The Answers With… Kevin Kwee, executive director of Laguna National Golf and Country Club and founder of Kai Singapore, Singapore’s first luxury confinement centre
To be real successful at what you do, you are bound to wear many hats, and if you’re someone behind multiple businesses… well, that’s a lot. It’s a balancing act that can be mastered, and Kevin Kwee, businessman, equity investor and former automobile racer, seems to have achieved that balance. To understand him a little better, we caught up with Kwee at the recent Singapore Junior Masters and spoke with him about golf, life’s needs, wants and lessons.
What is it like to be you?
I enjoy what I do and I set very clear objectives. We only have 24 hours so other than work, I really just want to spend time with my wife and kids. It’s the simple things in life that I look forward to on a daily basis. I would also like to work less. Anything I do needs to affect people in a positive way, so I try to focus on businesses that enhance people’s lives and am involved in more kid-related charities. The numbers game and all that? I’ve long passed that.
Speaking of games, how good are you at golf?
I play very bad golf. But it’s like what my mom says, we may as well play bad golf and feel good about it. Why get frustrated over that one or two strokes?
What are three things you can’t live without?
Good friends, which I don’t have a lot of, my family, and just the basic needs in life. I don’t need a private jet and neither do I need a yacht.
You can’t bring them to the grave anyway.
Well, I do like cars. I used to compete professionally when I was much younger and now I would choose to compete in events where I am able to see friends and familiar faces. My last race was in 2019, at the Malaysia Touring Car Championship. I loved racing because it was something that I was reasonably good at and in racing, everything is a process. This allows me to put this into practice in my businesses and our everyday lives.
What’s your favourite time of the day?
What is one thing people do not know about you?
A lot of people misunderstand me. I’m a very ‘standard of procedure’ kind of person, and if things don’t go according to plan, I will be a bit naggy. Even my daughter tells me that. The other thing is, you can be a nice guy all the time, but by doing so, you cannot get things done.
Were you any different as a kid?
I never had the pressure to study. I ended up repeating a grade and giving up on exams during secondary school as I often missed school due to racing overseas. The school had also given up on me. It only took this one teacher to change my life, to say the things I needed to hear, and to give me the drive I needed for school. Fortunately for me, I was able to strive for better results when I went overseas.
Name your biggest weakness.
I sink myself too deep into whatever I do, to a certain extent that I can’t balance what I enjoy the most. Sometimes I get a bit disillusioned and confused—why should I be doing this?
What’s the best thing that you have ever splurged on?
Watches. But that said, that moment of happiness and all that is not long lasting.
What do you do to avoid complacency?
I met Nokia in 2000 and I pitched to them about a Formula One sponsorship. They declined, but what shocked me was that they were trying to cut down market share. It makes sense to cut out marketing if you are in such a strong position, but how about your development? Do you want to show the world that you are technologically in front of everybody? In the end, Nokia folded and they still didn’t know what went wrong. It reminded me of the short-lived telex machine, which was killed by the fax machine, which was then killed by the Internet. I’ve been through the cycles, and if you don’t improve yourself, do you know how fast you can be eliminated?
What’s the one thing others can learn from you?
I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I don’t have a girlfriend.
Do you have regrets?
No. It’s either a right decision or a wrong decision.
Photo by Larry Lim