Some good fortune and luck, says Mr Lee Hsien Yang
Distinguished Business Leader,
Mr Lee Hsien Yang
Overseas Singaporeans (OS) living in and around New York City had a rare opportunity to come up close and personal with Mr Lee Hsien Yang, Non-Executive Director and Chairman of Fraser and Neave (F&N) Limited, during the 19th Distinguished Business Leaders (DBL) Series on 5 Dec 2008. The event attracted a record turn out of 230 attendees despite the cold weather.
Mr Lee recounted his journey and experience as CEO of SingTel. He related with pride some of the key milestones and significant moments in developing SingTel into the biggest telecommunications company in Southeast Asia. From 1995 to 2007, SingTel went through ‘tumultuous change’ and finally managed to triple its profits by expanding into other parts of Asia and Australia.
Mr Chiang presenting Prof Wee's
pottery as token of appreciation to
Mr Lee while Prof Wee Hong Ling
Mr Lee shared that sometimes an element of good fortune and luck was vital in a business, and that not every scenario could be modeled, as was usually the practice. To illustrate his point, Mr Lee invited an OS on stage and offered him a choice of two envelopes, one containing twice the amount as the other.
His premise was that no matter how robust a model could be in representing this scenario, it could not be used as an accurate prediction model to determine whether or not he should choose one envelope over the other.
(L-R) Mr Chiang Chie Foo (Permanent Secretary, PMO), Mr Lee Hsien Yang (Non-Executive Director and Chairman, Fraser and Neave Ltd), Amb Chan Heng Chee (S'pore's Ambassador to US), Mr Vanu Gopala Menon (Perm Rep, Permanent Mission of S'pore to UN), Ms Quah Ley Hoon (Director, Overseas Singaporean Unit)
Q&A session with Amb Chan Heng
Chee as Moderator
This activity drew the attention of the attendees and the room was filled with eager anticipation of its outcome. The attendees were keen to engage Mr Lee further during the Q&A session. The questions included specific issues like the edge Singapore had over other cities by introducing gaming in Singapore as well as generic questions like the reasons one should go back to Singapore instead of remaining in New York City. In response to the latter, Mr Lee said that besides being a great place for doing business in the region, the help from the bureaucracies and general accessibility were plus points. Singapore was the one place he considered home, despite his years as an Overseas Singaporean student both in the UK and the US.
The sharing extended beyond the Q & A session where the OS continued to engage Mr Lee with questions and more personal comments – all over a selection of Singaporean food including Hainanese Chicken Rice, Beef Rendang and Satay.
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