SembCorp: A young man and his $1.25b 'baby'

SembCorp: A young man and his $1.25b 'baby'
Mr Lim at Sembcorp's Salalah plant in Oman (above), which was completed last year.

At just 32, Mr Lim Yeow Keong found himself with a US$1 billion (S$1.25 billion) mega-project on his hands.

Fresh from a two-year stint in a supporting role as commercial director of United Arab Emirates' Fujairah Independent Water and Power Plant, he was charged with being the lead developer of a similar facility in Salalah in Oman.

The Sembcorp Industries scholar, now 37, did not hesitate.

"I was surprised. I don't think many companies would entrust a project this size to someone so young. But I was raring to go," said Mr Lim, who became the general manager of Sembcorp Salalah Power and Water Company.

This year, he was made chief executive officer of the newly listed company.

"I was a swinging bachelor with no family commitments. It was a defining moment." Despite initial concerns about safety, Mr Lim also saw it as a chance to get some overseas exposure.

Sembcorp Industries provides energy and water solutions to industrial and municipal customers. It has been aggressively increasing its global footprint and now has a presence in 16 countries.

Sembcorp also has interests in marine and offshore engineering, as well as urban development. The group is listed on the main board of the Singapore Stock Exchange, and posted a 40 per cent rise in third quarter net profit to S$181.2 million from a year ago.

Mr Lim looked after virtually every aspect of this "baby", from tendering for the project to the construction of the plant from "bare ground and rock" to completion.

"My life revolved around the project. I was breathing, eating, living, and drinking Salalah. Whether I was in Oman or not, the project was always on my mind," he recalled, but added that since the completion of the plant last year, he has had more relaxing 10-hour work days.

But Mr Lim's early ambitions had little to do with engineering - he was initially drawn by the prospects of a "noble and better paying" career in medicine, but his interest waned by the time he got to university.

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