Revival of the fittest

Jude Chan
Published Wed, Aug 31, 2022 · 05:50 AM

EVEN as waves of the coronovirus continue to crash against global economies, new challenges have surfaced for businesses. Geopolitical tensions, surging inflation and spikes in interest rates are adding to the turbulence.

The perfect storm has already blown some companies out of the water. And it is poised to wreak more havoc.

But what has been a disaster for some has been an opportunity for others.

The crisis has laid bare the need for strong leadership as companies navigate the troubled waters.

The best captains know how to rally the crew, and pick the right moments to drop anchor to stabilise the situation or unfurl the sails to charge full speed ahead.

Of course, it also helps that the ship is sturdily built and charted on the right course.


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It is no wonder, then, that the trio of local banks – the backbone of Singapore’s listed companies and account for over 40 per cent in weightage on the benchmark Straits Times Index – stormed home with the top honours at the Singapore Corporate Awards (SCA) 2022.

DBS Group Holdings scooped the best managed board and best risk management awards for large-cap companies with market capitalisation of above S$1 billion.

The bank said it has been relentless in identifying and grooming talent in various risk areas so that it can continue to grow and improve.

United Overseas Bank shared the spoils with DBS in the best risk management category, while the man at its helm, Wee Ee Cheong, was named the best chief executive officer among the large-cap companies. It also won the silver award for best investor relations.

During the pandemic, Wee said UOB was the first bank to spring into action by allocating S$3 billion in relief assistance to help its customers.

Meanwhile, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation was the bronze winner for the best managed board award under the large-cap category.

Beyond crisis management, the board of directors at the award-winning companies also have a handle on the challenges of tomorrow. These include dealing with a transformation in work habits, greater digitalisation to drive productivity, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

For example, SBS Transit, gold winner of the best managed board for mid-cap companies with market capitalisation of between S$300 million and S$1 billion, is keeping a close eye on carbon emissions.

The transport company is using solar energy wherever possible and training its bus captains on how to conserve fuel.

Meanwhile, ornamental fish service provider Qian Hu Corporation recognises the need for new strategies and practices to stay competitive in the new business and economic environment.

Recent board discussions, said executive chairman Kenny Yap, have centred on redefining strategies, continuous assessment of the current business model, setting direction for workforce upskilling, and managing the increased digital, data and cybersecurity risks.

Qian Hu is the gold winner of the best managed board for small-cap companies with market capitalisation of below S$300 million.

Jointly organised by The Business Times, the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, and Singapore Institute of Directors, the SCA makes a full return this year in this 2022 edition. Launched in 2005, the SCA is the umbrella awards for exemplary corporate governance practices for listed companies in Singapore.

The organisers took a decision to shelve the awards in 2020 as companies focused on weathering the pandemic, and took baby steps forward in 2021 with a smaller than usual special edition to acknowledge companies as they navigate towards normalising operations.


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