Tofilau shares secrets to business success

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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Chamber of Commerce CEO Hobart Vaai with September members meeting speakers; Letuimanu'asina Dr Emma Kruse Vaai and Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Hobart Vaai with September members meeting speakers; Letuimanu'asina Dr Emma Kruse Vaai and Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai.

A workplace with high ‘meaning quotient’ is imperative for any business to prosper.

It’s one of the key ingredients in the recipe for success, says the Managing Director of Samoa Stationery and Books (S.S.A.B), Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai.

Tofilau was the key speaker at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s September Members meeting on Tuesday. 

She gave a presentation summary on the rapid success and expansion of S.S.A.B's business portfolio over the last decade and shared the ingredients to S.S.A.B’s rising success.

It is her belief that the success of a business is intertwined with the success of its staff and they have an incentive to strive for their personal best if they can connect to their jobs to something meaningful. 

Tofilau’s collaborative leadership style is reflected in the empowering nature of S.S.A.B’s working culture, which was and has been instrumental in growing the company from four employees to a staff of 140 within a decade.  

“The culture of S.S.A.B is something I am very proud of,” said Tofilau. “I try to create an environment to make my employees connect to their jobs and to be simply the best.  This is what I will refer to as ‘meaning quotient’ where people can connect their jobs to something meaningful. 

“Their goals and day to day activities contribute to the success of S.S.A.B - people here at S.S.A.B find meaning through their connections to me, I am connected to all my staff. It’s important for them to understand my passion and what I expect of them.”

Tofilau invests heavily in her people through capacity building trainings and retreats, knowing that they play a vital role to the success of her business. She encouraged Chamber members to make investments in time and energy to develop meaning quotient in their organisations to foster employee loyalty and long term commitment.

“Our culture working here at S.S.A.B is resonated with the following aspects of how I value this workplace to be. S.S.A.B is a happy, fun environment, very supportive, positive and enabling environment, encouraging constructive criticism. 

“My style of leadership is a collaborative style - there is always open communication and working together with my Managers. People here at S.S.A.B feel free (maybe too free) and have autonomy but of course within the parameters of S.S.A.B's policies.”

One cardinal rule Tofilau expects her S.S.A.B family to abide by at all times is a no “workplace gossip or bad will policy” saying that this is something she will not tolerate are behaviours that she takes serious measures to stamp out. 

“There’s a free flow of information and we are solution focused,” she said. “I try to stamp out negative energy  - one of my cardinal rules here at S.S.AB. is ‘Sa le faitala, Sa le lotoleaga.’ ( Gossip and jealousy are banned).”

“We also report and acknowledge people's work – it’s very important for us business people to do that. Staff members are acknowledged for their hard work and incentives are on offer such as promotions and overseas trips.”

Tofilau’s approach to business is very unique and it works. Her dynamic personality and values are reflected in a workplace culture she has meticulously created based on a central belief that their positive thoughts become actions and that their collective blessings come from an abundant and powerful source,

“I encourage my staff to connect with God because he is the source of all our blessings,” she said. “We have a prayer room on the third room and our staff go in there and pray every day.  A lot of my ideas or downloads are from the Lord - I don’t google that stuff.  It just comes to us and I thank God for his blessings. So we try our best to think outside the box.”

This year Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai has been nominated for three awards in the Samoa Business Network Awards including the SUGA Business Woman of the Year category. The event will be held in Auckland, New Zealand on September 29th.

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