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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Going from banker to teacher

Going from banker to teacher

For many foreigners, Cambodia is such a fascinating country that they drop fantastic careers in their home countries to start something completely new in the Kingdom.

Dennis Foo, managing director of Phoenix Securities and a Singaporean expatriate who settled in Phnom Penh in early 2013, is one such foreigner drawn to the Kingdom of Wonder.

Dennis Foo, managing director of Phoenix Securities and a Singaporean expatriate
Dennis Foo, managing director of Phoenix Securities and a Singaporean expatriate. Photo Supplied

The former JP Morgan and ANZ banker made a career switch from corporate finance to running the third-largest securities firm in Cambodia. With passion for the personal and professional development of his Cambodian employees and for Singaporean work ethics, he has restructured Phoenix Securities with an eye towards growth.

When asked what brought him to Cambodia, he answers: “Like many entrepreneurs, I am drawn by the prospects of Cambodia’s growing economy. But more than looking at things from a business perspective, the Khmer culture interests me very much.”

As arcane as Dennis’s motivation to come to Cambodia may sound, the statement is all too familiar: Cambodia exerts a fascination to foreigners that is hard to describe.

And it was probably even harder for Dennis to foresee that he would also have to grow into the role of teacher.

“The majority of my staff are Khmer and it’s integral to the company that we develop their skill sets and help them realise their full potential. I’m very fortunate to be working with a supportive team that is receptive to new ideas and improvement,” Dennis says as he describes the daily routines of his job.

As unexpected as his mentoring activities at Phoenix Securities may have been for the former banker, they seem all the more rewarding.

Dennis is especially proud of the encouraging impact he has already made on the personalities of his staff.

“I sought to improve cross-departmental communication that has not only benefited the workflow but has encouraged my staff to have more self-confidence in presenting their ideas.”

Of course, Dennis’ fruitful efforts with his staff didn’t happen only out of a sense of philanthropy.

As CEO of the company, he is obliged to pave Phoenix Securities’ way into an even more prosperous future in the multi-disciplined security systems segment.

And his strategy to focus on the expertise of his staff by sharing what he already knows from Singapore is clearly working.

As a medium to large-scale systems integrator providing “one-stop shop” security solutions, Phoenix Securities excels by partnering with residential, commercial, NGO and government clients as single source of expertise.

Dennis can be proud of the contributions he’s made to Phoenix Securities, the company he left his old life as a banker in Singapore for.

But no matter how inexplicable the reasons for Dennis to come to Cambodia initially were, his tasks at hand are all the clearer.

“My focus is to continue building a great team,” he says.

“I appreciate the willingness to learn and my staff members are an example of this. This gives me the opportunity to share and implement ways to develop better corporate governance, staff welfare and service standards in the company.”

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