The mandarin and the teacher: Long-time civil servant Lim Siong Guan talks to Vikram Khanna about Singapore’s generational challenges and the art of leadership

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 08, 2014

The mandarin and the teacher

Long-time civil servant Lim Siong Guan talks to Vikram Khanna about Singapore’s generational challenges and the art of leadership

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IT is hard to imagine a career in the Singapore civil service as rich in variety, accomplishment and distinction as that of Lim Siong Guan. In his 37 years in the service, he has held positions at almost all levels. He has been an engineer in the Sewerage Department, started a flying club to groom pilots for the air force, procured tanks and artillery for the military, worked with school teachers and principals to reshape education policy, helped draw up national budgets, promoted innovation in the civil service, pioneered the development of e-services in government and also oversaw Singapore’s investments.

He has occupied some of the hottest seats in government, covering key ministries and statutory boards (see bio). And his innings still aren’t over. Even now, eight years on from official retirement, he is Group President of the GIC.

In the course of this long journey, Mr Lim has collected a wealth of experience and memories, friends and admirers. Many of his mentees and proteges are scattered across government, and some are even in cabinet. One of them, Minister for Education Heng Swee Kiat, revealed at the launch of Mr Lim’s book last month that there is a saying in the civil service: “This is very LSG.” It is mentioned whenever first principles and core values are invoked to draw up a new policy or initiative.

Mr Lim’s book is entitled The Leader, the Teacher and You, which he co-authored with his daughter Joanne. “There’s an adage which says: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime,” he says, as we begin our conversation. “What I hope to do in my book is share thoughts developed over the many years of my working life and hope that some of them will be interesting to other people. The book does not really offer any solutions, nor does it go in any depth into the policies of the past. The intention is to convey what drives organisations to excel, about the need for leaders to think about the future and about succession.”

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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