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Leaders in the spotlight
THE ACES Awards Outstanding Leaders in Asia category was created to honour exceptional leaders who have demonstrated sound leadership and successfully applied business strategies to spearhead growth and expansion for their companies.
There were ten winners for the category at ACES 2020. Among them were Sirinthip (Celine) Chotithamaporn, regional managing director, DirectAsia Insurance, who wowed the jury with her adept growth of the business, resulting in a 48 per cent jump in profit in the first quarter of 2020, compared with the first quarter of 2019.
Also in the first quarter of 2020, DirectAsia's combined ratio improved by 30 points due to operational efficiency improvement and marketing and sales effectiveness.
Ms Chotithamaporn believes that a big aspect of success is the way a leader is able to lead associates through different companies and businesses. She is also of the mind that success means a happy balance of work life and home life. With the recognition that comes from winning an ACES Award, Ms Chotithamaporn plans to mentor future female leaders and young leaders, pay it forward by helping the vulnerable, and help develop the next generation.
Sudhir Agarwal, chief executive officer of Everise, a leading global business process outsourcing (BPO) company, began his work life in the most challenging job possible: A door-to-door salesman.
Selling Category 5 networking cables gave him an education in resilience.
He says: "After getting so many doors slammed in your face, when you finally make that first sale, you think you've done the best job in the world!"
Today, this Outstanding Leader says that a good leader must, first and foremost, have good communication skills. Other qualities are passion, compassion and being a good listener.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Everise team worked feverishly for two weeks, to migrate 90 per cent of its workforce to their work-at-home programme, and soon after, 100 per cent of their workforce. They continue to hire people by the thousands to support enterprise business continuity plans.
Jaime T Azurin, president of Global Business Power Corporation (GBP), began his company with 15 employees in 2003 and struggled through a US$14 million loan default. Today, GBP has 954 employees and is a leading power producer in the Visayas and Mindoro island, with several subsidiaries: Cebu Energy Development Corporation, Toledo Power Co and Panay Energy Development Corporation.
Mr Azurin says that even though leadership hasn't changed over the years, the style of it has, to suit the situation. Increasing globalisation, competitiveness and environment consciousness have forced modern leaders to be more agile, smart and adaptable.
Those make Mr Azurin believe that a leader should only do two things. The first is to create challenges for their people - something just outside the fringe of their comfort zones. The second is to inspire people, because "working from the heart inspires people to give their best".
In keeping with this, GBP has built new power plants near Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan and Mindoro, solving the issue of frequent brownouts and power disruptions.
Malaysian Outstanding Leader Shamsuddin bin Mohamed Yusof is a 30-year veteran in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. He is the chief executive officer of Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CTRM), one of the largest aerospace composites components manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific for commercial aircraft globally, counting Spirit AeroSystems and Collins Aerospace as its major clients.
Mr Shamsuddin served a number of leaders whose outstanding leadership contributed significantly towards his career development. Under his exemplary leadership and guidance, Mr Shamsuddin's employees are performance-oriented, effective team players and problem-solvers, qualities that future leaders embody.
At the beginning of 2017, the company received a string of awards including Airbus Best Performer 2019 and Asia's Best Employer 2019. With Mr Shamsuddin at its helm, the company is poised to garner more awards and achievements, despite the challenging post-Covid 19 world.
Blue Social is a mobile application powered by an external entity called Follow Mee Inc. The app is user-friendly as it provides users with their social media accounts, payment information, music and company details with a simple tap.
The mobile-app developer has also manufactured proprietary patented technology called auto-networking, which is the first Bluetooth based Ambient Network allowing for connectivity to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The co-founder of Blue Social, Christen-Leonor Santos Montero, attributes her unique psychological and socio-cultural insight on how consumers perceive brands and products to her educational background. Ms Montero graduated from the University of Redlands with a Bachelor's degree in Holistic Study of the Mind, Metaphysics, Marketing and Education.
She believes her multidisciplinary approach to understanding the human mind through quantum physics, biology, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology has helped leverage her expertise in the industry.
Ms Montero is the reason Blue Social has human touch and physical interactivity as its core. In the age of the machines, humans often find themselves lonely and isolated. She identified this as a problem that the app aims to be the solution for.
Diverse, yet united by shared philosophies of care and empowerment, the Outstanding Leaders of ACES 2020, are truly, outstanding in their business acumen, professionalism, entrepreneurial calibre and astuteness.