Great Women of Our Time Awards

Finance & Commerce Nominee 2016: Leanne Ooi

The Weekly’s Great Women of Our Time Awards is an annual initiative to shine the spotlight on ordinary Malaysian women, doing extraordinary things.

By The Weekly | August 17, 2016

Leanne Ooi 39, CEO of Rentwise

In 2001, Leanne Ooi’s rising career in sales and marketing hit a snag when her employer scrapped her refurbishment unit. Instead of panicking, she drew from her experiences to start a computer restoration company.

Within three years, she built Rentwise into Southeast Asia’s fastest growing rental company and was able to pay back the original capital.

Her secret? Instead of letting ego get in the way, she engaged professional managers while she concentrated on operations.

“There is no shame in getting help while you focus on your strengths,” she explains.

Then came an even bigger curveball. In the late 2000s, Malaysia became part of the Basel Convention and the Department of Environment stopped imports of IT equipment, the bane and lifeblood of Leanne’s business.

Instead of blaming circumstances, Leanne reframed her focus and set about working with the stakeholders and clients.

“Most business successes are stories of change. Understand the problem and you will see the solution,” she says. “Our challenges woke me up to the fact that we should turn our attention to in-country activities, even while complying with international regulations.”

Instead of relying on imported computers, she decided to source old computers from local companies and re-manufacture them for resale. This required hefty investment and restructuring, but Leanne believed that Green IT would sharpen Rentwise’s competitive edge.

That decision transformed Rentwise’ s fortunes – from a company whose very survival was in danger, to one of Asia’s most respected asset manufacturing companies. As a Green IT advocate, Rentwise has been collaborating with companies to donate computers to needy schools.

“It is not that difficult for companies to lower their carbon footprint,” says Leanne. “You simply need to change usage and disposal practices.”

Text: Alexandra Wong /Shoot Coordinator: Jasnitha Nair / Photography: Jason Lee/Blu Inc Studio / Hair and Make Up: Cindy Hor 

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