Koh Boon Hwee couldn’t kill a rabbit

That’s why he decided not to be a doctor and became a corporate head honcho instead

Straits Times Aug 10, 2014
By Wong Kim Hoh, Senior Writer

Over a two-hour chat with Koh Boon Hwee, one learns three key things about the corporate titan.

One, he does not like to give up on what he has started.

Two, he does not look back.

Three, he believes education is the key to changing one’s life.

These attributes have helped him navigate through life more than just niftily.

Just look at his curriculum vitae. A respected investor who co-founded private equity firm Credence Partners, the 63-year-old has chaired some of the country’s biggest and most successful organisations including SingTel, Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank.

He serves on the board of several public and private companies, both locally and in the United States and Hong Kong. He also chairs the board of trustees of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and is credited for overseeing its growth into an internationally recognised research university.

“I’m just lucky,” he says, trying to downplay his achievements. Several good mentors and some astute decisions at critical junctures, he suggests, are responsible for who, what and where he is.

Breaking out into a hearty laugh, he adds: “You know, being lucky is better than being smart.”

Perhaps so but Mr Koh – who has a first-class honours degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA (Distinction) from Harvard Business School – also has one heck of a brain.

Almost sheepishly, the eldest of three children of a trader and a homemaker says: “Studies came very easily to me.” He breezed through his years at St Andrew’s and was Singapore’s top boy in the O-level and A-level examinations.

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