Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

Desert Storm comes to UNB

Author: Ideas with Impact

Posted on Dec 11, 2014

Category: Alumni

In August, 1990 Dr. Ng Pock Too was named CEO of Sembawang Engineering Group, a large Singapore Government owned Dr. Ng Pock Too visited UNB's Faculty of Business Administration in November as Executive in Residence.offshore engineering company. He remembers his first day on the job well: it was the same day that Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and seized their oil fields in the Persian Gulf which would disrupt the world supply lines for oil.

Sembawang had 23 Singapore engineers working on an oil production platform in the Persian Gulf located in Iranian waters, on a contract to provide upgrade work on the drilling systems for a major US oil-drilling contractor. They had one month to complete the job, war was imminent, and the families of the engineers were calling upon Dr. Ng to evacuate the platform. What should he do?

This crisis tested Dr. Ng’s leadership skills and mental stamina to manage and resolve tough situations. The challenges he faced during this crisis, the decisions he made and the eventual outcomes are the subject of case studies he facilitated in November with students in UNB’s MBA strategic management class. Dr. Ng visited UNB’s faculty of business administration for a week as Executive-in-Residence, the second time two years he has filled this role. During his presentations he challenged students to consider what they would do if they had been in his position.

The Executive-in-Residence program enriches students’ learning at UNB by bringing experienced business leaders into the classroom to share their real life experiences. In addition to sharing his experiences during desert storm, Dr. Ng spoke to classes about the leadership primer he gained from Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, during a training session he took part in.

Born and raised in Singapore, Dr. Ng came to UNB to study mechanical engineering. After completing the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1968 he returned to Singapore and worked for the government as a civil servant dealing with economic development. He was elected as Member of Parliament; he served as Political Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew; and he later served in the National Trades Union Congress as a trade union leader. He left the political scene to serve as CEO of the Sembawang Engineering Group and subsequently became the President for Asia Pacific of Hamilton Sundstrand, a United Technologies Company. Since retiring in 2007 he has been an adjunct professor with the National University of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and is Chairman and CEO of New Board Technology Ptd Ltd.

“I enjoy very much sharing my knowledge and experience with the business students who will be challenged to deliver on their performance in their working life,” said Dr. Ng.  “To the extent I can help to better prepare them for life after UNB, I will be more than happy to play my part to help contribute to this effort”.  

UNB awarded Dr. Ng an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree in 1993 to recognize his contribution to Singapore’s successful economic development.  During his visit in November he attended UNB’s 27th Annual Business Awards Dinner where he received the faculty of business administration 2014 Certificate of Appreciation.

For more information contact Liz Lemon-Mitchell.