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Spicy, feisty: Jocelyn Chng

  • Story Highlights
  • "I always tell my siblings, my colleagues, business is just very simple"
  • "They were betting about 6 months that the company would close if I take over"
  • "I'm not fearful of anything because I start from nothing"
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SINGAPORE (CNN) -- Jocelyn Chng's parents set up the business in the 1970s. Fast forward to the early '90s... And at the age of 21 -- with the business faltering, and her father passing away -- Jocelyn took control. She talks to The Boardoom's Andrew Stevens.

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Jocelyn Chng, managing director of Sin Hwa Dee

Stevens: What did you think when you walked in and took over and said, "Okay, this is now my responsibility."

Chng: At that time there was no longer thinking of the needs or about the fear of making it successful. It's about how to do it, and how to do it best.

From the start Jocelyn dreamed of growing the business.

Stevens: Give me an example of what your parents were doing, that you immediately started doing differently.

Chng: They are very conservative, because the business by itself is very traditional, so they make the sauces using the secret recipe, and keep it to themselves. And I say, "No, you have to employ people, you have to empower, we have to get the right people to run the business."

Stevens: You make it sound very easy. It couldn't have been that easy.

Chng: I always tell my siblings, my colleagues, business is just very simple. You don't have to think of it as very complicated. It's about the demand and supply. It's about understanding the customers, what they want. And they understand what we are selling.

Stevens: I read a story that your competitors were taking bets on how long you'd last. Have you heard about that story?

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Chng: Yes! Yes! And some of them were telling me that they were just betting about six months that the company would close if I take over.

Stevens: I don't know whether you can answer this, but was there one decision you made which turned things around and got things on an even keel? And you thought, "We can do this"?

Chng: It's really to open up and think out of the box, and to do things differently. For me, I'm not fearful of anything because I start from nothing. So I dare to take risks.

Those risks appear to have paid off. With Jocelyn's production line -- which her mother helps oversee -- now in high gear, pouring out some 15 tons of sauce each day, distributing to more than 30 countries, with some 80 employees.

Stevens: Your father said to you as he was dying, Do you really want to do this job? Do you really want to take over the family company? How do you see your children coming into this company? Will it be totally their choice?

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Chng: I mean, of course they are always welcome, but if they find that they prefer to do other things, I think it's better for them, so long as they are happy.

Either way, it seems Jocelyn Chng's own recipe for business success has saved a family tradition, and spiced up the lives of many others.

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