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Winners embody 'unstoppable' theme

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"What the winners have achieved is not just business excellence for their respective organisations but also changing the face of and lifting the industries they operate in." - Ron Sim, chair of the judging panel

FIVE entrepreneurs have been named winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) 2019 Singapore awards.

They are namely Ron Tan, executive chairman and group CEO, Cityneon Holdings; Ng Gim Choo, founder and managing director, EtonHouse International Education Group; David (Hyonmoo) Lee, CEO, IYUNO Media Group; Kong Wan Sing, founder and CEO, JustCo; and Yeah Hiang Nam, managing director and CEO, ValueMax Group Limited.

The five recipients took home the awards for their various sectors: media and entertainment, education, digital media supply chain, workspace solutions and financial services, respectively.

Two other honorary awards were also handed out: Dennis A Uy, chairman and president of Udenna Corporation, was named the winner of this year's EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, while Far East Organization received the EY Family Business Award of Excellence.

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Launched in Singapore in 2002 to honour entrepreneurs who have created and sustained successful business ventures, as well as to coincide with the government's focus on fostering entrepreneurship and grooming local entrepreneurs, the EY EOY awards programme has now evolved into a leading business award in Singapore with an international presence and footprint.

Ron Sim, executive chairman and CEO of V3 Group Limited, who was also previously named EY EOY for 2003 Singapore, is the chair of the judging panel made up of Chia Nam Toon, assistant group CEO of ARA Asset Management; Alvin Lim, managing director of CVC Capital; Prof Annie Koh, vice-president of business development, V3 Group professor of family entrepreneurship, and professor of finance (practice) at Singapore Management University; Ng Cher Pong, chief executive of SkillsFuture Singapore; and Dr Shi Xu, founder and executive chairman of the Nanofilm Group.

The latter was awarded the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (Advanced Manufacturing) and was the overall winner of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017. He is also the first university professor turned entrepreneur to represent Singapore at the prestigious EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018.

"The class of award winners this year reflects diverse profiles: some are in established and traditional sectors, while others are in heavily disrupted or even new sectors that are brought forth by the digital and sharing economy," said Mr Sim. "Yet, different as they are, they bear distinct similarities in their resilience despite market challenges, their ability to remain unfazed and seize opportunities in technological disruption, and their constant pursuit of innovation."

He added: "What the winners have achieved is not just business excellence for their respective organisations but also changing the face of and lifting the industries they operate in."

The winners were selected from close to 40 nominations by an independent judging panel, based on their merits in fulfilling the six global judging criteria, namely entrepreneurial spirit, financial performance/value creation, strategic direction, national and global impact, innovation and personal integrity/purpose-driven leadership.

Entrepreneurial spirit would mean that the individual is a risk-taker who sets very high standards and demonstrates an unflinching desire and determination to succeed despite significant obstacles.

Financial performance centres around the demonstration of strong financial performance, potential for long-term sustainability and the maintenance of a good track record in raising finance, coupled with quality investments and its focus on the development of human capital.

Strategic direction encompasses the individual's ability not only to create and turn business visions into reality but also to build strategic alliances and empower talent in order to achieve common goals.

For national and global impact, the business has to have displayed a high degree of potential for growth and expansion into international markets, and made national and global impact in terms of job creation and improved living economics.

To meet the criteria of innovation, the individual would have to have pioneered a new approach or technology, embrace changes and continuously innovate.

Finally, purpose-driven leadership would mean that the individual earns great respect and is able to communicate ideas and influence the wider community.

Additionally, the individual must demonstrate a commitment to the highest ethical and quality standards in business activities and operations while enforcing socially responsible practices in seeking to improve the quality of life.

Max Loh, Singapore managing partner, Ernst & Young LLP, explains how the winning entrepreneurs embody this year's theme of "unstoppable - innovate, disrupt, transform".

"Spotting a compelling business or market gap is important, but more so is seizing the opportunity at the right time and sustaining the initiative," he says. "True entrepreneurs forge on no matter what difficulties they face, fuelled by their vision and passion, the trust that their families, stakeholders and employees place in them, and the belief in innovation to grow regardless of how long they have been in the business."

Mr Loh adds: "These winners have also demonstrated how they are ready to keep disrupting themselves to upend their competition or grow in a fiercely competitive disrupted sector."