Healthcare group co-founder is EY Entrepreneur of the Year

Celebrating at the awards ceremony yesterday were (from left) Mr Wong Ngit Liong, chairman and CEO of Venture Corp and chairman of EOY Singapore Academy; Dr Michael Tan, group CEO and co-founder of Fullerton Healthcare Group; Mr Mark Lee, CEO of Sing
Celebrating at the awards ceremony yesterday were (from left) Mr Wong Ngit Liong, chairman and CEO of Venture Corp and chairman of EOY Singapore Academy; Dr Michael Tan, group CEO and co-founder of Fullerton Healthcare Group; Mr Mark Lee, CEO of Sing Lun Holdings; Mr Franky Oesman Widjaja, chairman and CEO of Golden Agri-Resources; Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and NTUC secretary-general; Mr Forrest Li, chairman and group CEO of Garena; Mr Max Loh, EY's Singapore and Asean managing partner; Mr Didier von Daeniken, head of wealth management for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa at Barclays; Mr Neo Kah Kiat, founder, chairman and CEO of Neo Group; and Mr Richard Eu, group CEO of Eu Yan Sang International.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Fullerton Healthcare's Michael Tan will represent S'pore at the global competition in Monte Carlo next year

The gamble Dr Michael Tan took in starting his own healthcare firm paid off last night when he scooped a coveted entrepreneurship award.

Dr Tan walked away with the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award and will go on to represent Singapore in Monte Carlo next year against winners from more than 60 other countries.

The co-founder of Fullerton Healthcare Group said his decision to go out on his own took seed while he was in church.

"At that time, many people were telling me the cost of healthcare was going up," he recalled.

"I was sitting one day in the middle of the church service and I sort of felt something go on in (my heart) - it was an inspiration that perhaps I could start my own business when there's an opportunity to deliver better-quality healthcare at a more affordable rate."

Dr Tan co-founded Fullerton Healthcare in 2011 through the merger of two medical groups.

The firm works with around 25,000 companies across Asia to provide employers and employees with access to healthcare services.

It operates about 170 fully-owned clinics across Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia.

Dr Tan said the firm looks to hire compassionate, competent doctors and that he told his staff in charge of hiring that "you must not detract or veer from these hiring criteria".

"What I would do is that every single hire that (the firm) hired - for the first six months or one year, I would scrutinise them."

The awards ceremony was held at the Grand Ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.

Judging panel chairman Ho Meng Kit said: "From his decision to leave his chief executive role in an established private hospital to setting up Fullerton Healthcare and subsequently overcoming a management buyout, Michael demonstrated the classic traits of risk-taking, determination and an opportunistic and innovative mindset.

"Under his leadership, Fullerton Healthcare is now a significant player in the healthcare sector, operating in five countries and transforming the patient experience in these markets."

EY - the accounting giant formerly known as Ernst & Young - also gave awards for entrepreneurial excellence to three other individuals.

They included Mr Forrest Li, chief executive of Garena, an Internet platform provider for integrated services spanning areas including entertainment and payments.

The two others were Mr Neo Kah Kiat, chief executive of Neo Group, a food and catering solutions provider, and Mr Mark Lee, chief executive of Sing Lun Holdings, which designs and manufactures sports apparel.

Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), told the gathering that despite the challenging economic outlook, there were opportunities for entrepreneurs.

"A good entrepreneur... will make money whether the market is going up or down. Instead of just looking at the macro picture… (or) the (broad) sector, they ask themselves the more pertinent and sharper question, which is, 'Which part of the value chain can I be in in order to make the next leap?'"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2015, with the headline 'Healthcare group co-founder is EY Entrepreneur of the Year'. Print Edition | Subscribe