My journey Eugene Wong CDir of Sirius Venture Capital
Eugene Wong is a global chartered director based in Singapore, and qualified with the IoD under Royal Charter in 2014.
I am the founder and managing director of Sirius Venture Capital Pte Ltd, a venture capital firm that focuses on start ups and growing firms in the F&B and Foodtech space. I am also serving as the chairman of CrimsonLogic Pte Ltd, an IT products and solutions provider for the eGov and trade facilitation areas and chairman of GeTs Global Pte Ltd, a platform to provide logistics players an easier and faster way to send and clear customs for their goods around the world. I am also the vice-chairman of Japan Foods Holding Ltd, a Japanese chain with over 50 stores based in Singapore and on the board of two Singapore Government Statutory boards.
My background is in finance, having graduated with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore Business School. I also hold an MBA from Imperial College Business School and the Owners’ President Management qualification from Harvard Business School, as well as being a chartered financial analyst and chartered valuer and appraiser.
Since 1998, I have been involved in investing in start ups and SMEs, bringing around 10 companies for listing in the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, raising over US $300million. I have also been a non-executive directors for over 10 public listed companies since 2000 and also on numerous private company boards.
Why I undertook the CDir programme
My roles on boards demand the best of me and I was seeking the best training and professional qualifications for directors. I had the privilege of having a CDir with me on two of the boards I sit on and that has shown me the difference between the CDir and other NEDs. That inspired me to study and obtain my CDir.
I am a fellow and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and also trained with the USA National Association of Company Directors (NACD). However, I feel the apex of my directorship training and professional validation was when I qualified as a chartered director. As the process of becoming a CDir was both rigorous and demanding, it helped me reflect on what is required to be a good director, a chartered director, and to have my skills recognised internationally by fellow business leaders.
My key learnings
Since qualifying as a chartered director, there is a higher responsibility when I fulfil my role as a NED, as other directors look up to me for an example and standard for good corporate governance.
My biggest takeaway from the CDir programme is that to be a good director, you need to gain the right knowledge about the rules and regulations on boards and company laws. There are many areas where the decisions and actions of directors have to be guided by their character and morale standards, and having gone through the CDir training, where we debate case studies and also put up our three background cases for interviews, it makes me more aware of the extra standards I need to reach and uphold.
How the CDir programme has helped me
The programme has supported my journey personally, as it was a great learning experience to come to the UK for training, network and learn with fellow directors, and to put together a portfolio of experience to be interviewed by experienced chartered directors. Professionally, as chartered director is awarded under Royal Charter by the prestigious IoD, it lifted up my standing among my peers as I am only the second CDir in Singapore.
The most important attributes of a modern director
The most important attributes for a director is integrity and honesty. As the board is the steward for its stakeholders, each director needs to have these to the highest level. Without them, the board will not be able to address both strategic and operational issues.
My advice for new directors
Be humble and keep learning, because as a director, the environment is not static, it’s ever changing. Thus, one has to be open to learning. Never think that your past experience will fit into the current situation, each board situation is unique and the players are all different.
Be diligent and careful – as a NED you cannot just come for board meetings and just be on the board because of the nice status. The fees you earn are not for the five meetings, it’s for every hour, every day, every year that the company is in business. So, one has to be diligent to find out everything possible about the firm’s business and subsidiaries and people. Because, there is no short cut, and it’s usually the lack of diligence of the directors that cause failures in the boards.
Be prepared to step down – as a director, we cannot be on the board forever, we need to serve a term or two, and prepare new board members to take over us. Also, when there are governance issues, a director needs to be prepared to step down and not hang on due to the fees or the fear of conflict with the rest of the board members.