Biz Sch News 08 July 2015

Commencement 2015: Advice from Singapore’s business leaders


More than 1000 students from the Doctorate, Masters and Bachelor cohorts graduated from our Business School yesterday.

Some are already employed or have secured jobs before graduation, but many will be looking to join the workforce in Singapore.

Many of them might not be sure what to expect as they begin a new phase in their lives.

Fortunately, they have two influential business leaders, who were at the Commencement ceremony as guest speakers, to give advice to the graduates.

So Outside-In listened to the two – Loh Chin Hua, CEO of Keppel Corporation, and Chua Sock Koong, group CEO of Singtel – and present here the highlights from their speeches.

And what is the best part about these commencement speeches? The advice is relevant even for those who are not in gowns and mortarboards.


Loh Chin Hua, CEO, Keppel Corporation

Be curious and ask questions

When things work, understand why they do. Equally, when things do not work, ask why did they not?

“Learn how these can be applied to your situation or even better, how they can be useful to others. And connecting these dots may lead you to discover better solutions for your customers,” he said.

Be humble

With humility, one can learn from anyone and from every situation. Be open to learning from younger people, junior colleagues, and even adversaries in business. There is always something to be learnt, he said.

Embrace change

Change is a constant. Accept it rather than fight it. Indeed, learn to take risks, get out of comfort zones and constantly reinvent to remain relevant.

And do the right thing

Even as the world changes around you, ensure that only your core values should remain unchanged.

Start by finding the values that resonate with you, then join an organisation which embraces those same values, said Loh. Then be an active champion in fostering these values there.

“These values will firmly anchor you and your team members to do the right things, and not just doing things right,” he said.


Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO, Singtel

Never be complacent

Even a giant like Singtel had to fight to keep its market share in a small domestic market like Singapore.

“So even if you’re in the lead, never be complacent because it takes work – a lot of work – to stay there,” she said.

Take risks

When competition was introduced to the Singapore telecommunications market, the leadership had to look overseas for growth. For the first time.

And it was an invaluable experience for the company – the management can better evaluate investments, work with partners, introduce proper processes and become more culturally sensitive.

And be prepared to fail

When Singtel first ventured out of Singapore, it bravely invested in regional telecommunication companies even during unfavourable market conditions. Today, its overseas operations account for 75 percent of the organisation’s earnings.

“If you are open to failure, you are open to opportunity,” she said.