Friday 13 July 2012

Cathay CEO is Berita Harian Achiever of the Year

By Ian Poh, The Straits Times, 12 Jul 2012

HIS success story sounds like one that could be celebrated in a movie and screened at a Cathay cinema.

Indeed, Mr Suhaimi Rafdi, who is chief executive of cinema operator Cathay Organisation Holdings, has come a long way since he joined fast-food chain KFC as a trainee manager in 1989 after completing national service.

From managing a small team of restaurant staff then, the 45-year-old now runs a company that employs 600 full-time staff in Singapore and Malaysia, and has an annual turnover of $200 million.

In recognition of his achievements, Mr Suhaimi was named this year's Berita Harian Achiever of the Year.

He received the award from Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing last night at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Mr Suhaimi was chosen from a final shortlist of five nominees.

The panel of judges - comprising community leaders and academics - saw in him 'someone who always strives to improve himself, a quality which we want the Malay community to have', said Mr Guntor Sadali, editor of Malay newspaper Berita Harian, who was also on the panel.

BH Achiever overcame family setbacks
By Ian Poh, The Straits Times, 12 Jul 2012

WHILE Mr Suhaimi Rafdi rose to land the CEO job in Cathay Organisation, he also suffered setbacks in his family life.

His wife Maureen died in 2003 from cancer, leaving him to raise their two children - George Michael, now 24, and Vanessa Anne, 19 - on his own.

To fulfil his wife's dream of having four children, Mr Suhaimi, 45, recently adopted a three-year-old girl, Nul Nabilah, and a two-year-old boy, Mohd Nabil.

Mr Suhaimi - who received the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year award yesterday - acknowledged that it is a challenge to play both mother and father while coping with work.

But he said he wanted to be an inspiration to his children and remind them that the death of a family member should spur them to work harder to achieve life goals.

Mr Suhaimi's position at the top of Cathay - since January 2008 - is noteworthy, said Mr Guntor Sadali, editor of Malay newspaper Berita Harian.

Cathay was founded in 1935 by cinema magnate Loke Wan Tho and ownership has stayed within the family.

'It is significant that a Chinese-owned company has placed its confidence in a Malay to help it to grow,' Mr Guntor said. 'This... sends the signal that anyone can succeed as long as he has the ability.'

At the award presentation, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing said Singapore's progress as a society should not simply be judged by the number of successful people it has - but also by how those who have done well have reached out to those who have not.

'It is this process of reaching out and touching the lives of others less fortunate which binds us as a nation and gives meaning to our achievements,' he said, adding that the Malay community here is distinguished by a strong sense of self-help.

Mr Suhaimi plans to play mentor to young graduates unsure of how to become entrepreneurs.

'One tends to be... unsure of how to start up the business, study cash flow and understand the needs and wants of consumers. I think my experience with Cathay would be able to help with that.'


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