Director of Hedgeford Sdn Bhd
“What’s next?” is the question Carrie Fong constantly poses to herself. As a key figure in the property development industry, the director of Hedgeford Sdn Bhd acknowledges that the solid decisions they make as leaders in the property field will shape the future.
“Times have changed and so have demands and lifestyles. Property buyers have seen what has been done and want a new upgraded experience. How do we address that?” asks the tenacious Carrie, who spent most of her childhood trailing her father Dato’ Richard Fong to the construction sites.
Though real estate development runs in her family, Carrie’s inquisitive nature led her to set out on her own path, where she honed her skills in an advertising agency before joining Glomac Bhd as its group marketing manager in 2005. “It was a timely move for me when my father asked me to come on board the company as Glomac was undergoing a rebranding exercise internally and externally at that time,” she says. Her background and experience in the advertising industry proved useful as she was used to learning about various industries and dealing with different clients so property development became just another industry she had to master. It was also a time when the property market was booming and Glomac had multiple projects lined up from townships to high-end developments, condominiums and commercial properties.
Carrie left Glomac not long after to head the marketing team at Malaysia Property Inc, a government-linked real estate initiative that was set up by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to market Malaysia as a property investment location overseas. In 2011, she came out on her own to establish Hedgeford Sdn Bhd, a property development company with multiple industrial, residential and mixed development projects under its repertoire. When asked to describe her leadership style, Carrie says, “I am quite an open person and I appreciate feedback.” She readily acknowledges that she does not have the answers to everything nor is she here to provide her staff with the answers. “Everyone has their own input and I’d like to think that I’d give them a chance to be heard,” she remarks.
She emphasises that teamwork is vital as it is never a one-man show in the property industry. Every roadblock they encounter is brought to the table to be discussed as a team, though setbacks that occur and affect her or a staff personally should also be addressed. “I do some form of meditation and try to find out the source of what is bugging me,” she reveals, asserting that she will continue to do what she believes is right.
Though she has no qualms about putting on her power suit when dealing with a room filled with egos, gender bias has never been an issue for her. “Sometimes you meet difficult women too,” she jokes and breaks into a laugh. “You have to present your idea or opinion with good reason and facts. You can’t just be put off if no one listens to you the first time,” she reiterates.
Growing up in an Asian culture, she acknowledges that there are plenty of stereotypes that have been imposed on us either consciously or subconsciously. However, she points out that women in Asia are not the only victims of that. “You hear this big voice coming out from first-world countries and realise they have problems too. I really appreciate that we live in a social-media world where we can talk about it openly now rather than suppressing it,” she says before adding, “it’s such a delicate balance, women shouldn’t play the victim card and should try to be independent to come up with a solution for any predicament they face,” says the mother of one, who has embraced the many different roles women play in their lives.
Sometimes you meet difficult women too. You have to present your idea or opinion with good reason and facts. You can’t just be put off if no one listens to you the first time.Carrie Fong
When we broach the subject of her success so far, Carrie is quick to denounce it, as she describes the whole experience as still part of a journey for her. “I don’t think I am particularly any more successful than the next person because there are so many incredible people out there,” she clarifies. Instead, she deems the sense of achievement she gains from contributing to the various projects she is actively involved in as her own personal reward.
But Carrie’s responsibilities extend beyond construction sites and boardrooms, as she has also helmed the position of chairperson at the Real Estate Housing and Developers’ Association (REHDA) Youth for 2016-2018. As the third chairperson to fill the role, Carrie has steered the association to contribute back to the industry with a focus on education through the establishment of Future Forward Forum.
“We want to tap into the trends and conversations that were already happening around the region and bring it here into KL. We are not talking about property outlook or what should we build, but we invite inspiring entrepreneurs or consultants who have their own brand of looking at things because very few people have the opportunity to meet them. It’s an incubation of ideas where hopefully someone goes home with an idea that they can bring to life,” says Carrie, who believes that the forum will serve as a great place to network and meet the speakers. To ensure that Malaysia is on par with the rest of the world, the Future Forward Forum will host a plethora of foreign speakers who will share their expertise and experiences on stage.
Carrie reveals that the focus will be on creating value not just commercially but community-wise. They are also in talks with a local architecture school to host an idea-generation session with the students. “It’s easy to fall back on things that have been done before,” she says. “As a person, you can’t be stagnant. You grow with time and your mindset has to change as well.”