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HomeLeaders and VisionariesLeaders and Visionaries in Shipping – Chang Yun Chung

Leaders and Visionaries in Shipping – Chang Yun Chung

Chang Yun Chung - Shipping and Freight ResourceIn any industry, there are Leaders and Visionaries who innovate, design, create and shape it, benefiting everyone in the chain..

The Maritime, Shipping, Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain industries are no exception..

Through a series of articles, Shipping and Freight Resource would like to pay tribute to Leaders and Visionaries who shaped the modern day shipping industry..

In this article we feature Mr.Chang Yun Chung one of the Leaders and Visionaries who shaped the modern day shipping industry..

Mr.Chang Yun Chung is quite different from the other Leaders and Visionaries in the shipping and freight industry that I have featured on this site so far..



Yes, you read right..

RETIREMENT is a word that is not in the dictionary of currently the world’s oldest billionaire who made his fortune in shipping and is currently worth an estimated $1.9billion..

Mr.Chang Yun Chung is the founder of Pacific International Lines (PIL) which he started in 1967 as a coastal operation with only two used ships and one of the first of its kind at the time..

Over the decades, the company expanded into container shipping and as of today PIL is ranked No.9 among the container lines of the world boasting a fleet of around 133 vessels and 425,670 TEUs, making it the largest privately owned shipping line in Singapore..

Although Mr.Chung has handed over the over the role of executive chairman to his son, Mr.Teo Siong Seng earlier this year, the centenarian Singaporean insists on going into the office every day because staying at home just isn’t an option and he enjoys work too much..

As Chairman emeritus of PIL, a title honoring his contribution to the 51-year-old company, Mr.Chung still visits the firm’s Singapore headquarters daily to run through its operations and check in with every department..

In an interview with CNBC Mr.Chung said

It’s my habit. I cannot stay at home, (I’d get) very, very bored. Every day, I write down all my activities in my diary, everything. Every department comes to see me.

No one disputes Mr.Chung’s extraordinary workaholic lifestyle which guided him from a rags-to-riches environment..

While visiting the office is a part of his routine, it also gives Mr.Chung the opportunity to guide his son Mr.Teo as he assumes greater responsibility in managing the company and its 18,000 employees around the world..

Although Mr.Teo is overwhelmed by his father’s hyper-active work-enthusiasm, he still consults his father twice a day, once in the morning and once after lunch, to gain valuable insights and learn more about his leadership style..

Chang Yun Chung - Shipping and Freight Resource

Lessons in leadership

As per Mr.Teo, this mentoring has proven vital to his development within the rank and file at PIL especially in terms of managing his temper in high pressure situations..

When I was younger, I was more bad-tempered, so I was more (of) a hard leader,” said Mr.Teo.

But my father taught me one thing, in Chinese, it’s ‘yi de fu ren’ — that means you want people to obey you, not because of your authority, not because of your power, or because you are fierce, but more because of your integrity, your quality, that people actually respect you and listen to you.

So, ‘yi de fu ren’ is a very difficult thing to do, but I think I’m slowly learning it.

In any business, especially shipping, there’s a lot of unknown. There can be political (issues), there can be technical issues, there can be accidents. It doesn’t help losing your temper and getting all worked up. So staying calm is something that I learnt from him and I’m still learning from him.

Chang Yun Chung - Shipping and Freight ResourceThis mentoring proved valuable when in 2009, Mr.Teo had to manage the hijacking of one of the company’s vessels by pirates off the coast of East Africa.. It took 75 days and an undisclosed sum to eventually secure the crew’s release.. But Mr.Teo attributes the success to this training from Mr.Chung..

For Mr Chung’s part, it’s that mentality that has perhaps kept him happy in his role for so long..

I never lose my temper” says Mr.Chung.. “I cannot. When you lose your temper, you just cannot control yourself.

If you ever ask for any secret to success, he just smiles and says: “I think I’m lucky. I’m hardworking, honest, and I always fulfill my promises, that is my principle.

It is also reported that Mr.Chung was a freedom fighter and was also in prison for this when he was around 26 years of age.. He is one of the few refugee turned billionaires..

Like many billionaires (or unlike some), Mr Chung does not court publicity and is content in guiding the beloved company he founded to greater heights and mentoring his son and the others who come to see him in the office every day..

R E S P E C T  Sir..


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  1. At this age his memory is still superb.. he can remember the names of the vessels PIL owned. I admire him and deserves to be leader and visionaire.


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