At 13, Jacki Ng was part of a local gang in Singapore, leading him through a life of petty crime and fighting, which later led to his expulsion from secondary school.
“I was always a child who was a bit different. I was neither conventional, nor rule-abiding,” Ng, who now heads a million dollar diving empire in Singapore, told the Vulcan Post. “I grew up in a dysfunctional family where illegal activities were by no means foreign to my family members.”
But when a friend was sentenced to death for a crime one day, Ng knew he was at a turning point.
“Seeing that as a grown adult would scare you, let alone when you are just a child. The incident made me reevaluate my life choices and also made me realize that there really isn’t a successful end to this path no matter how hard you try,” he recalled.
Ng decided to rebuild his life. He taught himself English at the Institute of Technical Education, a public vocational education institution where he earned a National Technical Certificate-3 (NTC-3) in Motor Vehicle Mechanics.
However, without stellar academic records and the most convincing resumé, he thought that carving his own path was the way to go.
Determined to be his own boss, he tried starting other ventures but lost a “great deal of money” in the process, which, unfortunately, led him to a state of depression.
Thankfully, Ng’s friends had his back and introduced him to the world of diving, which not only helped him get out of depression, but soon turned out to be a source of passion. Together, they ran a business called Gill Divers.
But Ng soon found himself running the business on his own, as his friends wanted to quit.
It was after five years of heading Gill Divers that he would meet his current business partner. By 2009, the pair formed Asia Dive Academy (ADA) in the hopes of empowering diving organizations and streamlining the industry altogether. In essence, the company was the “binding force” that connected Singapore’s diving collective.
Today, Ng stands as the company’s CEO, representing a team of 80 people. Perhaps its most impressive product to date is a cloud-based, dive management software that improves customer and operations management. In addition, it provides online training on diving.
While the company managed to achieve a profit turnover of 4.5 million Singapore dollars ($3.3 million), Ng stressed that it’s not about the money — it’s passion that gives him a sense of wanting to give back to the industry that changed the course of his life.
He leaves a piece of advice to other young entrepreneurs:
“Tenacity will always outweigh luck and risk is just an illusion that you have something to lose.”