Goh Tzen Sernz
Deputy General Manager
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), 2000
Professional association memberships
Graduate member of Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM); graduate member of Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM)
I remember as a child, walking around in my village and looking at the constructions of new houses. Even back then, I had strong opinions about how certain things should look, and in my head, I was building my own (sometimes fantastical) versions of the houses. I enrolled in civil engineering and upon graduation worked as a design engineer in a small consultancy firm. As my career progressed, I learnt more about steel structural design, procurement, fabrication and installation works, and eventually landed a position with S P Setia as Project Engineer.
The turning point
My turning point didn’t come in a dream or an inspiration; rather, it was a do-or-die situation. My team and I had to oversee the construction and implementation of the Tenby International School project in Setia Eco Park. The job wasn’t a walk in the park: with design changes midway and price hikes of construction materials, among other issues. However, we managed to fulfill our responsibilities and the grand opening ceremony went off without a hitch. I am thankful that my efforts were noted and I was given the opportunity to helm a new business unit as Deputy General Manager.
In 2011, I was tasked to take the lead in the conceptualisation of the Setia Eco Glades master layout plan – a residential enclave with eight islands, traversed by canals and waterways. To stand out, we designed over 20 houses and created a one-of-a-kind communal living environment. To our delight, during the soft launch of the first phase of development, we took the market by storm and secured bookings for close to 90% of all units launched – a great feat by any standard.
Advice for graduates
Attitude is the most important thing. If someone has the right attitude but lacks experience or skills, we can always provide training and development to enhance his or her abilities. But without the right attitude, all the expertise and skills in the world will not help the team. Personal responsibility, integrity and the desire to be better are values that are indispensable. If everyone in the team fully commits to their job, it elevates the team’s output and enhances harmony in the work environment.
Key skills for future leaders
I believe that we need to develop sustainable business strategies rooted in community service and ethical behavior. We also need a comprehensive programme for human capital development and retention as it is vital for long term business growth and sustainability – ‘people’ add value to an organisation and services provided.