From a Teenage Dream of Programming to Building a Thriving IT Company Amidst Personal and Financial Turmoil!
Dreams serve as the catalyst that ignites the flame of human aspiration. They act as the celestial beacons that steer us through the most obscure of nights and the persistent murmurs of our souls, compelling us to strive for what may appear unattainable. It is our unrelenting faith in these dreams that propels us onward, surmounting hindrances and hardships.
Ronald Soh, the Founder of Win-Pro, embodies all these traits and more in his remarkable journey from a young computer enthusiast to a visionary entrepreneur.
Ronald’s story is one of humble beginnings and steadfast determination. His passion for computers began in 1983, when, at the tender age of 14, he started experimenting with IBM-compatible XT (286) machines. It was during these early years that Ronald discovered his true calling—to become a programmer. Little did he know that this passion would ignite the spark for an incredible entrepreneurial adventure.
In 1993, armed with a degree from the prestigious National University of Singapore (NUS), Ronald embarked on an unconventional path. While many of his peers sought high-paying jobs, he chose a different route: entrepreneurship. With unwavering confidence, he pitched and secured a significant business deal, laying the foundation for a software development company. His vision was expansive, and he soon expanded the company’s portfolio to include PCs, IT infrastructure, and network services.
The late ’90s brought both promise and peril. While the business was flourishing, the Asian financial crisis of 1998 hit hard. Money ceased to flow, and payroll became a formidable challenge. Many employees left, and even two of Ronald’s partners decided to seek alternative employment. It was a daunting time for the young entrepreneur as he grappled with the crisis on both professional and personal fronts.
In the face of adversity, Ronald’s resilience shone through. With his back against the wall, he made difficult decisions to cut costs and moved the company to a more affordable location. He poured tireless effort into saving his business, often working punishing 18-hour days. Slowly but surely, he began to pay off his debts and reinvigorate his business.
The year 2001 marked a turning point in Ronald’s journey as he hired his first employee for the “New Win-Pro.” From there, the company steadily regained its footing. Today, Win-Pro boasts a dedicated team of 27 employees spanning Singapore and Malaysia.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
How would you define effective leadership in the business world, and can you share an example of a challenging leadership situation you have faced and how you handled it?
An effective leader is someone who can read the world, anticipate future challenges, and plan and execute an action plan to overcome them. Before COVID, there were signs and precedents like SARS and Ebola. Top IT leaders like Bill Gates also mentioned this long ago, before COVID. (596) Bill Gates: The next outbreak? We’re not ready | TED | YouTube
After watching that video in 2015, I knew that the day would also come. In 2016, our team planned to migrate all servers and business services, like voice, to the cloud. In 2017, we migrated our accounting to Xero. In 2018, we also started our e-commerce on Shopify and started digital marketing. In 2020, when COVID came, we were ready.
What strategies do you employ to foster a positive and productive work culture within your organization?
- Provide a pathway from having a job to a career and having a business.
- Provide a trusting and safe environment without having to produce a medical certificate to be absent from work.
- Giving employees autonomy to work from home on certain days of the week
- Focus on discovering and developing employee strength.
How do you approach decision-making and problem-solving in your role as a business leader, and can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult business decision and how you navigated the process?
- Keeping an open mind and a listening heart
- Having a close peer-to-peer advisory like a mastermind group
- Having a wide and diverse business network to understand market conditions and changes.
How do you stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and developments, and what steps do you take to ensure effective communication within your team and across departments?
- Reading widely for fun and reading deeply for knowledge.
- Create a trusting and safe environment for people to voice their opinions and thoughts.
Can you share a successful business initiative or project that you have led from concept to completion?
- A group of friends came together to start and invest in a yacht charter business.
- Building a complete closed-loop ecosystem business with an IT school, IT Recruitment, IT Outsourcing, Mentoring, and Coaching.
How do you motivate and inspire your team to achieve their goals and perform at their best, and what are your strategies for managing and resolving conflicts within the workplace?
- Create a trusting and safe environment for people.
- Truly believing and providing support for their chosen path.
- Having clear guiding principles and core values.
- Making sure that the alignment of the work culture and organizational goals.
How do you foster innovation and creativity within your organization, and how do you measure success and track progress in your role as a business leader?
- Create a trusting and safe environment for people to make mistakes.
- Learning from it and sharing it.
- Business leaders can be measured by organizational goals like sales revenue, customer satisfaction/success, and employee satisfaction/retention.
Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.
- Top IT Companies in Singapore 2022 by Funempire
- IT Outsourcing Companies in Singapore 2022: Singapore’s Finest
- IT Support: Best in Singapore 2022
- Ronald is an enthusiastic and skilled IT practitioner who is actively engaged in his work. He is the person to contact if you encounter any IT-related problems. Through his continuous pursuit of knowledge and hands-on experience, he has been able to provide significant value to his clients. Recent learning includes SEO and AI. – Haw Lin Tan
- Great advise given whilst meeting our needs and budget. Important not overspending and getting what’s required also future planning. Support level efficient and responsive. I can see why you guys have been in biz for over 26 years! Cheers! – Aberdeen Madina