In January 2019, Keppel Land welcomed its new Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tan Swee Yiow. Having joined Keppel in 1990, Mr Tan has seen the company grow from a small team to the multi-faceted property company it is today. In his close to three-decade journey with Keppel, Mr Tan has held various key positions across Keppel Land and Keppel REIT Management.
Can you share with us your experience at Keppel so far?
Over the years, I have taken on varied roles within the Keppel Group, which spanned asset management, operations in Singapore as well as in the region, corporate development and fund management. These experiences enabled me to hone different skillsets and sharpen my business acumen.
"My close to 30-year journey in such a multi-business group demonstrates that Keppel offers enriching careers for its people."
What are some key takeaways from your long career at Keppel?
There are many, but I will share a few. Firstly, when times are tough, do not be too pessimistic. Conversely, do not get carried away when the market is good too. The property business is a cyclical one and there will be different cycles in different markets. When it comes to property investments, the fundamental principles of investing, such as picking a good project in a good location, do not change. If investments are made based on sound fundamentals, when the market is soft, it is a matter of time before things pick up.
In this regard, being geographically diversified has served Keppel Land well and allowed us to commit resources to strengthen presence in our key markets while seizing opportunities in other markets where we are scaling up.
Secondly, it is paramount to maintain financial prudence and discipline at all times. When a company is financially strong, it is well-positioned to capture investment opportunities that come along.
Thirdly, with people as the cornerstone of our business, we must be committed to nurture and empower a diverse, competent and dedicated talent pool to drive the company’s growth. Having the right people is key to resolving issues and getting things moving.
Keppel Land is one of Asia’s leading green developers. What do you think are some of the challenges when it comes to sustainability?
Many people still regard sustainability as something outside or apart from themselves. I think we need to think of sustainability in terms of tangible outcomes that people can relate to in their day-to-day lives. For the past few years, we have been trying to help people see how sustainable practices can translate to tangible benefits, such as reduction in business operating costs or cost savings at home.
One example is Ocean Financial Centre, the first office development in Southeast Asia to achieve the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. Developed by Keppel Land, Ocean Financial Centre’s green features enable tenants to enjoy benefits such as long-term energy savings of about 35% as well as reduction in their eco-footprint.
Another challenge is cost. When it comes to sustainability, my advice is do it within your means and get all stakeholders on board to create a bigger impact.
Sustainability is a long-term journey. At Keppel Land, we don’t do it for the awards but because we believe that sustainability is key to future-proofing our business.
Keppel Land has adopted six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are most aligned with our business. We have set stretch targets in line with the six SDGs, including environmental targets to achieve reduction in waste, water and energy, and will be rolling them out progressively.
We will continue to align ourselves with best practices and international benchmarks to shape a sustainable future.
Tell us a fun fact about you that not many of us know.
I just finished my first half-marathon in December! My daughter was not confident that I could do it and I wanted to prove her wrong. So I started training in August and managed to complete the challenge.