Sowing Seeds of Integrity and Courage
Newcomer Compliance Executive at CapitaLand Financial Limited (CFL), Thi Ri Htet, reflects on some of the core values of CapitaLand
Issue: Nov 2012
The CapitaLand Immersion Programme introduces CapitaLand to new staff in a fun and meaningful way
Prior to joining the CapitaLand family, I knew little about CapitaLand other than shopping malls with the “CapitaMall” logo around Singapore. Nonetheless, after two months in CapitaLand, I was given an opportunity to understand CapitaLand’s business structure and core values through the “CapitaLand Immersion Programme (CIP)”. CIP is an intensive three-day programme that gives the attendees an overview of the mission, vision, structure, strategy, core values and businesses of CapitaLand. It also offers opportunities for networking with colleagues from other business units (BUs) from Singapore and overseas, as well as with the senior management team.
Mr Tan Seng Chai, Deputy Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited sharing with the participants about the Group’s corporate structure
My personal experience during the CIP programme was very meaningful and memorable. On the first day of the programme, we were all divided into groups of four to five participants and our groups were assigned names with CapitaLand core values: People, Integrity, Courage, Innovation, Fairness and Community. I was in the “Courage” group with fellow CapitaLand colleagues - Bernard Low from CLIMB as well as Peggy Tan, Doreen Lim and Echo Liu from CMA. Thereafter, we had our first group activity, the “CapitaLand property run”. Our group had to visit a few properties: Clarke Quay, ACE and Six Battery Road. I was very impressed with the way Clark Quay is managed due to its open structure concept and high human traffic flow. I was also amazed to see the first and largest indoor vertical garden at Six Battery Road’s lobby. It soars to about 2,000 square feet, with 120 plant species sourced locally and from other parts of Asia. The building received the prestigious BCA Green Mark Platinum award.
The groups did a short presentation on the properties we visited and this allowed us to have a better understanding of the properties owned by CapitaLand. The property run was really fun as apart from completing the task, we also got a chance to chat along the way and know one another better.
On Day Two, we attended presentations by speakers from various BUs which gave us the overall picture of CapitaLand’s business. While listening to talks by Operational Compliance Unit and by CPIB on Prevention of Corruption, it gave me the message that CapitaLand does not just focus on business growth but ensures that CapitaLand’s mission, vision and core values are held up to the highest standards at all time as well. We also had a networking lunch with CapitaLand’s CEOs and senior management who graciously shared their work experiences and gave us useful advice for our career path in the company.
On final day of the programme, we ended the day with a team effort for the “Creative Expression Challenge” where each team had to present a model that displays what we have learnt from this three-day programme. Our group agreed to make a model called “Aqua Habitat”, drawing inspiration from CapitaLand’s iconic residential development in Singapore called Sky Habitat as well as learning points from the course.
(Left)Inspired by the Sky Habitat, Team Courage came up with a creative Expression Challenge model called “Aqua Habitat”(Right)The winning team’s Expression Challenge model
Throughout my whole orientation experience and getting to understand the values and visions that CapitaLand has, I was extremely pleased to be part of the group ‘Courage’. To me, courage and integrity are very important values. A person is defined by these values, and I have grown up with these values close to heart. With that, I would like to share with you a story about integrity called The Emperor’s Seed which I have found very interesting.
Once there was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew the time has come to choose his successor. He called all the young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, "It has come time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you." The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One seed. It is a very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the kingdom!"
There was one boy named Ling who was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole story. She helped him get a pot and some soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.
After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept going home and checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by. Still nothing.
Planting the seeds of integrity and courage is vital to achieving success in everything you do
By now others were talking about their plants but Ling didn't have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by, still nothing in Ling's pot. He knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn't say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, and to take his pot, and to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.
When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kinds laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, "Hey, nice try."
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"
All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked for his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids laughed and made fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quieten down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!" Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?
Thi Ri Htet, Compliance Executive, CapitaLand Financial Limited
Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees, plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!"
Although Ling was scared, he showed courage and integrity compared to rest. Ling has shown that it's more important to do the right thing than to do things right.
To all my fellow colleagues in CapitaLand, my message to you is “always uphold your highest integrity and have courage to do the right thing and you will have success in everything you do in your life”.
This new column entitled CapitaDNA is a platform for everyone at CapitaLand to share their experiences and thoughts on the company’s core values and corporate principles by contributing articles to CapitaLand INSIDE Different Geographies.
CapitaDNA entails our 6 Core Values. These values and guiding principles represent how CapitaLand does business, how it treats its stakeholders and how the staff interacts in the workplace. As the Group continues to grow, this DNA is crucial in differentiating itself from the rest.
Click here to submit a CapitaDNA article