Having spent 25 years at CapitaLand before taking up the role of CEO at Viva Land, Eddie Lim’s career has seen him work across the globe, including extended stints in Vietnam, Singapore, China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. He credits his continental work history with developing a deep understanding of different cultures and providing priceless experience across a broad range of challenges and opportunities.
He looks up to Viva Land’s Chairman Chen Lian Pang, a well-known developer who has over 40 years of real estate investment and development experience, as being a key motivator for making the move.
“Under his strong leadership and guidance, as well as having strong local partners, I believe Viva Land will fulfill our mission to be a visionary global real estate investor and developer that enriches people and communities through sustainable urban spaces and innovations,” Eddie tells The CEO Magazine.
Eddie says his leadership style has changed and adapted from country to country to best work with the different cultures of colleagues, all of which has made him “a better person and more respectful of different cultures”. He adds that his core principles include leading by example and encouraging mutual respect within the team. He also emphasises the ‘RITE’ culture (Responsibility, Integrity, Teamwork, Excellence) at Viva Land which matches his leadership style as well.
“We believe that a strong bond in a team is vital in any workplace,” Eddie says. “At Viva Land, we have built a chemistry together. We know exactly what we want when we talk about something, and we know each other’s expectations. And it is a real achievement for the company to date.”
Eddie believes that the success of any real estate company rests on three pillars: land, money, and people. People are the cornerstone of Viva Land’s success so far, explaining that in real estate, when you have land, you can get loans and then financing, so money should be relatively easy compared to recruiting people who are right for the job.
“We are paying a lot of attention to talent management, getting the right team on board, and building a passionate team,” he shares. “This is really what differentiates us from our competitors. To us, it is the people that make the difference in everything we do. At Viva Land, we always provide employees with good opportunities to develop themselves and encourage them to contribute creative ideas to our projects. We encourage them to foster a spirit of continuing innovation.”
With the right people, we are confident that there is nothing we can’t do together.
Eddie says his operations background has made him care for every customer touchpoint, from the customer’s interactions with the company to the end products they receive. “Hopefully, as a result, they can also continue to spread the good word for us about our projects and our company in the longer-term,” he adds. “It has to be sustainable. We’re not going for a one-time project only.”
Viva Land’s strong, established team has seen it hit the ground running with a number of collaborations with stakeholders. The company is being entrusted to undertake more and more projects including the Grade A building in Capital Place, Hanoi.
“There has been a lot of growth and development in our first year,” Eddie reveals. “It is a challenging and important time for us since we are going to kick-start many projects in Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong. I think it will be a good year for the team to showcase to the industry and the market in general what we can do. Basically, with the right people, we are confident that there is nothing we can’t do together.”
Delivering sustainable projects
Despite the pandemic, the real estate sector still shows good potential as evidenced by rising real estate prices. “But we are not just going for real estate in terms of returns. It should be sustainable,” Eddie says.
He adds that due to Covid-19, the company tends to pay more attention to the health of its own staffs as well as customers. “This means we ensure that our projects have more landscape, deliver best-in-class, green and sustainable spaces for generations and communities to prosper. We like to use the term sustainable luxury. To us, sustainable luxury means high-quality offerings with sustainable features.”
According to Eddie, Viva Land is mindful its projects are genuinely sustainable. To this end, the company always puts people and the environment at the centre of its projects. “We are focusing on human and nature-centered projects. Not so much on building the tools to excessive luxury that may not be sustainable,” he says.
Eddie reveals that due to Covid-19, today’s developments need more living space for residents, while office spaces are all about amenities. “And of course, with the introduction of technology, everybody is talking about the smart future: smart homes, smart offices, and smart cities,” he points out. “But we are very mindful to apply what is smart for our customers, instead of something that’s expensive and has to be changed and upgraded every couple of years. And as always, safety and security are vital for each of our projects.”
Eddie says having a great team has made this all easier. “To us, integrity is key and the core of our business. By focusing on the people, everything is easier – our processes, the consistency of our delivery, meeting timelines and providing our customers with the best service,” he stresses.
In addition to selecting the right people, Eddie believes it is vital to provide staff with opportunities to improve and grow. “We pay a lot of attention to our people’s wellbeing as well as their skill sets, their development, succession planning and talent management.”
We don’t run away from issues. I think it’s about your approach and attitude, and how you address and pay attention to the details.
This is a philosophy Viva Land extends to its suppliers – Eddie sees them as partners who equally put in effort and work towards the overall delivery of the company’s projects. “My formula is respecting the fact that we need each other,” he insists.
“I think we need to have an equal understanding of the expectations, timeline, and budgets of our contractors as they do for us. We make sure that all payments are paid promptly. This is all part of building a good reputation and trust with our partners.”
He adds the benefits of these relationships can be both tangible and intangible and much more than anyone might expect. “Having a good relationship with your partners means they know our expectations for every project and that whenever the team needs help, the support is there. They are willing to contribute to the success of the project as a part of the team.
“At Viva Land, we always challenge ourselves with every project we undertake and make sure that our customers acknowledge our project is better than any previous ones. That trust is so important – we are here to deliver the best products to our customers.”
But, according to Eddie, it is not just handling the good times that matters when it comes to building trust. “We have an open-door policy for any issues that arise, which in turn shows respect. We don’t run away from issues,” he says. “I think it’s about your approach and attitude, and how you address and pay attention to the details. It is important to hear everyone’s voice, and respect opinions. Only then can you figure out how to exceed expectations for all projects.”