Singapore: Positioned For Long-Term Success

Companies in the city-state are leveraging innovation and sustainable practices to drive growth as the global economy rebounds from the pandemic.

After navigating the turbulence of the past two years, Singapore has set its sights firmly on the future as it seeks to capitalize on the post-pandemic rebound. The government has removed almost all Covid-related restrictions and has since embarked on a strategy to sustain Singapore’s longer-term relevance while supporting businesses as they return to a growth trajectory.

Like other countries around the world, however, Singapore faces challenges on multiple fronts, including heightened inflation that threatens to push economies into recession. Rising food and energy prices worldwide are a result of persistent supply chain issues that have been exacerbated partly by China’s zero-Covid approach and the supply shock from the war in Ukraine.

However, economists are cautiously optimistic that Singapore will avoid a technical recession, which is defined by two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. After the GDP dipped slightly by 0.2% for Q2, 2022, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that the economy appears set to return to quarter-on-quarter growth for the rest of the year.

Reaping the Benefits of Transformation

Despite the uncertain global landscape, companies based in Singapore will continue to reap the benefits of digital and business model transformation efforts undertaken in recent years. Initiatives aimed at streamlining processes, embracing digitalization and finding new avenues for growth have resulted in more sustainable businesses that are better equipped to navigate volatility and capture new opportunities.

For instance, Singapore-based pharmaceuticals group Zuellig Pharma consistently taps into innovation and technology to more effectively serve its stakeholders as part of its broader mission to make healthcare more accessible to the communities it serves.

In the education sector, Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) has also embraced innovation to help its learners acquire skills and knowledge that are relevant for the rapidly evolving future of work. In July this year, SIM rolled out a rebranded identity to reflect this commitment to an industry-focused and skills-based approach to lifelong learning.

Meanwhile, one of Singapore’s leading entrepreneurs, Sam Goi of Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is leveraging a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to emerge stronger from the pandemic, as he seeks to play a key role in Singapore’s bid for nutritional self-sufficiency. 

Riding the Post-pandemic Rebound

The global hospitality industry is also witnessing a welcome recovery as global travel bounces back strongly, with some Singapore-based players having returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity. 

A case in point is Radisson Hotel Group (RHG), which recently unveiled an Asia Pacific (APAC) Expansion Plan that aims to grow its portfolio from around 400 properties in the region to more than 2,000 hotels and resorts by 2025. The expansion plan focuses on five strategic growth markets—India, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand—and RHG’s strategy will be powered by building local development and operations teams with local language capabilities in these markets.

The healthcare sector is another beneficiary of the post-pandemic rebound. IHH Healthcare—which operates 80 hospitals in ten countries under leading brands such as Fortis, Parkway and Pantai—saw its business plummet by almost 80% during the crisis, pushing the company into a loss for the first time in many years.

Through the uncertainty, IHH, which is listed in Malaysia and Singapore, stayed true to its mission to become the world’s most trusted healthcare services provider. The group’s decision to follow its moral compass has since paid dividends, and it has come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.

Committed to Sustainability

Many of these companies are focused on incorporating sustainability into their operations, even as they chase business expansion. IHH recently introduced its “Care. For Good.” vision, which aims to create sustainable value for all its stakeholders. This involves not only taking care of patients, but also its people, the public and the planet.

Meanwhile, Zuellig Pharma has put in place a sustainability framework that outlines 22 material issues grouped under four themes: Setting the Highest Standards of Integrity, Nurturing Talent, Improving Health Outcomes, and Respecting the Environment. RHG has also developed an APAC Expansion Plan in line with the group’s sustainability targets, reinforcing its commitment to become net zero by 2050.

Other organizations are more directly engaged in promoting sustainability in an effort to address climate change. One such enterprise is Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX), a commercial operation based in Singapore that launched the world’s first non-profit, fully integrated and blockchain-protected plastic offset program. PCX offers brands a way to achieve their sustainability goals by showing them that there is an effective, achievable way to clean up their plastic waste.  

The Singapore Edge

Looking ahead, companies and entrepreneurs from around the world will undoubtedly continue to set up shop in Singapore, attracted by the city-state’s well-known strengths of global connectivity, ease of doing business and good governance. Drawn by these strengths, Sudhir Agarwal came to Singapore in 2016 to build a global business process outsourcing enterprise from scratch. In just six years, his company, Everise, has grown into an industry powerhouse that is expected to register around half a billion U.S. dollars in revenue this year.

Agarwal credits operating out of Singapore as one factor that has given him a competitive edge in the industry. “I chose Singapore because of the ease of setting up the company and doing business here. I was clear that Everise would be built on the important pillar of governance, which we all know is very strong in Singapore.”

New Recipes For Resilience

Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is emerging from Covid-19 stronger than ever with a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and the resolve to enhance nutritional self-sufficiency in the island nation.

Sam Goi, Executive Chairman of Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing

As the Popiah King, Sam Goi, Executive Chairman of Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing is a household name in Singapore. Starting out in the 1970s, the Fujian-born Singaporean built his fortune the traditional way, peddling his home-made spring roll wraps (popiah in the Fujian dialect) at restaurants and stalls in Chinatowns across the world. It was hard work, but slowly and surely—or “cent-by-cent” as Goi puts it—his business flourished.

Half a century on, Goi is no less driven or energetic. In fact, he is preparing to unveil his magnum opus: Tee Yih Jia’s all-new manufacturing plant.

Future-ready Food Manufacturing

Four years and half a billion Singapore dollars (US$360 million) in the making, the facility was originally scheduled to be up and running by mid-2021, but global lockdowns and supply chain disruptions pushed that deadline to October 2022. The nine-storey building sits on a 430,000 square feet plot that in turn houses over one million square feet of manufacturing space and warehousing capacity of 120,000 tonnes–including two hangar-sized cold rooms. To put things in perspective, the new facility is five times larger than the existing factory and is, put simply, colossal. At least by Singapore standards.

Goi, who played a pivotal role in the design of the factory, knew this facility needed to be like no other. It would be a food factory of the future, and for that he would have to take automation to an entirely new level.

“I told our builders and equipment suppliers what I needed. Then we planned everything out in detail,” says Goi. “This is not something you design overnight. This production line is the result of decades worth of improvements.”

Artist’s impression of Tee Yih Jia Food Hub

The design may have been years in the making, but the technology is very much of the now. For starters, access into and throughout the facility is via facial recognition. The water and air filtration and processing systems are state-of-the-art. Inside, food-grade stainless steel is everywhere you look and, naturally, the facility uses the latest robotics and food production technology.

The facility has been designed so that, in Goi’s words, “no food will ever be touched by human hands.” That principle extends to the transportation of the packaged product. Fifteen cranes, with the combined capacity to move 300 pallets per hour, have been installed to manage more than 100,000 pallet positions in the -25ºC cold rooms. When it is fully operational by year’s end, the new plant, dubbed Tee Yih Jia Food Hub, is believed to have Asia’s largest fully automated cold storage facility.

Charting and Staying the Course

On the subject of doing business in challenging times, Goi says: “To be honest, sales increased by quite a lot. We could not cope with demand. The real challenge was maintaining prices.”

Costs of raw materials, labor, electricity and especially transport increased alarmingly in 2021. Cold-chain transport prices, in particular, saw exponential spikes of almost twentyfold.

The sensible and acceptable thing to do would have been to raise prices accordingly, since demand outweighed supply. Goi saw things differently. “Our customers were also facing economic difficulties. It would have been difficult for them to pay more,” he says.

One theme that is naturally on the mind of a food magnate is food security. “Why do you think I built such a large cold storage facility?” he says. “Four years ago, I sensed food security was going to be an issue in the future and that we needed to prepare for this.”

The new facility will be a hub of many food initiatives, some of which will leverage the latest food technology. To this end, Tee Yih Jia has recently launched a new range of plant-based convenience foods under the ALTN brand—ready-to-eat meals that are big on taste while offering a healthier, more humane, and long-term sustainable alternative to animal proteins.

ALTN’s plant-based, ready-to-eat meals that are big on taste

Yet in order for Singapore’s food self-sufficiency initiatives to be viable and sustainable, the industry as a whole may need to consider a more holistic approach. Given the higher costs of manufacturing in Singapore, Goi believes encouraging local supermarkets to support home-grown manufacturers, when sourcing companies to produce house-branded goods would strengthen and reinforce food self-sufficiency efforts.

New Horizons

Apart from Tee Yih Jia, Goi is also Executive Chairman of three Mainboard-listed companies–GSH Corporation, PSC Corporation and Tat Seng Packaging Group. Additionally, he is the Vice Chairman of JB Foods and Envictus International, which are also both Mainboard-listed. But even though Goi’s business interests are diverse and span the globe, his team has already put plans in place to build on this via lateral expansion.

“We will go wherever we see opportunity,” says Goi. “Is there a market? How quickly can it grow? What kind of potential can be reaped? And who will I be partnering with? These are the questions I ask. I focus on what I can control and don’t worry about things that I cannot.”

Tee Yih Jia’s extensive range of frozen convenience meals

Placing The Patient At The Center Of Everything

IHH has embarked on an ambitious journey to become the world’s most trusted healthcare services network.

When Covid-19 started to spread rapidly across the globe in 2020, the management team at IHH Healthcare had a difficult decision to make: would they keep Covid-19 patients out of their global network of hospitals?

What guided the company ultimately was its vision to become the world’s most trusted healthcare services network. “We decided that if we were truly going to be the most trusted provider, then in this darkest time of need we had to open our doors to all. And so we were among the first to take in Covid-19 patients in all our markets,” says Dr Kelvin Loh, Managing Director and CEO at IHH Healthcare.

Dr Kelvin Loh, Managing Director and CEO, IHH Healthcare

The crisis wrought by the pandemic saw business at IHH—which operates 80 hospitals in 10 countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and India, under leading brands such as Acibadem, Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth, Fortis, Parkway and Pantai—plunge by almost 80% and pushed the company into the red for the first time in many years.

Trust as the “True North”

Despite the pain, IHH was determined to focus on trust as the “true north” that guides the group in all it does. Beyond focusing on their patients in all aspects, IHH also prioritized the livelihoods and safety of its employees throughout the crisis.

“We told our staff that, just as you are here for us and for our patients, we will always take care of you. So we made a commitment that we wouldn’t retrench anyone, and also ensured that they had proper PPE [personal protective equipment] at all times,” says Dr Loh.

IHH’s decision to follow its moral compass has since paid dividends, and the group has come out of the pandemic stronger than ever. The company, which is listed in Malaysia and Singapore, improved its return on equity from 2.8% in March 2020 to 8.4% in December 2021. Meanwhile, it registered a 31% year-on-year increase in net income in Q1, 2022.

IHH’s commitment to earning trust has become particularly important in the post-pandemic era, as medical inflation emerges as one of the biggest challenges the healthcare industry faces. “Imagine if you go to a hospital and they say the bill is expected to be around US$4,000, but when you are discharged it becomes US$10,000. This causes patients to lose trust in the healthcare industry,” explains Dr Loh.

To deal with this issue, IHH has rolled out initiatives to help patients get high-quality care at good value. For instance, the group’s hospitals in Singapore use an artificial intelligence (AI) engine that can predict with 80% accuracy what a patient’s eventual bill will be. IHH even offers “fixed-price packages” in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia for over 200 procedures, where patients will know upfront exactly how much they will need to pay.

Creating Sustainable Value

IHH’s vision is expressed in its “Care. For Good.” aspiration, which aims to create sustainable value for all its stakeholders (see sidebar). That means not only taking care of patients, but also its people, the public and the planet.

“As a global healthcare service provider, you can’t just take care of the patient at the expense of others. So we asked ourselves, ‘Who are the other stakeholders that we must also transform care better for?’,” says Dr Loh.

When it comes to its employees, IHH not only provides them with the right tools and processes to provide high-quality, patientcentric care, but also opportunities to grow their careers with the group.

Additionally, the group is committed to giving back to the communities it operates in. For instance, it is actively battling the “hidden epidemic” of antimicrobial resistance—where the inappropriate use of antibiotics by healthcare providers has resulted in the creation of “superbugs” that are resistant to all medicines.

“While we’re taking care of patients and our people, we must also take care of the impact that we have on the public, and antimicrobial resistance is one such impact,” explains Dr Loh.

The group is also finding ways to improve the health of individuals in the community through education, helping them take preventive steps against falling ill. Finally, IHH is playing its part in the fight against global warming, and has set sustainability goals for itself to reduce its global carbon footprint.

Digital and Business Transformation

IHH has embarked on a major digital transformation journey that aims to deliver an unprecedented level of convenience to its patients. As patients take many steps in seeking healthcare—from identifying symptoms and finding the right service provider to making appointments—IHH has rolled out digital solutions to streamline this journey.


Instead of having to make phone calls or physically go to a hospital, for instance, IHH is working to deliver these services via its digital healthcare ecosystem. This effort is fronted by IHH’s MyHealth360 app, which will be integrated seamlessly as part of the group’s clinical service offering for patients.

Through the app, an IHH patient can receive triage, arrange for a medical appointment and find a specialist across the group’s entire network of hospitals. The group plans to invest US$100 million over the next three years in digitalizing more of its operations.

IHH is also seeking to transform other aspects of its business to generate better value. The group is refining its procurement processes to reduce the cost of goods, and has also identified best practices in its IT systems to further reduce operating costs.

The impact of these initiatives has already flowed to the company’s bottom line. IHH experienced strong earnings growth for the year 2021, with its net operating income rising 123% year-on-year.

Driving Future Growth

As IHH celebrates its 10-year anniversary as a listed company in 2022, it is embarking on a new phase of its growth journey to seek even greater heights of success.

“2022 is a springboard year because we now have strong cash flows and the operating synergies to deliver better care and better value. And that gives us the license to grow to serve more patients,” says Dr Loh.

Specifically, IHH’s growth strategy comprises five engines: recovering from Covid-19, generating organic growth, acquiring strategic assets, developing its laboratory business, and driving digital transformation.

A Mission To Shape The Future Of Healthcare

Zuellig Pharma’s achievements over a century of business have propelled it to the very top of the pharmaceutical industry in Asia.

For the past 100 years, Singapore-headquartered Zuellig Pharma’s mission to make healthcare more accessible to the communities it serves has fueled its rise to become one of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia. Today, it is a US$15 billion corporate powerhouse with more than 13,000 employees in 13 markets.

In recent years, the company has expanded beyond its core business in distribution and supply chain to other critical healthcare services. These include offering clinical trial management, commercialization services, payor services through the acquisition of MiCare, and the expansion of the company’s digital and data arm.

John Graham, CEO, Zuellig Pharma

The pandemic was a key turning point for Zuellig Pharma—one of many in its storied history. Leveraging close relationships with clients, partners and stakeholders built up over the years, the company was able to engage with governments, vaccine manufacturers and other healthcare stakeholders to provide access to much-needed vaccines and essential medicines in countries throughout the region.

“I’m incredibly proud of the way our employees on the frontlines stepped up to the challenge, despite the risks involved, to ensure the health and safety of those in need,” says John Graham, CEO of Zuellig Pharma. “We played a huge role in distributing Covid-19 vaccines across Asia, through our partnership with Moderna, demonstrating our commitment to overcoming the pandemic and making healthcare more accessible.”

The company has also made significant strides in its mission to build a sustainable business, as it seeks to maximize the positive impact it can generate for key stakeholders. In 2021, Zuellig Pharma was awarded a Platinum Medal by sustainability ratings specialist EcoVadis, the highest accolade awarded to a company for its sustainability efforts.

Learning from Crises

Over the course of a century, family-owned Zuellig Pharma has experienced numerous crises—from a world war and economic crashes to natural disasters and pandemics—that have shaped the way it delivers healthcare in the region.

Zuellig Pharma’s distribution center

The company’s ability to stay nimble has enabled it to emerge from each crisis stronger than before. In particular, it has become proficient at leveraging technology to rapidly develop solutions to unique problems faced by its partners and clients. This was best demonstrated during the pandemic, which severely tested the company’s operations.

During the crisis, Zuellig Pharma accelerated the development and deployment of several digital solutions that ensured business continuity despite lockdown-related disruptions. “The ability to quickly develop, test and deploy customized solutions based on agile workflows has enabled us to improve internal efficiencies and offer new products to our clients and customers over the past few years,” says Graham. “The lessons learned from the pandemic have made us more agile, and we are in even better shape to respond rapidly to future challenges with innovative solutions.”

Facilitating Innovative Solutions

Verifying product authenticity on eZTracker

As part of its journey to make healthcare more accessible, Zuellig Pharma is focused on enabling access to innovative medicines and solutions through its business units ZP Therapeutics and MiCare, as well as its Clinical Reach team. The ZP Therapeutics team provides a full spectrum of services for companies looking to bring their products to market, including strategic planning and execution, medical affairs support, alliance management, healthcare practitioner engagement and regulatory affairs.

MiCare, meanwhile, is a leading medical claims administrator in the region. Beyond managing medical claims on behalf of insurance companies and self-insured corporate clients, it also builds applications linking key players in the healthcare sector to facilitate the seamless and efficient management of such claims.

Zuellig Pharma’s Clinical Reach arm expedites access to new and innovative medicines by harnessing deep knowledge of the region’s diverse regulatory landscape to support seamless clinical trials and expedite drug approvals.

With more than 80 distribution centers in 13 markets, the group’s distribution services ensure that healthcare essentials and medicines reach the people who need them the most, including those in rural areas across Asia. Expansion of its warehousing facilities has accelerated to meet increasing demand for cold chain and vaccine-related services.

Zuellig Pharma is also developing digital and data capabilities to better serve its clients and their patients. The company expedited the launch of several digital platforms over the past two years, and launched eZTracker, the first blockchain traceability solution for end-to-end supply chain visibility in Asia.

Distributing healthcare essentials and medicines across Asia

The solution provides pharma manufacturers with comprehensive data for supply chain optimization and fraud investigation. It also allows end users such as patients to verify a product’s authenticity and report adverse incidents directly, improving patient care and brand trust. eZTracker is currently available in five markets and will be rolled out to more in the future.

Meeting Future Challenges

Making healthcare more accessible to communities in Asia

Going forward, Zuellig Pharma will continue investing heavily to drive growth, even as it modernizes its core distribution business. Graham believes that the group’s business units, such as ZP Therapeutics, Clinical Reach and MiCare, have the potential to become leaders in their respective segments.

The organization is also working to incorporate sustainability into all aspects of its business. To that end, it has put in place a sustainability framework that outlines 22 material issues grouped under four themes: Setting the Highest Standards of Integrity, Nurturing Talent, Improving Health Outcomes, and Respecting the Environment.

Even as it pursues growth, the company remains focused on the safety and welfare of its employees. As part of its commitment to provide a zero-harm workplace, the group’s Singapore distribution center attained the ISO45001 Occupational Health and Safety certification in 2021, which aims to enforce health and safety practices. The Singapore team has also received the bizSAFE STAR certification, a nationally recognized program designed to help companies build workplace safety and health capabilities.

“We need to ensure that we are constantly moving quickly enough to adapt to the new realities of the industry, and the wider environment,” says Graham. “These are exciting times at Zuellig Pharma, and I hope to continue to build the business as a diversified healthcare services company, with several strong growth pillars.”

Championing Lifelong Learning

The Singapore Institute of Management has renewed its commitment to supporting workers throughout their education journey.

Seah Chin Siong, President and CEO of
Singapore Institute of Management

As technological progress and a more volatile global environment bring about profound changes to the way businesses operate, workers are seeking to acquire skills that can help them navigate the uncertainties ahead.

Against this backdrop, the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) has adopted an innovative approach to education that aims to help learners stay employable throughout different life stages, ensuring that their skills remain relevant for the rapidly evolving future of work.

“The world is changing at an unprecedented speed. As a result of accelerating technology innovation, many job tasks across industries are increasingly being automated and, in some instances, job roles have become redundant. Employees must therefore develop deeper specialization in the industry they work in so that they can remain relevant,” says Seah Chin Siong, President and CEO of SIM.

“This means that the model of front-loading knowledge and theory before employment is no longer sustainable. Continuous upskilling and learning have become the new norm. For students, industry skills are critical as employers are now demanding that fresh graduates are not just equipped with academic qualifications, but also work-ready skills.”

As one of the region’s leading education and lifelong learning institutions, SIM equips learners with the capabilities they require to be both agile and resilient. This helps them not only advance in their professional careers, but also deliver positive outcomes for the organizations they work in, as well as the wider community.

In July, SIM unveiled a rebranded identity to reflect their commitment to an industry-focused and skills-based era of lifelong learning. The organization’s new tagline is ‘Learn for Life, Thrive for Life.’

“Through the rebrand, we are re-establishing our purpose, which is to empower learners to thrive across various life stages. We endeavor for SIM to be the learning partner of choice, whether for an individual seeking a global education, or a corporation seeking to upskill their employees. We strive to deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of the future of work,” explains Seah.

Developing Industry-relevant Skills

SIM’s commitment to lifelong learning is most visible through SIM Academy, which offers learning solutions for both working professionals and companies. The academy’s Professional Development arm features executive and business programs for developing industry-relevant skills and capabilities for better career progression and transition.

Meanwhile, SIM Academy’s Enterprise Solutions arm helps companies develop their talent through customized programs using SIM’s integrated learning model. These solutions enhance the employability of employees, while also helping to improve business outcomes. The Enterprise Solutions team works closely with companies in the design, development and delivery of their workforce learning curriculum.

Through SIM Academy and SIM Global Education, which partners with leading universities to provide more than 120 academic programs, SIM covers the entire spectrum of lifelong learning.

“While these offerings provide something for everyone, we recognize that every learner has specific needs, and a one-size-fits-all solution will not suffice,” says Seah. “Quality continuous learning and education are the means for building up sufficient bench strength for meeting the talent needs of the enterprise. And as the economy continues to face talent shortages, employers must re-examine their value proposition to their employees.”

Real-world Experiences

Through SIM’s work with industry players, including some of the world’s leading companies, the institute has gained insights into emerging critical knowledge and skills for the future. These insights help SIM to design courses and modules for its students beyond their academic programs.

For instance, SIM’s Centre for Micro-Credentials (CMC) was established to provide market-driven short courses to help graduates and working adults master critical soft skills as well as hard skills within a short period of time. The courses were specially formulated to equip learners with industry-specific skills that employers recognize as essential and in high demand.

“We recognize that, in an era where technology is permeating our lives ever more acutely, digital skills are becoming even more paramount for the work of the future. And with competition for jobs fiercer than ever, candidates with additional certifications and micro-credentials hold an advantage over others,” says Seah.

Industry-relevant learning at Singapore Institute of Management.

To provide industry-relevant learning experiences, SIM’s Future of Work Training Series puts students through an intensive five-day group project that is built around real-world issues. Participants are then tasked with presenting outcomes to hiring managers from sponsoring companies with the aim of connecting to jobs or internship offers.

As part of its rebrand, SIM Academy is currently developing a Future of Work Signature Series, which aims to equip an organization’s leaders with new perspectives to navigate an increasingly complex business landscape.

SIM has also partnered with the Global Digital Excellence Association (GDEXA) to train students in running projects that focus on business strategy and technology to solve challenges in the e-commerce industry. GDEXA is a non-profit organization that provides young people with free global mentorship and digital education. “Such programs train students in critical skills needed for the business world and expose them to real-world learning experiences beyond the classroom,” explains Seah.

Furthermore, SIM leverages around 200 successful alumni and industry veterans in a mentoring initiative called Project Protégé. Students are matched to volunteer mentors, who guide them over a period of four months to help them succeed in specific industry sectors and job roles.

Adapting to the Future of Work

Looking ahead, SIM will continue to develop solutions that meet the changing needs of Singapore’s workforce. This will involve strengthening the organization’s capabilities as a platform for its end-to-end value chain, from education to employment.

“This will require us to continuously source the best global education programs for our students, and at the same time forge deep partnerships with enterprises for informing the design of industry-based micro-credentials,” says Seah.

“Beyond this, we will be helping organizations develop deep and broad skills in their workforce for business growth. We do this through the model of a corporate university, where highly contextualized curriculum are designed and delivered in an integrated manner.”

Singapore Institute of Management


Building A Global Outsourcing Powerhouse

In just a few years, Singapore-based Everise has grown to become a leading player in the business process outsourcing industry.

Sudhir Agarwal, Founder & CEO, Everise

Armed with a vision to transform the global outsourcing business, Sudhir Agarwal arrived in Singapore in 2016 determined to build an international business from the ground up. Just six years on, Everise, the company he founded, has grown into an industry behemoth that is expected to register around half a billion U.S. dollars in revenue this year.

Agarwal achieved this impressive feat by employing a potent mix of technology and talent to address the increasingly complex customer needs of global businesses, especially those in the healthcare and emerging tech sectors. Put simply, Everise is in the business of delivering superior customer experiences for its clients’ customers, whether providing technical support for tech companies, or setting appointments for the patients of healthcare service providers.

Unlike the cookie-cutter approach taken by many business process outsourcing (BPO) organizations, Everise stands out for its ability to craft customized solutions delivered through advanced digital platforms and a global team of highly trained agents.

Despite not being a technology company, Everise helps customers with their digital transformation journeys by partnering with more than 30 tech players. These include industry leaders such as Microsoft, with the goal of harnessing the latest artificial intelligence, data analytics and cloud-based solutions to deliver an efficient and secure level of service.

However, even as the industry moves away from human touchpoints toward digitally enabled self-help platforms, Agarwal still recognizes the importance of personal interaction in delivering exceptional customer journeys.

“Our job is to come up with the right solution for the client, because the answer is not always moving everything to technology. Around eight to ten years back, all the U.S. airlines decided to move to self-help platforms, so they removed all human beings from the check-in counters. It actually made the problem worse, because there is an education process and you have to give the freedom to the customers,” explains Agarwal.

Eschewing the “jack of all trades” model of its competitors, Everise set out from the beginning to specialize in sectors it believed held significant potential for growth, such as healthcare and technology. Today, the healthcare sector accounts for more than 50% of the group’s business.

Investing in Talent

Two Everise champions in the newly opened Bogota site.

Attracting and retaining talent is another key to Everise’s success. The company boasts the highest Glassdoor ratings—which are based on independent employee reviews—in the global BPO industry. This helps the company to attract the best talent available, which, in turn, enables it to deliver the highest quality of service to its clients.

Agarwal notes that almost 60% of Everise’s recruitment has come through referrals, reflecting how much its people enjoy working for the organization. He also believes in empowering its leaders to ensure an agile mindset.

“We are a large organization, and we need to make decisions quickly. As such, we empower our leaders by establishing goals, and then setting them free and letting them shine,” he says. During the pandemic, the company also cottoned on to the benefits of inclusive hiring, and has started to source talent from largely untapped sources, including the elderly and stay-at-home mothers.

Powering Rapid Growth

Everise’s strategy of investing in talent and technology has paid off handsomely in just a few short years. The company has grown from a small Singapore-based operation to a multinational enterprise with operations around the world, including the U.S., Guatemala, Colombia, Ireland, Japan and Malaysia. The company employs more than 15,000 agents delivering over 600,000 experiences daily in 32 languages. In 2020, Agarwal brought Brookfield Asset Management on as a majority partner, at a valuation of US$500m.

Everise Digital Experience Lab in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“The last few years have seen significant growth for the company. The pandemic made customer service experiences even more important, and while many sectors suffered, Everise was able to ramp up its business, providing truly evolved experiences that helped our clients keep their customers satisfied,” says Agarwal.

He credits operating out of Singapore as one factor that helped smooth the company’s double-quick journey toward global scale. “I chose Singapore because of the ease of setting up the company and doing business here. I was clear that Everise would be built on the important pillar of governance, which we all know is very strong in Singapore.”

He is also a fan of the Singaporean work ethic, as well as the country’s connectivity to the rest of the world. “If anyone believes that you cannot run a global company sitting out of Singapore, they are wrong,” he says.

Everise is in the process of expanding its operations in Singapore after recently securing its first big client from the city-state. The company aims to create 300 jobs in Singapore by the end of next year.

Despite its frenetic pace of growth, Everise shows no signs of slowing down. Apart from its expansion in Singapore, the company recently launched a site in Colombia, and is looking to grow its client pool across Latin America and Asia. It also expects to substantially increase its share in the healthcare market in the coming year, while also attracting more clients from the tech, insurance, travel and retail sectors. Says Agarwal: “We have to keep innovating and looking at new ways of solving our clients’ problems, and always ensuring that we give them the best customer experience.”


U.S. healthcare institutions have traditionally been reluctant to set up customer service operations in “nearshore” locations as a way to overcome domestic wage and labor availability issues. This is due to perceptions of poor English proficiency and a lack of practical knowledge of the U.S. healthcare system by workers at such locations.

To overcome these obstacles, Everise employed an innovative approach to recruiting and training to ensure that the necessary skills and knowledge were acquired by staff at the Guatemalan call center that it set up for a top-tier U.S. healthcare client.

The results were a success, as neither language proficiency nor understanding of the U.S. healthcare system were determined to have had a negative impact on the customer experience. The project has expanded several-fold since its inception.

Taking Hospitality To New Heights In Asia Pacific

Radisson Hotel Group is riding the post-pandemic recovery to embark on an ambitious expansion in the region.

Radisson Blu Resort Maldives

After more than two years of turbulence fuelled by the pandemic, the global hospitality industry is finally witnessing the green shoots of recovery, as travel restrictions ease and borders reopen. Indeed, some hotels in Asia have already returned to pre-pandemic levels of activity.

With more than 1,700 properties spread across nine diverse brands, leading hospitality company Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) is well positioned to ride on this much welcome rebound in the region. Since April 2022, for instance, the group’s properties in India have seen occupancy levels surpass 2019 levels. Meanwhile, occupancy at RHG’s hotel in Fiji has crossed 90% since May, with a similar trend expected to continue through the rest of the year.

“Loyalty is critical to success in the hospitality industry,” says Ramzy Fenianos, Chief Development Officer, Asia Pacific at RHG. “The past two years have shown us the value of loyal customers, and we’re delighted that many of our loyal customers have already returned to our properties once again.”

Radisson recently unveiled its Asia Pacific (APAC) Expansion Plan, which aims to grow its portfolio from around 400 properties in operation and under development, to more than 2,000 hotels and resorts by 2025. “The plan has been carefully designed to both fuel and capitalize on Asia’s travel and hospitality rebound, as this will also play a pivotal role in the global recovery,” explains Fenianos.

The expansion plan focuses on five strategic growth markets: India, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. RHG’s strategy will be powered by building local development and operations teams with local language capabilities in these markets. To this end, the group has already set up new dedicated business units in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Sydney.

The Group will also build on existing initiatives to capitalize on the vast potential of China. Specifically, the group will leverage its partnership with Jin Jiang International, the second-largest hotel group in the world by number of rooms. As it expands in the region, RHG will work closely with Jin Jiang and its affiliates to find synergies and harness the strength of its brands. This will give it access to more than 182 million members globally.

Customized Solutions

With a stable of brands that range from economy to luxury, RHG can more effectively customize its development strategy, and cater to owners in every market segment and location.

Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney

In India, for instance, the group has launched Radisson Individuals Retreats, a new lifestyle brand extension designed specifically for the Indian market, where guests can enjoy authentic and immersive experiences focused on well-being.

“Brands such as Radisson Individuals allow us to celebrate the individuality of each hotel and create a bespoke experience with each stay. This is gaining popularity with owners, which is the reason we launched an extension—Radisson Individuals Retreats,” says Fenianos.

The group also has Radisson RED, which offers a playful twist on more conventional hotel stays by featuring stylish spaces that aim to inspire guests and help them connect with their surroundings. This upscale brand has also been gaining traction in key markets within the region.

“In each market, we will work with the local development teams and owners to see which brand would suit the profile of the travelers and opportunities in that market. The strategy would be to tailor our offering to each market and the needs of owners, so as to generate the greatest return on their investment,” says Fenianos.

RHG is also witnessing an uptick in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) space this year. To capitalize on growing MICE demand, the group has created Radisson Meetings to deliver on its strong service commitment to being “personal, professional and memorable.”

Going forward, RHG plans to continue investing in its systems and digital infrastructure to enable operational efficiencies, and better guest engagement. For instance, it will soon launch Radisson+, a range of services to delight guests with a more flexible, efficient and personalized travel experience. With this service, guests can manage their stay—from pre-arrival to check-out—in a way that is intuitive and convenient.

Focus on Sustainability

Radisson Blu Resort Phu Quoc

RHG’s APAC Expansion Plan has been developed in line with the group’s sustainability targets, cementing its commitment to become net zero by 2050. Reflecting this, RHG—along with other brands, associations and destinations—has launched Hotel Sustainability Basics, an initiative to drive responsible and sustainable travel in the region. The group also aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% over the next five years, reduce consumption of natural resources, grow its use of renewable energy, and phase out single-use plastics.

Radisson Hotel Danang

“Covid-19 has upended the US$8 trillion global travel industry, but it has also paved the way for the tourism and hospitality industries to reflect, rethink and reshape the sector for the better. One of the outcomes of this has been a renewed focus on sustainability, which is a critical area that Radisson is addressing, and will continue to address over the coming years,” says Fenianos.

“We believe in making a tangible difference with sustainable practices and goals at our business’s heart. We will work hand-in-hand with our guests and partners on our sustainability journey.”

Delivering An Innovative Solution To The Plastic Waste Crisis

Led by Nanette Medved-Po, PCX moves to tackle the plastic crisis and make a global impact.

Nanette Medved-Po,
PCX Founder and Executive Chair

The United Nations Environment Programme reports that about 400 million tons of plastic waste are produced each year, much of which is visibly unregulated, unmanaged and destructive to the world’s land, air and seas. And the Philippines, which has little infrastructure to manage waste and a prevalent ‘sachet economy’, is the third worst offender for ocean plastic pollution.

Featured on Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy list in 2017, Nanette Medved-Po is the Founder of Generation Hope, which donates all profits from the sale of Hope in a Bottle bottled water to build school classrooms in the the Philippines.

Medved-Po initially struggled with the idea that she was helping with education but still hurting the environment, so she challenged her team to take responsibility for their own plastic footprint. “We thought that if we could figure out how to be ‘net zero plastic waste’ and remove or return to the circular economy as much plastic as we used in our own business, there was hope for everyone else,” she explains.

A Sustainable Alternative

In 2019, from one of the epicenters of the worldwide plastic crisis, Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX) emerged to be the world’s first non-profit, fully integrated and blockchain-protected plastic offset program. PCX offers brands a way to achieve their sustainability goals by showing them that there is an effective, achievable way to clean up their plastic waste.

“We assist brands, from helping them determine their footprint, to understanding how to reduce their plastic use in a viable way, and then cleaning up anything that is left with credits,” says Medved-Po.

PCX has gone on to help companies such as PepsiCo, Nestlé and Colgate-Palmolive clean up more than 32,000 tons of plastic waste, and invested over US$2.7 million to support new plastic waste collection capacity and other circular economy initiatives.

In many countries, credits can enable local recycling efforts by funding microentrepreneurs to organize plastic collection in their own communities and connecting supply to vetted processors. But if recycling infrastructure is not available, or the collected waste can’t be recycled, credits may also be used to work with energy recovery partners.

All credits sold have received PCX’s well-established and publicly available Plastic Pollution Reduction Standard (PPRS) accreditation, which was the first of its kind when it was launched in March 2020.

Making a Global Impact

Although PCX quickly became one of the largest providers of plastic waste reduction projects in the Philippines, Medved-Po felt that, given the speed at which plastic enters our environment, it was essential to find a way to scale their impact globally.

In 2022, this led to the creation of PCX Markets, a commercial operation based in Singapore to drive impact beyond the Philippines. PCX Markets has now launched a technology-enabled plastic credit sales marketplace platform. This global platform empowers purchasers to select credits from a wide range of projects, including community-based collection programs in Thailand, recycling operations in India, and more, all accredited through PCX or Verra standards.

PCX project partner Second Life collects plastic waste in biodiversity hotspots and vulnerable areas to support environmental regeneration and community development.

Companies are able to sort projects across a range of options, such as the type of plastic, country of impact, and aggregation and processing type. After purchasing, they are provided with a dashboard that tracks the actual impact of their purchases.

“Our new platform allows us to finally bend the curve on the plastic waste crisis in the right direction,” said business and technology industry veteran Sebastian DiGrande, CEO of PCX Markets.

“We are providing individuals, institutions and businesses with an easy-to-use experience delivering unrivaled access, transparency, verification and analytics, as well as an economic model that accelerates critical funding for expansion of existing projects, investment in new infrastructure globally and support of research into plastic alternatives.”

Driving Systemic Change

Until this year, most of PCX’s partnerships have been voluntary and driven by increasingly conscious consumers and investors. But more governments are now taking measures to mandate the importance of planet over profit.

In March 2022, the United Nations passed a resolution to end plastic pollution, a step towards creating a legally binding treaty by 2024. And most recently, the Philippines joined the more than 30 countries who have passed legislation requiring companies to be responsible for the plastic they produce.

(Top row, from left) Dipendra Jain, Chief Product and Technology Officer; Meg Santos, Sustainability Campaign Manager; Vincent Kneefel, Circular Economy Director; Nanette Medved-Po, Founder and Executive Chair; Sebastian DiGrande, Chief Executive Officer; Nicole Cruz, Digital Marketing & PR Officer; Melannie dela Pena, Field Coordinator; (Bottom row from left) Diane Garduce, Legal and Compliance Officer; Richard de Guzman, Standards and Compliance Manager; Mia Parma, Chief of Staff; Christie Jiang, Business Operation Lead

PCX also helps governments and organizations understand what is needed for systemic change, and was involved in crafting the Philippines’ Extended Producer Responsibility legislation. In Singapore, the Economic Development Board (EDB) invited PCX Markets to establish a presence, given the country’s desire to be a leader in the sustainability space. The government has taken a proactive approach to environmental credits, as evidenced by Climate Impact X.

PCX Markets Blockchain Enabled Platform

“Situated at the heart of a growing Southeast Asia, Singapore is well-placed to provide services to support the region’s sustainability efforts,” says Dino Tan, Senior Vice President and Head of Southeast Asia at the Singapore EDB. “We look forward to engaging with more partners like PCX to further strengthen the ecosystem of companies offering innovative solutions in this field.”

Since 2017, estimates suggest that more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced, with less than 10% having been recycled. The numbers may be daunting, but PCX looks at them as a source of motivation.

“Cleaning up the world’s plastic is a complex, layered problem, but I do believe each big step forward will inspire another,” says Medved-Po. “At first, we didn’t know what to do with it or where to bring it. Now we do. And the nice thing about plastic is that you can see it, weigh it, track it and know when there is less of it. I truly believe that we can be the generation that solves this problem.”

Jump to an article