By: Leok Chung
When my family first moved to Canada, I found it difficult to get a job in my field and I did not enjoy the cold winters, but over time, we were able to build a new life. Today, as a Fatburger franchisee in Edmonton, I’m very grateful to have my family around me for support, as they’ve really helped me succeed.
The stream to success
I was born and raised in Brunei, a petroleum- and gas-rich sultanate on Borneo, an island in Southeast Asia that is also shared by Malaysia and Indonesia. The official languages in Brunei are English and Malay. We lived in Kampong Sungai Liang, a small village. I was part of a big family, with six brothers and two sisters. Out of all of us, I was the sixth oldest.
My grandfather was a travelling businessman from Guangdong, China, who often worked outside the country. This is why my father was born in Malaysia, but raised in China. When he was in his 20s, he decided there were better opportunities in Southeast Asia. He went back to Malaysia and then on to Brunei, where he worked with a distant relative.
My mother ran a hawker stand in a local market, where my siblings and I helped out from time to time. We sold chicken and produce.
As a child, I enjoyed playing basketball and badminton. Growing up, I dreamed of one day becoming a pilot or an architect, as I thought it would be exciting to fly and see different parts of the world and I also liked the idea of building something that would last and benefit the public.
My strongest subject at school was always math. After graduating from high school, I enrolled in civil engineering at a college in England, but later switched to study business and finance.
Following my two years in England, I moved to Perth, Australia, where my eldest brother had emigrated from Brunei. I continued to study accounting and finance there and worked part-time delivering baked goods and confectioneries to a number of retail stores. By this point, I had gotten the idea of becoming my own boss and running my own business one day.
I am very grateful to my parents and elder brothers who supported me through college and university, which equipped me with the knowledge and tools I required to succeed later in life.