Up Close With Koh Chong Hin, Managing Director, South East Asia – Xylem Water Solutions Malaysia

Koh Chong Hin leads Xylem’s business in the Southeast Asia region.  He is responsible for driving business growth across Xylem’s wide portfolio of water technology solutions, including a new portfolio of decision intelligence tools.  Xylem’s vision is to help create a world in which water challenges are no longer a barrier to human health, environmental sustainability, or prosperity. 

Prior to joining Xylem, Mr. Koh was the Director for Industrial Technology at ZF Asia Pacific covering the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.  He also held various Sales and Business Development roles at Rolls-Royce plc and started his career at the Singapore Economic Development Board.  

Mr. Koh earned a Master of Engineering degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has lived and worked in Germany and the United Kingdom.  


1. How would you describe your management style?

Having read many business books, I’ve concluded that different management styles suit different situations and team compositions. I try to be flexible, but the style I default to most is that of “servant leadership.” I believe leadership is a privilege, and those who aspire to be in leadership positions should first and foremost have the heart and desire to serve their employees and the communities around them. When people feel cared for – in terms of their growth and well-being – it is more likely that they will perform to the best of their abilities, resulting in more sustainable outcomes.

2. Who inspires you the most and why? How have you incorporated it into your daily life?

Novak Djokovic.  I’ve grown up playing tennis at a competitive level during my school days, and tennis is one of the sports that require physical agility, stamina, fast reflexes, strategic and tactical thinking, and mental strength. Often your worst enemy is yourself, as self-doubt and lapses in concentration can cause you to choke during critical moments. I’m inspired by Djokovic’s dedication and talent, and most importantly his demonstration of sportsmanship, humility and humour – both in victory and defeat. In my daily life, I try to keep the bigger perspective while responding to day-to-day challenges, keep my motives in check with a healthy dose of introspection and find the humour in every difficult situation.

3. How do you see your organization changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating/being a part of that change?

Xylem has embarked on a journey of transformation, from a product and brand-centric focus to solving water challenges through the power of technology and expertise. Together with our customers and partners, we aim to make water more accessible and affordable, and communities more resilient.   I foresee changes in the way we service our customers, how we tap into the passion of our colleagues and stakeholders to create social value, and how we align our efforts towards achieving our sustainability commitments. I see myself working hand-in-hand together with my colleagues around the world to drive these changes, as this is very much an opportunity of a lifetime for us to solve water both for ourselves and our future generations.

4. Tell me about an accomplishment or a memorable incident that shaped your career.

I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship from the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) to pursue an engineering degree in the USA.  The overseas experience and the subsequent development and exposure I had working at the EDB, including a 3.5 year stint as Director for the Frankfurt Centre greatly accelerated my learning during a formative part of my career.   For this reason I take a keen interest in engaging and developing talent, especially those in their early careers.

5. What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I volunteer regularly in cleaning stables at Equal-Ark, a charity in Singapore that offers horse-based therapy to youth, persons with special needs, families and the elderly with clinical depression and dementia.  This involves about 2 hours of manual labour each time clearing out manure and replacing horse bedding in the stalls.

6. What book are you reading or podcast you most recommend?

I’m currently reading a book titled “The SCRUM Fieldbook – A Master Class on Accelerating Performance, Getting Results and Defining the Future: by J.J. Sutherland.  The author describes “scrum” as a way for a person, a team or an organization to be able to respond to increasing complexity, to respond to unpredictable change and to navigate nimbly through constantly changing conditions.

7. What do you do for fun?

I edit photos and create videos on my iPhone for fun, mostly for sharing with friends and family members. But on most days spending time at home with my dog, 4-year old maltese poodle after a long day at work or a business trip is fun and relaxing enough.