S'pore brands, chiefs shine at CEO Asia awards

At yesterday's discussion on business transformation and innovation were (from left) panellists Oliver Tan, CEO and co-founder of artificial intelligence firm ViSenze; Rosaline Chow Koo, CEO and founder of insurer CXA; Sanjay Gujral, regional managin
At yesterday's discussion on business transformation and innovation were (from left) panellists Oliver Tan, CEO and co-founder of artificial intelligence firm ViSenze; Rosaline Chow Koo, CEO and founder of insurer CXA; Sanjay Gujral, regional managing director of investment firm L Catterton Asia; Mandy Lamb, group country manager for regional South-east Asia and senior vice-president of global client management at Visa; Alistair Taylor, president of Central Food Retail Company (Thailand); and moderator Wendy Lai, South-east Asia strategy and operations leader at Deloitte.PHOTO: INFLUENTIAL BRANDS

Singapore chief executives and companies walked away with the lion's share of prizes at an awards gala for leading brands yesterday.

Three Singaporeans were among six men dubbed "CEO of the Year", while local firms made up 19 of Asia's 33 "top influential brands" and three out of four "outstanding brands".

They were judged on criteria such as innovation and growth, with input from in-person and online polls across the region.

Winners included the historic Raffles Hotel, caterer Orange Clove and food and beverage group BreadTalk, whose chairman, Mr George Quek, snagged a "CEO of the Year" trophy last year.

They shared the podium with other brands from across the region, from mobile phone maker Huawei to ride-hailing app Grab.

Mr Jorge Rodriguez, managing director of event organiser Influential Brands, told The Straits Times: "Most of the heritage brands have a very strong foundation - it could be history or it could be because the founder started the business from scratch. These are points that resonate in the mind of consumers today, especially millennials."

The prizes were handed out at his think-tank's fifth CEO Asia Conference, held at the Capitol Theatre.

The event hosted a panel on business transformation and innovation, where speakers echoed Mr Rodriguez's call for companies to adopt strong branding to stand out.

One panellist, Mr Sanjay Gujral, said: "There is also a certain amount of heritage and legacy, especially when dealing with consumer brands, that needs to be preserved. So you can't afford to be rocking the boat."

Mr Gujral, regional managing director of investment firm L Catterton Asia, added: "In a few years' time, it will be the Chinese brands that come to Singapore in much larger numbers. So the only way for local brands here in Singapore and the rest of South-east Asia is to shape up or ship out."

Supermarket chain FairPrice's chief executive Seah Kian Peng, who was among those lauded yesterday, echoed this sentiment. He told ST that regional tie-ups are key to success in a crowded marketplace.

"When I talk about collaborations, I think this is where Singaporean companies need to learn to work more - if not within, then outside Singapore.

"We know the Singapore market is limited by size. There are many opportunities out there... Many entities' natural reaction is to do everything themselves."

Mr Rodriguez's Influential Brands also unveiled two new trophies yesterday.

One, for "Influential Woman of the Year", was snagged by Singapore-based news anchor Christine Tan, while the prize for "Influential Artist of the Year" went to potter and Cultural Medallion recipient Iskandar Jalil.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 08, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore brands, chiefs shine at CEO Asia awards'. Print Edition | Subscribe