Climate change is Temasek's focus moving forward, says incoming CEO Dilhan Pillay

SINGAPORE – Incoming Temasek chief executive Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara said the state investor’s focus and biggest consideration is climate change.

“It’s impacting businesses in every sector, in every part of the world, and we have to think what that means for the various geographies that we’re operating in,” he told a briefing held at Temasek’s Dhoby Ghaut office on Tuesday (Feb 9).

Mr Pillay, who will continue in his current job as CEO of the commercial arm Temasek International, will succeed Ms Ho Ching in her roles as Temasek CEO and executive director on Oct 1.

He joined the company in 2010 and was appointed CEO of Temasek International in 2019, where he oversees its investment and portfolio activities.

Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said that Mr Pillay, 57, will oversee Temasek’s “stewardship role”, particularly in its constitutional responsibilities to safeguard its own past reserves as a Fifth Schedule entity.

Mr Lim added that Mr Pillay has shown that he can deliver the goods and rally a team to achieve the end results.

Ms Ho said she is confident that Mr Pillay will take Temasek to the next level.

She told the briefing that he has the willingness and confidence to bring in good people and give young people a chance, which will stand the company in good stead in the future.

Mr Pillay, who attended Anglo-Chinese School, was the former managing partner of law firm WongPartnership, with more than 20 years of legal experience in areas such as mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance.

He also serves on the boards of the National Research Foundation and Enterprise Singapore, and is a member of the National Jobs Council.

He holds a Master of Law from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor of Laws from the National University of Singapore.

WongPartnership chairman and senior counsel Alvin Yeo, who worked with Mr Pillay for around two decades, said his former long-time partner has the right qualities to take on the stewardship duties that come with his new position.

“He’s a person who has a serious sense of duty and responsibility, so I have no doubt that he will discharge that responsibility to the best of his abilities,” Mr Yeo said.

Mr Pillay is an innovative person, he added: “He’s prepared to try new things, obviously having done the due diligence first, meaning he doesn’t just do it the old way just because that’s the way it’s been done before.

“I think that’s another trait that helps him in his role to try and take Temasek to a higher level.”

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Mr Pillay said he is excited about Temasek’s plan for the next decade – it has committed to halve its net carbon emissions attributable to its portfolio by 2030 – and believes it is the appropriate direction path for the organisation.

“I think that if we do the right thing, things will turn out well for us, and by extension our stakeholders as well,” he said.

He noted that Temasek is not going to be driven by how the stock market performs on a short-term basis, but focus on the long run and the long-term value proposition of firms.

“Building up our capabilities in areas like AI, blockchain, digital, (digitalisation), cyber, sustainability… those are all very important things, because they go to the health of the companies that we’re invested in, for long-term sustainable returns. That’s how we will approach it.”

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