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2 Key Insights from Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd’s Chief Executive

Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (SGX: S63) is an engineering conglomerate with interests in various industries. There may be interesting things to learn from the company.

The engineering firm, known as ST Engineering for short, has four business segments, namely Aerospace, Electronics, Land Systems, and Marine. This puts the conglomerate into a variety of sectors including defense, information communication technologies (ICT), and global maintenance, repairs, and operation (MRO).

Recently, Tan Pheng Hock, ST Engineering’s chief executive, was featured in an interview series by bourse operator Singapore Exchange Limited  (SGX: S68).

I picked out two key insights from the interview that may be useful for investors.

Innovation that tests your own limits

““We must all be prepared to try new things, and it’s OK to fail. It’s better to try and fail, than not to try at all. In trying, you will discover your threshold and limits,” he said.

“If we don’t develop this mindset of trying, we will end up becoming very risk-averse.””

Tan expressed the need for innovation and creativity which may help ST Engineering move beyond competition. Innovation, though, may involve pushing the limits of the conglomerate. A culture that accepts the occasional failure may be the key to ST Engineering’s success.

A blend of skills

““Dealing with people requires good soft skills. These are skills for life. Engineers can be very hard and mechanical, very numbers-focused – that’s their weakness. Blending the hard and the soft goes a long way.”

At home, Tan hones his “soft skills” by learning to listen to his 19-year-old daughter.

“Today’s younger generation is very different – you cannot force them to do what you want, and that’s where soft skills come in. You work with them, you try to understand them, rather than mandating what they should do, which could very well turn into a disaster.””

Tan also highlighted the need for a blend of soft skills and hard skills. The latter involves hard numbers and a systematic approach, which are hallmarks of a typical engineer. The former, though, can be neglected. In this case, soft skills may involve listening and understanding, rather than pushing an idea downwards in an organization.

Tan felt that it was important to be able to persuade employees through a combination of hard figures and a human touch.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Chin Hui Leong doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.