Monthly Drill-June

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Name: Gerard Soosay
Position: CEO
Company: Sunway Iskandar Sdn Bhd

Gerard Soosay graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from University Technology Malaysia and obtained a Master’s in Business Administration from the Paris Graduate School of Management (European MBA).

Gerard joined the Sunway Group in 1999 and has more than 25 years of experience in the construction and property industry. He was instrumental in the setting up of the regional office in Sunway Iskandar in the south, and is currently the CEO of Sunway Iskandar Sdn Bhd.

Some of Gerard’s notable projects in the south include LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort , Pinewood Integrated Studios Facility and Biotechnological Park, Bio-Xcell. Gerard had also spearheaded the successful opening of the CHSL (Coastal Highway Southern Link) in 2017, in what is deemed as a connectivity game changer for Sunway Iskandar.

Share with us the properties and amenities available at Sunway Iskandar
We have 1800 acres of land bank in Johor of which 700 acres are in Medini, Iskandar Puteri and the balance 1100 acres are in Pendas, Gelang Patah, Johor. 50% of our 700 acres in Medini are in development stages. Our township consists of six precincts, namely The Lakeview, The Capital, The Parkview, The Riverside, The Seafront and The Marketplace – where each precinct is designed to reflect itself as sustainable integrated cities with convenient amenities.

Let’s start with Sunway Citrine, our very first integrated development, encompassing retail, office & residences, with Citrine Hub offices fully sold out and Citrine retail currently with a 95% occupancy.

Our next project was our first premium landed series, the Sunway Emerald Residence, comprising of 222 units of link houses & semi-detached homes.
Sunway Citrine Lakehomes was next, 361 units of affordable landed homes that came in 3 phases with phase 1 & 2 almost sold out and the final phase (phase 3) will be launched in Q4 this year.

We also have Sunway Grid which is a mixed development comprising retail, office and residential units with 60%-70% taken up. All this of course comes with seamless connections to major highways, and major attractions in Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore.

Sunway Iskandar seems to be the ‘first’ in doing many things in Medini. Please stake claim to all the ‘firsts’ you guys have brought to Medini and Iskandar Puteri as a whole
We never thought of it in that manner (laughs) but sure, let’s list it down! Sunway Group Founder and Chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah has a conviction that “education provides the optimum route out of poverty” hence, the first development we undertook in our township was our Sunway International School (SIS) which offers Canadian (Ontario) School Curriculum to kindergartners all the way to Grade 10 as well as the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). We started with 180 students in 2017 and now have some 500 students, with an expansion plan to increase classroom capacity by 2021.
A joint venture with Daiwa from Japan resulted in Sakura Residence, the first luxurious landed development in Malaysia using Japanese prefabricated technology.

Apart from that, we are the first integrated development in Medini which offers residence, office and retail. Our Caltex petrol station is the first petrol kiosk in Medini. We also brought in Jaya Grocer in Sunway Citrine Hub – the first in Johor as well as many of the retail brands that we’ve brought in are definitely the first in Medini. Worth mentioning, though it may not be the first – is that we have an ATM machine in Citrine as well as in our Caltex petrol station for added convenience. Many more firsts will be coming up, so stay tuned to find out.

Besides that, we have also introduced the first customisation and online purchase system for our Sunway GRID. It comprises of 41 retail lots, 74 units of designer offices and 501 units of residence. The concept allows purchasers to customise their preferred unit online and design their homes from anywhere and anytime around the world.
But most importantly, what we are trying to deliver here is that our community is always “first” on our mind.

How do you manage such diverse portfolios?
I must attribute it to my team. I have a group of Team Leaders and they work closely with me in accomplishing what we do as a collective group. Our engagement level is very high and that makes it easier for work delegation. The average age group of our staff is 30 years old so we have a bunch of young, vibrant and driven people here. I must also mention the continuous support I get from our top management, namely our MD Serena Cheah and Deputy MD Tan Wee Bee.

What should be changed in Iskandar Malaysia’s property sector?
I would define change as perhaps enhancement. I believe Iskandar Malaysia needs a game changer and its none other than connectivity. I reflect upon the Coastal Highway Southern Link (CHSL), HSR, RTS and BRT as key elements and we must also look into the border-crossing causeway management system. Both Malaysia and Singapore have so much to gain by this so yes, I think this is something that needs to be worked on.

Government ruling, surcharges and increase in fees is something that all parties must sit down and come together for solutions. Timeline of CCC approvals is also something that can be improved. These are low hanging fruits that can be looked into.

Apart from the brands that you guys have brought over, what else is in the pipeline?
Definitely our Big Box Village with almost 700,000 sq ft of gross floor area with around 1700 car parking bays. We are currently working with our retail team in bringing in some reputable brands and F & B outlets to this unique retail village. We are also very excited to be officially launching our 32-acre X PARK, with numerous attractions by the end of the year. Patrons can enjoy indulging in activities such as go-karting, ATV, archery, watersports, futsal etc.

Tell us about some of your CSR practices and Sunway’s alignment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
We are driving regional commitment to the 17 SDGs through Jeffrey Sachs Centre. We established the Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development (JSC) at Sunway University to revolutionise our work in sustainable development for the nation.
Our Founder and Chairman of Sunway, Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah has donated USD$10 million to establish the Jeffrey Sachs Centre on Sustainable Development at Sunway University, the largest financial commitment to date that would drive the region to implement the United Nation’s 17SDGs.

We’ve had a lot of CSR activities over the years but now what we have done is that we have consolidated our efforts to be aligned with the 17 UNSDGs. The most important part is internalising the values and practices and ensuring that our efforts are not motivated by anything else apart from the belief that we can create a better community with our contributions.

Future plans to look forward to?
We have many but to highlight, we have a hotel and office space coming up as part of the Big Box integrated development. Also in the pipeline is Medini’s first Chinese national school; the SJKC Cheah Fah, which will be fully funded by Sunway Iskandar, as part of our continuous effort to build our Sunway community.

What does Gerard do in his free time?
Free time is something scarce in my vocabulary! I work an insane number of hours, sometimes stretching to more than 60 hours a week. I try and spend as much time as possible with my family, especially making sure our weekends are well spent either by taking short breaks or sporting activities with my son. It’s definitely making up for lost time with family.