What a ‘gem’ of a business… Loke Huiying is working with her family’s gem and precious stone business, training jewellers across Asia.
What’s your story?
My name is Loke Huiying. I’m the director of Far East Gem Institute, training more than 1000 jewellers and jewellery professionals around the region, including international brands and the founder of The Gem Museum, the first and most comprehensive gems and minerals museum in Singapore. I believe in unleashing the potential in a person, creating an environment of trust and understanding in the workplace and also empowering individuals through education. My vision is to help build up businesses that are progressive and would like to last for a long time.
What excites you most about your industry?
The opportunities for me to learn about different cultures in different countries and allowing me to gain more worldly insights. Gemstones and precious metals are universally appreciated materials because they are rare, beautiful and durable. It brings people from different parts of the world together and the relationships that are built in the process are precious. Being able to meet people from all over the world is a privilege and at the same time exciting for me.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I travel around the region to source gemstones, to participate in gems and jewellery trade fairs, as well as bringing students on gemological field trips. The most recent trip was bringing a group of students to Myanmar, passing through Mandalay to Mogok, widely known as “Ruby Land.” Apart from that, I have participated in international gemological conferences in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. We have close connections with the National Gemological Testing Centre in China and the National Council for Jewellery Valuers in Australia.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Myanmar, particularly Mogok. The weather is awesome and the people are wonderful. Although the journey to get to the place is a long and bumpy one, it is one that encapsulates nature as well as opportunities, all in one.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you want to be a person of influence, you have to stop wearing slippers to meet people of influence.
Who inspires you?
No specific person in particular. There have been different people who have inspired me at various parts of my life. However, I would highlight that when I was just a small girl, my elder sister was my inspiration. She is by far the most generous person I know in terms of giving her time and finances. Being the CFO of a large listed company in Singapore and a mother of 4, she is still willing to sacrifice her time and money to others.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learnt that I’m a problem-solver. I used to think that I’m just good at mathematics, but recently I realised that I did well at mathematics in school because I love to solve problems. I guess this is also why I am still doing what I’m doing today, because I get opportunities to solve lots of problems in the business, especially the fact that it is a small and family run business.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Read more biographies, less fictional novels.
How do you unwind?
Solving sudoku puzzles and word search puzzles.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Malaysia – truly Asia! Feels the most like home but with more of a ‘Kampong’ look.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Whatever you think, think the opposite. Paul Arden
Shameless plug for your business:
If you want to start a gems and jewellery business, Far East Gem Institute is the first stop for you. We are committed to train, guide and support you in your endeavour in building a successful and trusted name in the jewellery industry.
How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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