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Against all odds: Derrick Chan

Designed to encapsulate retail, residential, commercial, education and hospitality in a synergistic environment, the integrated township of Sunway Velocity, in the southern outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, is somebody’s dream.

Derrick Chan, CEO of Sunway Medical Centre Velocity

Sunway Group Founder and Chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah’s vision for a better tomorrow for Malaysians resulted in Sunway City: a safe, sustainable place to live, work and visit, and home to initiatives as varied as Sunway University, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park and Sunway Medical Centre.

The success of Sunway City led to the development of another township, Sunway Velocity, which is home to its own set of Sunway enterprises including Sunway Velocity Mall and Sunway Velocity Hotel.

One of the fastest-growing divisions of the Sunway empire is Sunway Healthcare Group (SHG), now Malaysia’s leading healthcare provider. SHG is comprised of more than 300 specialists and 850 beds across two hospitals – the Sunway Medical Centre at Sunway City and Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) at Sunway Velocity – with more on the way.

To manage the operational side of SHG’s expanding footprint, Sunway has tapped some of the best in the business. “My aim is to provide accessible and quality health care to the public” says Derrick Chan, CEO of SMCV.

“Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah’s passion for giving back to society through philanthropy and health care aligned with my own values and aspiration to enrich and improve lives, so when an opportunity arose to join the team, I seized it.”

Derrick’s illustrious healthcare career began over a decade ago as Director of Business Development and Special Projects at the Regency Specialist Hospital in Johor. “It was my first foray into the industry,” he says.

A leader is only a leader when there are willing followers. Especially now, when personal safety and lives are at stake.

“I was exposed to all the critical functions of hospital operation.” His experience led him to HSC Healthcare Group, where as Group CEO he expanded into Singapore, then Managing Director for Clinical Operations at Fullerton Health, then Managing Director at RadLink Group.

In early 2020, Derrick joined SHG as CEO for Malaysia Southern Region and Singapore and Group Director for Business Development and Corporate Communications, a role he believes was entirely the result of his experience in the management of multiple hospital operational functions.

“I was in good stead to drive the Group’s expansion plans for Sunway Velocity,” he says. Its location within Sunway Velocity gives SMCV a point of difference few, if any, of Malaysia’s hospitals can boast. Patients can shop in the Sunway Velocity Mall while awaiting a doctor’s appointment; relatives can stay at the Sunway Velocity Hotel while visiting patients.

“Sunway Velocity is like a self-sustaining city,” Derrick says. “Everything’s within walking distance. It provides for its community in every facet of their lives.” This unique ability was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Malaysia. “No-one is trained to face as formidable an enemy as COVID-19,” he says.


“You have to prepare the hospital to meet the demands of both staff and patients.” With Derrick at the helm, SMCV did exactly that. Staff were kept engaged to ensure they felt safe and appreciated, while advanced infection control measures were put in place. “As of mid-May 2021, all our staff have been fully vaccinated,” he says.

Though projected growth of SMCV was impacted, Derrick took the opportunity to implement his vision of a digital evolution. “I’ve always been a big believer in digital transformation,” he says.

“We rolled out a series of innovative approaches to continuously engage with our customers and provide them with our best care, such as free telemedicine consultations and medicine delivery for patients.” Virtual consultations proved a lifesaver during COVID.

“No time is wasted in queues, ensuring only quality time with the doctor,” Derrick says. Through public education and constant engagement, SMCV was able to keep on top of uncertainty and fear.

“It’s been a trying time for everyone, but through good judgement and guidance from senior Sunway management, we’ve been able to navigate through various crises,” he says. Throughout the pandemic, Derrick stuck to his personal philosophy of servant leadership.


“That is, a leader is only a leader when there are willing followers,” he says. “Especially now, when personal safety and lives are at stake, monetary incentives or rewards may not be enough to motivate everyone to make the required sacrifices.”

Emotional intelligence was ultimately the most effective tool in Derrick’s management arsenal. “People need to understand the sacrifice for them to continue to serve, despite the potential of being infected themselves,” he says.

“They can’t just do things right; they have to do the right thing. And the right thing at this time is to bravely face the pandemic and continue to provide quality care for our patients.”

So far, so good. The SMCV team recently scored a triple win at the Healthcare Asia Awards, taking out Health Promotion Initiative of the Year – Malaysia, ICT Initiative of the Year – Malaysia and Smart Hospital Initiative of the Year – Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Derrick and his team have renewed focus on the Group’s long-term goal – to make SMCV one of the largest private hospitals in Kuala Lumpur. “In the next 12 months, we aim to launch our new fertility lab,” he says.

“And our phase two building will give us another 10 storeys of medical space, which increases our capacity to approximately 400 beds.” Despite having led one of Malaysia’s major healthcare centres through the worst public health crises in a century, Derrick has lost none of his motivation or positivity.

“You can never prevent all bad things from happening,” he says. “The true judge of a person’s capability and character is how they manage to handle the aftermath.”

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