Philip Ng, CEO of Far East Organization
Father's tough love that shaped a
Father's mentorship guided
him in his early days: Far East Organization CEO
Escaping a leadership role in property
developer Far East Organization was never an option for chief executive
Philip Ng because of the 'conditioning' that he and his brother had received
from their father and Singapore's
richest man, Ng Teng
We were born into that role and from very
young, we were conditioned,' said Mr Philip Ng during the Global Leadership
'I must say he did a very good job in
conditioning us because I never felt I had an option,' he added to laughter
from the crowd.
Mr Ng, who became chief executive in the
1990s, said that he had wanted to pursue a PhD after his Masters at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
'I actually wanted to do a PhD because
that would have meant three years away from having to immerse myself in work
because I know that my father is a slave driver,' he said in jest.
And having his father as a constant
mentor helped to raise his level of discernment which he needed as a leader.
'My father is a mentor but a tough one.
As you know the term, tough love. When I was younger, he'd always tell me,
'I have to tell you, even if it hurts because only I can tell you. When
you're at the position where you're in, everybody's going to say nice things
to you',' said Mr Ng.
'I take it to heart because I know he
means well. I also then sieve out what people are saying, good or bad' while
remaining open to different views, he added.
He also told reporters on the sidelines
of the event that the completion of its new mall Orchard Central will be
delayed until the first quarter of next year. The project was expected to be
completed by the end of this year.
'Unfortunately, there are construction
delays,' said Mr Ng. 'It's just a feature of the very tight market right
now. But I think we've explained the situation to the prospective tenants
and most of them understand.'
Earlier in the day, Banyan Tree Holdings
executive chairman Ho Kwon Ping spoke on the role of education today in
shaping future leaders during a question-and-answer session.
Mr Ho, who is also chairman of the
Singapore Management University, said that primary and secondary schools
today focus too much on technical education, and not enough on character
'The role of schools in developing a
student's character is very important. Because a good character will lead to
the development of personality, which is the foundation of leadership,' he
Chiming in with her views, Mr Ho's wife,
Banyan Tree senior vice-president Claire Chiang, had some advice for
corporates when hunting for candidates to become their future leader.
'Perhaps you should not only look for
those with high or technical qualifications, but, instead, those with
philosophy or creative arts background . . . (They) have the vision, the
spirit and character,' she said.
2008 August 5 BUSINESS
Far East to pay attention to high-end
overseas players has raised the bar in prices and quality: CEO
Far East Organization will pay more
attention to the high-end property market, which has grown too big to
ignore, says CEO Philip Ng.
'In the past, we concentrated our efforts
on the mass market serving entry-level private home buyers as well as buyers
of mid-market condominiums and landed homes.
'Today, this very wealthy segment of the
market has grown too significant to ignore. We must therefore augment our
organisational machinery, in terms of our product development and sales and
marketing capabilities, to address this,' Mr Ng says in the group's in-house
Mr Ng also stressed that as Singapore
shapes up as a vibrant international city, it is seeing new players from
overseas with 'high standards and deep expertise' and 'flush with cash and
hungry for projects'.
'They have raised the bar in prices and
quality and changed the nature of the game.' Mr Ng observed.
'We need the right frame of mind and
resolve to compete in this new league,' he said, stressing that it was
imperative for the group to lift its level of performance as the 'stakes
have become much higher now, with the heat in the market and soaring
'For if we do not sell at the right
prices, when we go back into the market, we are actually topping up more
equity. We would be doing what is uneconomic, that is, selling low and
buying high,' he said.
At the other pole, income-driven demand
also looks more promising. Mr Ng said that sustained robust economic growth
and a strong job market will translate to rising incomes.
'There will be more purchasing power to
support the domestic segment of the property market - the mass-market,
entry-level, and mid-market condominiums and landed properties which have
remained subdued thus far.
'In the next few years, we expect the
middle market to play catch-up with the international market in terms of
transaction activity with some price upswing,' he said.
Far East sold 869 residential, commercial
and industrial units worth $725 million last year. But while the group's
business showed improvements across all fronts, 'we were not able to meet
our targets in property sales and in the leasing of our portfolio of
residential, retail and industrial assets'.
Far East, set up by Mr Ng's father,
property magnate Ng Teng Fong, last year bought nine sites costing about
$1.6 billion in Singapore. They will yield in total 3.1 million square feet
of buildable area. This is the largest land bank investment Far East has
made in a single year, exceeding the total of $1.54 billion invested in land
and property acquisitions in the preceding six years from 2000 to 2005.
Besides the nine sites, Far East's Hong Kong-based sister company Sino Land
bought the Collyer Quay site last year for $165.8 million.
- 2007 March 14 BUSINESS