Distinguished Speakers

The IEL Distinguished Speakers Series is a platform at the intersection of leadership and engineering. The materialization of Engineering Leadership.

… to challenge prevailing thinking

… to challenge the status quo.


Speakers Over the Years

Mr Seah Moon Ming
Chairman, SMRT

Corporate Leadership in Action: Straight talk from an Engineer Leader
26 October 2018

Mr Seah Moon Ming began his career as an Engineer in 1981. He has risen through the ranks to take on several leadership positions in both start-up and established organisations. In a career spanning 37 years, he has acquired vast experience leading organisations and earned a reputation as a pragmatic leader & a straight-talker.

In this session, Mr Seah, in his usual straight-talking style, will share from his diverse corporate leadership experience the key attributes that help you to tackle issues head-on, incubate & nurture a “to do” culture and create value to your organisation and community.

View webcast of the event.

Mr. Tan Tong Hai
CEO & Executive Director, StarHub

The Engineering Mindset for Business Building & Disruption
8 September 2017

Engineers are driven by curiosity. That engineering mindset affects how engineers approach any situation and frame ideas that they generate. It is this mindset that enable engineers to be real-world problem-solvers having tremendous impact on how the world works and evolve. What is perhaps less understood, is how that very mindset can be applied to build businesses and deal with the almost continuous disruptions that we face today. Beyond immediate problem solving, engineers who see and understand the bigger picture, how an ecosystem functions, how people tick & knows what drives them, are leaders who can create value in areas other than in purely technical fields. 

Mr Tan Tong Hai, is an example of such a leader. As a fresh graduate from NUS Engineering, he made a conscious choice to choose a position in the IT field that allowed him to explore new areas of development. Now as CEO & Executive Director of StarHub, that same engineering mindset of curiosity and the drive to create, is what he believes is necessary to be inculcated in today’s students to create the leaders for tomorrow. In this session, Mr Tan shared lessons from his leadership path, his current challenges, and how he believes the engineering mindset can be nurtured to help create value through business building, and to better deal with a disruptive environment.

View webcast of the event.

Photos of the event: 

Mr. Loh Kin Wah
Managing Partner, Beijing Jianguang Asset Management Co., former EVP, Global Sales and Marketing, NXP Semiconductor Netherlands, President & Chief Executive Officer, Qimonda AG, Munich, Germany, and EVP, Communication Group, Infineon Technology

Mr Chew Ker Yee, Vice President, Business Operations, Wangi Industrial
Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director, Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology

Singapore’s Next Mile – The Global Tech SME
12 April 2017

In recent months, there has been increasing urgency in efforts to push Singapore to transform itself in the face of global and technological disruptions. As Singapore diversifies and deepens its global connections & innovation networks, enterprises need to match this with skills to enable them to innovate and scale up, as well as be more pro-active in partnering each other & with others to create and capture opportunities. SMEs are a critical component of Singapore’s plans to remain competitive. There have been numerous initiatives to help local enterprises scale up, be more productive and innovative. However, in light of such rapid global and technological disruptions, SMEs need to think & be global from the get-go, with or without government assistance. Mr Loh Kin Wah has held senior management positions in global tech MNCs. In recent years, he has become increasingly active in high-tech investments in China, and advises SMEs in Singapore and elsewhere. Kin Wah shared his insight on growth-oriented tech SMEs which he believes can power Singapore into its next stage of growth leveraging on technology innovation.

View webcast of the event  

Mr. Tang Kin Fei
Group President & CEO, Sembcorp Industries

Being Future Ready: A corporate perspective. An engineer’s perspective.
16th April 2015

Sembcorp Industries is a leading energy, water and marine group with operations across 15 countries. The group’s vision and next phase of growth: being a truly global company. What capabilities and talent are required of a global company? And how is Sembcorp preparing itself for this future? Mr Tang Kin Fei shares the group’s strategy and tactics for growth and long-term sustainability, and how a foundation in engineering helps one to be future ready.

View webcast of the event.

This event was supported by Engineering Alumni Singapore (EAS).

Mr. J Y Pillay
Rector of the Residential College of Alice & Peter Tan, UTown, NUS

What It Takes to Nurture Engineer Leaders
13 November 2014

IEL has as its mission the nurturing of engineer-leaders. To this end, we provide programmes in the Faculty of Engineering for engineers and engineering students to apply their technical skills, develop their soft skills and hone their value-creation skills through innovation & entrepreneurship activities. These are skills needed for engineers to step up as leaders. Value can only be created by those who can spot opportunities and have the right skills to pull together people and resources to make things happen.

What else can and should be done to develop leaders in engineering? How can Singapore continue to draw in and cultivate talent able to create value for Singapore?

Come join us and share in this opportunity for a frank chat with Mr. Pillay, an Engineer-Leader!

View webcast of the event.

Professor Sir Mike Gregory
Head, Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) & Manufacturing and Management Division, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge

Manufacturing in a High-cost Country
9 January 2014

The last 5 years have seen a dramatic renewal of interest in manufacturing in high cost countries particularly the USA and the UK.  In part this is due to the perceived instabilities in the financial and service industries but also because countries with a strong science base again see manufacturing as an important way of capturing value.  Continuing changes in the scale and capabilities of developing countries have also contributed to a rapidly changing global industrial landscape.

Professor Gregory will describe some of the measures which are being put in place to enhance manufacturing capability in high cost countries and review emerging patterns of industrial and manufacturing policy.

View webcast of the event.

Professor Liew Mun Leong
Provost Chair Professor (Practice), NUS Business School and Faculty of Engineering
Founding President & CEO, CapitaLand Group

Pragmatic Leadership – Key to Leadership Success in Corporations
3 September 2013

Professor Liew Mun Leong is first and foremost an engineer. “I was trained as an engineer and wanted to be a good professional engineer. I spent many years doing that. I had never thought of becoming a CEO.” So how did this engineer become recognised by Fortune magazine (2008) as one of the top 25 most powerful businesspeople in Asia?

Come hear from one of NUS Faculty of Engineering’s own distinguished alumni as he shares his thoughts on leadership.

View webcast of the event.

Mr Tan Gee Paw
Chairman, Public Utilities Board

The Little Blue Dot
3 April 2013

In the two preceding lectures, Mr Ngiam Tong Dow had discussed the need to have wealth creators rather than wealth managers, and Mr Choo Chiau Beng had followed up with his lecture on wealth creation from an organisational perspective. In this lecture, I will discuss the role of engineering systems for wealth creation, in particular with respect to a basic infrastructure, water.

In many countries, water technologies span the entire water spectrum from water supply to used water treatment technologies to flood alleviation schemes. Often these technologies exist in separate and unrelated silos, residing in different and often competing agencies of the government. Singapore recognised the need to view the entire water spectrum of technologies as a total engineering system a few decades ago and took the bold step of putting the disparate pieces together into a integrated engineering system, injecting a strong dose of innovative R&D into the missing links. The result has been most rewarding. What was formerly a limiting factor to wealth creation in a water scarce country has now become a thriving new industry for Singapore with global impact.

What did it take to achieve this and can this same model be applied across a large company?

View article on Newshub.
View webcast of the event.

Mr Choo Chiau Beng
Chief Executive Officer, Keppel Corporation Ltd,
Chairman of Keppel Land Limited, Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd and Keppel Energy Pte Ltd

How do we “create” wealth?
19 November 2012 

In the preceding lecture, Mr Ngiam Tong Dow, Pro-Chancellor, NUS, spoke on what characterizes a “tycoon” – a wealth creator.

In this 3rd of the DSS lecture series, wealth creation from an organisational perspective will be discussed.

Keppel has been credited with spearheading the revival of an entire industry and generating further wealth creation opportunities in Singapore and abroad. It persevered and seized the opportunities to consolidate, innovate and expand the offshore and marine business, translating and spinning the opportunities beyond its original core business.

What did it take to make that leap forward, and continue to drive developments?

What investments in innovation, technology and people did Keppel make to become what it is today?

How can other local companies follow the example in pushing the boundaries, to stretch beyond their comfort zone, with an eye not on short-term gains but on long term, sustainable impact?

View webcast of the event.

Mr Ngiam Tong Dow
Pro-Chancellor, NUS

Leaders in Wealth Creation: Jurong Island versus Shenton Way?
16 May 2012

Though our education system has produced an abundance of wealth managers, we have precious few wealth creators. Graduates in accounting, law, economics, engineering and even medicine, rush headlong for managerial jobs in banks, industry, and yes government. Only a tiny few take the plunge to start their own enterprises. Why so? In my contact with successful entrepreneurs, the singular characteristic that differentiates the wealth creator from the wealth manager is the tycoon thinks out of the box. The CEO thinks within the box.

When the best and brightest of Oxbridge and the Ivy League head straight for the City of London and Wall Street on graduation, their countries will inevitably go into relative economic decline. While wealth management may reward the talented individual banker handsomely, it does nothing to increase the wealth of the country. Henry Ford contributed more wealth to America, than dare I say, Warren Buffet, the fund manager extraordinaire. Similarly courtiers like Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, the original venture capitalists at the court of Elizabeth I, plundered more gold from Spanish galleons for the realm than the wealth management coups of the famed Rothschild family.

Is there a cautionary tale in all this for Singapore when we value Shenton Way more than Jurong Island?

View webcast of the event

Professor Dr. Jacqueline Cramer
Director, Utrecht Sustainability Institute

Sustainable Innovations – People, Planet and Profit
20 February 2012

It is an undeniable fact that industrialization and technology innovations have come at the cost of our environment. We are quickly reaching a point where it is possible that nothing can be done to reverse the damage. Technology and big business are often blamed for what has happened. But it also clear that they can be the solution to the problem.

But what would drive this change? Do we expect companies to no longer consider profitability? Of course not. However profits need not necessarily suffer – sustainable innovation is not just a catchphrase. Some companies have taken great strides in this and in fact have seen growth for their efforts in “saving the planet”. How was this done? What needs to be put into place? What is the role of government in this? As a supporter or a driver of this change?