INSEAD Participant Interview
Interview with Lim Chin Hu: Past Participant of the International Directors Programme
Lim Chin Hu
Independent Director, Kulicke & Soffa, USA and Telstra Corporation Ltd, Australia
Non-Executive Director, Citibank Sinapore; Heliconia Capital Management; Changi Hospital; Spore Exchange Listing Advisory Committee
Lim Chin Hu is a former participant of the International Directors Programme. He explains how INSEAD's International Directors Programme helped him build his peer networks, gain a more international outlook and take his capabilities to the next level.
What positions do you currently hold?
I wear a number of different hats. I am involved with Stream Global Pte Ltd, an incubator fund providing seed capital for technology start-ups in Singapore. The bulk of my time, however, is taken up with serving as an independent director of various entities including Kulicke & Soffa in the United States and Telstra Corporation Limited in Australia.
I also serve as a non-executive director of Citibank Singapore Limited, Heliconia Capital Management Pte Ltd and some voluntary boards like Changi Hospital and Spore Exchange Listing Advisory Committee.
What are your main challenges as a director?
As a non-executive director, it’s my role to ensure the highest standards of corporate governance and ethical conduct in the organisations I serve. It is a huge responsibility. The challenges can be complex, especially where you are involved with organisations that have operations spread across multiple countries. To be effective, you need to be engaged, agile, strategic and always ready to learn. For me, that means there is a real need to keep up to date with best practices in corporate governance around the world.
Why did you choose INSEAD’s International Directors Programme and how did it help you address your challenges?
The programme operates in partnership with SID, so I first heard about it even before its 2014 launch in Singapore – at that time, I was a SID council member.
For me, one of the key strengths of the programme is that it is very practice oriented. You are introduced to certain frameworks and case study examples and how to apply those lessons back in your own real-life board environment. This meant that in the programme, I had the opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate my decision making process. This helped me revisit things I could do differently, to make me more effective.
The other great thing was that my fellow participants came from all over the world, including Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East, South Africa and the UK, as well as Singapore. The ability to share views and experiences, and gain a global perspective on the current challenges facing people who sit on international boards is invaluable.
What would you say was different about this programme, compared to other executive education opportunities?
The class sizes are fairly small, which is helpful. Second, the students come from very diverse backgrounds – there’s a great opportunity to build peer networks. Third, the quality of the teaching is excellent. I was impressed with the faculty’s knowledge and experience; these are professors who have sat on boards themselves, written books and know the issues inside out. I also felt they pitched the course just right. The level of discussion was high and the case studies we discussed were grounded in real-life challenges.
You mentioned you are a former SID council member. Why do you think that SID and INSEAD are a good fit to partner on this programme?
One of SID’s aims is to organise and conduct professional training courses and seminars to meet the needs of its members and company directors generally. The idea here is to help raise the professional standards of directors in Singapore right across the spectrum – through basic training to more advanced courses at the senior level. The International Directors Programme is a great fit in this regard. It’s the high-level offering we need for experienced board members who want to develop themselves further and take their competencies to the next level.
How does the programme help directors in Singapore and Asia address the regional and global challenges they are facing?
The case studies we explored allowed us to examine the different ways boards operate in different parts of the world. It is extremely valuable to discover how certain cultural and contextual issues come into play in Japan or France, for instance, in terms of the way companies there are structured and run. This wide-ranging focus was very interesting and helped me understand certain nuances I might not otherwise have recognised.
Even more importantly, the debates that take place in the classroom can really open your eyes to the challenges directors grapple with. With the guidance of the professors, you’re able to systematically explore these issues in a safe ‘box’, as it were, and discuss possible solutions.
Could you sum up the impact and key benefits of the programme for you?
The International Directors Programme gave me access to some valuable frameworks to round out my professional development as a director. But the learnings were not just theoretical – rather, they were about taking real-life examples and working out how I’d apply them once back on the job. As a result, I gained some very beneficial insights and tools to aid my decision making processes. It is the practical aspect of the programme that really sets it apart – for me, this was the greatest gain.