Winning Entrepreneurs

Five leading entrepreneurs named winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2019 Singapore awards

Professional services organization EY recently announced the five recipients of its 18th EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) 2019 Singapore awards:

•       EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Media and Entertainment

Mr. Ron Tan, Executive Chairman and Group CEO, Cityneon Holdings

•       EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Education

Mrs. Ng Gim Choo, Founder and Managing Director, EtonHouse International Education Group

•       EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Digital Media Supply Chain  

Mr. David (Hyonmoo) Lee, CEO, IYUNO Media Group

•       EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Workspace Solutions 

Mr. Kong Wan Sing, Founder and CEO, JustCo

•       EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Financial Services

Mr. Yeah Hiang Nam (PBM), Managing Director and CEO, ValueMax Group Limited

One of the winners will be named the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Singapore, and represent Singapore at the annual EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ (WEOY) award in Monte Carlo in 2020 to compete with contenders from over 50 countries.

Singapore’s representative to the WEOY award will be announced at the EY EOY Awards Gala, to be held on 3 October 2019 at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. The Guest-of-Honor of the gala will be Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Secretary-General, National Trades Union Congress, Mr. Ng Chee Meng.

The winners were selected from close to 40 nominations by an independent judging panel, based on their merits in fulfilling the six global judging criteria, namely entrepreneurial spirit, financial performance/value creation, strategic direction, national and global impact, innovation and personal integrity/purpose-driven leadership.

The winners share their learnings as an entrepreneur:

Ron Tan, Executive Chairman and Group CEO, Cityneon Holdings

“Firstly, decisions. One must be willing and daring to make decisions – and at the most timely and critical moments. Never fear making wrong decisions. The true test of a leader is in handling the consequences of decisions made, especially the wrong ones.

“Secondly, listening. Entrepreneurs are bad listeners. We must be more willing to listen and admit mistakes. We must let go of pride and stubbornness, and make the necessary U-turn to make things right.

“Next, rise above the noise. Entrepreneurs see possibilities few can. We must be wary of the noise around us. Noise that can come in the form of an expert opinion, the well-intended advice, or a friendly caution.

“Finally, fundamentals. It is crucial to focus and stick to the fundamentals of the business. Do not get distracted by quick wins, new opportunities, or shortcuts. Press on till you reach (exceed) your target. It is closer than you think!”

Mrs. Ng Gim Choo, Founder and Managing Director, EtonHouse International Education Group

“I learnt that the key elements to success are the ‘4Ps’. They stand for Passion, Perseverance, People and Professional development.

“Passion – Having a passion for education gave me the drive to always put children’s interest at the heart of everything we do. This has guided us to make sound decisions.

“Perseverance – There will be difficulties and challenges no matter which path you take. With passion, you will have the perseverance to keep going, and overcome challenges head-on.

“People – People play a critical part in any organization’s success. I hired the very best people, who not only have the skills, but who share the same passion and commitment.

“Professional development – At EtonHouse, we invest heavily on training and professional development. This is something I learnt during my time as an auditor at EY, where the firm spent a lot of resources on staff training.

“These 4Ps represent my entrepreneurship philosophy.”

Mr. David (Hyonmoo) Lee, CEO, IYUNO Media Group 

“The biggest learning for me is how true leadership is made. As we all know, great leadership breaks through so many challenges in business. I have made many mistakes in my career as an entrepreneur and learned two important factors in building successful leadership:

“Visions must go beyond my expectations and I have to believe in the impossible. Small visions do not motivate people. Positivity and insight into what I do fuels my vision.

“I have had to lose first, to eventually win. The stakeholders in my business – whether it is employees, clients or investors – trust and devote themselves when they feel assured that I will protect their interest no matter what. Our friendship is formed in our willingness to sacrifice and give what we can to what we need from each other.”

Mr. Kong Wan Sing, Founder and CEO, JustCo

“Resilience is an important trait in any entrepreneur. The common ground shared by all entrepreneurs are undeniably the failures, obstacles and hard work. So, resilience is important to allow you to recover and bounce back during hardships, and motivate you to move forward. With every obstacle faced, you will emerge stronger, gain greater confidence in steering the ship towards the right direction, and turn their failures into successes.”

Mr. Yeah Hiang Nam (PBM), Managing Director and CEO, ValueMax Group Limited

“Adapting to the changing environment is crucial for business success. When market changes, so must business strategies and operations.”

What the judges say

Chairman of the judging panel, Mr. Ron Sim, also Executive Chairman and CEO of V3 Group Limited, comments on the winners this year:

“The class of award winners this year reflects diverse profiles: some are in established and traditional sectors, while others are in heavily disrupted or even new sectors that are brought forth by the digital and sharing economy. Yet, different as they are, they bear distinct similarities in their resilience despite market challengers, their ability to remain unfazed and seize opportunities in technological disruption, and their constant pursuit of innovation. What the winners have achieved is not just business excellence for their respective organizations but also changing the face of and lifting the industries they operate in.”

Mr. Max Loh, Singapore Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP, explains how the winning entrepreneurs embody this year’s theme of “Unstoppable – innovate, disrupt, transform”:

“Spotting a compelling business or market gap is important, but more so is seizing the opportunity at the right time and sustaining the initiative. True entrepreneurs forge on no matter what difficulties they face, fueled by their vision and passion, the trust that their families, stakeholders and employees place in them, and the belief in innovation to grow regardless of how long they have been in the business. These winners have also demonstrated how they are ready to keep disrupting themselves to upend their competition or grow in a fiercely competitive disrupted sector.”

The official partners of the EOY awards are The Business Times and The Edge Singapore (official media partners) and Merrill Corporation (data partner). The supporters are Action Community for Entrepreneurship; Enterprise Singapore; Singapore Business Federation; and SkillsFuture Singapore.

The EY EOY awards programme was launched in Singapore in 2002 to honor entrepreneurs who have created and sustained successful business ventures, as well as to coincide with the government’s focus on fostering entrepreneurship and grooming local entrepreneurs. Now in its 18th year, the awards has evolved into a leading business award in Singapore with an international presence and footprint. For more information about the EY EOY programme, please visit ey.com/sg/eoy.

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