“On my honour, I promise that I will do my best……” A commitment made as a teenager during scouting days, he has held on to this promise firmly throughout his career, giving only his best from his first job as a R&D (research and development) Engineer to his current role as the CEO of REDtone International Bhd.
Even as a scout, he strove to be the best – Mr Lau Bik Soon was a King Scout, the highest rank in the scout movement. He learnt the power of discipline among others, and this discipline has been a cornerstone of his management philosophy at REDtone.
He joined the company in 2006 as CEO of the group’s subsidiary, REDtone Telecommunications Sdn Bhd. The group’s main business then was voice services which were doing very well. Two years later, he was appointed a Board Director and in 2011, he took on the group CEO’s role, all the while instilling a strong sense of discipline amongst his team members. His rise in REDtone mirrored that of his early working days where his journey up the corporate ladder was exceptional. From R & D Engineer in 1994 to Account Manager, then Partner Sales Manager followed by Commercial Manager, all with ICT organizations, Lau was only 35 when he was made the Country Manager of Hitachi Data Systems Malaysia in 2005.
When asked what got him interested in ICT in the first place, he said, “In university, I became increasingly aware of how ICT can change the way we live and work for the better. It was one of the fastest growing industries back then (and remains so today) and I wanted to be a part of this exciting world where innovations which will have positive impacts, are constantly happening.” He graduated from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia with a 1st Class Honours Degree in electrical engineering, again demonstrating that only the best will do for him.
In striving for the best, Lau learnt that one has to be passionate in what one does, committed to excel, persistent, stay focused and never lose sight of one’s goal no matter how challenging the path might be, doing the right things and doing them well. These qualities have helped him do well academically and in his professional career.
He has this to say for one’s dream – “Never let go. Do your best, clarity will develop along the way that will guide you to achieve your dream.”
Two years after he joined REDtone, the voice market in Malaysia started to slow down after five years of good growth. The group had to re-look its entire business which was driven by its voice business back then, re-strategise and transform to stay relevant and profitable. The following four years from 2009 to 2012 wasn’t an easy time for the group. This was when Lau rose to the challenge, playing a key role in shifting the group’s business focus to data and broadband, building this market segment and steering REDtone back to profitability.
He knew he had to be aggressive in carrying out what needs to be done to not only turn the company around but to develop REDtone’s capability as a data and broadband player. Disciplined and results-oriented, he started weekly and monthly commitment tracking to drive his team members to deliver results. A firm believer in transparency, he also shared with them as much information as possible so that the team is aware of what’s happening as they each fulfill their responsibility. Weekly alignment meetings were held to keep everyone in check of meeting common goals.
Lau’s strong passion to nurse REDtone back to health and put it back on a growth track inspired his team members to give their best during the company’s transformation years. With the support of his fellow directors, the management team and his team members, REDtone successfully morphed into a respectable data and broadband provider, returned to profitability and saw its market capitalization grow from RM100 million four years ago to about RM400 million presently.
REDtone’s four key business pillars today are Telecommunications services (where it offers data and voice services to government agencies, corporations and SMEs); Managed telecommunications network services (which includes building WiFi infrastructure and managing WiFi hotspots, USP projects and other government projects); Managed value-added services (data centre services, healthcare solutions, cloud services and applications); and Mobile services.
Lau practices what he calls ‘situational leadership’, studying the scenario before deciding if a direct or empowerment approach is more suitable to provide the right results.
To his team members, he constantly reminds them of this i) Decisions whether good or bad, must be made; ii) Be passionate in what you do as it’s only with passion that we can get to where we want to go, iii) Family and personal well-being are important – never lose sight of this:
For Lau, what he finds most rewarding at REDtone is being given the opportunity to bring a positive impact to REDtone employees and to see them develop, the opportunity to help customers improve their business through REDtone’s services and solutions and to be able to help increase shareholders’ value.
REDtone is gearing for a transfer from the ACE Market to the Main Market of Burse Malaysia in the 1st quarter of 2015 and Lau is looking forward to continue to lead the company to newer levels of growth.