"Every challenge is an opportunity to learn and innovate.” Living by this mantra has led Siak Ching down many paths to serve the community and country.
Be it spearheading environmentally sensitive and people-centric developments, fostering a creative and inclusive society, initiating the creation of a charity foundation, or building stronger ties on the international stage, Siak Ching’s illustrious career reflects a lifelong passion for giving back to the community.
Her stint as CEO at Ascendas from 2001 to 2013 not only propelled the business space solutions provider into a multi-billion-dollar entity, it also gave budding local artists much-needed exposure by incorporating their works in the company’s real estate ventures. “It was a natural partnership between us and the artists in the community”, says Siak Ching. “We found it was a good way to give back to the community, particularly the host community.”
While at Ascendas, Siak Ching also initiated the creation of the Ascendas Gives Foundation, a trust that channels part of the group’s profits towards the arts, the environment and the community, particularly children and the less privileged.
Siak Ching’s relentless pursuit to give back to the community finally took centre stage when she was appointed CEO of the National Gallery Singapore in 2013, where she could actively champion Singapore’s art scene. While the role of stewardship of the country’s iconic art museum may seem to be a dramatic change in vocation from previous corporate positions, including deputy CEO of the former Jurong Town Corporation, Siak Ching stresses that both are similar in their goal to create positive experiences for customers. “Whether one is a non-profit organisation or a commercial entity, customers must always come first. We are in existence for the people we serve,” she points out. “In the case of the National Gallery Singapore, everything we do is about making the visitor’s experience with art a memorable one.”
Besides her appointed role, she is also head of the Visual Arts Cluster, comprising the National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum and Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI). In this capacity, she aims to foster greater collaboration between the institutions and work towards the common goal of promoting the appreciation of art.
A member of the National University of Singapore Board of Trustees and the Yale-NUS College governing board, Siak Ching believes education is crucial to both the country’s growth and culture. Apart from working to bridge the arts institutions with the educational sector, she also regularly contributes to her alma mater in the hope of passing the baton of leadership to the future generation.
Siak Ching’s contributions even extend beyond Singapore, where as non-resident ambassador to Chile, she is tasked with building stronger economic and social ties between the two countries.
Driven by the belief that every challenge can be overcome with a strong team working together towards a common purpose and vision, Siak Ching’s dynamic leadership has earned her many accolades, including the Distinguished Alumni Award by the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Estate Management in 1999, the NUS Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2009, and Outstanding CEO of the Year in 2009.
She modestly adds, “I am privileged to be among those who have had the opportunity to pursue their passion, and found meaning and joy in their work.”