Photo from the Ong Teng Cheong Collection,
courtesy of National Archives of Singapore
ONG SIEW MAY PROFESSORSHIP IN ARCHITECTURE (2000)
It is said that Mrs Ong Siew May’s hobby was work. In a career spanning 30 years, she completed more than 200 projects, among them the restoration and redevelopment of Chijmes and Great World City. A project particularly close to her heart was the new campus for her alma mater Nanyang Girls’ High School, which she completed in 1999 while battling colon cancer. She passed away the same year.
Mrs Ong’s passion for her work was obvious to all she came in contact with. Even after her husband Ong Teng Cheong became President of Singapore, she continued to work at Ong & Ong, a company she had set up with her husband in 1972. She became the first and only working First Lady, taking part in client discussions and visiting building sites.
Mrs Ong came to Singapore at the age of 11 in 1948 after spending five years in an orphanage in China. She joined Nanyang Girls’ High School, where she excelled as an essayist, in mathematics, calligraphy and dancing. She also met her future husband during that time, at the age of 15. The two later studied architecture at the University of Adelaide, where Mrs Ong became the first Asian woman architecture graduate. She later became the first woman to become fellow-member of the Singapore Institute of Architecture.
NUS established the Ong Siew May Professorship in Architecture to honour one of Singapore’s foremost architects and former First Lady. The Professorship enables the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment to appoint internationally eminent practitioners, academics and emerging architects to work with the department to address challenging issues on architecture and Asian urbanisation and explore new ideas for design excellence.
The Ong Siew May Professorship was established with generous gifts from the Ong family, corporate donors, including Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Lee Foundation, Lien Foundation, NLC Construction Pte Ltd, and individual donors.
Photo from Ministry of Information and The Arts Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore
ONG TENG CHEONG PROFESSORSHIP IN MUSIC (2002)
Mr Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore’s fifth President and the first to be popularly elected, was an accomplished musician and arts lover. Over a 20-year political career from Minister for Communications and Culture to Deputy Prime Minister and President, Mr Ong played major roles in the establishment of some of the country’s cultural icons – the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Council and the Esplanade, which took shape after his recommendation for a new performing arts centre. He created the country’s highest cultural honour, the Cultural Medallion, and during his presidency, started an annual series of charity shows, including the President’s Charity Art Exhibitions.
A talented pianist, Mr Ong played in public for various charity events, such as his performance of a Teresa Teng classic at the 1999 President’s Star Charity, which raises millions of dollars every year for causes in need. He also, on occasion, conducted the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
A life-long arts lover, Mr Ong’s love of Chinese poetry as a teenager studying at Chinese High School attracted Ling Siew May, who would later become his wife. He was 16, she 15. Years later, they still enjoyed reciting verses of Chinese poetry together.
NUS established the Ong Teng Cheong Professorship in Music to honour his contribution to the development of music and the arts in Singapore.The Professorship enables the University to invite internationally eminent musicians to NUS to teach and share their expertise with students at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music and other young musicians in Singapore and enhance the artistic life of the country and the region.
The Professorship is supported by gifts from the Singapore Totalisator Board and the Lee Foundation.
OSIM PROFESSORSHIP IN BRANDING AND STRATEGIC MARKETING (2003)
The brand OSIM is synonymous with a host of health and well-being products such as massage chairs, fitness equipment, vitamins and luxury tea. In fact, an independent survey identified OSIM as the number one Healthy Lifestyle products brand in Asian consumers’ minds.
According to brand aficionado Ron Sim, Founder, Chairman and CEO of OSIM, “Building your own brand is an important way to drive new growth. But you have to be very innovative, competitive and effective. It’s not just about chasing new growth.”
The company has focused on innovative products to attract customers, as well as brand endorsements from celebrities such as Andy Lau and Gong Li.
“The key for us is to continue designing new products that drives demand”, added Mr Sim.
Mr Sim honed his business acumen in the school of hard knocks. He sold noodles on the streets of Singapore as a boy. To fund his education, he worked at various odd jobs and discovered he was a talented salesman. He set up a house hold appliances company in 1979 when he was in his 20s, and later turned his attention to selling healthy lifestyle products under the OSIM brand – a name he chose for being memorable and marketable.
Today OSIM is a global brand operating 842 outlets in 30 countries.
The OSIM Professorship in Branding and Strategic Marketing established at NUS Business School enables the school to engage international brand experts to teach and conduct research, as well as infuse new ideas into the present curriculum and pedagogical approaches. The Professorship enables more in-depth research in branding and strategic marketing in Singapore, adding to the body of knowledge available in the field in this part of the world.
The OSIM Professorship in Branding and Strategic Marketing is supported by a gift from OSIM International Limited.