May Yap: A Dynamic Leader Imbibed with Vast Experience and Perseverance

May Yap

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For generations, perseverance has been the greatest ally of success as well as failure. It has helped transform ordinary individuals into exceptionally successful leaders. Especially for women leaders, perseverance has aided their leadership skills along with their supreme emotional intelligence and has anchored them to greater heights. Women entrepreneurs have been thriving in the business avenues; with perseverant leadership and prudent intellectual values. 

An example of such perseverance and prudency is portrayed by May Yap (Chairwomen, CEO, and MD at LHT Holdings Ltd.). She has been immensely contributing to the company’s growth and development and has been successfully delivering to the company’s core commitments. May Yap has been an ardent leader since the very inception of the company. She has fulfilled multiple roles and undertaken various ground-level as well as high-executive responsibilities.

Proliferative Journey of Entrepreneurship

May Yap holds a Diploma in Sales and Marketing from the Marketing Institute of Singapore. She has successfully completed her Operation Management Innovation (OMNI) programmer conducted in 2011. Moreover, she is also a member of the Singapore Institute of Director. 

In 1977, May Yap joined LHT Holding (formerly known as Lian Hup Timber & Trading) as an admin clerk. She was allocated various roles and responsibilities such as receptionist, making delivery arrangements, and many more. As the company had limited employees, May Yap had to tend to several roles and practice multi-tasking. 

As the company grew and expanded its base, May Yap was appointed as the Sales Director in charge of all sales and marketing functions in 1988. Furthermore, she harnessed the opportunity to be an Executive director by purchasing one of the major shares of LHT when the company restructured for its listing. In 2016, May Yap was promoted as the Acting Managing Director and was further designated as the Chairman, Managing Director, and CEO in 2017.

Recognized Services and Solutions

Established in 1977, LHT Holdings Ltd. was declared as a publicly listed company in 1999. LHT has been in the timber industry with a high annual turnover and is regarded as one of the largest manufacturing companies of high-quality wooden pallets, boxes, and crates in Singapore. The company is located in a vast area, with around 180 employees involved in the areas of administration, manufacturing, and warehousing. 

In 1997, LHT received certification for its quality manufacture, purchase, and supply of wooden pallets, cases and crates, and technical woods. The company was further awarded certification in 2001 on its environment management system indicating its commitment towards environmental excellence. LHT was also awarded the Enterprise 50 Award in 1995 and 1996 respectively. 

Engineering ‘Technical Wood’

As part of its ongoing efforts to reduce waste and to protect the precious timber resources of the earth, LHT has established Singapore’s first wood wastes recycling plant equipped with a highly automated system from Germany to produce a series of Technical Wood products. With the high technology involved, the product has a series of Technical Wood products being the most innovative. Moreover, May Yap states that the company’s use of recycling technology lowers waste disposal costs by a few hundred thousand dollars, and also prevents thousands of trees from being cut on an annual basis. 

Technical Wood is an engineered and compressed wood made of original tropical hardwood fibers that undergo a high-pressure and high-temperature steaming process. It is generally a “new wood” that substitutes natural wood that is made from wood waste material. Technical wood pallets provide numerous advantages over timber ones. These include:

  • High Density and Low moisture content;
  • Resistant to Pests;
  • Higher consistency of its final products as per compared to timber products which come with natural inconsistencies and defects; and
  • Ideal for furniture, building material, and heavy-duty industrial usage.

A Balanced Leader

With vast experience, May Yap plays a key role in exploring opportunities in new markets. She monitors market developments to ensure that the company’s product development efforts are aligned with the market demands. She is actively involved in the pallet rental business in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. 

May Yap derives a tremendous amount of inspiration from her mother and considers her as her ‘role model’. Moreover, she follows a healthy lifestyle and spends her leisure hour learning new things. During her past, May Yap was indulged in playing golf. However, over time and due to personal reasons, she had to quit playing the game. May Yap mentions that although she is not the founder, she needs to follow the wishes and directions of the founder. 

May Yap quotes

Testament of Brawn and Strength

Remarking on the impacts of the digital transformation, May Yap asserts, “My personal opinion is we need to do in a smart way and not the hard way by bringing high-tech machine and technology and reduce the manpower that increases our productivity to adapt to the changing landscape.” Moreover, she adds 

With respect to growing demands and the requirement of immediate responses, she believes that customers’ needs can be catered to by providing an online management system which provides real-time information at a glance. 

Speaking of the impacts of COVID-19 on LHT Holdings, May Yap states that the pandemic stands as a testament that the company is sustainable over a majority of other companies who were heavily affected. Moreover, the company was one of the few companies to provide essential services to the community as well as the society during the pandemic. 

Embracing Digitized Mindset

The world has gone ‘digital’ and according to May Yap, even the most traditional trade will have to embrace digital technology in the near future. Although the wood pallet was invented in 1925, it has not undergone much change over the decades. The majority of LHT’s employees have been working together for more than a decade while adapting to the evolving technological advancements. However, the company faced several challenges while adapting to new technology wood machines as well as new software development and digital gadgets.

May Yap quote

Asserting Global Expansion

May Yap asserts that sustainable business practices will be the key success factor to introduce businesses to the evergreen model. She firmly believes, “Even though we are in business, as usual, we will not stop here.” 

LHT envisions a prolific future and plans to include mergers and acquisitions as a part of its global expansion journey through good opportunities. Moreover, the company is also seeking R&D collaboration to develop green products with its resources.

May Yap quotes

Read full issue: The Top 10 Perseverant Entrepreneurs, 2021

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