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PhillipCapital chairman is Businessman of the Year

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(From left) Outstanding Overseas Executive of the Year Jaspal Singh; Businessman of the Year Lim Hua Min; Outstanding CEO of the Year Lee Seow Hiang; and Adeline Sim, representing HRnetGroup, winner of The Enterprise Award.

Singapore

STOCKBROKING pioneer Lim Hua Min, executive chairman of PhillipCapital Group, has been named Businessman of the Year in this year's Singapore Business Awards.

Mr Lim, who has helmed the group for over four decades, started it in 1975 using his personal savings and borrowings from the bank and partners to acquire a dormant brokerage firm that was suspended.

The 72-year-old veteran broker, who keeps to a vigorous exercise regime by exercising four times a week, is best known for revolutionising the stockbroking industry when he introduced POEMS - the first internet trading platform in Singapore - in 1996.

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He also grew the Singapore-headquartered group from a single-market and single-product firm into an Asian house with a global reach straddling 17 countries, including the major financial hubs of Chicago, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Yet, the chairman is not resting on his laurels. He told The Business Times that the group is still pushing the frontiers with new products and channels and entering new geographies. The challenge is to "re-invent" PhillipCapital into "a platform-centric ecosystem".

"Today's competition is no longer products against products but platforms against platforms or ecosystems against ecosystems," Mr Lim said. "We'll be myopic to think that competition is just local rather than global. What makes you so sure that your traditional company will still have a place in the sun?"

This is why the group will continue to ramp up in Asia, and make further inroads into the US, Europe and Australia, he said. In the US, for instance, the group is keen to expand from its current outfit in Chicago to New York.

In its 33rd year running, the Singapore Business Awards (SBA) is jointly organised by The Business Times, a business daily published by Singapore Press Holdings, and global logistics giant DHL.

The four awards, known collectively as the SBA, are decided by a panel of judges drawn from the business sector, official agencies and academia.

This year's Outstanding CEO of the Year award went to Changi Airport Group (CAG) CEO Lee Seow Hiang for leading the continued development of Changi Airport as one of the greatest air hubs in the world.

Under his watch since 2009, CAG has also built on the success of Changi Airport to expand overseas, investing in and managing foreign airports through its subsidiary Changi Airports International (CAI), whose presence now spans major economies including China, India, the Middle East, South America and Europe.

ComfortDelGro (UK & Ireland) Jaspal Singh also impressed the SBA panel of judges for his track record in expanding ComfortDelGro's operations and branding in the UK and Ireland.

Mr Singh, a Singaporean, moved to Britain to assume this role in 2004 after 27 years in the civil service. As part of his appointment, he is concurrently CEO of Metroline, ComfortDelGro's largest single investment in the UK, and CEO of CityFleet Networks, which holds together all of ComfortDelGro's taxi and private hire operations in the UK.

Mr Singh said he is accepting the Outstanding Overseas Executive of the Year award on behalf of his "first-class management team and the 5,700 hard-working men and women in Metroline who work passionately around the clock in all weather conditions, to keep London moving".

Receiving The Enterprise Award on Wednesday was HR consultancy firm HRnetGroup, which has been punching above its weight in an industry dominated by foreign names.

The Singapore-listed firm now employs 1,000 full-time consultants across 10 global cities and serve 2,000 clients, including 104 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list.

The Business Times editor Wong Wei Kong noted that with tenacity and resilience, the winners have continuously striven to achieve stellar results and proven themselves as market leaders in their fields.

Congratulating the winners, President Halimah Yacob said at the gala dinner on Wednesday that they "have exemplified the spirit of entrepreneurship, resilience and visionary drive".

But she also flagged that today's technological disruptions, shifts in global supply and value chains, and domestic constraints will fundamentally change the complexion for businesses. On that note, she urged businesses to innovate, internationalise, raise productivity through technology, and build human capital as a strategic asset - following in the footsteps of Singapore firms that have done so. "To support businesses in coping and capitalising on these fundamental shifts, the government will continue to invest for the longer term and foster conditions for growth and transformation of our businesses."

Among recent government moves was the launch of Enterprise Singapore - the result of a merger between International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and Spring Singapore - to provide more holistic support for Singapore enterprises in the future economy.

The government has also launched the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) to help organise economic transformation efforts in an integrated and coordinated tripartite approach.

READ MORE: Singapore Business Awards 2018 Supplement

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