Four Singapore business leaders have been named winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards and go into a final race for the overall top prize.
The shortlist announced yesterday consists of Mr Lawrence Leow, group chairman and chief executive of multi-business group Crescendas Group; Mr David Low, chairman and chief executive of store fixtures specialist Futuristic Store Fixtures; Ms Helene Raudaschl, managing director of fine food supplier Indoguna Singapore; and Dr Lim Yong Guan, chairman of jeweller Soo Kee Group.
The awards, organised by professional services firm EY, recognise leaders who fulfil six judging criteria: entrepreneurial spirit; financial performance; strategic direction; global or community impact; innovation; and personal integrity and influence.
The four were selected from more than 40 nominations by an independent judging panel, with the overall winner to be announced at a gala on Oct 21 at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. The overall winner will represent Singapore at the annual EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year award in Monte Carlo next year.
Mr Max Loh, EY's Asean and Singapore managing partner, said the four businessmen embody the spirit of innovation in business.
He noted that Mr Leow of Crescendas spotted promising opportunities that have allowed the firm to transform itself into a diversified group with portfolios spanning the property, hospitality, technology, distribution and manufacturing sectors.
Mr Low took a different approach to his rivals and adopted a "roll-out" business model - one that is uncommon in Asia - which has enabled him to build Futuristic Store Fixtures into a company that counts over 7,000 retail stores of world-renowned international brands among its customers.
Ms Raudaschl has continued to expand Indoguna's product range with more concepts and ideas, including venturing into halal food manufacturing in new markets.
And Soo Kee Group's Dr Lim has responded to market dynamics nimbly. Beyond bringing innovation to the group's jewellery range, he challenged the notion of traditional pawn-broking through MoneyMax Financial Services and expanded to provide bullion trading through SK Bullion.
Judging panel chairman Wong Ngit Liong, who is also chairman and chief executive of Venture Corporation, said: "The award winners have shown remarkable resilience to operate outside their comfort zones and have been enviably successful in inculcating the spirit of innovation in their organisations."
Futuristic Store Fixtures' Mr Low told The Straits Times he was honoured by the recognition. "It's important that we don't use the skill sets of yesterday to apply to our work today. We have to continue to do our best to innovate and stay three steps ahead of our competitors. The key is to be the trendsetter instead of the one following the trend," he said.