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NTU Singapore wins two major awards in SBR Management Excellence Awards

It was recognised for having exemplary management and leadership in the education sector.

In just 30 years, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has grown to become an institution renowned for its quality education and cutting-edge research and innovation, not just locally but all over the world. From having excellent graduates to a stellar roster of faculty professors, NTU Singapore is recognised as one of the world's best higher education institutions.

Young and research-intensive, NTU Singapore has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in engineering, business, science, humanities, arts, social sciences, education, and medicine.

Ranked amongst the world’s top universities, NTU is the only young university below 50 years old in the Top 20 of the QS World University Rankings since 2015. Home to one of the world’s best engineering colleges, NTU’s Engineering & Technology is ranked 4th internationally. The US News & World Report places NTU first globally in five subjects at the leading edge of Industry 4.0: Condensed Matter Physics, Energy and Fuels, Materials Science, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, and Physical Chemistry. NTU’s climb into the top 30 of the US News & World Report's rankings this year has affirmed the University’s status as a leading global university that pursues excellence in education and research. NTU is also home to world-class institutes such as the National Institute of Education, the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, the Earth Observatory of Singapore, and the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering. 

For its many achievements over the past year, NTU Singapore received two major awards in the recently concluded Singapore Business Review Management Excellence Awards: the Executive of the Year – Education, and Team of the Year – Education awards.

The SBR Awards recognises the most outstanding leaders in Singapore for their hard work and dedication that brought tangible contributions to their businesses. The Awards also honour employee engagements and COVID management initiatives that have made a positive impact on its stakeholders or customers.

In granting the Executive of the Year – Education award, the judging panel took into consideration the leadership exemplified by its Senior Vice President of Administration, Tan Aik Na.

Aik Na began her new career at NTU at age 46, first as CFO, then as Senior Vice President of Administration. This came after 24 years with chemical giant DuPont, where she was the first Asian woman CFO of DuPont Titanium Technologies (now Chemours).

She is known for challenging conventions and advocating for organisational change and transformation to advance organisational capabilities. With the ability to make tough decisions, Aik Na is recognised for showing strength in adversity and having the ability to connect with people.

COVID-19 tested these new organisational capabilities, enabling seamless remote operations for 40,000 students and staff. In 2018, she was awarded the Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award for modernising NTU's administrative infrastructure and organisational capabilities.

She also received the inaugural Singapore: 40-over-40 Inspiring Women 2021 Award for her transformational vision and progressive contributions.

By 2021, she had led the team to successfully launch the world's first publicly offered Sustainability-Linked Bond by a university. Under her leadership, the University has implemented several firsts and received numerous accolades in cybersecurity, IT, legal, and human resources. In 2022, Times Higher Education, the UK-based higher education ranking institution named NTU as the Leadership and Management Team of the Year for its outstanding leadership and institutional performance.

Her leadership resonates with all in the institution and was likewise instrumental in how NTU Singapore received its second SBR award: the Team of the Year – Education award.

Here, the NTU Administrative Leadership leads with the objective of becoming a stakeholder-centric organisation by focusing on people, processes, and systems.

The leadership team, in consultation with key stakeholders, put in place a strategic transformation plan, which included re-imagining the service delivery model, incorporating industry best practices, updating its IT blueprint and infrastructure, and building the capabilities of its workforce.

The leadership team spearheaded sweeping changes to multiple areas: develop a customer mindset; strengthen competency and professionalism; enhance end-to-end process delivery; and intensify stakeholder engagement.

The administrative transformation roadmap started with the review and revamp of shared services. From fee payment to fault reporting, colleges, schools, research centres, and other functions use one platform for most of the student and employee life cycle touch points.

In giving the award, the judging panel took into consideration specific achievements by NTU.

First is that NTU focused on accelerating its IT transformation.  Within three years, cloud-based solutions such as Ariba@NTU, ServiceNow@NTU, SAP@NTU, Office365@NTU and Workday@NTU that greatly increased efficiency, responsiveness, and cost-effectiveness were adopted and implemented. These significantly transformed how students and staff learn, work, and collaborate.

In the Technology Enabled Learning (TEL) space, more than 120 courses were made available. That included interactive online activities, and immersive multimedia assets or supported the flipped classroom pedagogy with alternative forms of innovative learning tools.

The second is NTU’s rapid response to COVID-19 to ensure learning and business continuity. Leadership, teamwork, student engagement, and rapid adoption of digital technology enabled the transition to online learning and working quickly in the early days of the pandemic.

Third, the NTU leadership team achieved several significant firsts in the last five years, including being the First Higher Education Institution in Asia to go live with a Software as a Service ("SaaS") HR solution, implementing Singapore's first barrier-free Smart Parking System, introducing NTU’s first AAA credit rating and the issuance of the world's first publicly offered Sustainability-Linked Bond by a university.

Through its numerous achievements, NTU Singapore continues to fly the Singapore flag as one of the world’s best universities.

The SBR Management Excellence Awards is presented by Singapore Business Review Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2023 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's employee engagements and management initiatives, please contact Julie Anne Nuñez at julie@charltonmediamail.com.

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