|Singapore Innovator - Olivia Lum|
Growing up as an orphan in Perak, Malaysia, Olivia Lum's entrepreneurship began early. As a child, she peddled homemade ice-lollies. At 16, the straight-A student came to study at Tiong Bahru Secondary School in Singapore, where she paid her own way by giving tuition and peddling wares. She proceeded to Hwa Chong Junior College and then to the National University of Singapore where she graduated in applied chemistry during the 1986 recession.
She joined Glaxo as a laboratory chemist. During her 3 years stint at Glaxo, Olivia saw the immense potential of water treatment business.
Driven by passion, she decided to start her own business and sold her condominium and car to raise S$20,000.
Hyflux started as a 3-person trading company selling water treatment systems in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. During that time, Ms Lum rode a motorbike from Jurong to Batu Pahat, knocking on factory doors to sell her water filters and softeners. She ploughed whatever profits she made back into her business and made her first million five years after she started.
The business grew rapidly and a little more than a decade later, Hyflux became the first water treatment company to be listed on SESDAQ in January 2001. In April 2003, it was upgraded to the Singapore Exchange's mainboard.
Since it's founding, Hyflux has extended its core competency beyond system integration into the realms of research and development, design and build works and consumer products development.
Today, Hyflux is one of Asia's leading water and fluid treatment companies, specializing in the manufacture and use of membrane and related technologies for liquid/solid separation. It is also an integrated solutions provider, offering a suite of turnkey services including process design and optimisation, engineering procurement and construction management, pilot testing, fabrication, installation, commissioning, operation and maintenance as well as Design-Build-Own-Operate (DBOO) solutions.
Through the years, Hyflux has established an impressive track record in the designing, building, supply, operation and maintenance of purpose-built water treatment and liquid separation plants, using advanced membranes for a diverse portfolio of industrial, municipal and governmental clients.
Olivia is the driving force behind Hyflux's growth and business expansion, responsible for policy and strategies formulation and corporate direction. She also heads the Research and Development function, which is her first love.
In addition to a thriving presence in China and Singapore, the Group who has also successfully penetrated the lucrative Middle Eastern market will be setting its sights on India, Southeast Asia and Africa.