CEO SUITE was first established in January 1997, now with 5 centers located in 4 countries in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Shanghai. Clients include over 1000 worldwide companies. CEO SUITE provides a one-stop business solution to companies which require operational support and technological solutions without the incurrence of any major capital investment and/or long lease commitment. CEO SUITE offers various facilities and business services for multinational firms and foreign investors.
Mee Kim : A CEO SUITE in every part of China
Responding to our local government’s call and incentives provided towards all foreign investment, the famous Asian instant office enterprise – CEO SUITE announces this month to enter into the China market. With a capital investment of USD two (2) million to establish the first “bridge” into China – CEO SUITE chose the country’s most promising city, Shanghai, and located its first Chinese branch on the 47th Floor in Hong Kong New World Tower on Huaihai Zhong Road, the city’s most central business district and a popular shopping destination. CEO SUITE has 4 other centers in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta. With clients including over 1000 worldwide companies, they hope to be speeding up their development pace in China with the opening of a new center in each major province or city every 6 months thereafter, likely to be in Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou and Kunming. “Our aggressive expansion plan is largely fueled by our clients. The great market performance so far as we observe has convinced us of the bright future in the Chinese market. I have been charmed almost instantly by Shanghai because of its vast investment opportunities. My family and I are even making plans to move over to Shanghai from Jakarta! And depending on the development of the business in China, we might contemplate the relocation of our Headquarters to Shanghai from Singapore. My clients are just as excited as we are in the opening of CEO SUITE Shanghai, as many are also looking to Shanghai for the development of their business. Our goal is to extend our business to every city in China, and be the No.1 provider in this serviced office industry,” relays Mee Kim, Founder & President of CEO SUITE Group.
Journalist : “You were born in Korea, but obtained your degrees from Korea, Australia, and America, and now you operate from Singapore, KL, and Jakarta. Your husband is a second generation Chinese Indonesian entrepreneur. Are you the kind of personality who are always on the move, and can you tell us if your past experiences have any influence at all in the set-up of “CEO SUITE”?
Mee Kim : My long term stays in Korea, Australia, and America have been good learning and training grounds for adaptability to other cultures! Because of my work in the Asian Economic Centres, I had to be stationed in both the Americas and Australia. Before the set-up of CEO SUITE, I was working in this same industry for a period of 7 years, a long service which provided me with the kind of foundation and experience require in setting-up CEO SUITE. In all my 14 years of working in the serviced office industry, setting up and managing branch serviced offices in different countries, I have by now, accumulated a profound understanding of each city’s culture and business environment, which helps me to anticipate and pre-empt my clients’ requirements, and provide solutions to their problems. The result today is CEO SUITE, a regional chain of serviced offices, in Jakarta, Singapore and KL, and now Shanghai. The journey from my first center to CEO SUITE Shanghai has been one tough, but challenging one, because the journey has not always been smooth sailing. CEO SUITE was launched in the year 1997 and yes.. we all know about the Asian economic crisis beginning that year! As you know, Indonesia is one among others that was badly affected. Foreigners abandoned the economy by the planeload, and our business was largely dependent on foreign investments. It was surely one unexpected and traumatic experience. The fact that CEO SUITE weathered the crisis, managing even to overcome the crisis… I attribute to the excellent managerial skills and hard work put in by my team of managers and members. My teams are among the most qualified and experienced in the industry, and I am extremely proud of them.
Journalist : What is “CEO SUITE’s” core business? And what are your targets? How do you locate opportunities in a business? What does “CEO SUITE” specialize in?
Mee Kim : We have very clear targets; we target investors who want to develop their businesses abroad, and assist them in every way to set-up their businesses with minimal resources. In fact, launching a new business in a new and foreign country can be both an exciting and stressful venture. You must be prepared for lots of pressure. There will be a whole list of “do’s and don’ts” presented to you, and amongst the list, locating a proper office perhaps forms part of the priorities. A proper, decent and pleasant office is usually a prerequisite to a successful venture. But to new investors (and what more in a foreign country and in an unfamiliar culture?), having to invest in extra time, energy and money in locating the ideal office facilities, recruiting local staff etc, will prove to be a big burden and definitely, energy draining. We will imagine, the one question in each of their minds : “what could be a quick solution?” We tell them : CEO SUITE, a one-stop business solution centre, complete with office accommodation! Almost all the initial teething problems for a relocation or a set-up could be resolved by CEO SUITE. In all the years we are in business, we have established very good-standing business relationships with numerous well-known multinational companies, such as ANZ, BMC Software, Barclays, WorldCom, Dell, Compaq, Mitsubishi, Hutchinson and have helped them to successfully tie over the initial challenges of setting up their businesses in foreign economies. Complicated, long leasing contracts are a thing now of the past; office facilities can now be leased only when needed, complete with other office peripherals such as video-conferencing facilities, high-speed internet connectivity, laser printers of the latest models etc. Clients today are saved from the hassles and costs of maintenance and upgrade. They can opt to use and pay only on a needs basis. Business formal or casual, CEO SUITE never says no to suggestions … we have a Zen lounge, and be it a video conference for one hour or hosting a business party at our premise, CEO SUITE will always find creative ways to satisfy the demands of our clients.
Journalist : Many quality hotels would also be able to provide the facilities of a business centre, they offer extra benefits of accommodation and dining & entertainment facilities. Do you consider them as competitors to CEO SUITE? For those who are fans of hotel business centers, how do you win them over to facilities at CEO SUITE?
Mee Kim : I would say, they are not our direct competitors. While the business centers in hotels do offer similar facilities, their strength is more of hotel accommodation and dining facilities. If clients choose to work out of a hotel business center, they will face constraints such as not being able to give out a business card with proper office address and telephone number. It would be a hotel address and a hotel extension number. It might not be the best impression that you can put forth to your clients and customers. At CEO SUITE, we are almost always located in a prestigious building, and your name card will automatically reflect that address, and besides, you don’t even need to employ an operator as phone lines come ready with an office suite, complete with professional telephone-answering services in your company’s name. Our staff will know you by name, and be familiar with your business. Important messages are taken down to be instantly relayed when you are not in the office. At our centers, a whole range of other office services are provided for to value-add to our clients’ business activities. Professional secretaries, IT-consulting, translation, recruitment services are just some of them – we provide 5-star business service but in a totally professional office environment. As we are established regionally, our network of resources in terms of human resources and business associates is an added advantage for all our clients to tap on. It would be easy for us to refer our clients to someone who can help, anytime, anywhere. In Singapore, where the serviced office market is competitive, clients understand the value in the use of a serviced office. So how do they make comparisons, and on what basis would they make their decisions in the final selection of their office? It will eventually boil down to the level of service each Center can offer, and the total value-added services each can provide, besides other considerations such as the actual office space and its location. Our aim is to make CEO SUITE a business service center, not a typical business center. Our pride comes from a totally Asian commercial management team, and an extensively huge network connection with specialists and professionals who can help our clients in terms of tax advice, administration, interior design, project management and consultancy services.
Journalist : Before I conclude this interview, it is a sudden realization that all your staff are female. Is that a coincidence? As the leader of a great team, what is your principle in recruitment?
Mee Kim : I claim to have 2 achievements in my life. One, my 6 years old boy; the other, CEO SUITE. It is just like a child whom I have brought up and nurtured through thick and thin. As the head of the pack, I have a hand in the choice of my management team. Be them recruited in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta or Shanghai, none of our staff is a fresh graduate from University. Each one of them is unique in terms of their experience from this same industry. Even the receptionist has at least 10 years of working experience! Just as in any other business, the serviced office industry is one which requires a huge capital investment, and faces severe competition all year long, left unguarded and untended, bankruptcy will often be the end-result of the investment. I must say, we have worked hard every day for the past 6 years to be where we are now – one new center per year in a different city, and it is all because I have with me, a wonderful and supportive management team. In my opinion, the management team should have the “survivor” quality, not forgetting of course, the tried and tested qualities such as hard work, optimism and be that “opportunity-catcher”. With the above in consideration, and in due respect, I personally feel that a female is more suitable for this job! Besides, 95% of our clients are male, and anyone can comprehend the unexplainable chemistry between males and females! But above all, if I may add, the most important factor is their high level of education, combined with their rich experience in dealing with multinational companies from different countries that make them so highly resilient. We hope to provide our clients with an environment where “culture shock” is non-existent the minute they step into CEO SUITE.
Journalist : What makes you decide on the China market and what are your future plans? And why Shanghai as the first stop? What kind of role will Shanghai play in your overall business plans?
Mee Kim : Many multinationals today have their eyes set on the Chinese market, but because of the language barrier for one, few are familiar and brave enough to instantly make their decision to be located in the Chinese market. With the level of incentives provided, and interests created by the local government towards foreign investment and investors into China, there remain plenty of opportunities to be tapped for the serviced office industry in this big market. We see ourselves as the bridge for all foreign investors with interests to set up their business in China. Just only few months into the business in Shanghai, we have already a good number of foreign enquiries for assistance in the set-up of their branch offices. Honestly, the great market performance in Shanghai is enough to convince us of the potential in the China market. I fell almost instantly in love with Shanghai because of its vibrant economic environment and culture. We foresee an increase in foreign investment into this country in the very near future, and as such, we are targeting to speed up our pace in China to eventually open centers in Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou and Kunming, an aim of 4 major cities in every 6 months. With our countrywide establishment, we hope to be giving our clients the kind of business network connection they require on this huge dot on the world map. We will be their bridge in China, linking foreign investors to the Chinese market, and the Chinese investors to the foreign markets at our locations region-wide. Our business goal is focused on the extension of our business to every corner in China and be the No. 1 provider in this industry. And we believe in Shanghai, in its significance economically and geographically, and believe this vibrant market will be our main link to our business goal.