Biz Sch News 06 April 2015

A Passion for Connecting the Dots

Since he was a young boy, Adjunct Associate Professor Goh Puay Guan has always been passionate about piecing together the big picture. Today, he is fortunate to be able to apply his passion to work; piecing together supply chain puzzles to form the big picture.

“I’ve always been excited about how we can synthesise and integrate various aspects of the value network into a coherent framework. I find it very satisfying to make sense out of a lot of information, and organise it into a clear picture and actionable items,” he shares in his ‘Profile of Success’ by Stanford University.

Goh Puay Guan

Born and raised in Singapore, and educated in top institutions such as Stanford University and University of London, Puay Guan has also connected the dots globally, with varied professional experiences.  “I’ve had the benefit of being involved in different business initiatives, all of which have been turning points in my career, broadening my experience and exposure. Starting an e-commerce company for the petrochemical industry around the year 2000 was one of them,” he shares.

His first job after graduation turned out to be a career-match made in heaven that combined his interests in technology and management.  It was with SembCorp Logistics, a leading player in supply chain management in Asia Pacific, where he was involved in strategic planning as well as technology implementation. He rotated in different management roles in various Asian countries, with the same company. He was based in China for a project stint, and in South Korea, for Toll Global Logistics for its joint venture, subsequent acquisition and post-merger integration.

Today, he is the Vice President of Sembcorp Development Ltd and the General Director for Sembcorp Infra Services Hai Phong Co. Ltd. In 2014, Puay Guan incorporated a new company, Sembcorp Infra Services Pte Ltd , to invest, build and lease warehousing property in the region, riding on the trend of e-commerce and increasing distribution needs.

Receiving the ASEAN Business Award in the Growth (SME) category in Brunei Darussalam in 2013

Receiving the ASEAN Business Award in the Growth (SME) category in Brunei Darussalam in 2013

These global experiences have won him recognition as well.  Puay Guan won the ASEAN Business Award in the Growth (SME) category for Batamindo Shipping and Warehousing in 2013 and the Ten Outstanding Young Persons merit award in the Business and Entrepreneurship category in 2012. 


Teaching and its Rewards

A leading expert in the field of supply chain management, Puay Guan has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at NUS Business School since 2011 where he teaches courses in Supply Chain Management, and Global Operations Strategy.  He has also worked and taught as an Adjunct Professor in South Korea.

Teaching offers Puay Guan an opportunity to interact and discuss ideas with fellow colleagues as well as his students. He also appreciates the well-endowed resources offered by a large community like NUS.  But most of all, he thrives on the energy present in the School.

“In the Biz School and in places like the U-town, you can sense a palpable buzz,” he says. “This is helped by the many open spaces and sitting areas where people can get together and exchange ideas. It is such interactions that create shared experiences, shared learning and a stronger sense of community.”

From Teaching to Writing  

His teaching experiences has also inspired him to write a book.  When he started lecturing in 1999, he preferred to create his own teaching materials rather than rely on the standard textbooks. Inspired by management books in the market, he started using story-telling techniques to illustrate key supply chain principles in his class, and to bring up more Asian examples and original materials from companies in the region. Eventually, he had enough materials for a book.

The book, titled “Supply Chain Management: A Concise Guide,” was published by Pearson in 2005. It is an easy guide to supply chain management that helps managers understand how the separate functional areas integrate into one big picture.  This January marked the release of the book’s second edition, which has been updated with the latest trends in supply chain and newer examples.  Keeping true to his love for storytelling, each chapter starts by drawing an analogy to one of the most industrious mammals in the animal kingdom.


“I settled on using the story of beavers as I thought there were quite a lot of supply chain parallels. Beavers need to manufacture lodges using twigs and leaves. They source for materials by chewing off bark and twigs. The way they store food for winter is comparable to warehousing and inventory management. The disruptive dams they create is reminiscent of supply chain disruption.”

“What has always struck me as interesting is the breadth of adaptation and innovation of many companies in their business expansion. Today, lines are blurring between retail, logistics and e-commerce.  It’s imperative that companies review their business model to take advantage of opportunities presented by emerging markets,” shares Prof Goh when asked about what inspired the latest edition.

Prof Goh Puay Guan is an Adjunct Associate Professor at NUS Business School. He majored in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University on a Singapore Technologies scholarship but that did not stop him from taking an interest in the humanities, social sciences, marketing and management. He went on to obtain his Masters in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford and an Economics degree from the University of London. He is the author of “Supply Chain Management: A Concise Guide,” published by Pearson and available at NUS Coop store. Reach him at