JAMES RIADY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORSHIP (2007)
The CEO of Asian conglomerate Lippo Group, Dr James Riady’s business interests range from property and retail to financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare. But a cause particularly close to his heart is education.
“Education is the basis for nation-building”, said Dr Riady, “It can, through developing a nation’s human resources, improve the nation’s welfare, and this is how my family and I can contribute.”
Dr Riady saw that even though a lot of wealth was created in Asia’s boom years of 1975–1995 and later, growth was not sustainable because of “gaps in our society – between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the healthy and the malnourished…the key was education”.
The Lippo Group started as a bicycle shop set up in 1950 by Dr Riady’s father, Mochtar Riady, who later set up Bank Lippo. Dr Riady has played a key role in expanding the company’s interests across Asia and the US. The company recently bought the 72-storey US Bank Tower in Los Angeles. Dr Riady also introduced professional management practices, bringing in external expertise, lucrative partnerships and investments.
But increasingly, Dr Riady has been looking beyond economic profit to making a social impact. His
non-profit organisation Pelita Harapan Educational Foundation is setting up schools across Indonesia, as well as universities and teacher-training colleges. The aim is to move beyond rote learning to a more holistic development of the student.
Dr Riady says,“I hope that when I finish my life, the biggest impact I have made will be in education.”
The James Riady Distinguished Professorship established at NUS Business School enables the School to enhance its capacity to nurture future generations of leaders for the global marketplace by attracting distinguished academics to share their expertise, and co-operate in research and education.
The James Riady Distinguished Professorship is supported by a gift from the Lippo Group.
JY PILLAY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSORSHIPS (2012)
“He was a great teacher, sharp, analytical …”, said Mr Goh Chok Tong, former Prime Minister of Singapore, about Professor J Y Pillay, his one-time boss at the Ministry of Finance.
The self-effacing Professor Pillay has described himself as just a “government wallah” but nevertheless, this outstanding civil servant and corporate leader has helped shape many of Singapore’s eminent institutions. With him as Chairman, Singapore Airlines went from a small company with 12 aircraft to a world-class carrier with a network in 41 countries. (Of that achievement, in his typically modest manner, Prof Pillay would only say that he is proud of the legacy of strong management he left behind.) He became Chairman of the Development Bank of Singapore in 1979. By 1984, the bank’s after-tax profits had almost tripled. After his retirement from the civil service, Prof Pillay oversaw the creation of the Singapore Exchange (SGX).
To every job, Prof Pillay brought outstanding analytical skills and steely focus. He would tell colleagues, “Whenever you embark on anything, please tell me what is your object. And there must be one.”
Born in Klang, Malaysia, in 1934, Prof Pillay studied engineering at the University of London’s Imperial College of Science and Technology. He joined the Ministry of Finance in Singapore in 1961. Prof Pillay is currently Rector of NUS University Town’s College of Alice and Peter Tan and Adjunct Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, among other responsibilities.
NUS honoured Prof Pillay, a role model for students, by establishing the J Y Pillay Global Asia Programme, which incorporates two Distinguished Professorships, one Fellowship and also innovative academic and student programmes. The Programme is supported by gifts from Singapore Airlines, Singapore Exchange, BinjaiTree, Low Check Kian, Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara, John Tan Kwang Kherng, ACR Capital Holdings, Allen & Gledhill and other donors who prefer to remain anonymous.