Posted Wednesday 7 September 2011
One of Asia's leading business tycoons will be donating half a million pounds during the next five years to Kingston University to establish a new post of Professor of Enterprise and Technology Management.
Malaysian business leader Tan Sri Dato' Francis Yeoh completed a BA in civil engineering at Kingston in 1978. Soon afterwards he became managing director of his family's construction firm YTL at the age of just 24, expanding it into a global utilities specialist with revenues of more than £3 billion pounds a year.
"The engineering degree equipped me to take on my father's company after graduation and trained me to think out-of-the-box in growing YTL to become what it is today," he said.
The new post will be based at Kingston Business School at the University's Kingston Hill campus in south west London. "I regard engineering technology and business as intertwined and inseparable," Tan Sri Francis explained. "The acid test for any engineering technology is that it has to have practical implementation, commercial viability and long term sustainability. What good is there for advanced technological innovations if no one hears about them? So many brilliant inventors died bankrupt - why shouldn't they enjoy the fruits of their hard labour by becoming more business savvy?"
Under Tan Sri Francis's leadership, YTL has built hospitals, universities, homes, hotels, office blocks and shopping malls. It was the first independent power company in Malaysia and built a high-speed rail network, in the process becoming the first non-Japanese company to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. YTL owns Wessex Water and is currently developing an internet-based mobile phone network.
Tan Sri Francis is a committed Christian. "This gift is a way of expressing my gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ," he said. "At YTL, we believe in being stewards of God's wealth, as well as being a force for good. For this reason, we engineered long-term business strategies and revenue streams, and transformed our company with clear socially responsible corporate ethics and practices."
The dean of Kingston University's Faculty of Business and Law, Jean-Noël Ezingeard said that, through its Small Business Research Centre, the University already had an international reputation for Entrepreneurship research and teaching. "The creation of a chair in Enterprise and Technology Management will be a perfect vehicle to combine Tan Sri Francis' interests in Technology-based business creation and our long-standing expertise in Entrepreneurship," he added. "We are very grateful to Tan Sri Francis for this generous gift which will help us develop a new strand of work in what remains one the most fascinating stories of business in the new millennium."
In 2004, Kingston awarded Tan Sri Francis an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering. In 2006 he received a CBE for his contribution to economic relations between Malaysia and the UK. Last year Sri Tan Francis was honoured by the Oslo Business for Peace Foundation for championing ethical and socially responsible business practices - another area of common interest between YTL and Kingston University.
"Having witnessed the near global economic collapsed in 2008 and seeing the present wave of crisis after crisis sweeping the United States and the European Union, I am more convinced than ever that in business, there is simply no substitute for moral integrity and sustainability," Tan Sri Francis said.