Born and bred in South Korea, and even with deep roots still in her own home country, it remains a wonder how our personality today, Mee Kim could have such intense love for both her adopted country Indonesia, and her business – and we wonder – whichever between the two she loves more intensely?
While life may often be made out of pure and unintended coincidences, Mee Kim and the CEO SUITE story could however be one well-planned destiny! Going as way back as 1997, when she was a Director with an Australian company in the same business, she was then assigned to set up the branches in South East Asia. With her keen entrepreneurial spirit, Mee Kim immediately foresaw the untapped potential and seas of opportunities.
As a developing country, Indonesia was then one of the more favoured nations among foreign investors for cheaper labor, amongst many other business considerations. And for investors who wish to explore new business opportunities in Indonesia, the concept of an instant office was tantalizing due to its efficient concept! “That is the appeal of the business,” highlights Mee Kim. In September 1997 thus, she took the bold step forward to realise the CEO SUITE destiny, and planted the first CEO SUITE flag on Indonesian soil in the Jakarta Stock Exchange Building.
Having accumulated plenty of experience from her previous work places, and with her deep comprehension and appreciation for customer-customization, it seemed easy for Mee Kim to blend and balance the largely Western-influenced business concept in an East Asian context. And appropriately so she did, since most of the other instant office providers in Indonesia at that time were mainly from developed countries such as the United States and Australia – in which business identities require a pattern-copy of their parent companies. “The truth is, between the East and the West, there is still a wide gap in terms of business operating environments, and sometimes, pattern copies from the West may not necessarily work as well in the East,” she discloses.
Thus, CEO SUITE. The office space with service. Not only does the center offer physical office spaces with high-tech supporting facilities and equipment, CEO SUITE also offers virtual offices to its clients – a newer and trendier business concept where physical space becomes a dispensable option. While a prestigious business address is provided for business correspondences, the option of a dedicated telephone line complete with answering service, and other peripheral services from consultancy services to finding local joint-venture partners form services on the sideline for virtual clients to have a fully-functional business operation, without the physical space!
“Thinking ahead for our clients, our aim is to provide a convenient one-stop solution,” enthuses Mee Kim.
With her right formula therefore, despite and during the Asian economy and financial crisis, the average occupancy rate of CEO SUITE Jakarta remained steady at 90%. “Were we affected? Definitely, to a certain extent – but we have to move on for the business world; and fortunately, the uncertainty surrounding the global situation seems to be a “push” factor for the sale of our products – physical, instant office space as well as the virtual product,” recalls Mee Kim, with a tinge of gratefulness.
Having successfully established the first center which she could call her own, Mee Kim then gathered up further courage to open another center in the same city, on this occasion, the GKBI building. With her astute eyes for hot-spot locations, one would be torn to have to decide which center is with a better location! It took only a further 3 years before she spread her wings, and took on territories in other neighboring countries in Asia, starting from Malaysia, Singapore and most recently, in the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai.
“The key to success in this business lies in the provision of good service to our clients”, explains Mee Kim, and without much hesitation, went on to add that “to provide and continue to strive towards service excellence, trained human resources and constant technological system upgrades are critical components in this competitive game of business.”
Last year itself, the CEO group invested at least US$300,000 on unified messaging systems, which Mee Kim claims to be the first in her line of business. She has, but one aim to stay in the business – to satisfy her customers in every way, and hoping in return that they will promote CEO SUITE to others. “The word of mouth marketing is one powerful business tool,” she says. “Just like how a picture could paint a thousand words, one friend’s recommendation is worth more than pages of costly advertising,” adds Mee Kim.
While this contented lady seems to be pretty satisfied with the overall performance of her business, she remains shy to mention the annual revenue figures. When prompted for some clues, she hinted, “except for Jakarta, the occupancy rates of CEO SUITE in other cities have successfully reached a 100%; in addition, revenue sources could be generated from other peripheral services offered besides office rental. And at the moment, across the cities, we have over about 700 clients.”
A rather generous tip, if we may add. Unlike the usual story with a conclusion, with Mee Kim, it goes on. In the very near future, she is already sourcing for more centers to be established. When asked for the privilege for a sneak preview, she discloses – her list of exciting cities include Beijing, Seoul and Bangkok – perhaps 3 of her hottest picks of most potential markets in Asia! “We have to make a decision by next month,” Mee Kim confirms. And readily she admits, “My heart and desire will be to grow, and specialise in Asia.”
That, we guess, would be the sixth center in her portfolio – and we sincerely wish her that pot of gold even before her seventh center realizes!