A View from the Top - CEO - Charles & Keith Group

Charles Wong
Chief Executive Officer
Charles & Keith Group

What are some of your personal traits which you think have led to your business success?
I believe an important aspect is to keep an open mind; any idea raised should be considered carefully as it might be a good turning point for the company. It also builds trust and promotes ownership and a sense of responsibility.

What was your most challenging business decision you've ever had to make?
One of the most challenging business decisions was to further expand the business outside the Asia-Pacific region such as Middle East and Europe. At that time, we had no experience in operating the business outside the Asia-Pacific region and it was difficult to gauge if the business would take off.  The seasonal and cultural difference added to the list of challenges we had entering that market. Also, as our shoes were made to fit the Asian feet which was smaller than our Middle Eastern and European counterparts, it was a risk that we were took when we decided to expand the business to these regions.

However, after careful market research and strategic business efforts and the right choice of partners we have been able to develop our business in these countries including  Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Dubai, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Lebanon.

How do you develop your personal business and leadership skills?
It is important to build relationships for the long term with the people you work with, your employees, suppliers and business partners by listening and understanding their needs.

Every suggestion could lead to a turning point in making a decision for the company. By having regular sharing sessions, employees are able to share the difficulties they face in their jobs and thus improve on their working condition.

What is one common misconception that candidates have about your industry?
One common misconception that people have is that the business is an easy and glamourous one. Being a fashion brand, there is a lot of hard work and preparation that goes unseen months before the merchandise reach the shelves. From the production to logistics and distribution, strict timelines are kept to ensure that the products reach the shelves on time.

With so many new designs added to the stores weekly, every department has an unique role to play in ensuring that the products are well received when they hit the shelves. I am very fortunate to have a team of dedicated staff to ensure that all aspects of operations run smoothly.

How would you describe your company culture?
The company’s organisation is democratic, we learn and we share. Everyone is free to voice out their views and opinions they have during work. Teamwork and unity play a big part as everything is conceptualised, done and executed in-house. Inter and intra department meetings are held frequently to boost productivity.

What is the one trait that you look out for in potential employees?
Passion for the industry and great initiative. The quest for knowledge is fundamental for self-improvement and progression. At Charles & Keith Group, we place great emphasis in people, as the company needs driven people who are forward in thinking. It is through sheer passion that motivates each individual to step out of their comfort zone and aim for higher goals.

What is the one skill you think would be most useful for employees in the future?
The fashion industry is a fast paced and filled with challenges; therefore adaptability plays an important role today. Not only is it crucial to adapt to rapid change, the ability to solve problems and make the right decisions is needed to continually improve and reinvent ourselves while striving for excellence every step of the way.

One piece of advice for other budding entrepreneurs?
Think big, and do not be afraid of failure, even if you do not succeed in your first attempt.

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