09 March 2024
Teh Lip Kim | FIABCI Malaysia Property Woman Of The Year 2023: Soaring To New Heights

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SHE single-handedly transformed the company business from tin mining into one of Malaysia’s leading boutique property developers renowned for its niche award-winning developments, here in Malaysia and across the Causeway in Singapore.

She took over the helm during the height of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 and through sheer determination and ingenuity, successfully rode through the storm to emerge triumphant with the company on much stronger fundamentals and foundations.

She is none other than Teh Lip Kim, the Group managing director of Selangor Dredging Berhad (SDB) and the recipient of the distinguished Malaysia Property Awards (MPA) 2023’s Property Woman of the Year by FIABCI Malaysia.

Teh was recognised for her exceptional contributions and expertise to the real estate sector, of which SDB’s innovative concepts and designs have been widely acknowledged.

The youngest daughter of the late Teh Kien Toh, who founded SDB in 1962, she had joined the company in 1996 and was subsequently promoted to Group managing director two years later.

Teh graduated in Accounting and Economics in the United Kingdom. She also completed her Masters in Shipping, Trade and Finance before returning to Malaysia.
Ms Teh Lip Kim.
The right synergy
What truly sets SDB apart is its unwavering commitment to crafting living spaces for memorable lifelong experiences. The journey is not just about building houses but fulfilling discerning homebuyers’ high expectations to deliver products that they can be proud of and which they can deeply feel as ‘homes’.

“The essence of it all stems from our design DNA - a unique blend of innovation, functionality and a deep understanding and appreciation of what truly makes a house a home.

“We do not just envision structures; we envision the lives that will be lived within them. As a property developer, empathy is at the heart of everything we do. We step into the shoes of our customers, understanding their needs and aspirations,” said Teh.
And when it comes to leadership, she added that it is about inspiring greatness in others, especially the people around us.
As the Group’s managing director, she believes in the power of collaboration and synergy and to tap on positive energies for the greater good of all concerned.

“I surround myself with a team of passionate individuals, with each of them bringing their unique talents to the table. I empower them by consistently listening, coaching, and asking the right questions because I know that true leadership is about igniting the spark of brilliance in others.

“Together, we at SDB are all about building a trusted brand. This is what makes us tick; the relentless pursuit of excellence, the unwavering dedication to our customers, and the steadfast belief that every brick we lay is a step closer towards helping our homebuyers realising their homeownership aspirations.”
Designed for those who cherish an active yet serene lifestyle, 19Trees (Taman Melawati) residents can fully immerse themselves in outdoor spaces amidst verdant tropical greenery.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
Teh admitted that she was not exactly born with a natural knack for leadership. In fact, stepping into the shoes of running the family business, particularly in the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis, felt more like a sink-or-swim situation rather than a graceful ascension to leadership.

“But you know what they say about tough times, they have a peculiar way of shaping us into the leaders we never knew we could be. I learned the ropes the hard way, navigating through the rough seas of business management, especially in those early years when every decision felt like walking on a tightrope.”

Yet, amidst the chaos and uncertainty, she always held onto one steadfast companion - a positive mindset. She firmly believes that every struggle, every setback, is simply a disguised gift waiting to be unwrapped. Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?”, she has trained herself to ask “How can this situation help me and the Group to grow and realise our fullest potential?”.

“It is this perspective shift that has been my guiding light through the darkest of storms. Every challenge became an opportunity for learning, every setback a stepping stone to resilience.

“And slowly but surely, I found my footing as a leader, not by birthright, but by sheer determination and gratitude, coupled with a ‘sense of duty’ for purchasers, our employees and stakeholders.

“I may not have been the natural leader in my family, and tin mining or property development may not have been my initial calling. But sometimes, life has a funny way of nudging us towards our destiny, and I am grateful for every twist and turn that led me to where I am today,” she said.

Teh has also been bestowed with numerous other prestigious awards including Ernst & Young Entrepreneurship of The Year Award, Brand Laureate Brand Icon Leadership Award and Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award.
One Draycott, Singapore was built by appreciating the beauty and originality of the site, resulting in a tower block that is shaped like a gem.
Dedication to innovation
SDB had moved strategically into property development with aspirations and a fierce determination to make its mark. Starting from what felt like ground zero, it had embarked on a journey fuelled by a relentless pursuit of excellence, aesthetics and practical functionality.

“And it was in the midst of this journey that we crafted our first high-rise masterpiece, Park Seven. This achievement manifests our statement of commitment to pushing boundaries and redefining quality living,” said Teh.

Park Seven is envisioned as a “bungalow in the sky” that promised its residents a lifestyle beyond comparison. It is the first earthquake-resistant residential building in the country.

“For us at SDB, it has always been about daring to dream, daring to innovate and daring to defy the status quo. What sets us apart is our unwavering dedication to innovation and individuality.

“Every one of our developments bear the imprint of our creativity, a testament to our refusal to settle for the ordinary. No two SDB projects are alike. Each one is a symphony of uniqueness, meticulously crafted to deliver extraordinary living experiences,” explained Teh.

She added that SDB does not believe in cookie-cutter homes but creating havens that reflect the diverse tapestry of homebuyers’ aspirations.

“Our journey thus far has been a series of leaps of faith, each one propelling us closer to our vision of redefining the landscape of property development as we continue to push boundaries and defy conventions.”

To date, SDB has 24 residential developments across Malaysia and Singapore, many of which had clinched FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards and other recognitions here in Malaysia, Singapore and throughout the world.
Park Seven is SDB's maiden development. A pioneering Bungalow in the Sky, it is also the first earthquake-resistant residential building in the country.
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