When fund manager Wong Seak Eng was applying for jobs in the investment sector, he was told by a recruiter to not "waste his time". "He said based on my background, it was unlikely I would get hired because I wasn't English-educated, didn't have a university degree and had no prior industry experience.
"But it didn't bother me because I was very focused on getting what I wanted, so I didn't give up and eventually found an investment firm that believed I was a desirable candidate," said the 34-year-old Singapore permanent resident.
His determination to succeed has seen him through other challenging times.
He said: "Maths and accountancy were my best subjects, but when I applied to Nanyang Technological University's accountancy course, I was rejected twice.
"I suspect it was because my English grades were weak. But I made the best of the situation and went back to Ipoh to work, while studying to become a chartered certified accountant."
Mr Wong returned to Singapore in 2005.
Subsequently, after four years as an investment analyst and portfolio manager at boutique fund management firm Yeoman Capital Management, Mr Wong left and set up Aggregate Asset Management last year with two partners.
The firm manages Aggregate Value Fund, a small-cap Asia fund. The fund doesn't charge sales or management fees and employs the value investment strategy.
This strategy involves investing in stocks of companies that are deemed to be undervalued by the market.
The three founders, together with their friends and families, have pumped $3 million into the fund and aim to raise $20 million by the end of this year.
Mr Wong's wife, Mei Lee, 34, works as an accountant and the couple have two daughters - four-year-old Hee Wuun and two-year-old Ky Yng.