes will be more friendly towards renewable energy, locally and globally. This causes businesses to align their decisions with climate change.
Among the many changes we will see include clean energy, with transportation by electric vehicles becoming more popular moving on. My expectation for these policies is an acceleration of the entire energy transition process.
What are the top three factors you would attribute your success to?
My three success factors are quite similar to what I look for in talent. They are human values and strengths, which are passion and persistence, and timing.
Passion relates to my interest in clean energy and solar. With a passionate purpose I can make a real difference in my own creations and in my life.
Persistence has also paid off for me. Having faced so many ups and down, resistance has become my core. I can now always switch to a positive frame of mind to sail through the many storms in my life.
Timing is crucial. I feel we have to acknowledge that we are only humans. By this I mean that we ought to be humble and understand that many things are beyond our control, but at the same time we should be able to spot opportunities when they arise and make full use of them.
Tell us a joke.
I am a joke (the joker).
So I can bring happiness to others.
Original Source: The Sun Daily
Print Version: The Sun Daily – 26-04-2021- (Pg. 11) Business Section
Related Coverage: Daily Express (KK) - Pg. 6
Photo Credit: Plus Solar & The Sun coverage
Disclaimer: The contents of the reposted article have been edited to represent Plus Solar’s brand and services to its truest nature.