I attended the 9th Lecture of the Institute for Engineering Leadership’s Distinguished Speaker at the NUS. This opportunity was courtesy of our manager.
The lecture feature Ms Olivia Lum, Executive Chairman & Group Chief Executive Officer, Hyflux Ltd who will speak on “Managing Complex Situations in Emerging Economies and More Challenging Markets” – a subject matter that we are sure would resonate with many in today”s challenging climate.
Many entrepreneurs, top executives, lecturers, students and others attended the 1.5 hour event. Olivia shared on her experiences in setting up her business. Like other business owners, she started of her business from a HDB or JTC rented industrial space. She had successfully steered her company to its current status as water is an important resource in Singapore and many parts of the World.
She also mentioned that she need to raised $1 million dollars in the 1990s for her business expansion. Her lectures and others chip in to made the funding a successful one. She even joke that $1 million dollars maybe peanuts today but was worth a lot back then. The attendees explode into laughter as this peanuts had been used in many context by our leaders.
She got her breakthrough in China when many MNCs was coming into the country to start their operations. They need waste water treatment and she was able to provided the solution ‘s to them. As she was able to communicate in Chinese and English, this gives her a clear advantage over the other competitors.
As the China business starts to mature, she look into into emerging economies that can provide new oportunity for her company. Hyflux is now in North Africa, Middle East, Algeria where water is a critical resource like Singapore.
In Singapore, engineers are deem fortunate as we have many many jobs to choose from. But she also reminded that the expectations are high. You will need to work extra hard as you are drawing a salary 3 to 5 times as compared with an engineer in other countries. Therefore the bosses also expect you to work 3 times harder compared with others.
We are not business owners but just executives of a hospital wanting to charge up our mind in this talk.
We did not pose any question for the speaker. But the audiences already had many question’s for her. New business owners had hard time to raise funds or find new opportunities in the market. It is a tough world out there and only the fittest bosses will survive.