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Year in Review: What top executives achieved in 2020

Janet Ong
·Finance Editor
·8-min read

SINGAPORE — As the year draws to a close, it is time to reflect on what we have achieved in this very challenging year where all our best-laid plans were derailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Yahoo Finance Singapore talks to some top business executives in Singapore on what their top achievements were this year, and what they would do differently if they had a choice.

Lien Choong Luen, Gojek Singapore GM (PHOTO: Gojek Singapore)
Lien Choong Luen, Gojek Singapore GM (PHOTO: Gojek Singapore)

Lien Choong Luen, general manager of Gojek Singapore

What do you think is your most significant accomplishment in 2020?

In a year where we’ve had to turn our homes into workspaces and trade water cooler chats for Zoom catch-ups, rallying my team to adapt to a new way of life has been one accomplishment.

Employee bonding is integral to Gojek’s work culture, and we obviously have had to do that a bit differently this year. This includes celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries via Zoom, delivering COVID-19 care packages of food and drinks to colleagues’ homes, and catching up in smaller, cosier meetings. While these are small gestures, they have helped to maintain that connection.

I take heart that in this extraordinary year, we are in it together and have all risen to the occasion.

What would you do differently if you had to go through a lockdown again?

The COVID-19 crisis has been a crash course for many leaders - including myself - in new forms of communication and ways to keep teams and individuals fully engaged when working from home. If I had to go through a lockdown again, I would err on the side of “more is more” with respect to communication - particularly with new and young employees. This means scheduling even more regular check-ins so I can stay apprised of their needs and challenges, and take steps to ensure they feel connected and understand how their contributions fit into the greater effort.

Lee Li Meng, CEO, Razer Fintech (PHOTO: Razer)
Lee Li Meng, CEO, Razer Fintech (PHOTO: Razer)

Lee Li Meng, CEO of Razer Fintech

What do you think is your most significant accomplishment in 2020?

Taking over Razer Fintech in January 2020 and leading a business during the Covid-19 pandemic and able to lead the business achieve new heights despite the challenges and impacts of the lockdown is certainly what I see as my most significant accomplishment in 2020.

We have been able to achieve more than 110% year-on-year growth in Razer Fintech’s total transaction volume to US$1.8 billion in just the first-half, compared to US$2.1 billion in 2019). We launched the Razer Card beta in Singapore which has gone viral globally, and formed partnerships with regional and global strategic partners such as FWD and Franklin Templeton to drive innovation are testament to this.

What would you do differently if you had to go through a lockdown again?

I don’t think I would do anything much more differently. While the lockdown has its challenges like not being able to be physically on the ground with our staff in the various offices, we have learnt to embrace technology even more, such as video conferencing, which has helped us to accelerate our businesses even faster.

Caecilia Chu, CEO and co-founder of Youtrip. (PHOTO: Youtrip)
Caecilia Chu, CEO and co-founder of Youtrip. (PHOTO: Youtrip)

YouTrip CEO and co-founder Caecilia Chu

What do you think is your most significant accomplishment in 2020?

Our successful pivot to the overseas e-commerce use resulted in a 300% quarterly growth. Even though travel came to a halt, we remained true to our mission of making cross-border payment affordable and simple.

COVID-19 is a test of resilience and I’m extremely proud of my team for executing our pivot into overseas e-commerce payment. To stay relevant to our users’ changing behaviours, we made enhancements to their user experience through new features like 3DS 2.0, and a new top-up function via PayNow to ensure a secure and seamless payment experience as they shopped online.

During this time, we also found new channels to stay engaged with users, one of which is TikTok where we reached over 5 million users in 4 months.

Seeing our users cheer us on through social media gave us a huge sense of accomplishment and motivation to push forward during this time.

What would you do differently if you had to go through a lockdown again

I’ll definitely stock up on more books to make the best of my time in lockdown. Reading is a guaranteed mood booster and as an avid reader myself, I can spend hours reading if I have pockets of free time.

Some of the books that I’m excited to get started on are ‘No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention’ and ‘Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies’.

Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Holdings. (PHOTO: Vertex)
Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Holdings. (PHOTO: Vertex)

Chua Kee Lock, CEO of Vertex Holdings

What do you think is your most significant accomplishment in 2020?

2020 has been an especially challenging year for everyone. However, looking back, there were a few highlights that made the year a better one. Given the restrictions on travelling, I managed to spend more meaningful time with people close to me. I also managed to catch up many books which I bought but did not get around to reading, for example, David Swensen’s Pioneering Portfolio Management, Steve Case’ Third Wave, Ray Dalio’ Principles and 易中天品三国 (a fascinating analysis of the three kingdoms).

Professionally, I am very proud of the work done with our portfolio companies, especially helping them navigate the uncertainty that came with the pandemic. Appropriate and timely support helped see our portfolio companies through these difficult times and more importantly, emerge stronger.

A great example is NIUM – our start-up building an open money global platform — which capitalised on the digitalisation trend and now sees an even higher customer adoption rate than before the pandemic. I am also very pleased with 17Live (formerly M17) – a live streaming app and how the team was able to analyse and refocus their efforts in Japan despite all the gloom and doom then.

We also kickstarted Vertex's 11-part Technopreneur webinar series to mentor and share our experiences with aspiring tech entrepreneurs.

What would you do differently if you had to go through a lockdown again?

2020 has highlighted the importance of having good health – both mental and physical. Its impact on performance at work is critically important, especially in these challenging times. With a busy schedule, certain aspects of my personal wellbeing were often inadvertently overlooked. Staying home may indeed present constraints, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unproductive or boring.

If I could turn back time, I would probably exercise more and perhaps even read more. These actions will help ensure I am better placed to tackle both personal and professional challenges going forward.

Jessica Liu, Co-President and Regional Head of Commercial, Lazada Group. (PHOTO: Alibaba)
Jessica Liu, Co-President and Regional Head of Commercial, Lazada Group. (PHOTO: Alibaba)

Jessica Liu, co-president and regional head of commercial, Lazada Group

What do you think is your most significant accomplishment in 2020

2020 has been a year full of changes, and with many exciting milestones in both my professional and personal life. This year, I relocated to Singapore and officially joined Lazada to head the commercial team.

LazMall plays a key role in Lazada’s overall business strategy. One of the most significant and rewarding projects for me this year was the opportunity to lead a passionate team to roll out an upgraded LazMall channel, and also enable more brands to advance their presence and growth through an omnichannel approach.

By Q2 this year, we more than doubled year-on-year the total number of brands that came on LazMall. I’m also happy to close this year by welcoming two leading luxury brands to connect with more consumers in Southeast Asia through LazMall.

I’m proud of all that our team has accomplished in the past 12 months, and look forward to growing LazMall to a similar scale as Tmall in the coming years.


What would you do differently if you had to go through a lockdown again

Instead of spending four months apart from them, I do wish my family could have been in Singapore together with me during that period. The restrictions we faced this year really made me reflect deeply on how important my family is to me, and what I can do to support the community.

Victor Lee, CEO of CIMB Bank Singapore (PHOTO: CIMB SIngapore)
Victor Lee, CEO of CIMB Bank Singapore (PHOTO: CIMB SIngapore)

Victor Lee, CEO of CIMB Bank Singapore

What do you think is your most significant accomplishment in 2020?

The pandemic impacted every single business, every individual, without exception, be it financially or even mentally.

People, my staff and their families were the single most important agenda on my mind as we entered the pandemic. I feel satisfied on how we navigated through the year’s uncertainty. Today, our business has recovered to near pre-Covid levels. And I need to say that it was the people that pivoted and adapted fast to the new norm.

What would you do differently if you had to go through a lockdown again?

Nothing. Whilst you can have all the Business Continuity Plans, it’s authentic leadership with practical level headedness that will lead us through.

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