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16-08-2009 01:57 PM
Lucrative engineering
Lucrative engineering degrees

Lucrative engineering degrees

Many highly paid chiefs of listed firms have degrees in engineering

FINANCE, banking, law and accountancy are often tipped to be the university courses which students hoping for a lucrative career should take.

Too often have we heard parents and peers alike extolling the fiscal benefits of earning one's livelihood in the financial and legal sectors.

But now, a recent bit of research by The Business Times might suggest otherwise.

Our examination of the most highly paid chiefs of listed companies here shows that it is the engineering and hard-science degrees that have stood these professionals in good stead. A BT check of annual reports and corporate websites found that senior executives with engineering degrees form the bulk of top earners from companies in the Straits Times Index (STI).

This list of the 55 best-paid executives of STI companies gained fame when it was distributed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament in April - to illustrate the earning power of the private sector during the debate over the increase in ministerial pay.

An updated version by BT shows how much these executives - mostly CEOs, executive chairmen and managing directors - earn. Their annual pay packets range from above $250,000 to more than $9 million.

And engineers feature prominently among the big earners. Seventeen of the 55 executives - that is, 30 per cent, the most of any profession - graduated with engineering degrees.

Science degree holders were the next best achievers, with 12 of them making the top 55 list. It is possible that some of these also specialised in engineering - with most engineering degrees being bachelor of science - but further information was not available.

As a group, accounting, business administration, economics and commerce graduates made up 11 of the top 55. Others, like UOB chief Wee Cho Yaw and DBS Group Holdings chief operating officer Frank Wong, have not said what first degrees they hold but are well-known bankers.

Arts graduates took two positions on the list. Dr Lim Cheok Peng, managing director of Parkway Holdings, is the sole doctor - he is a cardiologist. City Developments executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng is the sole law graduate. And Total Access Communication CEO Sigve Brekke is the sole holder of a degree in public administration.

The others have not stated, either in their companies' annual reports or websites, what first degrees they hold.

The findings should assuage the fears of those who worry that engineering may be less lucrative than other professions.

Such concerns arose when the Government published the benchmark to which civil service pay will be pegged. The median salaries of the top eight earners for six professions used to compute the salary benchmark indicated that the earnings of engineers were a far cry from those of other professions.

Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah addressed those concerns in Parliament, pointing out that some engineers have gone on to do very well as CEOs of top companies. Other than those in the top 55 list, she also said 'that more than 40 per cent of our current ministers and many more top civil servants are engineers by training too'. And 'this shows the flexibility of someone with an engineering background'.

PM Lee picked up on Ms Lee's remarks, saying: 'Lee Bee Wah did us a favour explaining that engineers have done very well and lots of bright students ought to go and study engineering.'

Of the engineers, the most highly paid is Keppel Corp's executive chairman Lim Chee Onn, who took home between $7.25 million and $7.5 million in the financial year just ended. Mr Lim is a science degree holder with a doctorate in engineering.

The trio from Venture Corp - all engineers - also featured prominently. Chairman and CEO Wong Ngit Liong took home between $4.25 million and $4.5 million for the year ended Dec 31, 2006. He holds a first class honours degree in electrical engineering from the University of Malaya.

He was followed by fellow executive directors Soo Eng Hiong and Tan Choon Huat, who were paid between $1 million and $1.25 million in 2006. Mr Soo has a degree in electronics from the University of Southampton in the UK, and Mr Tan has a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Liverpool in the UK.

SembCorp Marine group president and CEO Tan Kwi Kin and ST Engineering CEO Tan Pheng Hock - both engineering graduates - also received impressive pay packages last year.

But it is not just engineers working in engineering-related fields who are among the top earners. Many others have made good in other industries.

Property giant CapitaLand's president and CEO Liew Mun Leong graduated from the University of Singapore with a civil engineering degree and is a registered professional civil engineer. He was the fifth-best-paid executive on the list, with a pay packet of $5.14 million in 2006.

Fraser & Neave chairman Michael Fam and Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng each took home between $2.75 million and $3 million in FY06. Dr Fam has a first class honours degree in engineering from the University of Western Australia, Perth. Mr Chew has a first class honours degree in engineering from the University of Singapore.

Genting International's executive chairman Lim Kok Thay holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the University of London; Keppel Land's managing director Kevin Wong holds a first class honours degree in civil engineering from Imperial College, London; and Singapore Press Holdings' CEO Alan Chan holds a diplome d'ingenieur from the Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile in France, which is equivalent to an engineering degree.

Source: Straits Times, 26 July 2007
24-06-2009 10:48 AM
quek
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidtan View Post
He said it. Trading shares for the short term has its risks. For me, it's just a hobby to keep myself busy. I'm lucky to be profitable so far.
Do you really have to be lucky in order to be profitable? I read something along that line in the book "Random Walk Down Wall Street", which suggests that people should buy and hold for medium term instead of buying and selling too frequently.
23-06-2009 06:08 PM
davidtan He said it. Trading shares for the short term has its risks. For me, it's just a hobby to keep myself busy. I'm lucky to be profitable so far.
22-06-2009 09:52 AM
quek
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjhchong View Post
Grand Master Tan,

You Good lah, you... I'll burn backside trading shares...
Trading shares is not for the faint hearted. I believe many of us got burnt before. But I now believe in "trading" in a bigger cycle - buy at (or near) market lows and sell when you feel there's heat all around. Check out the "Market Cycle Investing" article:
Market Cycle Investing | Salary.sg - Your Salary in Singapore
21-06-2009 06:54 PM
bjhchong Grand Master Tan,

You Good lah, you... I'll burn backside trading shares...
21-06-2009 06:10 PM
davidtan
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjhchong View Post
David: What about real estate & rental? I believe it's sounder isn't it? Any tips on how to "fast track" on that?

btw, I believe you are the guru on investments in this forum
I prefer to trade shares. It's easier and quite exciting when markets are volatile like past 2 months and mid last year. I do have some investment properties, but they are quite boring as I only buy during property lulls, rent out, and sell when property becomes hot. Boring compared to stock trading.
20-06-2009 08:28 PM
bjhchong David: What about real estate & rental? I believe it's sounder isn't it? Any tips on how to "fast track" on that?

btw, I believe you are the guru on investments in this forum
20-06-2009 11:24 AM
davidtan You are right. To get ahead, you have to do business, or invest wisely.

On wise investments, it's not hard to do better than average given that the general population usually get trapped by things like unit trusts, structured products, and even timeshare schemes and MLM. But to do much better than average, you need good acumen and of course some luck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjhchong View Post
Correct me if i am wrong:

From the list i see, can i conclude that these engineers eventually moved out of engineering into administration & business management?

Should us engineers be picking up business admin/management skillsets if we were to aspire to be like them?
20-06-2009 10:33 AM
bjhchong Correct me if i am wrong:

From the list i see, can i conclude that these engineers eventually moved out of engineering into administration & business management?

Should us engineers be picking up business admin/management skillsets if we were to aspire to be like them?
20-01-2008 01:11 PM
chem. eng. undergrad---
758

well said. normal engineers career path is limited to principal engineer with the very good ones rising to department managers.
take note most company only got 1 or 2 engineering department managers.

of course if your performance is not that good you might see yourself stuck at senior engineer(approx $5000-$8000 for MNCs)

another way is go to technical consulting field.set up own firm be engineering consultant. This is more for chemical/civil engineering.Such consultants require immense experience = u should be having some white hair already? =)


conclusion being engineers (in MNCs) can provide a reasonable comfortable lifestyle, however do not expect salary of more than $10000/mth.(u want go investment banking.)
if u aim to be ceo then its a different story.
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