Thought leaders, industry experts, and changemakers from Singapore and beyond come together in this edition of Portfolio Forecast to answer the burning question: As we navigate economic uncertainty, inflation, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical issues, what, then, is the silver lining for 2023?
PRISCILLA KHONG-ESPINOSA, Executive Director, Gateway Arts
Non-Profit Arts Organization
"Covid-19 had a huge effect on the arts industry. Digital and hybrid events became the norm and created new ways in which art could be enjoyed. While the in-person experience remains central to theatre as a form, the challenge now is creating the right mix of virtual and in-person experiences to engage our audiences.
The arts have always been an effective medium for giving voice to social causes. While Covid-19 may have surfaced more social issues, this also provides more opportunities for artmaking and collaborating with community partners. Further, the younger generations are increasingly passionate and vocal about various social causes, and this means the arts can become a platform for engaging youth. As a theater company for youths, Gateway Arts already does this, using stories to provoke thought and inspire change on current youth issues. Seeing the impact of our programs on these young lives motivates us to keep doing what we do. Finally, in these past few years, I’ve seen how the arts industry, and my team, have pushed on through the challenges brought on by the pandemic and bounced back stronger than ever. Their passion and resilience keep me optimistic that we can face and overcome whatever lies ahead."
DAVID CHIEM, Founder CEO and Executive Chairman, MindChamps
"In Australia, many early learning providers turned away parents due to cuts in government subsidies because of the pandemic. Despite these cuts, MindChamps accepted these children who were turned away at our own expense. This aligned with our social charter, contributing to society in times of need.
Despite the pandemic, we stayed true to our DNA, as we continued to invest heavily in research. This led to two breakthroughs: Obtaining patent-pending status for our revolutionary MindChamps Music Programme (MCM), and creating an early learning nutrition program. We were delighted to find that, through a three-year empirical research study involving hundreds of children in Singapore, MCM has been proven to not only optimise children’s musical literacy, but also improves their performance in the internationally recognised TEMA and TOPEL tests by a significant 1.5 standard deviations, exceeding global averages beyond the subjects’ age level."
ANDREW SEOW, Regional General Manager ASEAN & Greater China, Rimini Street
"The macroeconomic environment forced organizations to refocus their businesses, including IT investments and staffing plans, which led to stagnated procurement decisions. To go beyond survival and gain a sustainable advantage, we adopted a balanced approach to performance – a strong defence and offense in parallel, and reining in costs while simultaneously reinvesting in growth.
I was humbled and amazed at how my team responded to the predicament over the last year. Their commitment, sincerity, and sense of purpose demonstrated a great deal of resilience and discipline. The ‘never say die attitude’ of my colleagues around the world inspired me and made me proud of those who fuelled our culture of collaboration, inclusivity, and support. Mankind will overcome this pandemic too; we are witnessing the return to normal globally. However, this unfailing sense of purpose shown by the people around me will always be etched in my memory and be the ray of hope that keeps me optimistic in the face of adversary."
ALEXANDRE FRERI, General Manager of Southeast Asia, JV & Emerging Markets, Diageo
"I believe volatility within the operating environment was the biggest challenge due to geopolitical uncertainty, inflationary pressures, and weakening of consumer spending power stemming from Covid-19. However, we have been able to navigate these headwinds by executing flawlessly on our aligned strategic priorities and staying resilient during such volatile times.
As the adage goes, the only constant is change. In such volatile times, the key is to be resilient, stay true to business fundamentals yet remain agile to potential opportunities that may arise. Despite operating in an environment of uncertainty, we feel extremely confident of delivering through the power of our brands. We stand on the shoulders of these giants, inspired by their ideas and acting with the same entrepreneurial spirit. We’re proud of them and the enjoyment they give to millions, staying true to our purpose of ‘Celebrating life. Everyday. Everywhere’. To further strengthen our position, we have dialled up focus on our luxury brands to better service affluent consumers, as we see significant growth opportunities in ultra-premium segments across markets that we operate in."
MAXIMILIAN FIEDLER, CFO Asia Pacific, Schaeffler (Singapore) Pte Ltd
"Supply chain disruptions, geopolitical tensions, and rise in input costs are some of the key challenges that we continue to confront. It is only through strong collaboration and partnerships with our valued customers and suppliers, coupled with the commitment of our employees that allowed us to navigate these headwinds successfully.
The challenges of the past years have tempered our agility and resilience in responding
to the demands of an ever-dynamic market environment. To some degree, it is difficult
to make long-term plans. Therefore, it is important for us to be highly flexible and
adaptable in this environment. At the same time, we are facing major future trends like climate change, digitalization, and automation, as well as new forms of mobility. All these changes are a source of unique challenges. However, they also provide great opportunities to positively drive and shape the change. We will always remain centered on our customers and their needs through our various activities."
TAMMIE THAM, Group CEO, Ensign InfoSecurity
"Talent shortage is the biggest challenge in our industry due to the accelerated pace of digitalization. As one of the key players in the cybersecurity community, Ensign has been supporting multiple youth engagement and industry initiatives in the region to identify and nurture promising candidates for a more robust cyber talent pipeline.
As digital disruption brings about inevitable cyber risks, it is heartening to see more organizations adopting a risk-based cyber defence approach. Instead of viewing cybersecurity as a compliance checklist, more organizations are now looking into building cyber resilience. They are collaborating with cybersecurity service providers and government regulators to drive initiatives, define standards, and strengthen cybersecurity posture while improving cyber awareness of all stakeholders.
As Asia’s largest pure-play cybersecurity services provider with end-to-end offerings, Ensign is committed to enhancing the cybersecurity posture of customers. Our go-to technique includes deploying our proprietary AI-powered analytics into their existing systems to help organizations detect advanced threats with high accuracy before they become catastrophic attacks."