pd in pd

December 19, 2009

My mentor at work is my CFO. I have my own room, but there’s a table for me in her room whenever I feel like “disturbing” her with endless questions. Everyone in the office sees her as a serious and stern woman, but I’ve bonded with her a lot especially when we travel together, so I’ve seen firsthand her soft and jovial side especially when her children are around.

So, when she asked me if I wanted to go to Port Dickson I wanted to hug her.


I soooo need a holiday right now (Sofia went to Athens, my sister is shopping in Jakarta, Toots went to Singapore with her girlfriends and is now in London before going to Morocco grrrr, Boot is also in London on a holiday, 2 of my favourite boys are in Phuket, my director is having a family holiday, everyone’s on holiday ok!!!). PD is a bit too near and the beach isn’t great, but whatever la…I’ll take whatever I can get right now.

I was already planning my sarong outfits and thinking where to buy that big straw hat that I find so hideous and annoying but screams “I’M ON VACATION ARE YOU JEALOUS?”. I just had to have it.


I was about to eat the leftover from my cotton candy ice-cream cake, but then I thought, “Noooo cannot, bikini bod bikini bod, Vivy. Put it down.” So I stopped myself, smiling proudly.

Then, my CFO said, “OK, the driver will pick you up at 8am. Update me on the tender, OK?”

Huh?? What tender?

The only thing I want to associate tender with is my sirloin steak, which I will be having at the resort on the beach.

Visions of me sipping mocktails and suntanning burst up in flames, because it turns out that I was supposed to go for a site visit to see whether or not we want to tender for a government housing project.

Whenever there is a development project, usually the developer / owner / government will call for a tender. Contractors are welcome to tender (bid) for the project (which is a tedious process involving many parties) and usually, the ones that can come up with the most attractive deal for the developer will win the tender. Usually, this means the contractor that has the lowest bid (cheapest contract sum). But this depends on what the developer is looking for. Sometimes, they want innovative designs, or something extra. Sometimes even, the developer already has its own favourites.

For most government projects, you are only allowed to tender if you go for the briefing and the site visit. After that, you can evaluate whether or not it is a project you want to tender for, or if you’re just not interested.

In PD, we passed happy people on the beach and I was like this the whole time.


I sat through the briefing and they talked about the concept of the development and what they require from all the contractors there.

After that we adjourned to the site.


On the way to the site, I bbm-ed my dad to update him. Then he replied, “Did you get the list of the other contractors there?”

My heart dropped.

Of course it’s common sense to know your competition!! I couldn’t get the list since this cannot be disclosed just like that, but I could’ve at least glanced and memorised the names on the list. And then do some research on them afterwards. Not for bad intentions, but just for me to know the other players in the market and deepen my knowledge in the construction industry.

I was so disappointed with myself. I knew my dad would be disappointed too. He never takes no for an answer because anything can be done if you devise a good strategy. He is a good strategist and deal-maker, and most of the time, he will get what he had his eyes on. So, I expected myself to have that quality as well.

The site visit was my last chance to find out about the other contractors there.

So knowing that I’m the youngest there, I just made a thick face and went up to most of the senior people to initiate small talk. Of course the men are easier to approach. There is some advantage being a female in a an industry dominated by men. In the end, I got some of their contacts and got them to talk about the site.

Being a young corporate trying to make our name in our career, it’s good to want to impress people with your broad knowlegdge on things. But sometimes, it’s to your advantage if you just shut up and pretend to be a little bit stupid, and let people do the talking. In the end, you have enough opinions so you can evaluate yourself the value of a project. Or anything, really.