Distinguished Science Alumni Awards 2005
LUM Ooi Lin Olivia
BSc 1985; BSc(Hons) 1986
Group Chief Executive Officer and President, Hyflux Ltd
Despite her humble background, Ms Olivia LUM strived her way through a top junior college and thereafter the National University of Singapore, where she earned a BSc(Hons) degree in Chemistry.
Upon graduation in 1986, she started out as a chemist in the multinational corporation Glaxo Pharmaceutical. In 1989, she set up a small water treatment company Hydrochem (S) Pte Ltd, the precursor of Hyflux, and competed against large MNCs. The company has since grown to pursue a wide range of water-related ventures in Asia, from waste-water treatment in China to desalination plants in Singapore. As the Group Chief Executive Officer and President, Ms LUM is the driving force behind Hyflux's growth and expansion, holding fort in strategy formulation and corporate direction. Today, Hyflux is one of the fastest-growing firms in Asian water market with market capitalization of more than S$1 billion. It has scored a number of breakthroughs under Ms LUM's personal headship of its Research and Development function, breaking new ground as one of the most innovative and impressive water treatment companies in the region. In particular, the company's pioneering development of ultrafine membrane filters is applied on all its major products. It has also begun the manufacture of a condensing device called Dragonfly that produces potable moisture from air and aims to be the possible answer to the water needs of water-scarce countries. Recently, Hyflux has been awarded the NEWater tender in Singapore to supply the republic with its own water supply from recycled waste water. As recognition of its success, Hyflux was named the Enterprise of the Year in the 2004 Singapore Business Awards. It also made into the Forbes magazine's list of the world's 200 best small companies in 2002.
Ms LUM plays a highly active role in public and community service. She serves as a Nominated Member of Parliament of Singapore, contributing to national policies. She is a board member of SPRING Singapore, the National University of Singapore Council and the Singapore Exchange Ltd. She also holds membership to the UNESCAO Business Advisory Council and Singapore Green Plan 2012 Coordinating Committee. In addition, she acts as the President of the Singapore Water Association.
Ms LUM is widely hailed as one of Asia's leading female entrepreneurs. Her outstanding achievements have earned her numerous personal accolades, which include:
  • Businessman of the Year 2005
  • Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network (GWIIN) Award 2004
  • Singapore's "Most Creative Entrepreneur" 2003, voted by Business Times readers
  • International Management Action (IMAA) Award 2003, by SPRING Singapore and Chartered Management Institute
  • Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2003
  • Woman of the Year 2003, by Her World magazine
"Knowledge in science has provided me with a key to open the door of boundless opportunities."