[Above: The winners of 2011's Singapore Business Awards (from left) include Mr Tan Lip Bu, president and CEO of Cadence Design Systems; Mr John Chuang, CEO of Petra Foods Group; Mr John Lim, Group CEO of ARA Asset Management; Mr Melvin Elias, president of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.]
By Reico Wong
Climbing to the top of the corporate ladder requires burning passion, the right talent and linking up with resourceful partners, some of Singapore's top business leaders said yesterday.
"There's nothing miraculous when it comes to increasing business profit," said Mr John Chuang, chief executive of Petra Foods Group. "Everything boils down to passion. It's about being involved in something you love and enjoy doing every day.
"It's also about seizing opportunities on a regional and global basis, while working as hard as possible to get the results you want."
Petra Foods' profit after tax surged to US$60.6 million (S$76.6 million) last year from US$10.7 million in 2008. The chocolate manufacturer's group revenue hit US$1.7 billion last year, and it employs more than 6,000 staff in 11 countries.
In recognition of his leadership acumen, Mr Chuang was lauded as Businessman of the Year at the annual Singapore Business Awards (SBA).
Now in its 27th year, the awards, jointly organised by Singapore Press Holdings' The Business Times and DHL Express Singapore, recognise top leaders in the business community.
Others honoured at the event yesterday include Group CEO of ARA Asset Management, Mr John Lim - who was named Outstanding CEO of the Year - and the president and CEO of Cadence Design Systems, Mr Tan Lip Bu, recognised as the Outstanding CEO (Overseas) of the Year.
The Enterprise Award 2011 went to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
Business leaders and the Government need to invest more in the development of the workforce, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said at the awards ceremony.
"We have to create better jobs and entrench a culture of learning and skills upgrading at all levels of our workforce," he said.
"That is the only sustainable way to hold our own in the international marketplace, especially as China and other emerging players move up the value chain.
"It is also the only way we can raise incomes for all Singaporeans, and build an inclusive Singapore."
Mr Alvin Tay, the chairman of the SBA organising committee and editor of The Business Times, said the awards help to encourage entrepreneurship and advance standards of innovation and corporate management. Mr Lim said it is critic al for top management to set a clear vision and rally staff towards the same values and goals.
"My biggest challenge has always revolved around how to put soul and character into the business and making sure it goes beyond me," he said.
ARA manages six real-estate investment trusts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, with S$20.2 billion of assets under management at the the end of last year.
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