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SINGAPORE BUSINESS AWARDS

Sheng Siong boss awarded Businessman of the Year

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Lim Hock Chee, Sheng Siong Supermarket CEO, with the coveted award at the Ritz-Charlton Millenia on Thursday. He instils in his employees that the real "boss" is the customer.

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Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance with (from far left) SBA winners Jenny Lee, managing partner, Shanghai GGV Capital; Sheng Siong CEO Lim Hock Chee; Samuel Tsien, OCBC Bank's CEO; and Kong Chee Min, CEO of Centurion Corporation.

Singapore

FOUR years ago, Sheng Siong founder and chief executive Lim Hock Chee collected The Enterprise Award on behalf of the supermarket at the Singapore Business Awards (SBA).

On Thursday, the head honcho was awarded SBA's top accolade, Businessman of the Year, for his great vision and business acumen in building the enterprise from a modest one-store business to Singapore's third largest supermarket chain with 55 outlets - and counting.

While the 57-year-old has come a long way, his job is not done yet, as he eyes a share bigger than the 15 per cent Sheng Siong currently has of the local supermarket pie. To achieve that, he is counting on Sheng Siong's staff of about 2,700 to continue delivering exemplary service to their "boss" - the customers.

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Mr Lim said in his acceptance speech: "This company does not have a boss, there are only staff. The customer is the real boss. That's why I have been reminding my working companions not to be mistaken about who their boss is."

Walking the talk, this business leader made his cellphone number publicly available at every store so that customers would be able to reach him easily.

Besides the Businessman of the Year award, the other awards in the SBA roll of honour include the Outstanding Chief Executive of the Year, Outstanding Overseas Executive of the Year and The Enterprise Award.

Samuel Tsien, 64, who helms OCBC, was named the Outstanding Chief Executive of the Year.

Under his leadership, the local bank has grown from strength to strength in the regional and domestic markets, as evident in its successful acquisition of Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank, the expansion of its wealth management business, the digitalisation of banking services, and its leading position in SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) banking.

Jenny Lee, a name well-known in the international venture capital scene for her knack for spotting the next big disruptor, took home the Outstanding Overseas Executive of the Year Award.

Flying the Singapore flag high, the 46-year-old Shanghai-based managing partner of GGV Capital was honoured for blazing the trail in driving the company's growth in China. With contributions from the Singaporean, GGV is now lauded for its foresight on China's Internet explosion.

GGV manages some US$6.2 billion in capital across its 13 funds. It focuses on US and China tech companies, with seed to growth investments in areas including new retail, enterprise and frontier tech. It has backed 52 unicorns, which are startups exceeding US$1 billion in valuation.

One of Ms Lee's triumphs was ringing the opening bell with her startup CEOs - eight times, including those for China's biggest global success stories - social media platform YY and smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Centurion Corporation bagged The Enterprise Award.

The listed firm has successfully diversified into the workers and student accommodation business to become one of Singapore's largest owner-managers with workers accommodation assets in Singapore and Malaysia, and student accommodation assets in Singapore, Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance encouraged the four winners as well as the 520 business leaders at the gala dinner to adapt and transform.

The guest of honour said: "All of you as corporate leaders will know and appreciate the enormity of this challenge. Very often the more successful you are in an organisation, the higher you are at the top, the harder it is to keep climbing upwards. You know that the competition out there is intense - it's about survival of the fittest.

"There's no room to be complacent; there's no such thing as keeping the status quo, Likewise, the choice for Singapore is simple - we adapt or perish."

He added that businesses are key to Singapore's sustained success, and the government will support companies for the next stage of the economic transformation - developing new markets, supporting upgrading and worker training plans, as well as putting in place supporting infrastructure for the businesses to succeed.

The four awards were decided by a panel of judges drawn from the business sector, official agencies and academia.

Launched in 1985, the SBA is jointly organised by The Business Times, a Singapore Press Holdings publication, and DHL Express Singapore, the world's leading express and logistics company.

Wong Wei Kong, chairman of the SBA organising committee and BT editor said: "The four winners of this year's Singapore Business Awards have all demonstrated amazing grit, persistence and flair in their respective businesses and SBA 2019 has recognised the efforts and contributions to each of their industries. A very heartfelt congratulations to these very well-deserved winners!"

Christopher Ong, managing director of DHL Express Singapore said: "Through Singapore Business Awards, we hope to inspire the next generation of business leaders by sharing the best homegrown success stories. Beyond business, companies and leading executives have an ever more critical role to play in showing leadership and impacting society. Our winners have positively impacted those around them as well as our world at large by demonstrating resilience and innovative thinking. Their achievements will continue to shape Singapore's industries and economic development."

READ MORE: Special feature on SBA