As a 12-year-old boy, Derek Goh helped out at his parents’ hawker stall, taking on gruelling tasks of cooking and washing dishes. When he saw some famous hawkers wearing gold chains and fancy watches, he was inspired to enter the trade with the skills he learned from his parents.

However, after graduating with an Electrical Engineering Technician’s Certificate from the City & Guilds of London Institute, he managed to secure a job as a navy mechanic. After eight long years in uniform, he figured it was time to strike out on his own. As he revisited his original plan of setting up a hawker business, he noticed that technology was advancing at a rapid rate, and hence, he got the idea to go into the business of semiconductors.

As executive chairman of Serial System, Goh grew the company from a small setup to become one of the leading authorised distributors of electronic components in the Asia Pacific region, with 700 people on its payroll and 53 offices.

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