Chong Luen Lim got his first taste of the power of project management at age 9, when his family relocated from the city to a small town with a more spacious home. Lim was what might be referred to as a resistant stakeholder, until his father explained in detail what had motivated the decision, what living in the new, bigger house would be like and what new friends might await.
“Every project has to start with a big idea, and every project leader has to have an objective and sell that big idea to their team,” he says. “Looking back, I see my father did just that.”
Lim has since flexed his own project management prowess. An early win helping St. Jude Medical build its first medical device manufacturing plant in Penang, Malaysia has led to dozens of projects helping global organizations establish plants in the country.
“The world needs medical devices—perhaps now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Lim.
Now at Boston Scientific, he’s leading a US$65 million project to transfer a set of medical device manufacturing lines from the U.S. state of Minnesota to Penang.
Such projects can transform manufacturing on a global scale, but for Lim it’s the local impact that drives him most—“especially here in my hometown, where I’m helping to bring new technology that would enable job opportunities, from both direct and indirect labor, to thousands of people.”
Q&A: Chong Luen Lim on intentional collaboration, bold ideas, and balancing humility and bravery
How are young people changing the world of projects?
With technology and globalization, the world has become much smaller—and that’s unlocked the possibility for young people to connect and network and gain knowledge much earlier in their careers. That’s made them braver and more confident in launching their ideas. That’s important, because bold ideas are what the world needs most to make tomorrow better.
What’s the biggest challenge facing young project leaders?
Balancing the bravery and creativity they have with a need to be humble and understand the lessons learned from history.
How did the pandemic change the way you manage projects?
It’s required me to communicate more, to avoid unintentional misunderstandings in a virtual environment. But the positive side of that is more intentional collaboration. We have to trust each other more and to acknowledge that people are the ones who create an idea and see it through.
Watch, Like, Share, Comment
We asked the Future 50: What are you watching—and recommending—right now?
I’m a big basketball fan, and I’ve been watching a lot of past interviews by the late Kobe Bryant. I definitely recommend the short film Dear Basketball. You learn so much about how he set up his success and was able to bring out the best of himself by pivoting and adapting when facing different opponents. —Chong Luen Lim, PMP
Perspectives on how young people are changing the world of projects.
Young people have the opportunity to network and gain knowledge much earlier in their careers. That’s made them braver and more confident in launching their bold ideas—what the world needs most to make tomorrow better. —Chong Luen Lim, PMP
Advice to My (Even) Younger Self
We asked the Future 50: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Stop doubting yourself. My wife tells me this, and I really wish I’d known her earlier. —Chong Luen Lim, PMP