Friday, November 26, 2010

From village kid to corporate bigwig

Nov 26, 2010

From village kid to corporate bigwig

Conglomerate chairman A.M. Naik is CNBC's Asia Business Leader

The award winners on stage (from left) Mr Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, Sir Gordon Wu, Mr A.M. Naik, Mr Ajai Chowdhry and Mr Yancey Hai with CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHEN

A VILLAGE kid who vowed more than 50 years ago that he was going to do the best he could to make it big in the world was honoured with one of the region's top enterprise awards yesterday.

Mr A.M. Naik, chairman and managing director of Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro, was named Asia Business Leader at the CNBC Asia Business Leaders Awards, held at Sentosa's Capella Hotel.

He was honoured for restructuring the company to make it more focused and enhancing shareholder value.

He told The Straits Times that devotion, passion and conviction are the secrets to good leadership.

'Good leaders maintain value. Great leaders add value,' added Mr Naik.

Once unable to speak English, he studied hard and graduated from college to become an engineer with Larsen & Toubro in 1965.

When he became chairman in 2003, he set about selling off small businesses to make the group more streamlined.

'The world has become very uncertain. So having a fairly diversified group with moderate growth is much better that a wildly overdiversified one,' he said.

Mr Naik also had some words of wisdom for aspiring leaders: 'Success is within you. Learn from the teacher in you.'

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented for the second time and went to Sir Gordon Wu, chairman of Hong Kong infrastructure and property giant Hopewell Holdings.

Sir Gordon played a major role in East Asia's rapid economic growth in the latter part of the 20th century while also helping build regional infrastructure.

Mr Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman and chief executive of Ayala Corporation, a holding company of firms in various fields in the Philippines, was presented with the Asia Talent Management Award.

He was recognised for implementing comprehensive talent development processes and mentoring key leadership talent within Ayala.

Malaysian tycoon Francis Yeoh clinched the Corporate Social Responsibility Award for his company's efforts to help promote education, health and environmental improvements.

Tan Sri Yeoh, who chairs YTL Corporation, was also cited for providing opportunities for young Malaysians through scholarships and for its strong support of the arts in the country.

The innovator award went to Mr Yancey Hai from Taiwanese firm Delta Electronics. He notably recruited fresh talent while at the same time retraining older workers.

CNBC viewers also got a chance to have their say, with Mr Ajai Chowdhry of HCL Infosystems, bagging the Asia Viewers Choice Award.

Held for the ninth time, The CNBC Asia Business Leaders Awards aims to recognise 'stellar individuals who are visionaries behind today's outstanding businesses'.


Mr Chang C.L.


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