From fruit seller to Ipswich's $690 million man

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Maha Sinathamby one of the richest men in Australia.
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: Maha Sinathamby one of the richest men in Australia. David Nielsen

MUCH like many other 'firsts', you never forget your first job.

And whether you have fond memories of it or not, chances are it taught you something.

The Queensland Times has asked some of the most successful people in Ipswich to share some of their first job experiences.

Each week, a different community figure will reveal how they earned money for the first time - no matter how embarrassing the work might have been.

Maha Sinnathamby: Entrepreneur, chairman and founder of Springfield Land Corporation 

HARD to believe that one of the richest men in Australia began his working life selling fruit on the side of the road.

Such were the humble beginnings of visionary Queensland property developer Maha Sinnathamby.

The 74-year-old was raised in a small war-torn Malaysian village called Rantau during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia.

To earn money to live on, Mr Sinnathamby sold fruits and vegies by the side of the road.

The now chairman of the Springfield Land Corporation said the experience helped make him the successful businessman he was today.

"My parents lived in abject poverty...the little village I grew up in had no running water or electricity with little food and less money," he said.


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"It's that hardship though that makes you a better person." he said. "You learn to fight your way through life and don't take no for an answer." Through sheer necessity Mr Sinathamby and his siblings grew to be independent and resilient individuals.

"It was very important for me to sell what I had so that my family and I could live," he said.

When he was 17, Mr Sinnathamby moved to Sydney to study engineering at the University of New South Wales and paid the bills by working as a taxi driver. "I preferred to drive the 12-9pm shifts as those were the hours where I could make the most money," he said.

"I enjoyed it though; it was an amazing opportunity to meet a lot of people."

He completed an engineering degree and later established Greater Springfield. According to Forbes, he is now worth more than $690 million.

"I think it proves that it doesn't matter where you start, it's what's in your heart that really counts," he said. With four children, Mr Sinnathamby said he wanted his kids to fight their way through life as he did to become independent instead of dependent.

"I want them to have failures along the way because the one thing you learn from your failures is to be resilient, relentless and never give up hope in the pursuit of success."

Topics:  maha sinnathamby

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