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Speech at Gala Dinner for the International Management Action Award and Singapore Management Consulting Awards

Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower , Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Oriental Ballroom

Mr George Huang, 
Chairman of Chartered Management Institute Singapore
Chairman of Singapore Business Advisors and Consultants Council

His Excellency Mr Scott Wightman,
the British High Commissioner to Singapore

Ms Ann Francke,
Chief Executive Officer of Chartered Management Institute UK 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. 

  1. The theme for this year’s Awards is “Inspiring Innovative Transformation”. The keyword is “transformation”. Transformation is an important process in the life cycle of any organisation, industry and economy. If we do not make small improvements every day in everything we do, we will have challenging time in the short term.
  2. But if we do not make big improvements every now and then, we will have an even bigger challenge of survival in the long term. 
  3. Hence the Chinese saying – small change is needed every year, medium size change every three years, and big change every five years. 
  4. Only through transformation can we ride the waves of opportunity, instead of being submerged by the waves of change. This way, we prevent stagnation and decline in the shorter term, and sustain growth in the longer term. 
  5. This is why Singapore never stops transforming itself.
  6. At the national level, we are transforming our economy. 
  7. Our workforce will grow slower for some years to come. To ensure that manpower will not become the bottleneck of future growth, we are making the transition from a “manpower-led” growth model of “3+1=4”, to a “manpower lean” growth model of “1+2=3”. 
  8. Some will say that 3% growth is less than 4% growth. However, the 3% growth in the future should be of better quality than the past. 
  9. We must succeed so that we can improve the quality of investment, quality of jobs and quality of growth, well into the future.   
  10. At the sectoral level, we are transforming our industries.  
  11. Through the collective efforts of the tripartite partners, we are formulating a series of Sectoral Manpower Plans – sector by sector, for more than 20 economic sectors. By looking ahead together as tripartite partners, we seek to forge alignment among the industry leaders, union leaders and government agencies on creating the jobs of the future, nurturing the skills of the future, and developing careers of the future, so that we can embrace the future better and faster, develop new industries, and re-develop existing ones to run and stay ahead in the global race towards the world of future manufacturing, future services and future construction. 
  12. At the enterprise level, many businesses are also transforming themselves, to be more ready for the future, today.
  13. Earlier this month, at the launch of the Sectoral Manpower Plan for the Hotel Industry, I saw how a hotel was able to improve customer experience even as it became more manpower lean, with the adoption of innovative service concepts.
  14. Just yesterday, during a learning journey, I saw how an SME grew into a publicly-listed enterprise through non-stop transformation – starting with a series of small transformations since its founding in 1992, then a series of bigger transformations to become number one player in the industry today, to be followed by another round of major transformation when it moves into a new facility in the next 2 to 3 years.
  15. Many SMEs were there yesterday to learn from this company – how to grow from small, to medium, to large. Some SMEs would say, “Yes, all this sounds very good – I can afford to do the same when I grow bigger.” 
  16. And I told them, that’s the wrong way of looking at the process of transformation. This company did all these things when they were small, to grow to this big today. So don’t wait until you are big to embark on the journey of transformation, because when you are small, you may never become big without going through the transformation process.
  17. I am happy that we are seeing more and more of such progressive and inspiring enterprises out there. 
  18. Our challenge is to keep spreading the message of transformation, the mindset of transformation, and the confidence of transformation, so that we can become a transformed economy, workforce and nation –  the sooner the better.   
  19. The finalists and award winners tonight are all agents of change, with your ability to develop new solutions, ahead of your peers and competition.
  20. These include branding and re-branding, positioning and re-positioning, creating and re-creating everything that matters to the customers, employees, partners and stakeholders. 
  21. As we recognise their achievements and contribution, let us continue to work together to generate the momentum for change throughout our enterprises, industries and the Singapore economy. 
  22. Once again, I congratulate all finalists and winners of the awards.
  23. I wish you all a pleasant journey into the future. 

Thank you.