Persistence, curiosity, and risk-taking. These are values which Mr Richard Eu embodies, and believes strongly in. These are amongst several other values which Mr Eu prides highly on, allowing him to explore his leadership potential and grow Eu Yan Sang to its success today.
As a fourth generation leader, Mr Eu has been with Eu Yan Sang through its trials and tribulations, and has only grown stronger throughout this journey. Eu Yan Sang’s success today is attributed to the efforts of many, and Mr Eu wants to take Eu Yan Sang to greater heights and achieve even more.
TAKING OVER THE REINS
“I believe in getting the consensus and the buy-in from everybody. The old style of being a dictator doesn’t work anymore.”
Mr Eu believes that when everyone is united to charge towards the same goal, success will follow. This is why decisions made in Eu Yan Sang are based on consensus. Constructive criticisms and discussions are welcomed should one disagree or have a different opinion. In fact, this is one of the best ways for the company to grow.
This style was put to test when Mr Eu took over the reins in the later part of 1989 and wanted to revitalise Eu Yan Sang with the main goal of growing and increasing the business. At that point, Eu Yan Sang only had 1 physical store in Singapore and 5 stores in Malaysia. Mr Eu then sat down with his management and went through multiple rounds of discussions and thought processes before eventually deciding on expanding Eu Yan Sang’s retail stores. Leveraging on Eu Yan Sang’s loyal customer base, rolling out of retail stores allowed Eu Yan Sang to grow and have a wider range of consumers.
At that point in time, 25 years ago, Eu Yan Sang’s products came from their sister company in Hong Kong. In order to gain knowledge in terms of manufacturing and creation of new products, the retail rollout was a necessary first step. This was one of the few decisions made by Mr Eu which he felt was impactful and played a large role in Eu Yan Sang’s success today, and was proud that it was done with the support of his staff.
Anticipating market needs and knowing what your consumers want are key to ensure your business’ survival in the long run.
“In the past, herbalists or the sinseh would know which herbs were the right herbs to use, through their own experience. Now, we run herb fingerprinting tests to select the right herbs. This scientific and systematic approach enables precise quantification of the ingredients and properties of Chinese Medicine, thus ensuring the stability and consistency of quality between products of different batches.”
Mr Eu shares that the market has changed tremendously, with the growth of the millennials as a growing customer base. Company operations must continually evolve to fit the times. For instance, to remain attractive and provide the needed assurance to today’s consumers, Eu Yan Sang uses only quality products. Also, as verbal assurance is no longer sufficient, Eu Yan Sang has begun utilising scientific research and approvals to authenticate herbs and ensure that they are of a certain standard and quality. This requirement is now commonplace in Eu Yan Sang’s quality control processes.
“Eu Yan Sang has changed from when it was established 137 years ago. While we have grown into a regional company, we remain true to our values and have continually evolved with our customers’ needs since our founding.”
The key challenge today, however, is to remain relevant and attractive to consumers. One example of Eu Yan Sang coping with current challenges is the integration of technology into Eu Yan Sang’s business model. Eu Yan Sang collaborates with reputable institutions in scientific research and developments to propel the TCM industry forward. Some of the institutions include the Chinese University (Hong Kong), Universiti of Tunku Abdul Rahman (Malaysia), Sibelius (Oxford) in the United Kingdom, National Cancer Centre (Singapore) and Temasek Polytechnic (Singapore).
In addition, to nurture future talents in the field of Chinese Medicine, Eu Yan Sang has also established yearly scholarships for eligible undergraduates who are currently studying for the Double Degree Programme in B. Sc (Hons) Biological Sciences at Nanyang Technological University and B. Med. (Chinese Medicine) at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, People's Republic of China. The scholarships will provide financial assistance to the selected candidates to enable them to complete their double degree course in Beijing, China.
Mr Eu continually seeks to incorporate societal trends into Eu Yan Sang’s business processes and products. Eu Yan Sang has been dispensing modern dosage forms to consumers, in the form of capsules, or prescribe herbs in powder form. This makes it easy for preparation and ingestion purposes. This also promotes Eu Yan Sang’s products as hassle-free and convenient, changing the typical stereotype of TCM, and remaining in tune with the times.
NO TYPICAL WORKDAY
“It’s a day in my life, not necessarily a work day. As a leader, I think about work 24-7. Motivations and inspirations can come from anywhere. You can come up with an idea in just 3 to 5 seconds, but it could mean something major for the company.”
There are different challenges faced at work every day. Mr Eu believes that the most important thing is to be able to connect with his staff, his people, and to walk and understand the ground. By doing so, he is able to think about the macro picture, visualise and work towards the path that Eu Yan Sang can take towards a better future.