The economy of Singapore has been through its challenges and no company is immune to the impact of slowing growth, increased regulatory pressures and disruptive technologies. But USQ Alumni Chia Yoong Hui is one Graduate who has exploited the challenging landscape to his advantage.
Last night, he and his cofounder Sia Teck Chong and their families and team, joined other successful Singaporean SME's at the Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards, to take out #27th place for their company Ascenz, now in its 8th year of operations.
Ascenz is the Asian leader in operational risk intelligence solutions for the maritime industry. The company delivers transparency using decision support systems for regulatory compliance, operational efficiency and risk management.
The shipping industry has long been under pressure for change. Since the 1980’s, most efficiency gains in the sector have been due to slow steaming and no technology shifts.
While the industry built bigger ships, economies of scale are diminishing. Now competitive pressures are immense from overcapacity and declining charter rates means the industry is stuck in a long decline.
Ascenz entrepreneurs Chia Yoong Hui and Sia Teck Chong were naval comrades in the Singapore navy. They saw an opportunity to transform shipping from a ‘cost minimization' business model or gambling business, into an asset management one. 80% of a ships' cost is fuel and increasingly the IMO is under pressure to address the industry's contribution to climate change. They saw opportunities for a solution that delivered operational risk management, operational efficiencies and compliance.
Ascenz was recognised for their strong entrepreneurial spirit as exemplified by overcoming the significant financial challenges in both the maritime and offshore oil and gas industries.
"The smarter path for shipping is the greater integration of ship operations with sensors and big data", Chia Yoong Hui said. "Using Ascenz, shipping companies can now automate and de-skill ship operations and navigation, integrate management systems to improve asset performance and use big data to both inform management on business performance for improved decision making and identify new areas to improve performance and reduce accidents. As we scale our operations internationally, being recognised in the E50 Award is a great vote of confidence on the foundations we have achieved."
With only 36 employees of which 25 are in Singapore, Ascenz are the most efficient company in their industry. Today Ascenz has operations in 15 countries with offices in 9 countries and partners in 6 countries, enabling them to deliver end-to-end service delivery across 5 continents.
Trusted by the world's largest shipping companies and Oil and Gas Companies, companies such as Yang Ming, BW Group, Royal Dutch Shell and Pacific International Lines rely on Ascenz for greater operational risk transparency to deliver improved real time performance and inform decision making.
The Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards programme is now in its 21st year, and recognises the 50 most enterprising private owned local companies in Singapore. Small and medium enterprises (classified as companies with revenues less than 100M) make up the backbone of Singapore's economy and account for 99% of all enterprises and contribute to almost half of the country's GDP. SME's also hire about 7/10 of the country's workers. Singapore has a strong commitment to nurturing and investing in SME's to add value to the economy and sustain the importance source of employment for the population.
The E50 Awards not only looks at quantitative criteria such as financial performance indicators, but also includes other factors in the evaluation such as business model and innovations, management ideals and governance, market branding and overall potential. It's aim is to assess companies for future potential as well as performance.
Ascenz took out the #27 position in the E50. Today it holds the global leadership position as the largest player internationally in their category of operational risk intelligence in the maritime sector. Over the past 12 months with the support of OCBC and IE Singapore, they have expanded into new European and Asian locations including Myanmar, Hong Kong, Germany and Holland. All of Ascenz products and solutions are developed in-house by their own R&D department and via R&D partner collaborations with esteemed international Academic institutions and think tanks.
"Continuous innovation is key for Ascenz to drive change in the maritime industry," said Chia Yoong Hui. "Through vision and capability development Ascenz remains future-ready, retaining our leadership position in the industry and exploiting the opportunities/challenges that digital disruption presents for our clients".
Photo Credit: Gabriel Chia: Ascenz team celebrates their E50 achievements with a team photo.
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