This young lawyer quit her career to join Singapore’s toughest industry at the worst possible time

Kimberley Ng
2022 - Charmain Kwee - CarBuyer Singapore - charmain kwee with bmw at showroom

New executive director of the Eurokars Group, Charmain Kwee, went from philanthropic law to starting a brand new BMW dealership in Singapore


We like to say Singapore is the toughest place to sell automobiles anywhere in the world, and it’s even tougher now with record Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices and a market that’s down 40 percent compared to the year before.

So why would you ditch a promising career as an attorney to join the motoring industry?

The chance of steering one of the most prominent ships in the industry is one reason, but the other might surprise you. Meet Ms Charmain Kwee, 26, who is the new executive director of the Eurokars Group.

2022 - Charmain Kwee - CarBuyer Singapore - charmain kwee at eurokars bmw showroom

Ms Kwee is daughter of the company’s executive chairman and founder, Karsono Kwee. Set up in 1985, it’s the largest privately-held multi-brand dealership group in Singapore. It’s currently the authorised dealer for Mazda, McLaren, MG, Mini, Pagani, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce in Sinapore, alongside other dealerships in Indonesia, China, and Australia.

While Ms Kwee’s title sees her spread across the brands in Eurokars’ portfolio, the lawyer-turned-executive-director begins her journey by focusing on BMW’s new journey with Eurokars.

Earlier this year, it was announced that Eurokars Auto was, in a mould-breaking move, appointed as the second official BMW dealership in Singapore. A mere four months later, in a feat of impressively compressed showroom setup, its temporary premises for the brand at 11 Leng Kee Road was unveiled

2022 - Charmain Kwee - CarBuyer Singapore - eurokars new bmw showroom 11 leng kee

Before this however, Ms Kwee had a two-year stint as a lawyer, spending a year with Oon and Bazul doing commercial litigation, followed by another year at the Sterling Law Corporation. Her time with the latter saw her working in criminal, family, and community law, including taking on cases pro bono.

It sounds like an almost total 180, career wise, so CarBuyer sat down with Charmain to find out about her reasons for switching, the transition to this new industry, as well as Eurokars’ newest dealership and how it intends to make a mark against the established competition.

CarBuyer: What does a typical work day look like for you?

Charmain Kwee (CK): While I have an office I don’t really sit down because many people still need you at the same time. So I’m basically always on my phone!

A lot of my team, honestly, works till very late and I really appreciate them a lot. So while I’m in the office during working hours, after that I may stay in the office later to help them out just to be with them. 

I don’t clock off work until I get home and also being in the family business, ultimately my boss – my dad – is at home. Our family dinners will be like, “How many cars were sold today?” I think over time I’ve learned to treat it as part of my second life.

What is it like working with your dad?

2022 - Charmain Kwee - CarBuyer Singapore - charmain kwee, karsono kwee, lars nielsen
Left to right: Eurokars Group executive director Charmain Kwee, Eurokars Group executive chairman Karsono Kwee, BMW Group Asia managing director Lars Nielsen

CK: The reason why I left law to come into the business was, honestly, to spend more time with my dad. I had this mindset of “Why am I giving my blood, sweat, and tears for someone who is not my dad,” …as great as my ex-bosses are! (laughs)

I would come home stressed because of work, and I see my dad stressed because of work, and feel really guilty because that is the hand that fed me growing up, and I can’t do anything about it to help him. So I think the push started when the BMW business came in. I thought, “My dad looks stressed enough, now it’s time to do something about it.”

I thought, “My dad looks stressed enough,
now it’s time to do something about it.”

Charmain Kwee
2022 - Charmain Kwee - CarBuyer Singapore - charmain kwee

Are there aspects of your former career you can apply to this new one?

CK: I think empathy is definitely one. We are running a family business, so you don’t need to have a hard hearted transactional approach with things.

I feel that there’s an added value to asking the person “How do I help you, help me do this together?” I think that’s something that I’ve taken away from the community side of law.

Being in matrimonial law also taught me to not take things to heart and to become more resilient, which I think is a really good value to pick up.

Now that the BMW brand has joined the Eurokars stable, do you see any synergies happening?
CK: I feel that with the addition of the new BMW brand, it completes the BMW family within Eurokars Group* And it’s not something that’s new to us because we mirrored this in Indonesia – we have Rolls Royce, Mini, BMW. Now if anything, it makes the entire group more efficient. One benefit that we have as a group is we tap on each other’s experiences and expertise.

*BMW Group owns BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce

As executive director how do you divide your time between the brands?

CK: When I first came in my orientation was basically to go around and figure out how things work. Because I know nothing about cars and I know nothing about the industry, I was shadowing everybody and getting my foot in. 

But because BMW is now starting from scratch with us, it’s a good learning opportunity for me. So my time currently is very focused on BMW. While I have my hands on everything in a high level kind of approach, on the ground I start with BMW.

2022 - Charmain Kwee - CarBuyer Singapore - charmain kwee at eurokars bmw showroom

What can BMW customers expect from the Eurokars Auto experience? 

CK: The key is, just because you sell a car to a customer doesn’t mean your aftersales doesn’t follow through. It must be a hand in hand process. The customer should be able to expect higher service quality, to be able to trust us to make sure they have a very seamless and happy car ownership experience. 

To us yes, we have many customers but to the customer, you are the only person that can fix that car for them. Your first transaction with us is not a transaction per se. It’s the building block of a long-term relationship. 

How has the first two weeks of EKA operation been? What’s the reception been like?
It’s been very heartening and surprising to see that showroom traffic, overall, was very good, despite the fact that the market sentiment now in the automotive side is fairly weak. Most of it has been from prospective BMW customers of course, but many of our existing customers, business partners, and even customers from Indonesia came by to show their support. After seeing the traffic and hearing those compliments, I would say that the first week for EKA has been very good and satisfying. 

Do you miss law?

CK: I was very happy that my dad gave me time in that career. He gave me a year at first – and then I asked for two! (laughs) You shouldn’t start straight by jumping into a family company I feel. 


bmw charmain kwee Eurokars Auto eurokars group executives industry personality

About the Author

Kimberley Ng

The youngest and shortest of the CarBuyer Singapore bunch, Kimberley is the proud owner of a Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1...diecast from Shuco. She runs the CarBuyer Singapore Tik Tok @carbuyersingapore. For unrelated purposes, her favourite song is Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Special talents include impressions of famous rapper Lil' Jon. [email protected]/@kimmyk7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CarBuyer – Revolutionizing The Online Car Marketplace In Singapore

Buy Used And New Cars Online
Start your car buying journey with CarBuyer as we connect you seamlessly to the industry’s best CaseTrust-SVTA accredited car dealerships. As a one stop car online portal you can now buy your new ride, be it a pre-owned car or a brand new car from trusted dealers all over Singapore, all in one place. Our ever expanding listing of quality and covet-worthy cars, new and second hand, from both owners and trusted car dealers, will leave you spoilt for choice. Refine your search by vehicle type, registration year, price, mileage, engine type, transmission, annual depreciation value and more to find the car that best suits your needs, taste and lifestyle. You can even search for your car by dealer or directly by owner.

Sell Your Car In An Instant With Confidence
We all know how selling a car in Singapore can be a daunting task especially for a first time car seller; from trying to get a valuation for your car, finding a trusted dealer, to getting the best quote on your vehicle. CarBuyer understands the hassle and even the costs involved and have as such partnered with Huawei to develop a FIRST in Southeast Asia AI car valuation tool that is able to provide a car’s resale value at the snap of a finger. Backed with a consortium of trusted CaseTrust-SVTA accredited car dealers you can be assured that you are getting the best price for your vehicle and do not have to worry about any hidden costs.

The Ultimate Car Shopping Experience Online
CarBuyer platform is the first of its kind to be backed by Huawei’s Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing, enabling it to be able to offer users transparency and enhanced security, all with the one aim of enhancing customer experience. So come on over to buy and sell used cars online at the best prices at CarBuyer Singapore. Connect easily with dealers in real-time via our online video call feature, or schedule a test drive when you’re ready. Have some questions? Get them answered instantly with our chatbot moderated by our responsive team. Stay in the loop with our car-related tips, reviews and news. Learn the ins-and-outs of your car, as well as global and Singapore’s car updates at your own pace.