Lau's Tencent worth of contribution | Biz Info


Lau’s Tencent worth of contribution

IN the corporate world, Malaysian-born SY Lau might be synonymous with Tencent Holdings Ltd, a China-based company best known for its mobile text and voice messaging communication service, WeChat.

However, Lau, who is Tencent’s senior executive vice-president and president of its Online Media Group, is quick to attribute his success to his humble upbringing within a “strict but loving” Malaysian upbringing.

“My parents were strict but they were also very loving. But I was also in an environment where I wasn’t penalised for making mistakes.

“I would learn later that what kills innovation is when you do not allow children to learn when they commit right and wrong things,” he tells StarBizWeek.

Lau was a speaker at the Chief Marketing Officers Conference in Kuala Lumpur earlier this week.

While his parents might have allowed him to “make mistakes,” Lau says however that certain faults were less forgivable than others.

“There was no grey area between what was right and wrong. For instance, when I went to school and I got 97 (out of 100) for mathematics, my mother would hit my hand three times,” he quips.

Tencent-Lau

Lau named Media Person of the Year at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

This strict upbringing is probably what moulded Lau into the perfectionist that he is today.

“I was pushed from young and have since always strived to be the best at whatever I did,” says Lau.

Lau says this translated into making him a “determined and competitive individual in the working world.”

Not surprisingly, Lau is no stranger to accolades within his line of work. In 2011, New York-based Advertising Age recognised him as one of “The World’s 21 Most Influential People in Marketing and Media.”

Earlier this year, Lau received another global award when he was named “Media Person of the Year” at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France.

As the first person from China to receive this award, Lau joins a list of luminaries that include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, former Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Balmer and Google executive chairman Eric Smith, among others.

Lau believes that having a strong, positive mindset, is crucial to being able to achieve success. This, he says, has helped him grow his business in China.

“If people start facing obstacles and they start painting negative images, then (working in a place like) China would be a challenging place to work for anyone.

“If people view difficulties as a challenge, it presents a different sort of melody, where you could actually learn to dance to a new beat and create a bigger fire in the future. I call this passion.”

Lau says he sees former sugar baron and tycoon, Robert Kuok, as a huge inspiration.

“I have an admiration for Kuok. He is humble, maintains a low profile and his knowledge is diverse.

“Staying humble is vital for achieving greatness. Many people, when they get recognition for whatever success they achieve, only end up losing themselves.”

Tencent is today the largest Internet service provider in Asia, with a market capitalisation of US$172bil (RM636bil) as of March 20.

The company specialises in Internet, mobile services and online advertising.

Lau joined Tencent in 2006 as a member of the senior management team, focusing on driving corporate growth, with the specific goal of overseeing Tencent Online Media Group (OMG).

Today, OMG is one of the largest media companies in the world, with a portfolio that includes a matrix of online information and entertainment products. As the market leader in China, OMG’s products and services provide penetration into a market numbering in the hundreds of millions of active users per month.

Going forward, Lau says the aim is to create more recognition for Tencent and grow its product offering to customers all over the world.

We’re just 16 years old. Despite the fact that our name precedes us, we’d like to see a future where the world knows us not by globalisation of the ambitions that we have.

“Instead, we’d much prefer if the world knows us because we are much more appreciated by users globally.”

Commenting on Malaysia, Lau says the country’s growth prospects for online media looks bright.

“Malaysia is actually pretty advanced. Around 16.7% of its gross domestic product comes from Internet-related services. In China, it’s just 4%.

“Furthermore, the average number of hours spent on the Internet in Malaysia by users is between five and six. In China, it’s just between three and four hours.

“Also, the Internet penetration rate in Malaysia stands at around 65%, compared with China at 45%. So, Malaysia is pretty advanced in this area.”

Generally, Lau says he is optimistic about the prospects for online media in Asia.

“Various indicators suggest its a bright outlook going forward. But just like anything in life, there’s no guarantee.

“The future might be bright but it’s only the case for those that are prepared and willing to think more for their users, rather than those that only think of short-term revenue and profits.”

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