Lucas Chow

Photo by Ang Wei Ming.

希望。 Hope.

We all hope for good health, successful careers, great relationships. But sometimes, things are not within our control. And when that hope disappears, where do you put your hope?

I was very burdened because many of our staff were not young in age anymore.

During the last Global Financial Crisis in 2007 and 2008, I was the CEO of MediaCorp.

Many economists consider the 2008 Global Financial Crisis the worst crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

I was advised that we had to cut 10% of our workforce in order for the company to survive.

I was very burdened because many of our staff were not young in age anymore.

Some of them would have family members affected by retrenchment from other companies. And some of them may be sole breadwinners for their families.

It was quite hopeless.

A simple idea

But ever since I became a Christian, I learnt how to turn my troubles and worries to God.

In my prayers, I asked God for wisdom to guide me so that we can manage this crisis without the need for retrenchment.

During one of my quiet time in the morning, a very simple idea came to my mind: What if everyone worked 10% less? If we worked nine out of 10 days, we can shut down the campus during the off day to save utility bills and other expenses.

I was very touched and I was very grateful that God had led me to make such a decision.

Of course, this was easier said than done. Radio, television, newspaper services cannot be interrupted and they must go on. I’m practically asking everyone to complete their work with 10% less time.

I called an employee town hall in the Mediacorp TV theatre.

The TV theatre was packed but it was unusually quiet. Nobody was in the mood to talk. Some came expecting that I would announce retrenchment. Some came prepared to say goodbye to their friends.

I went ahead with my presentation and shared how it would affect our work schedule.

After I finished my presentation, the TV theatre was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. All of a sudden and almost spontaneously, people got on their feet and I was given a standing ovation. 

I was very touched and I was very grateful that God had led me to make such a decision.

Mediacorp Day Off helped the company to survive the crisis without the need to retrench. Not only that, we restored the work schedule and the salary right after the economy turned.

And towards the end of the year, everybody received a small year-end bonus and 50% compensation for the day off they didn’t work.

Where does your hope come from?

Later, people asked why did I rack my brains to come up with alternative solutions to avoid retrenchment, as retrenchment was an acceptable practice at that point in that time?

I put my hope in God because I trust that He is Almighty and He never fades away.

My answer to them was simple: I trust that God put me in the position of the CEO the company for such a time like this.

希望。 Hope. Everyone hopes for good things. But where does your hope come from?

I put my hope in God because I trust that He is Almighty and He never fades away. He loves me the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

And if you want to understand more about our hope, I want to invite you to join us at the Celebration of Hope which will happen May 17 to 19 this year at the National Stadium. I’ll see you there.

This article was adapted from Lucas Chow’s testimony, which was first published on the Celebration of Hope’s Facebook page. Have you been searching for hope? Find out more about the Celebration of Hope.

About the author

Lucas Chow

Lucas worked with Hewlett Packard for 20 years before he assumed various chief executive positions in SingTel Mobile, MediaCorp and Far East Orchard. Lucas also served as the Chairman of Health Promotion Board Singapore and was a member of the Board of Trustees of National University of Singapore. He was a recipient of the National Day Public Service Medal in 2015.