Peter Seah Lim Huat (Singapore Businessman)

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Peter Seah Lim Huat
Peter Seah.jpg
Born1947
EducationBachelor of Business Administration
Alma materNational University of Singapore

Peter Seah Lim Huat (born 1947) is a Singaporean businessman and senior banker. Notably, he is also the current Chairman of Singapore Airlines and the non-executive Chairman of DBS Bank.[1] A decorated businessman holding numerous board positions, Peter Seah was conferred the Distinguished Service Order by the President of Singapore in 2012 for his contributions to Singapore’s economy.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

Family[edit | edit source]

Peter Seah is the third-born of five brothers. His youngest brother Victor, who was a practising doctor in Singapore, passed away in late 2019.[3] Peter Seah’s nephew Jonathan, is also a former doctor and the founder of the LifeHealth Group, a Hong Kong-based healthcare company.[4]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Peter Seah is married to his wife, Mylene, with whom he has two daughters.[5]

Education[edit | edit source]

Peter Seah is an alumnus of Saint Joseph’s Institution (SJI).[6] From 1964 to 1968, he studied at the National University of Singapore, enrolling at the Department of Economics for his degree in Business Studies. When the NUS School of Business was formed in 1965, Peter Seah completed the rest of his studies at the school and eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration.[7]

Career[edit | edit source]

Peter Seah shaking hands with Lee Hsien Loong after receiving the Distinguished Service Order Medal. Photo from source.

Peter Seah has held numerous senior ranking positions in Singapore’s public and private sectors. He became the chairman of DBS Bank in May 2010[1] and took over as the chairman of Singapore Airlines in 2017.[8]

Early career[edit | edit source]

Upon his graduation from NUS in 1968, Peter Seah worked as a sales executive for a pharmaceutical agency to fulfil his scholarship commitments. After completing his bond, he was offered a position at Citibank, where he eventually became the Country Head in Brunei.[7]

Overseas Union Bank (1977 - 2001)[edit | edit source]

After spending nine years in Citibank, Peter Seah joined Overseas Union Bank (OUB) in 1977.[9] He held various senior positions at OUB until 1991 when he became its Chief Executive Officer and Vice-chairman.[8] Peter Seah retired from OUB when United Overseas Bank (UOB) bought over the company in a merger in 2001.[9][10] Speaking at the Fullerton-SJI Leadership Lecture Series in 2013, Peter Seah shared more about his time at OUB, saying:

“When I joined OUB, it was a very family-type organisation. I had come from Citibank, which was probably many years ahead in terms of technology, management style and knowledge. And I said overnight, “Why don’t we do things this way?”. Everybody turned around and said, 'We have been doing it this way for all these years and we have done well, so why are you asking us to change?'

So it dawned upon me that if you want to change mindsets, you want to change culture, you have to be a role model. And it takes time. It took me more than ten years to move the organisation to the type of culture and style that I wanted to accomplish.”[11]

CapitaLand (2001 - 2015)[edit | edit source]

In December 2001, Peter Seah was appointed to CapitaLand's Board of Directors in an independent and non-executive role. In January 2009, he assumed the role of Deputy Chairman and took on additional responsibilities in the company's various committees.[12] In April 2015, it was announced that he would be retiring from his roles in the company and would not seek re-election.[13] In a statement released by CapitaLand upon his retirement, Peter Seah was said to have been instrumental in his role as Deputy Chairman, leading the company towards being one of Asia’s largest real estate companies.[12]

Singapore Technologies Engineering (2001 - 2013)[edit | edit source]

In December 2001, Peter Seah was appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering), a state-owned company involved in the military contracting and engineering business.[14] In 2002, he was appointed as a Chairman on the Board of Directors. In December 2004, Peter Seah stepped down as the company's CEO and president. In April 2013, he resigned from his role as Chairman of the board at ST Engineering.[15] During his Chairman tenure, ST Engineering grew its revenues from $2.62 billion in 2002 to $6.38 billion in 2012. The company also raised its net profit (after tax) from $331 million to $576 million in the same period.[16]

DBS Bank (2009 - current)[edit | edit source]

Peter Seah (far left) at the Singapore Corporate Awards 2017. Photo from source.

In November 2009, Peter Seah joined DBS Bank’s Board of Directors and assumed the role of a non-executive Chairman in May 2010.[1] He is also the Chairman of several committees within the company, including being the chairman of DBS Bank in Hong Kong. It was reported that Peter Seah earned $1.84 million for his work with DBS in 2013.[17] Under his stewardship, DBS won the 'Best Managed Board Award' at the Singapore Corporate Awards in July 2017.[18] In December 2017, Peter Seah was conferred the Distinguished Fellowship from the Institute of Directors (IOD), India for his contribution towards business and society. He was the first and only individual from the ASEAN region to be awarded the fellowship.[19]

Singapore Airlines (2015 - current)[edit | edit source]

In September 2015, Peter Seah joined Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) board of directors as its Deputy Chairman before succeeding Stephen Lee as the Chairman of the company in January 2017.[8] In an interview with Travel Daily Media in March 2020, Peter Seah shared more about SIA’s cost-saving strategies amid the COVID-19 crisis:

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, passenger demand has fallen precipitously amid an unprecedented closure of borders worldwide. We moved quickly to cut capacity and implement cost-cutting measures. At the same time, we are also working with various parties to enable our staff on no-pay leave to have other income opportunities.”[20]

As recorded in SIA’s annual financial report for the work year of 2019/2020, Peter Seah earned over $800,000 as the non-executive Chairman of SIA despite the company's $200 million net loss.[21]

Board appointments[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of Peter Seah’s board appointments over the years.

Peter Seah with DBS Bank's CEO, Piyush Gupta.
Year(s) Organisation Position Refs.
2016 - current Singapore Airlines Pte Ltd Chairman [8]
2015 - current Deputy chairman
2015 - current National Wages Council Head of Organisation [22]
2014 - 2015 Deputy Chairman
2010 - current DBS Bank Pte Ltd Non-executive Chairman [1]
DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Pte Ltd
2009 - current DBS Bank Pte Ltd Director
DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Pte Ltd
2009 - 2015 CapitaLand Deputy Chairman [12]
2001 - 2015 Non-executive Director
2007 - current LaSalle College of the Arts Chairman [23][24]
2002 - 2013 ST Engineering Chairman [25]
2001 - 2004 President, Chief Executive Officer [8]
1991 - 2001 Overseas Union Bank Vice-chairman, Chief Executive Officer
- current Singapore Health Services Chairman [26]
- current GIC Pte Ltd Director [27]
Deputy Chairman (Investment strategies committee) [28]
Chairman (Human resource & organisation committee) [29]
- current Fullerton Financial Holdings Deputy Chairman [30]

References/ Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Peter Seah”. DBS Bank. n.d. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  2. Recipients”. Prime Minister’s Office. n.d. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  3. Seah, Jonathan. “Victor Seah Tribute”. LifeHub. January 8, 2020. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  4. Team”. LifeHealth. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  5. Q&A with Peter Seah”. Council for Board Diversity. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  6. Distinguished Alumni”. St. Joseph’s Institution. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Meet Our Alumni”. NUS Business School. n.d. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Kaur, Karamjit. “SIA chairman Stephen Lee to step down on Jan 1; DBS chairman Peter Seah to succeed him”. The Straits Times. November 11, 2016. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Peter Seah”. The Asian Banker. n.d. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  10. Yang, George. “OUB Bank History In Singapore (It Nearly Became DBS Bank!)”. Goody Feed. n.d. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  11. SPH Razor. “DBS chairman: Failure is important”. YouTube. July 25, 2013. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Mr Peter Seah Lim Huat retires as Deputy Chairman of CapitaLand”. CapitaLand. April 6, 2015. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  13. "Peter Seah to retire as CapitaLand's deputy chairman”. The Straits Times. April 6, 2015. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  14. Borsuk, Richard. “Peter Seah Will Succeed Ho Ching As Singapore Technologies CEO”. Wall Street Journal. December 3, 2001. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  15. Peter Seah Lim Huat steps down as ST Engineering's chairman of the board”. Singapore Business Review. February 15, 2013. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  16. ST Engineering Announces Resignation of Chairman”. Offshore Energy. February 15, 2013. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  17. DBS CEO gets S$9.2m pay in FY2013”. TODAYonline. April 1, 2014. Accessed on 15 September 2020.
  18. Woo, Jacqueline. “Singtel bags two big wins at Singapore Corporate Awards”. The Straits Times. July 19, 2017. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  19. DBS Group Chairman Peter Seah conferred Institute of Directors (IOD), India Distinguished Fellowship”. DBS Bank. December 22, 2017. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  20. Paul, Megha. “SIA secures rescue funding to overcome Covid-19 downturn”. Travel Daily Media. March 30, 2020. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  21. Correspondent. “SIA CEO makes $4.2m despite SIA incurring first full-year loss of $212m in 48-year history”. The Online Citizen. July 17, 2020. Accessed on 15 September 2020.
  22. Tan, Amelia. “Peter Seah, chairman of DBS, appointed as new head of National Wages Council”. The Straits Times. April 13, 2015. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  23. Ting, Lisabel. “Lasalle turns 30”. AsiaOne. November 6, 2014. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  24. Organisational Structure”. LaSalle College of the Arts. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  25. ST Engineering Announces Resignation of Chairman”. Offshore Energy. February 15, 2013. Accessed on 10 September 2020.
  26. Board of Directors”. SingHealth. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  27. Board of Directors”. GIC. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  28. Investment Strategies Committee”. GIC. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  29. Human Resource & Organization Committee”. GIC. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.
  30. Board of Directors”. Fullerton Financial Holdings. n.d. Accessed on 11 September 2020.