Sep 24, 2014

A truly humble man I respect!!!!

This middle aged man rides the MRT to work. He alights at Raffles Place, then walks about 20 minutes to his office in Robinson Road. Oh, he is probably one of the everyday working people commuting from home to work, except....... he is NOT!!  Mr Lim Siong Guan here is actually the group president of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC but he lives a very humble and down to earth life,  refusing to take a corporate limousine and instead insisting on public transport.


Whenever he needs a postage stamp or has any errand of a personal nature, he queues for it himself instead of bothering his secretary.
His yearly tour of GIC overseas offices since 2007 - four days around the world: Singapore, San Francisco, New York, London, Singapore; and another four days around Asia: Singapore, Mumbai, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore - is the stuff of corporate legend.
He does not book a single hotel room and sleeps on the plane. He lives out of a small carry-on bag and showers in GIC office gyms. The London office keeps a spare towel for him.
It is a practice the former chairman of the Economic Development Board says he picked up from his EDB days of city-hopping as "check-in luggage increases very significantly the chances of missing connecting flights".
He sticks out in the financial sector because of his ascetic values, thrift and humility. He owns a Volvo S60, easily the smallest car among his colleagues.
While he won't spend on hotel rooms, he's prepared to spend a lot to effect organisational change. Everywhere he goes, he ignites a mini revolution, cutting red tape, operating close to the boundaries and bucking conventions.
Dr Teh Kok Peng, chairman of business space solutions provider Ascendas and formerly president of GIC Special Investments, says: "In the office, some call him 'Superman' for his drive, energy and nobility of intention. He demands a lot of himself so he's in a position to demand a lot from others too."
His pet phrase is: "Are we ready for the future?" His pet name is Yoda, for his wisdom, long-range thinking and fearlessness in challenging his staff to think, even ahead of their ministers.
He is also known as one of the toughest - because of his formidable intellect and unbending principle - yet nicest bosses to work for in the civil service. His top question to staff is always: "How can I help you do your job better?"
Stories abound of the small and big ways in which he intervened to help others. None of this, of course, will ever be disclosed by the wiry, reticent 67-year-old.
He minimises it all, ascribing it to his yearning for "simplicity" and to "experience what ordinary people have to experience"

“Many supervisors will tell you what they want are people with energy, initiative, and imagination, but in reality, they feel threatened by people who have different views from theirs, and thus discourage or diminish those who carry bad news or make mistakes. Those who expect to harness the power and muscle of stallions must be self-confident, open-minded, intellectually honest, and also humble.” 
― Siong Guan LimThe Leader, The Teacher & You:Leadership Through The Third Generation


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