BUSINESS leaders who stayed ahead of the curve and took chances to chart their companies' transformational growth were honoured at Thursday night's Singapore Business Awards (SBA) 2016 for their various achievements.
Robert Yap, executive chairman of YCH Group, was named Businessman of the Year - the top award - for turning his family business into a regional supply chain provider.
"For many years, I've been watching this award, wondering when it will be my turn," he said to laughter before recounting his role in growing the group's business.
In transforming the family business from a passenger transport company that owned some 100 trucks into an end-to-end 5,000-strong supply chain group with operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, Mr Yap said that technology "became a very competitive differentiator" for the group.
And its growth story continues as YCH's new flagship headquarters in Jurong, named Supply Chain City, is scheduled to be operational by mid-2016. Costing more than S$200 million to build, the new facility will house the world's first fusion of an automated storage and retrieval system. It will also tap technology including drones to improve various aspects of the workflow.
Chief of DBS Group Holdings, Piyush Gupta, was named Outstanding Chief Executive of the Year 2015. While the group's results have been strong and it ranks high in customer satisfaction and innovation, Mr Gupta, who described his journey of leading DBS as "extraordinary", said that the banking industry was on the cusp of massive changes.
"The digital revolution represents both a threat and an opportunity. It will do much good for mankind, but it will also pose significant challenges, of which perhaps the biggest one is going to be the perpetuation of income inequity. In such an environment, I am convinced that companies like ours will have an extremely important role to play, much more than merely shareholder value creation agenda."
Shafie Shamsuddin of PT Trans Retail (Carrefour Indonesia) took home the Outstanding Overseas CEO award for his leadership and drive in putting the company back on a firm footing as Indonesia's No 1 hypermarket, even though he had faced significant obstacles including labour union demonstrations and a rival threat to disrupt the group's operations. "The challenges and difficulties that were presented to me became opportunities," he said, adding that he strives to be a better leader every day. "Inspiring others is challenging. Inspiring ourselves is what we need to do every day."
The Enterprise Award went to Jumbo Group, which grew from a single seafood restaurant in 1987 to a network of 17 restaurants in Singapore and China. And the group is showing no signs of slowing. It has been listed on the Catalist board of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) for nearly three months in an offering that was almost eight times oversubscribed.
The group has also set its sights on further expansion into the Chinese market.
Ang Kiam Meng, chief executive and executive chairman, paid tribute to his colleagues at Jumbo. "I am fortunate to work alongside a team of food and beverage professionals who take pride in their work and constantly push boundaries to reach greater heights."
Jointly organised by The Business Times and DHL Express Singapore since 1985, the SBA is Singapore's oldest and most prestigious business award.
A common thread of the four outstanding corporate leaders of the night, said Ken Lee, CEO of DHL Express Asia-Pacific, is that they have stayed ahead of the race despite the headwinds in 2015. "They have proven that success is not just about becoming the best, but it's also about enduring the worst."
READ MORE: SBA special: BIG PICTURE, BIG WINNERS