Swim with The Sharks
    Category: Entrepreneurs By : Administrator Read : 1345 Date : Sunday, April 06, 2014 - 11:13:42




    Wendy Yap is cofounder, president-director and CEO of Nippon IndosariCorpindo, a fast-growing bread and cake maker that has soared since listing on the Indonesia Stock Exchange four years ago. She also manages the business interests of her father, former Salim Group executive and pioneer businessman Piet Yap. At the Forbes Global CEO conference in Bali last year Yap was asked about her experiences as the family member tapped to take over. Edited remarks follow:
     
    Wendy Yap: I would say the baton was passed at a time when I was not ready [Yap took over as president of her father’s California real estate company at age 20]. I was just out of school, just graduated, so I think the timing was definitely not right. One of the burdens was that I didn’t have time to enjoy clubbing with my friends. And my father made me successor after 20 plus years in the family business. Although he’s from a traditional Chinese family, gender was not important to him—I had a brother, and he was not named [Yap was the eldest of four, three girls and one boy; her brother died in 2004]. For him [Piet Yap] it was just about which child was the one who could see his vision and carry the baton. I had the know-how, I had the educational experience, but, as my father says, he has “eaten more salt” than me. I have eaten rice. And you know you can only get so much out of school. When you’re thrown in the water, you pretty much have to swim with the sharks. But I survived, and I’m very glad I was able to achieve as much at a younger age.
     
    How did you use that opportunity to come into your own?
    I was three months shy of my 21st birthday. So I was not ready. I had never been to the U.S. and so in that sense it was a burden, but it was truly an opportunity of a lifetime because I think my father knew my character. If he didn’t push me to it I probably wouldn’t have done anything. I would probably be one of your taitais [married women who don’t work] sitting at home. I always use the proverb “Without vision the people perish.” With a vision you must also have a passion, and I didn’t realize the passion until I was put in to swim. Looking back, I would not do that to my children at such a young age [Yap has three]. I don’t think bloodline qualifies—it’s got to be based on other things as well. To separate ownership and management is not easy for a parent, especially family companies, coming from the Asian families, because they always want it to be whole, it has to be “my son” or “my daughter” who continues the business. But it’s not necessarily good. My father always said, as an insider you will guard your family assets, you will run the company very well. To me, both insiders and outsiders can ruin the company.s got to be based on other things as well. To separate ownership and management is not easy for a parent, especially family companies, coming from the Asian families, because they always want it to be whole, it has to be
     


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