A firm believer in the importance of education, Tan Sri Dr Lim graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours in Physics in 1982 from University Malaya, Malaysia, and received his Master of Business Administration in 1985 from Sul Ross State University, Texas, United States of America. In October 2015, he obtained his PhD in Management from University of Selangor, Malaysia. He was also conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration by Oklahoma City University, United States of America in May 2016.
A testament to his business prowess, Tan Sri Dr Lim also garnered several awards such as the prestigious accolade Master and Country Entrepreneur of Malaysia for the Year, by Ernst and Young in 2004; Entrepreneur of the Year at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2008; The BrandLaureate Brand Icons Leadership Award in 2011; Manufacturer Man of the Year 2013 by the Asia Pacific Brands Foundation and the Asian Icon Award (World Class Entrepreneur) in 2014.
More recently in April 2016, he was honoured with the 2016 Malaysian Leadership Excellence Award, by the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM) and in November 2016, named the Business Excellence Person of the Year at the Sin Chew Business Excellence Awards 2016. Rounding off the year on a victorious note, he also won the FMM Icon Award 2016 by the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers in December 2016.
Further making his mark in the business world, Tan Sri Dr Lim has been actively involved in several associations and organisations in Malaysia. He is currently serving as the President of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), having been elected into office in December 2016. He was also appointed Council Member of the National Science Council (March 2017 to March 2019) in his capacity as FMM President, by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. In addition to this, he has also been appointed as EPF Board Member / Director (2015 to 2019), as well as University of Malaya Director (2015 to 2018). He holds the roles of Honorary President of the Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce, Honorary Advisor of the Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Honorary Advisor of HUAZONG. The previous positions he has held are numerous, and they include President of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers’ Association (MARGMA) from 1997-1999, Vice-President, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of MARGMA, Director of the Association of Malaysia Medical Industries (AMMI) and Board Member of the Malaysia Rubber Board in 1998-1999.
Tan Sri Dr Lim credits his success and that of his business to having set the correct direction and adopting a set of good values. He explains:
“Work is my hobby is a reflection of how much I enjoy my work. I am able to work 7 days a week because I like my work, to the extent it no longer feels like work, but a hobby”.
“Exercise is my duty underscores my commitment to staying healthy. I intend to live till I am at least 110 years old and work till I am 90 or for as long as I am still able to contribute positively. Therefore, I need to ensure my body is fit enough to do so. In order to fit in exercise regularly, even in my busy schedule, I must slot in exercise / sports as part of my daily routine. Thus, I am able to play badminton and golf twice a week each and do yoga once a week consistently. I also stretch for at least 10 minutes in the morning when I wake up and again, before I go to bed.”
“Health is my wealth illustrates the importance of health to me. If I am sick, I will not be able to work or contribute positively to my company or my family. Instead, I will become a liability.
These are words I live by and I encourage my colleagues and business associates to adopt this as their personal motto as well”, he shares.
He also speaks about the “5 Quality Wells”, which comprise Eat well, Exercise well, Clean well, Sleep well, Work well, a proven formula for living healthily till a ripe old age.
In addition to a healthy body, he believes it is also equally important to have a healthy mind. He cultivates a positive mindset to keep himself grounded during difficult times. He remembers that every day is a good day to add value to oneself, family and colleagues and the company. When faced with challenges, he constantly motivates himself, as self-motivation is the best motivation. “Successful people do not wait for others to motivate them or help them stay positive”, he states.
His values are an integral part of the organization as well as the people he affectionately calls Top Glovers. Starting with the company’s business direction To produce consistently high quality gloves at an efficient low cost to which he attributes Top Glove’s success. Tan Sri Dr Lim also takes a very strong stand against corruption, giving rise to Top Glove’s Business Ethics of Honesty, Integrity and Transparency which requires all Top Glovers and their associates to do business ethically and professionally at all times.
Tan Sri Dr Lim is also a firm advocate of continuous learning and improvement. “No matter how successful the company becomes, there is always room for improvement and growth”, he notes. Accordingly, the company motto “Must Know, Must Do, and Must Teach” was developed as elaborated on in his sage words:
“Must know means we must have knowledge. Must do means we must put into practice what we know. Must teach means it is not enough to know, We must also share our knowledge with others.. 1 can teach 10; 10 can 100; 100 can teach 1000. This is how knowledge can be imparted efficiently”, he quips.
Inspired by the firm belief that prevention is better than cure, he also places a premium on staying healthy and ensures a culture of good health flourishes at Top Glove. To this end, he has established a robust health program which includes a strict “no smoking” policy which prohibits smoking amongst all employees, complimentary dental kits for all staff to encourage the brushing of teeth thrice daily, and quarterly BMI measurement for staff to keep their weight in check. Health talks and events are also organized by a dedicated Corporate Health Tem which comprises 6 qualified nutritionists. The company also has its own gym to which employees have free access.
A hands-on leader, Tan Sri Dr Lim indeed leads by example in practising healthy habits and cleanliness, a good work ethic and proactiveness. He also carries out regular factory visits and attends company events, to foster closer relationships with the team. Tan Sri Dr Lim constantly emphasises that it is the people that form the foundation of the company. In his words, “Building a successful company is much like building a tower. We must first have a strong foundation. This will ensure it lasts for many years.”
The Top Glove success story started in 1991. Foreseeing a greater emphasis on healthcare which would result in an increased demand for medical gloves, Tan Sri Dr Lim and his wife ventured into the rubber glove industry. They worked very hard to raise the initial capital of RM180, 000 to start the business. Top Glove’s first factory was purchased from one of the many glove manufacturers going out of business at that time.
Being a new player with relatively little industry experience, they realised there was a lot to learn very quickly. As Tan Sri Dr Lim’s family had been in the rubber trading business, he understood the nature of rubber, which made it easier to pick up the business. He also drew considerably on his MBA and previous sales and manufacturing related work experience in the air-con business. Meanwhile, his wife also brought with her experience in the banking industry and knowledge acquired while pursuing her MBA. Recalling his experience, he notes that it had been an exciting and rewarding journey from day one, with many successes as well as challenges along the way.
“When we first started out, it took time and a lot of hard work to gain the confidence of customers, suppliers and banks. Back then, we also faced teething problems such as a lack of technical know-how and until today, on-going issues such as rising operational costs, the volatile foreign exchange rates and getting good staff, skilled and semi-skilled workers”, he shares.
However, the duo stayed focussed and pressed on. They kept learning and improving in terms of quality and efficiency, while finding creative ways to deal with arising issues and the rest, as they say, is history. While optimistic about the future, he has no doubt that the year ahead will bring its share of challenges. However, Tan Sri Dr Lim is confident that as with challenges in the past, Top Glove will be able to overcome them as long as they adhere to his time-tested Business Direction of producing high quality gloves at an efficient low cost.