1st woman in more than 10 years crowned Businessman of the Year

1st woman in more than 10 years crowned Businessman of the Year

SINGAPORE - Corporate leaders who charted ambitious growth strategies to take their companies to the next level were honoured at the Singapore Business Awards (SBA) 2015 for the transformational changes they led.

Chew Gek Khim, executive chairman of The Straits Trading Company and Tecity Group, became the first woman in more than 10 years to be crowned Businessman of the Year and the second woman to win this award in the 30-year history of the SBA.

She played a pivotal role in shaking up businesses held by Tecity Group, in particular, Straits Trading, which has morphed from a company owning low-yielding assets into one with strategic interests in real estate, hospitality and resources.

Calling herself an accidental businesswoman, Ms Chew recalled the daunting journey of change taken by the venerable company and expressed her appreciation for the many who took the painful transition in their stride.

"Not everyone has stayed with me during this long journey, but I still owe them much for their contributions," she said.

Mapletree Investments chief executive officer Hiew Yoon Khong snagged the Outstanding CEO award. But the modest CEO stressed that "the story behind Mapletree's successful journey is about building a team that is focused on our common goals".

"Growing Mapletree from a company with low-yielding properties in Singapore into a leading real estate group with assets across Asia involves building an organisation that is firmly committed to fulfilling our business objectives," he said.

"In the early years, it required our staff to believe in a business model that was relatively untested in Singapore, and execute it nimbly and well."

Since Mr Hiew took the helm at Mapletree in 2003, the Temasek unit has turned around a portfolio of ageing assets and undeveloped land inherited from PSA Corporation into income- generating assets - many of which are held in listed Reits.

Between March 31, 2004, and March 31, 2015, Mapletree scaled its assets under management from S$2.3 billion to S$28 billion and shareholders' funds grew from S$2.2 billion to S$9.3 billion.

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