Enterprising trio, household name win business awards

At yesterday's Singapore Business Awards ceremony were winners (from left) Mr Shafie Shamsuddin, Mr Piyush Gupta, Dr Robert Yap and Mr Ang Kiam Meng, whose restaurant chain Jumbo won the Enterprise Award.
At yesterday's Singapore Business Awards ceremony were winners (from left) Mr Shafie Shamsuddin, Mr Piyush Gupta, Dr Robert Yap and Mr Ang Kiam Meng, whose restaurant chain Jumbo won the Enterprise Award.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Determined and visionary leaders triumph over tough times - qualities displayed in abundance by the winners at last night's Singapore Business Awards.

Three business leaders and a company were honoured for their enterprise and resilience.

Dr Robert Yap, executive chairman of logistics firm YCH Group, was named Businessman of the Year 2015. He took over the family business in 1977 and has seen it through some rough patches, but feels "with tough times come opportunities".

"When the going is good, people get complacent. During tough times, difficult decisions have to be made that will transform the business and change the company for the better after recovery," he said of the current economic slowdown.

YCH has come a long way since it started in 1955, and now has facilities and warehouses in more than 100 locations in the Asia-Pacific.

Mr Piyush Gupta of DBS Group Holdings, who was named Outstanding Chief Executive, agreed that businesses need to transform themselves. He took the helm in 2009, after the global financial crisis resulted in a slew of regulatory changes for banks.

Amid the challenges, he saw opportunity. The crisis had led to the retreat of some global banks in Asia, and Mr Gupta quickly unveiled plans to gain market share.

"For the tough times ahead, business owners should have enough liquidity so they can cope. In the long run, building talent will be what is important," he said.

Mr Shafie Shamsuddin of PT Trans Retail (Carrefour Indonesia) clinched the title of Outstanding Chief Executive (Overseas).

He recalled meeting 200 employees in 2009 who pleaded with him "not to take our jobs away".

Back then, he was president director of Carrefour Indonesia. It was the anchor tenant in its rivals' malls and was forced to leave.

Mr Shafie said that in focusing his efforts on protecting his employees, help came from other business leaders in the form of advice.

The Enterprise Award went to Jumbo Group for growing from "a single seafood restaurant in 1987" to "a household name with 17 restaurants across five distinct brands".

"Tough times are an opportunity for us to look inward and take stock," said Jumbo chief executive Ang Kiam Meng.

About 600 business leaders and guests attended the event at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, with President Tony Tan Keng Yam as the guest of honour.

"With the SBA, we celebrate and recognise true business luminaries who have delivered stellar performance with their dedication and resilience," said Mr Ken Lee, chief executive of DHL Express Asia Pacific.

Launched in 1985, the SBA is jointly organised by The Business Times and courier company DHL Express.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'Enterprising trio, household name win business awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe