Robin Ng (Exec Program 1981)
Robin Ng has a talent for bringing people together. He managed to do it in his business, and he managed to do it with the Mandarin Alumni.
In his business, he was able to bring competitors together to become shareholders in a pioneering venture, Automobile Megamart Limited, a place with a capacity of 2,000 cars where the automobile industry could sell their cars.
It was no mean feat bringing rivals together for a $100 million dollar project.
“For the 71 shareholders in the company, to obtain a loan and to have the same thoughts and move in the same direction to complete this project is not easy because everyone has different levels of understanding and different needs and opinions,” he noted.
Getting financing was a challenge as well because there were 71 shareholders but no key shareholders. However, they succeeded and proved their critics wrong.
“We completed the project and we repaid our loan of $41 million to the bank within two years.”
He brought that same talent for organizing to the Mandarin Alumni, where he was the founding president. Here the challenge was not in getting the people together. Instead, there were different obstacles. In setting up the association, he had to persuade the university that there was value in forming an alumni group for people who had completed the Executive MBA program. It was only in 1992, some 10 years after he graduated, that they finally got approval from the university and the Mandarin Alumni was set up.
After it was set-up, there were additional problems. The groups struggled to find a place for meetings and they could not find a good full-time administrator initially. He generously offered his office premises for meeting and his staff to help do the administrative work required.
One of his biggest achievements was helping to put together a list of contacts of alumni so that people could get in touch with one another.
When it was formed, the Mandarin Alumni had less than 50 members. Today, it has more than 800 local and overseas members from Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Thailand and South Africa. Its members are successful entrepreneurs and senior managers in the hotel, banking, manufacturing and shipping industries.
That Robin is a talented businessman and entrepreneur is not in doubt. He is involved in auto-financing, car rentals, property development, healthcare, hospitality, ship-building and marine services. However among all his businesses, one in particular stands out.
In 2001, he opened United Medicare Centre, Singapore’s first purpose-built 250 bedded private nursing and rehabilitation home. This home provides a full range of quality nursing and rehabilitation care, catering to both the needs of in-house patients and the neighboring community.
“We don’t call it a business. We call it a social commitment.”
He decided to go into the business because of a visit he and his wife had paid to a nursing home. “We found the nursing home, the environment, the cross ventilation, the lighting, to be not very good. There was a lot of smell and the elderly were not really being taken care of.”
His wife thus prodded him into going into the nursing home business and when the opportunity came up to bid for land for a nursing home, he jumped in.
After he got the bid, the problems started. Because he did not know very much about the industry, he had to educate himself on nursing homes, and he had to find qualified people to run the home. These all proved challenging. However, he eventually succeeded and today, United Medicare Centre is a success and a showcase. “Every now and then, we have visitors from China, from Japan and from the region who go to the Ministry of Health, and ask for a visit to a proper healthcare for the elderly. The ministry always refers them to us.”
Robin Ng is a businessman with a heart and an alumnus that the university is proud to claim.
Eminent Business Alumni Service Award Winners
Paul Yap (centre left) and Robin Ng (centre right) with GOH S. Dhanabalan, Chairman of Temasek Holdings & NUS Business School Management Advisory Board (left) and Dean Prof Bernard Yeung (right), at the award ceremony dinner on 12 November 2010