PwC’s Justin Ong talks about homemade Lego movies, butterflies in the stomach, the best Tom Cruise film, and the job that took a few years off his life.
Company and job title:
PwC, partner and Asia-Pacific asset and wealth management leader
How many years in the Asia-Pacific region:
What do you consider to be your home town?
Monash University, Melbourne – a bachelor of economics, majoring in accounting
First job in the funds industry:
I’ve worked in professional services all my life and specialised in servicing the asset management industry for 26 years.
What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced in your professional life and what made it so challenging?
Developing the Singapore Financial Industry Competency Standards Framework, cutting across all job families in the financial services sector in 2005. We had to deliver within eight months – highly stressful and the most complex project I had ever undertaken, given the number of stakeholders and originality of the work. This was the first financial industry competency standards framework of its kind globally, so the end result was rewarding, but took a few years off my life!
What achievement in your job are you most proud of?
Taking on my current position as Asia-Pacific asset and wealth management leader in 2014 – the first Asian in the role.
What advice would you give to someone who is beginning their career in the funds industry?
Be passionate about what you do, and make friends. The industry is huge, but the people network is smaller than you think.
If you could change one thing about the funds industry, what would it be?
Bring all fund distribution and settlement on to a single global platform.
What is your greatest ambition in life and why?
To see my children grow up to be godly, responsible adults who put other people’s interests ahead of their own. The only legacy we leave behind is our children and we should do all we can to make sure it is a solid one.
What’s the best investment you’ve made and why?
Two years in Luxembourg in 2011-12 – a fantastic learning experience and a great opportunity to make friends and contacts. Plus I found that two years in Luxembourg equalled five years in Singapore in terms of available family time for my wife and four children.
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know:
I’m an introverted person and a nervous wreck before public speaking engagements – strange considering how many I do each year. Something I read has always encouraged me: “Everyone has butterflies in their stomach; the trick is to teach them to fly in formation.” Also, I make Lego movies in my spare time.
Favourite country to visit for a holiday and why:
Australia, in particular Perth. It’s the closest non-Asian country to Singapore, with a totally different culture. Our kids love wide open spaces.
Favourite type of food and why:
I’m a very Asian person, I need my rice or noodles.
Favourite book or film and why:
The Bible. I read it every day. If you want wisdom for everything life throws at you, this is where to get it. My favourite film is The Last Samurai, less for Tom Cruise and more for the story – the strive for perfection and the code of honour.
Your house is burning. Your family is safe. You have time to rescue one object. What would it be and why?
My passport. It’s my lifeline, given all the travel I do. Plus, I became a Singapore citizen recently, which makes it even more precious.
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