Chai Koon Wah

Assistant Project Manager

Age 32

Bachelor of Civil Engineering, University Technology Malaysia (UTM), 2005; MBA, HELP University, 2012

Has been with this company for 9 years

At university
Like many others, I was puzzled about the construction industry during my degree. The books and classes were merely theoretical and did not give a picture of the real world. Thanks to the IJM scholarship, I had the chance to have a touch of the real world during semester break. The practical training helped me to appreciate the learning process.

My background
I was honoured to be awarded the IJM scholarship and served my scholarship contract with IJM after I graduated. With the recognition and the professionalism of the corporation, I am still with IJM until today to pursue my career growth.

My company and job
My current job is with a conglomerate group diversifying in construction, properties, toll concession, port business and plantation. I am leading a team to complete a luxury condominium project. The day-to-day challenges include meeting deadlines, and materialising the designer concept from sketch to a real feature by meeting all requirements.

The best and worst bits
I like dealing with people and solving problems. There are many barriers and sudden situations in this industry which require good planning and immediate response. However, the satisfaction I receive from the fruits of my success is unparalleled.

My most memorable achievement at work
I had to build 100 residential units in a 100-acre forest and hill. The challenge was to convert the entire forest and hill into a residence while ensuring sustainable development. We succeeded by turning the existing waterfall into a recreational area. The satisfaction is in seeing new owners with their house keys!

Getting the job
Communication skills, team spirit, and experience! The first two are fundamental skills required for this industry in dealing with people inside and outside of your team. The latter can be gained over the years through patience and observation.

Be prepared for
Patience, changes and innovation! Buildings are not built overnight. You need to be patient to endure the process. Notice the changes in housing trends – from landed property to high-rise sophisticated condominiums. Be ready to embrace changes and the world will be at your feet. Innovation is the key to sustaining efficiency.

Some advice
Dream big, start small. Always plan for short-term goals and review them from time to time. Status quo is good, but it slows you down and makes you lazy. Put in effort, ignore the sweat, talk to seniors, and never stop being innovative for new ideas.