Sportsmen who made it big

Andy Ong,
ERC Holdings CEO

FEW people switch from competitive long-distance running to rowing.

But Andy Ong, now 36, managed it 15 years ago – against the odds.

The tenacity honed then has influenced his work ethic as head of a multi-million dollar business.

“I’ve had to endure the underdog status since childhood. But I worked hard and eventually achieved something in life.

“Now, I want to help other underdogs live out their dreams,” said the chief executive officer of ERC (Entrepreneur’s Resource Center) Holdings.

“Sports taught me determination, tenacity and self-discipline. Some of that competitive drive have rubbed off on my work.”’

In 2002, he set up ERC Holdings with a staff of about 70. The firm provides budding entrepreneurs with training, funding and mentoring.

Today, he sits on the board of 15 private and public companies, is a certified financial planner and the founding president of the Financial
Planning Association of Singapore.

He was born the fourth of five children, and grew up in a single parent family. Money was scarce.

But it did not stop the bright student from going to Raffles Institution.
While there, he made the school’s cross-country team –something he also did while at junior college.

In between studies and sports, he spent his teenage years working part-time as a cook.

But the toughest part of his life was transiting from a lower-body sport to an upper-body one, after he enrolled at the National University of Singapore to read economics.

“I was skinny and did not have a good body, so I decided to pick up canoeing and dragon-boat.

“The first three months were hell. I was in the gym three times a week, and training every day except Sunday,” he recalled.

Eventually, he became part of the second-best rowing pair at NUS in the early 1990s.

Ong, who is single but seeing someone, went on to win numerous team golds in both sports at inter-varsity level.

He is also the author of several best-selling investment books, one of which is being used as a financial engineering textbook at the NUS.

An over-achiever? Certainly, thanks to his sporting background.

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Article by: Leonard Lim
24 September 2006

Source: The Sunday Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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