Sunday, 12 July 2015

Singapore's GIC Chief Lim Siong Guan

Introducing Mr Lim Siong Guan of Singapore:

Education: 1st Class Honours, Mechanical Engineering, University     of Adelaide, Australia (1969), Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration, National University of Singapore (1975).

Positions Held: First Principal Secretary to PM Lee Kuan Yew (1978-1981), Permanent Secretary to Defence, Prime Minister's office, and Education, and Finance Ministry. (From 1981 to 2006). Head of Singapore Civil Service (1999 to 2005).

Chairman-Central Provident Fund Board 1986 to 1994. Board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore 1999 to 2006.
Chairman-Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) and Inland Revenue of Singapore from 2004-2006.
Chairman of The Economic Development Board from 2006 to 2009.

Director of Temasek Holding Pte Ltd., DBS Bank Ltd., Neptune Orient Lines Ltd.

Group President of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) since July 1st 2009.

Nick names: Yoda, Superman, Change Crusader.

This will never happen to bolehland Malaysia. We have one chairman who was said to travel to UK every weekend just to be with his girl friend; whereas the chairman of SIA asked for a change of first class to economy just because the plane was full and there was a pax wanting to pay for the first class seat. Here you have people trying to get into first class or business class from economy using and dropping big names, and damn if the seat can be sold.

He may be the group president of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, but Mr Lim Siong Guan rides the MRT to work. He alights at Raffles Place, then walks about 20 minutes to GLC's office in Robinson Road for the exercise.

If he needs a postage stamp or has any errand of a personal nature, he queues for it himself instead of bothering his secretary.

His yearly tour of GIC overseas offices since 2007- four days around the world: Singapore, San Francisco, New York, London, Singapore; and another 4 days around Asia: Singapore, Mumbai, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore -  is the stuff of corporate legend.

He does not book a single hotel room, sleeps on the plane, refuses a corporate limousine and insists on public transport. He lives out of a small carry-on bag and showers in GIC office gyms. The London office keeps a spare towel for him.

It is a practice the former chairman of the Economic Development Board says he picked up from his EDB days of city-hopping as 'check-in luggage increases very significantly the chances of missing connecting flights".

By all accounts, Mr Lim is an iconoclast. The former head of the Singapore civil service, who served as permanent secretary in the ministry of defence, education and finance, and in the Prime Minister's Office, is also a hard act to follow.

He sticks out in the financial sector because of his acetic values, thrift and humility. He owns a Volvo S60, easily the smallest car among his colleagues.

Mr Lim Siong Guan is prepared to spend a lot to effect organisational change. Everywhere he goes, he ignites a mini revolution, cutting red tape, operating close to the boundaries and bucking conventions.

Dr Teh Kok Peng, chairman of business space solutions provider Ascendas  and formerly president of GIC Special Investments, says: "In the office, some call him 'Superman' for his drive, energy and nobility of intention. He demands a lot of himself so he's in a position to demand a lot from others too."

His pet phrase is: " Are we ready for the future?" His pet name is Yoda, for his wisdom, long-range thinking and fearlessness in challenging his staff to think, even ahead of their ministers.

He is also known as one of the toughest - because of his formidable intellect and unbending principle - yet nicest bosses to work for in the civil service. His top question to staff is always: "How can I help you to do your job better?"
A book Mr Lim Siong Guan co-authored titled:
The Leader, The Teacher & You

Stories abound of the small and big ways in which he intervened to help others. None of this, of course, will ever be disclosed by the wiry, reticent 67-year- old.
The pride of Singapore-The GIC

Accountant General Chua Geok Wah , who witnessed the transformation of the civil service under Mr Lim Siong Guan, sums up her tribute to him by quoting ancient Chinese  philosopher Lao Tzu:
A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, "we did it ourselves".
Text obtained through e-mail received.
Details of Mr LSG's biography obtained from Wikipedia.

Alan CY Kok

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