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Pushing the boundaries

From left: CAG's Lee Seow Hiang; Businessman of the Year Lim Hua Min; HRnetGroup's Adeline Sim and ComfortDelGro's Jaspal Singh

For the 33rd year running, the Singapore Business Awards (SBA) seek to honour corporate leaders who have successfully charted growth strategies to take their companies to the next level.

While this year's winners hail from diverse sectors, most of them have one thing in common – that is the tenacity to continually expand their boundaries beyond Singapore's shores and invest in their talents.

PhillipCapital Group executive chairman Lim Hua Min, who clinched the Singapore Businessman of the Year title, has turned the company from being single-market and single-product to one that is multi-market, multi-product, and multi-channel.

Cognisant of the power of network effects, the 72-year-old chairman says the group is still pushing the envelope by introducing new products and channels and entering new geographies.

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As an industry pioneer with over 40 years of experience, he is also known for revolutionising the sector by introducing the first Internet stock trading platform, POEMS, in Singapore in October 1996. The group went on to introduce Contracts For Difference to Singaporean investors in 2003 and the first Singapore-listed exchange traded fund tracking real estate investment trusts in 2016.

This year's winner of the Outstanding CEO of the Year award, Changi Airport Group (CAG) CEO Lee Seow Hiang, has also been pivotal in growing CAG's external wings.

Under his purview since 2009, CAG has built on the success of Changi Airport to expand overseas, investing in and managing foreign airports through its subsidiary Changi Airports International (CAI).

Today, CAI's presence spans major economies including China, India, the Middle East, South America and Europe.

Another prestigious SBA award – the Outstanding Overseas Executive Of The Year – goes to Jaspal Singh, who runs Metroline, London's second largest bus operator.

Mr Singh, a Singaporean, moved to Britain to assume the role of CEO of ComfortDelGro (UK and Ireland) in 2004 after 27 years in the civil service.

As part of his appointment, he is concurrently CEO of Metroline, which is 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.

As the London subsidiary of Singapore's transport giant ComfortDelGro, Metroline epitomises how some Singapore champions are taking the world stage. Mr Singh believes that investing in staff is key to running a successful services business. "To create a great company, as opposed to just a good company, you need people who are driven by their values and passion, not just by rules and the need to comply. If you have such people you become unbeatable," he says.

As for this year's winner of The Enterprise Award, homegrown HR consultancy firm HRnetGroup now employs 1,000 full-time consultants across 10 global cities – in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Shanghai, Bangkok, Beijing, Seoul and Guangzhou. They serve 2,000 clients, including 104 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list.

With a 22 per cent market share, the Singapore-listed HR firm is the largest recruitment firm by revenue in Singapore providing both professional recruitment and flexible staffing under 11 different brands.

The 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 Singapore Business Awards, are decided by a panel of judges drawn from the business sector, official agencies and academia.

Supplement editor: Lynette Khoo Sub-editor: Agnes Wee Photographers: Yen Meng Jiin, Kelvin Chng, Alphonsus Chern Advertising sales: Janet Wee-Ng 9619-0208 Don Lam 9848-2313 Simon Kang 9185-6185 Delan Tay 9785-3058