by Yoon Joung Lee
Ho Ching is the CEO of the Singapore Government-owned Temasek Holdings (Pte) Ltd. and the wife of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong. She is the oldest one of four children from retired businessman Hoe Eung Hongand Chan Chiew Ping. In 1985, Ho Ching married Lee Hesien Loong who is a son of Singapore’s legendary elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew.
She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a major in Engineering and finished her master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in the United States. She was also awarded the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus in the U.S. She started her career at the Ministry of Defense in Singapore as an Engineer in 1976 and she became the Deputy Director of Defense Material organization and Deputy Director of Defense Science organization until she joined Singapore Technologies in 1987. There, she served as the Director of Engineering, a position that consists of being a defense contractor owned by Temasek.
In 2001, she retired as President and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Technologies and became the Deputy Chairman as the firm’s controlling shareholder. Under her leadership, Temasek Holdings, the investment arm of the government of Singapore, grew from a passive custodian into an active and outstanding investor with financial power and risk tolerance. Temasek Holdings has also expanded outside Singapore into the rest of Asia-Pacific including Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan. Temasek Holdings penetrates every part of Singaporean economy and has become one of the most influential and most aggressive investors in India and China. Temasek bought stakes in China construction Bank Corp. and Bank of China. The Singaporean investment company also holds about 189 million shares in Bank of America after converting its Merrill Lynch stock.
Since 2002 when she became CEO, Ho has established the firm with more precise performance guidelines to raise its transparency and accountability. As a result, shareholder equity, from 2002 to 2007, has doubled to 90 billion. In addition to Singapore Technologies, she has served on Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. as a Board of Director since 1987 and served as the Chairman of the Board for the firm since 1995. She has also served on the Economic Development Board, the National Science and Technology Board, the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research, and the Productivity and Standards Boards.
In 2009, she stepped down as CEO after almost seven years at Temasek, Singapore’s $130 billion state-owned investment company. Charles W. Goodyear, a former CEO of BHP Billiton Ltd. replaced her place as Chief Executive Officer as the first foreigner to run the sovereign wealth fund. Ho revealed in Temasek’s media releases, that there is “no regret” about her time at CEO, and resignation is another start for future performance in her life.
In 2007; Ho was listed in Fortune magazine as third in the list of most powerful women in business. In the same year, she was picked as the one of the “100 most influential men and women” by TIME magazine and was also ranked third by Forbes magazine in its annual list of the world’s most powerful women.