Candidates for new leadership initiative to be nominated by firms

EDB says training under the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative, which aims to groom 800 potential business leaders here over three years, could include overseas assignments to key markets.
EDB says training under the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative, which aims to groom 800 potential business leaders here over three years, could include overseas assignments to key markets.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Candidates for a new initiative, set to groom 800 potential business leaders here over three years, will be nominated by their firms, the Economic Development Board (EDB) has told The Straits Times.

The SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative was one of several unveiled in this week's Budget to give effect to strategies proposed by the Committee for the Future Economy (CFE), formed to chart the next growth phase. The initiative will help workers grow more globally competitive, boosting their potential to rise to leadership and managerial roles.

EDB, which oversees the initiative, said participants will be nominated by their firms. Training could include "overseas assignments to key markets and cross-functional rotations within the companies".

It said the initiative will be implemented via collaborations with employers and training providers.

"The design of the leadership programmes will address companies' business priorities and individuals' leadership development needs, with overseas attachments included where relevant," EDB added.

Over $100 million has been earmarked for this initiative and the new Global Innovation Alliance.

Executives who have worked abroad said training should cover interpersonal skills, an understanding of cultural norms and areas such as sustainable energy.

"Future leaders need to embrace such knowledge or at least have a good understanding of some of these to bring their companies or organisations to the next level," said UOB Venture Management executive director Thng Tien Tat, who was based in Ho Chi Minh City for about 14 years from 2001.

Grooming capable staff to drive operations abroad will help local firms expand their overseas footprint, one of seven CFE strategies.

To this end, the Budget included a $600 million International Partnership Fund, to be used to co-invest with Singapore-based firms in opportunities to help them scale up globally. To qualify, firms need to have headquarters here with annual revenues of up to $800 million.

Temasek Holdings' unit Heliconia Capital Management, the fund manager, said: "We will assess the firms' ability to scale up and internationalise, focusing on the management team, business model and overall execution capability."

It will also look at whether firms are able to "synergise and create value" in such joint investment overseas, including extending product lines or gaining access to markets.

The measures are part of $2.4 billion put aside by the Government over the next four years to carry out the CFE recommendations.

It includes a $500 million top-up to the National Research Fund (NRF) to support innovation, and a further $1 billion for the National Productivity Fund (NPF) to drive industry transformation.

Programmes launched under NRF include the Early Stage Venture Fund, where large companies co-invest with the Government in technology start-ups based here.

NRF told The Straits Times the fund has also helped catalyse technology consortia, which enable industry partners to engage in joint research projects with academia.

It said: "To date, NRF has supported the set-up of four technology consortia. Of these, the consortia in cyber security and synthetic biology were launched in the last year with 14 and 10 industry partners as founding members, respectively."

NPF, meanwhile, has supported schemes like the SkillsFuture Credit to promote lifelong learning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Candidates for new leadership initiative to be nominated by firms'. Print Edition | Subscribe