Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai
Chairman and Founder
Bachelor of Science in Physics (Honours), University of Malaya (UM), 1982; Master of Business Administration, Sul Ross State University, US, 1985
Professional association memberships
Vice President, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers; Council Member, East Asia Business Council; President (1997-1999) Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers’ Association; Director (1998) Association of Malaysia Medical Industries; Malaysia Rubber Board
Having graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from UM, I worked as a sales manager at a subsidiary of O.Y.L. Industries Group for five years before I obtained my MBA. Upon returning and in light of the growing emphasis on healthcare, I foresaw a sustainable increase in demand for medical gloves. To leverage this opportunity, my wife and I founded Top Glove Sdn Bhd, a rubber glove manufacturing and trading business in 1991.
The turning point
Back in 1991, as a new player with relatively little industry experience and many competitors to fend off, I had to learn a lot and learn fast! Fortunately, my previous work experience and MBA years in the US equipped me with the knowledge and confidence to return and pursue business opportunities there. This marked the start of Top Glove’s journey to globalisation. As we continuously improved our quality to comply with stringent US FDA requirements, we were able to aggressively expand and meet the export market’s exacting standards. Being listed on the Bursa Saham Kuala Lumpur in 2001 also served to boost our image considerably and instilled greater confidence in our customers to conduct business with us.
From a modest husband-and-wife-run business, Top Glove has grown to become the world’s largest rubber glove producer with 27 factories, 464 production lines and a production capacity of 41.3 billion pieces of gloves per annum. We have 11,000 employees across Malaysia, Thailand, China, Indonesia, the US and Germany, and serve more than 2,000 customers in 195 countries. We are also proud to have been listed on the Second Board of Bursa Saham Kuala Lumpur in 2001 and then promoted to the Main Board just 14 months thereafter.
Advice for graduates
I have the same advice for graduates as I do for business owners: work hard, never stop learning and don’t give up. These are the key success factors on which Top Glove was built and I believe they are applicable to anyone who wishes to succeed. Graduates who aspire to work with us must have a quality mindset, constantly value-add and be prepared to put in 100% daily.
Key skills for future leaders
They will have to grapple with the changes and uncertainties of a business landscape which is constantly in flux. There will be new rules to contend with, increasingly demanding customers to appease, and pressures to increase productivity while keeping costs low. We must be agile enough to respond to this changing environment.