Businessman of the Year

Heinrich Jessen is Businessman of the Year

Singapore Airlines Group CEO Goh Choon Phong (left) receiving the Outstanding CEO of the Year award from judging panel chairman Stephen Lee. Mr Heinrich Jessen with his award last night. He was also lauded for his vision in transforming Jebsen & Jess
Mr Heinrich Jessen with his award last night. He was also lauded for his vision in transforming Jebsen & Jessen from a trading business into a pan-Asian industrial and engineering enterprise with over 4,000 employees.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Singapore Airlines Group CEO Goh Choon Phong (left) receiving the Outstanding CEO of the Year award from judging panel chairman Stephen Lee. Mr Heinrich Jessen with his award last night. He was also lauded for his vision in transforming Jebsen & Jess
Singapore Airlines Group CEO Goh Choon Phong (left) receiving the Outstanding CEO of the Year award from judging panel chairman Stephen Lee. PHOTO: GARY GOH

Heinrich Jessen is honoured for steering industrial, engineering firm into carbon-neutral leader

His personal passion for environmental sustainability has earned company boss Heinrich Jessen the title of 2016 Businessman of the Year.

The 49-year-old, who was named chairman of Jebsen & Jessen (South-east Asia) in 2004, led it to become one of Asia's first carbon- neutral industrial firms in 2011.

"We took the decision despite the fact that the country was not ready for it yet," he said last night at the Singapore Business Awards, adding that he hopes to hear of more firms going carbon-neutral in the future.

He was also honoured at the event for his vision in transforming Jebsen & Jessen from a trading business started by his family in Hong Kong into a Singapore-based pan-Asian industrial and engineering enterprise with more than 4,000 employees.

The firm has expanded into nine Asean countries and has seven business units in different industries, from chemicals to material-handling technology.

 

Mr Jessen said: "I think (the company can stay relevant) by concentrating on being in leadership positions, so we play a relevant, meaningful role for employees, for customers and for suppliers."

Mr Jessen, who was born in Germany and became a Singapore citizen in 2013, was presented with the award by Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung.

Three other winners bagged trophies at the ceremony held at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. It was attended by about 600 business leaders.

Mr Goh Choon Phong, 53, chief executive of Singapore Airlines Group, was named Outstanding CEO of the Year for his bold initiatives in the face of global competition.

Under his watch, the group invested in low-cost carriers like Scoot, as well as adjacent businesses throughout the region, such as a joint-venture pilot training centre in Singapore with Airbus.

It is important for a company "not to be mesmerised by past success" and to be unafraid to learn from its mistakes, he said.

Mr Quek Chin Yeow, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Asia, won the title of Outstanding Overseas Executive of the Year. His astute awareness of trends in the fine art and jewellery market built opportunities for Sotheby's Asia in Hong Kong and the emerging Chinese market.

Mr Quek, 59, said: "We operate quite lean; we're much smaller than our competitors. We're harnessing new digital technology to encompass our business and that's very important, I think, and the crucial difference in the last few years."

Straco Corporation, which operates tourist attractions such as the Singapore Flyer, bagged The Enterprise Award for its successful venture into China.

The awards are jointly organised by The Business Times and DHL Express.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2017, with the headline 'Green passion pays off in big way '. Print Edition | Subscribe