YT Chow dropped out of school at 14 to support his mother and two younger siblings.
His father had abandoned them when they were children, leaving his mother to take care of herself and her children.
“Someone in the family had to step up and take responsibility and help put bread on the table,” he said.
Chow started his first full-time job the day before his 15th birthday.
While his friends were enjoying their school vacations, he worked three jobs a day just to cover household expenses.
Because his childhood experiences were so different from those of many around him, he was often shunned by his peers, who also made sarcastic comments about him.
But the ability to provide for his family was worth it:
“[I had a lot] Satisfaction from buying a TV, a sectional sofa, and enrolling in a part-time school after work, all for my family.”
From those tough childhood years, Chow, now 45, has enjoyed success in many aspects of his life.
First he runs a successful real estate business. His company, Mindlink Groups, is one of the largest real estate agencies in Singapore as of 2021.
As someone who grew up wondering if he could afford his family’s next meal, Chow is also proud that he lives debt-free and has paid off most of his mortgages and assets.
He also enjoys the time he can spend with his close-knit family, which consists of seven ladies: two nieces, his mother, his wife and “three beautiful daughters”.
Chow refers to them as his “pride and joy”.
Wanted to start a business that would benefit employees first
Before starting his own business, Chow worked at a larger company but found his vision did not align with management’s.
“I feel like big companies aren’t built around individuals, they’re driven by numbers. In reality, not everyone is born with sales talent. They can be good at supporting and playing supporting roles. Recognizing these different skills can actually create more opportunities,” he said.
He founded Mindlink Realty back in 2001 so he could mentor and create more opportunities for his employees.
Chow said his company offers “earn-and-learn” opportunities through internship programs for new salespeople and strives to give his co-partners “the best compensation.”
Today, his business has expanded to include MCST property management, a property concierge service, real estate consulting and real estate investment services.
The group has also invested overseas, expanding into ERP technology systems in India and a design studio and social media company in Vietnam.
But his overseas ventures have not always been smooth sailing.
Chow recounts the painful experience of trying to expand operations into Malaysia and China:
“The result was depressing, but that failure made us protest and build on resilience against all odds and I would say that was our greatest achievement.”
Back to school
Part of that resilience is going back to school, and this time for an MBA at PSB Academy.
Although building a successful business without a formal university degree might prove to him that school isn’t necessary for business, Chow firmly believes there is still much to learn when going back.
Plus, Chow hopes to experience those “rough routines” at school that he missed growing up.
It is also a strategic move on his part as he hopes earning his Masters of Business Administration in Global Business from Coventry University would help him keep up with the changes in global markets, particularly in improving his decision-making skills when venturing into overseas markets again.
“As the leader of a business and the head of my family, I need to constantly evolve and improve to provide better protection for all of us,” Chow said.
Chow also hopes the MBA will help him become a role model for his daughters and the younger employees at his company.
He hopes going back to school would teach them that “it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and that life is a never-ending journey of learning.”
Chow has big dreams for his company, TEAM Mindlink.
He hopes his company can one day “fly the Singapore flag high” on the international stage.
He wants to create a lasting legacy for future generations and improve the business to “protect those who were there [him] until now”.
He also raises hopes for those who, like him, have been disadvantaged in the past:
“I hope my story will inspire those unfortunate people who, like me in the past, have been unable to achieve the seemingly impossible. If you can envision it, you can manifest it into realization!”
All photos courtesy of YT Chow.
This is a sponsored article by PSB Academy.