In collaboration with Prestige, Johnnie Walker Blue Label explores the connection between dynamic siblings who uplift one another to new heights.
Just as Johnnie Walker Blue Label blends the rarest and most exceptional whiskies, these contrasting characters embody the true meaning of balance.
Valerie Ong & Natalie Ong
CEO of KIP Group of Companies & Manager at KIP Real Estate Investment Trust
If there is one thing Valerie and Natalie Ong would drink a toast to, it would be to acknowledge being the best and worst influences on one another. Today, the daughters of Dato’ Eric Ong and Datin Kate work side by side. Valerie, 33, leads the KIP Group of Companies as CEO, while Natalie, 30, is a manager at KIP’s Real Estate Investment Trust. The camaraderie is strong between the sisters, despite their unconventional childhood.
“Nat and I were never really together when we were growing up,” Valerie mentions, acknowledging occasional childish fights came with the territory of being siblings. The sisters relocated to Perth, their time divided between high school and junior high. “We did not see each other most of the time. Later I moved to Melbourne for my tertiary education while Natalie went to Singapore. When I later moved to the UK for my masters, she went to the US for her undergraduate course.”
“Although it was not so conventional that we were so wide apart growing up, I think that distance brings us closer together today. We developed very different personalities and gained unique experiences and perspectives that make for a good combination. We’re still held together as a Malaysian family,” Natalie explains, counting their younger brother Daryl, 27, in the picture.
In May 2019, Natalie returned to Malaysia from London after working as an audit trainee for KPMG following graduation from law school. “At first, I was worried if we would fight, but to my surprise, we got very close. We had lunch every day in my office and did many other things together. She grew close to my fiancé, and it warmed my heart to see them get along well,” Valerie shares. Over the pandemic, their bond deepened. “During lockdown, we were eating, drinking and exercising,” Natalie reveals, confessing to enjoying high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions with her sister.
“She is a fun-loving person, and I know there will always be activity around her. It is great having someone to laugh with, and Val is a great friend to spend time with,” Natalie explains, fond of Valerie’s high energy spirit. Valerie appreciates that Natalie is an equal but opposing force. “She is very calm, patient and grounded. I may be quick to anger where she has understanding and empathy. Just hearing how rational she is can help improve my mood.”
Laughter is infectious between the pair. “We feed off the other’s energy,” Natalie admits. “It just takes one silly joke, then we’re in stitches, and no one understands why we cannot stop.” Valerie concurs, “It is the kind of laughter that hurts. We look at one another and burst out laughing.” The elder sister reasons their emotions are intense as they make up for all the lost time.
The sisters agree that there is strength in their differences and that they can always count on each other for checks and balances, in life and in the board room. “I am more of a business development person where she has a systematic mind for legal and compliance. She also contributes ideas from a different dimension,” Valerie voices, impressed. Asked about the challenges of working with a sibling, they confess there is no struggle, easing from business to pleasure at the drop of a hat.
Valerie is an energetic extrovert, fond of bright fashion. Natalie is a classic introvert, appreciating chic and comfortable styles while blending in. “She likes reading and yoga, but I like everything fast-paced,” Valerie mentions. “At family affairs, I can count on her to talk to extended family while I enjoy my bubble of peace,” Natalie says gratefully. The sisters share a love of drink, with Natalie preferring cocktails and Valerie a devoted wine enthusiast. “I drink whiskey too because It has fewer calories than wine or cocktails,” the elder sister comments cheekily.
Natalie describes Valerie as sweet and sisterly. “She’s very thoughtful and caring. You can expect her to plan for all the birthdays – order a cake, buy flowers and make sure that everyone is having fun.” She reveals that Valerie even spares her family the trouble of planning her own birthday by arranging for her cake!
Valerie admits that Natalie’s gentle, loving nature has taught her how to slow down and appreciate the time spent with a family. “Being as busy as we are, it’s easy to get caught up in a hectic pace and forget that our parents are getting older. She has taught me to be far more patient and kind, and she takes such good care of our parents.”
“One thing that I’ve learned from Valerie is to be comfortable with myself and confident in what I do. As the middle child, I often try to please everybody, but she helps me put the brakes on. She says as long as you know when to apologise for the things that matter, you do not need to apologise to anyone for living your truth,” Natalie imparts.
Photography: Micky Wong @ New Storyboards Photography
Videography: Noah Chin @ New Storyboards Photography
Hair & Makeup: Eranthe Loo
Also read: Part 1, featuring Brian Choo & Mark Choo
This Johnnie Walker Blue Label story was first published Prestige Malaysia’s May 2022 issue. To read the latest issue, pick up a copy from the nearest newsstand or subscribe on Magzter.