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Mr Manners grooms white collars for global success

SHANGHAI'S new Mr Manners is a Singaporean corporate trainer who teaches white collars how to select wine, pick a necktie and propel themselves with "soft skills." Sam Riley minds his manners. Helping China's up-and-coming business talents to develop the polish and finesse to seal that big deal is the focus of Singaporean corporate etiquette expert Ng King Ten.

Immersed in the business world through a mercantile family steeped in the entrepreneurial spirit, Ng is the managing director of DeloMakler, a new corporate trainer in Shanghai.

DeloMakler aims to teach Chinese white-collar professionals global business etiquette and corporate grooming.

Defying Shanghai's sweltering humidity, Ng is immaculately turned out in a dark navy suit complete with cuff links and tie as he expounds on the finer points of business etiquette and manners.

He teaches the so-called "soft skills," such as wine appreciation and fine dining, selecting a necktie and deftly managing a conference call. These are the intangible elements that can help propel a young professional up the corporate ladder and boost a company's bottom line, says Ng.

DeloMakler describes itself as a "soft skills training lab" and is set to launch monthly seminars and specialized training courses aimed at multinational companies. Meeting the demand for these soft skills will be the next wave of business education in China, says Ng.

"We have seen a focus from the Chinese government on education and the development of technical skills, and the Chinese are very smart and have picked these up very fast," Ng says.

"We have also seen a wave of English-language training and believe that the focus will shift next to developing these soft skills," he says.

DeloMakler in Shanghai is a marriage between French business consulting firm S.J. Grand International Business Solutions and Ng's family company DeloMakler International, which provides marketing and soft skills training across Asia.

It describes itself as a partnership that brings "French finesse and Singaporean business efficiency" to training programs that include how to conduct strategic negotiations and resolve conflicts in a global business environment.

Almost every aspect of an employee's day-to-day job is dissected from how to write e-mails, to how to lead a team, project a professional self-image and behave in a professional manner.

DeloMakler flies in experienced corporate trainers with at least 13 years experience from Singapore, France and the United States to provide bilingual training.

First China experience

"Every country has slightly different business cultures and etiquettes but in an international setting there are set protocols and etiquette," Ng says. "Our courses have this global focus and are culture- and nationality-neutral and teach this international standard."

Ng's first foray into Shanghai in 2004 was far from the corporate world, when he and a childhood buddy started up their own Singaporean coffee shop on one of the streets behind the Bund.

A business dispute between the partners forced Ng to leave the business he had toiled to develop, an experience he says soured his view of his first China experience.

"I was totally shattered, my spirit was broken and I swore never to return to China," says Ng who packed a bag, left everything in his apartment and headed back home.

In Singapore he worked in corporate banking and also in one of his brother's various start-up companies, which included DeloMakler.

Ng is no stranger to picking himself up, dusting himself off and starting again.

When he was a teenager, the death of his father, who headed a construction company that built many of Singapore's west coast roads, was both emotionally and financially devastating for the family.

Ng says he went from a life of privilege to having to stay with other family members, as heavy debts took their toll on the struggling family.

"It was a really rough time - my father passed away when I was doing national service in Singapore," Ng recalls. "Life was very easy, but then suddenly everything changed, our family was thrown completely off balance."

Ng says the experience made him grow up quickly and taught him to be determined and self-reliant.

Despite leaving Shanghai with his dreams in ruins, the business opportunities he had seen here convinced Ng to give the city another shot, and in 2008 he moved back to open DeloMakler.

The company held its first seminars on Monday and Tuesday. DeloMakler has also partnered with Singapore's state broadcaster, Mediacorp, to deliver the business etiquette section of a media and public relations training course in China.

For information on DeloMakler or its courses, call 6103-1790 or visit Ng King Ten

Nationality: Singaporean

Age: Physically 28, mentally 48

Profession: Managing director of DeloMakler soft skills training lab


Self-description:Driven, passionate, down-to-earth.

Favorite place: Alfresco coffee by the Huangpu River at the Riverside Avenue Starbucks (Pudong side of the Bund).

Strangest sight: During a business meeting with Chinese counterparts, everyone was literally throwing cigarettes across the table as a gesture of diplomacy and friendship. There was a guy who jumped and literally caught a cigarette in mid-air with his mouth and lit it with his Zippo lighter. The sequence was completed within a split second!

Worse experience:An employee mass-resignation within the first week of buying a Chinese food and beverage company in 2005. It took us nearly 10 months to re-employ, re-train and revamp our restaurant workforce.

Motto for life:A thousand-mile journey starts from the first step.

Improve Shanghai:

High-caliber workshops to propel the overall standards of business etiquette and professional image of the local workforce. When this is achieved, China will truly be the whole package - a world powerhouse.

Advice to newcomers:Shanghai may be regarded as the Wild Wild East, and many foreigners may find it extremely difficult to adjust to life here. But if you embrace the good (and bad) of Shanghai with open arms, you will most definitely fall in love with it.


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