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SHIRLEY CRYSTAL CHUA
Shirley Crystal Chua is founder and CEO of Golden Equator, a group of independently managed companies covering fund management, business consultancy, a multi-family office, a fintech solution platform, and a technology and innovation business club.
In addition to founding Golden Equator, Shirley has successfully co-founded a series of businesses that include Asia Finance, a fintech solution platform, and SPECTRUM, a technology and innovation club.
Shirley also oversees Golden Equator’s wealth management arm—Golden Equator Wealth. As a trusted advisor for ultra-high net-worth families and individuals for over a decade, she has successfully leveraged her extensive networks and vast experience in the wealth management sphere to master the art of business architecture.
A Founding Partner of the Golden Equator Technology and Innovation Fund, she utilises her proficiency in the private equity, venture capital and fund management arenas to provide astute financial forecasting, and business planning for companies at different stages of their growth. Her strong entrepreneurial track record in developing business strategies as well as successfully incubating new businesses has led to her opinions being sought out by professionals across various industries.
Since its founding, Golden Equator has grown within and beyond the financial services industry since its founding, a testament to Shirley’s natural flair and aptitude for charting out the course of companies at different stages of their growth.
Deeply involved in entrepreneurial and startup communities, Shirley is highly regarded as a thought leader and proficient angel investor by both her peers as well as among industry experts. Always one to share her valued knowledge and expertise, Shirley participates extensively as a mentor and educator in various courses, conferences and events with an unwavering keen focus on innovation.
Shirley started her career at American Express International, before spending 8 years with Citibank across various positions. As a Director, she handled high net-worth clients from Asia and Europe, as well as mentored new bankers and supervised a team of experienced relationship managers. She also received numerous awards for her outstanding performance and contributions to the company, and was instrumental in the establishment of the bank’s branch at Paragon in Singapore.
Shirley graduated from National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences, majoring in Economics and Southeast Asian Studies.
Outside of work, Shirley enjoys trying out new recipes in the kitchen and often unwinds with a glass of red wine over rich conversations with friends.
Grace is the Chief Operating Officer of GEC and is responsible for the various aspects of business management, strategies and operations. She has been involved in all phases of the firm’s development since its founding. With extensive experience in client services, project management, operations and compliance roles in private banks, she is well positioned to manage the fast-growing business of GEC. In addition, Grace possesses experience in the fields of investment consulting to sovereign wealth funds and family offices, critical for analysing different investment markets, portfolio performance and investment options.
Prior to joining GEC, Grace was with Morgan Stanley Bank AG where she was a Business Manager in Private Wealth Management. There, she supervised a team of private bankers and client associates relating to policies and client management. She started her career in Citibank Singapore Limited as a Management Associate, before moving on to Cambridge Associates Asia Pte. Ltd., and the Global Wealth Management arm of Merrill Lynch International Bank Limited.
Grace graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Business Management from Singapore Management University, majoring in Finance and Economics.
Daren is a Managing Partner at GEC and sits in the Investment Committee of the T&I Fund. With his extensive regional business and management experience, Daren oversees the investment deal flow and maintains strategic partnerships across the technology and innovation industry as well as in emerging markets. Before being a Venture Capitalist at GEC, Daren occupied senior management roles at Nikon, eBay, element14 and Daymen Group, where he worked with regional partners and industry leaders to drive go-to-market strategies, managing both top-line and market expansion with aggregate amounts of over US$200 million in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region.
Over the past 15 years, Daren has handled a full spectrum of roles in product technology, regional marketing/sales, market entry, regional tech systems/support and country management. He has also spearheaded offline to online digital transformation projects. Daren’s track record in collaborating effectively with partners as well as his ability to transform and grow companies has set him apart from others in the business management and strategic planning spheres. He is a Board Director for Glints, Vault Dragon, Eunoia, Waach and Stash, as well as a Mentor for SPH Plug & Play, PolyFinTech 100, StartupBootcamp and UOB Finlab.
Daren holds a Bachelor Degree of Commerce with Double Majors in Information Technology and Marketing with Curtin University.
Mr. Kelvin Tan is a Portfolio Mentor to Golden Equator Capital. With his particular expertise in investments into Portfolio Companies, he is also currently the Managing Director of GBE Holdings Pte Ltd, a private investment vehicle with a focus on Asia, based in Singapore. Prior to this, Kelvin held senior management positions with companies such as AETOS Security Management Pte Ltd, PSA International Ltd, and Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.
Kelvin is a member of the Singapore Institute of Directors and the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants of Singapore. Mr. Tan also sits on the Board of several private and public listed companies such as Viking Offshore, Marine Limited and IreitGlobal.
Kelvin was a Local Merit Scholar (Police Service) and graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy (First Class Honours) from the National University of Singapore. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the same university and attended the Programme for Management Development at the Harvard Business School. He also currently acts as the third independent Investment Committee member for the Technology and Innovation Fund II
With over 12 years of experience in analysing potential real estate investment deals in Asia as well as managing investment projects across the region, Steven oversees the company’s property development investments for the Golden Equator Development Fund. The Fund invests in residential, commercial, retail and mixed development projects.
Steven has had extensive experience in the finance industry, having held the roles of Finance Manager and Financial Consultant across regional as well as international firms. Apart from his experience in finance and accounting as well as property development, Steven also brings to the team his broad and in-depth expertise in business management. A seasoned entrepreneur, Steven was previously the co-founder and Chairman of Hakuyoton Seafood International Trading.
A fitness activist, Steven often unwinds with a good workout or yoga session after a day of work.
JACOB JIWON KIM
Managing Partner, Mezzanine Investments
Jacob started his career as a management consultant at Softbank. He worked for various government and commercial banks in Korea as a corporate strategy and acquisition specialist before joining Korea Investment Holdings, the largest non-banking financial holdings company in Korea. During his 10-year tenure at KIH, he served as CEO of KIARA Advisors Pte. Ltd., the alternative investment arm of KIH based in Singapore, managing multiple hedge funds and a private equity fund covering Asian market. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and a M.B.A. from Booth Business School, University of Chicago. He is a CFA charter holder.
Associate Director, Venture Investments
Emma is an investment professional with experience investing and supporting businesses across the Southeast Asia region, with a focus and interest for sectors such as online travel, media & entertainment, digital health and financial technology.
As part of the investment team, she is involved with sourcing, due diligence on new potential investments and works closely with portfolio companies to help them with their expansion strategy, corporate partnerships, customer acquisition and fundraising.
Prior to joining Golden Equator Capital, Emma worked with Nest, an early venture capital firm focusing on B2B technology plays in sector such as healthcare, financial services, automotive and insurance. She was previously gained operational experience acting as general manager for Investable.vc, a first-to-market equity crowdfunding platform in Hong Kong set up to help early stage companies get access to financing through a community of over 800+ accredited investors. Prior, she worked at a Chinese law firm in the field of inbound and outbound direct investments. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a MSc in Finance and is admitted to the Bar of Quebec, Canada.
Associate Director, Venture Investments
Cindy is an Associate Director in the VC team and has reviewed hundreds of privately-held companies ranging from pre-seed startups to pre-IPO enterprises, as well as some public-listed firms. Besides her end-to-end fund management responsibilities at GEC, she has found time to provide mentorship to entrepreneurs, in the capacities of a judge for the SiTF Awards 2017, an ecosystem judge for Slush in 2016 and as an investor at a Tech in Asia Startup Speed Dating session in 2015.
Prior to joining GEC, Cindy worked at HSBC Global Banking. While the relationship management capacity provided hands-on experience in the delivery of banking products to large conglomerates, the business management role provided valuable insights to how banks operate across business units locally and internationally. This has positioned her well for evaluating Financial Technology (FinTech) and enterprise solutions. Cindy’s knowledge is also built on the experience of tracking the developments by ventures that employ big data, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, travel tech, edutech, telematics and the Internet of Things (IoT), among others. Cindy holds a B.A. Major in Economics from the National University of Singapore and has passed the CFA Level 1 examination.
Raymond began his career as an Analyst at Deutsche Bank in Japan, and spent time at notable financial institutions including ING Barings Securities, Standard & Poor’s, and Barclays Capital. He was most recently with Nomura Group, working with various investment and asset management divisions across Japan and Korea on real estate and infrastructure deals.
Raymond likes soccer and was a heavy player of winning eleven and soccer TOTO. After having kids, he couldn’t spend much time. Instead, he is now waiting to play together with his kids in the near future. Raymond is fluent in English, Korean and Japanese.
Adam’s two decades of experience across all aspects of the digital world (writing, television, digital media, agencies, copywriting and marketing), makes him one of the most sought after consultants in his industry. His expertise lies in strategy, relationships, company processes and workflows, effectively helping to streamline operations and integrate digital campaigns for businesses to increase productivity.
He is an avid traveller whose main aim is to visit every country in the world – he has already checked-off more than 80 of them.
Marisa Hjelle Chan is the in house legal counsel of Golden Equator Holdings Pte. Ltd. She is a graduate of the National University of Singapore and was called to the Bar at the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1999 as an Advocate and Solicitor.
After gaining some experience in a local law firm, she worked at an international law firm representing major investment banks, hedge funds and other investment entities. Her areas of specialty includes amongst others, portfolio asset transactions (often distressed or non-performing) assets, including loans and real estate in global markets. This includes assistance with due diligence analysis of the underlying assets, including coordination with and supervision of local counsel in various jurisdictions; analysis of applicable legislative and regulatory issues; review, analysis and negotiation of bid, sale and transfer documentation; assistance in loan restructuring and loan enforcement post-sale. Marisa has also represented clients in the purchase and sale of distressed loans and ancillary matters. The credits involved in these transactions include both large syndicated loan facilities and bilateral loans.
Associate, Venture Investments
Dennis thrives on meeting and partnering with great entrepreneurial minds to tackle real-world problems across numerous technology subsectors. With his background in law and finance, he helps portfolio companies with their business structure and strategy to accelerate growth. At GEC, he constantly asks founders what we can do for them, how we can add value, and how we can help you make your company legendary.
Dennis loves sport, finding no better way to unwind after a long day at work than with a game of football. He is also quite the foodie, always on the lookout for new and interesting places to eat.
GOH SHI HUI
Associate, Wealth and Investments
Shi Hui started her career in the investor relations and operational areas of a real estate fund management company. Inspired by the role models in her life, she welcomes new challenges as she believes strongly that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.
Her ‘growing wealth together’ approach sees her helping clients to advance their financial portfolios through a shared vision built on long-term relationships and commitment to delivering results.
Being a huge Japanese food lover, she balances her calories through barre classes and any other activity that proves to be just as dynamic and upbeat.
Phuong works closely with the COO on matters relating to business management and operational requirements. She supports the investment team in the areas of fund establishment, investor onboarding, financial reporting and compliance. Phuong brings to her position technical knowledge in audit, assurance and compliance with her collective experience gained from a global accounting network, providing her with aptitude in client relationships and effective problem solving, as well as facilitating and streamlining processes. Before GEC, Phuong was with BDO LLP, where she demonstrated technical competence, team work and attention to detail, rising to the position of Senior Audit Associate within a short span of time.
Her responsibilities included performing due diligence and risk analysis on clients in order to tailor appropriate audit procedures, reviewing internal control processes, and preparing compliance reports, among others. Phuong holds a Bachelor of Accountancy from Nanyang Technological University
Analyst, Venture Investments
An Analyst within the Venture Investments Team, Shane is responsible for quantitative and qualitative research, deal evaluation as well as overall operational support. He also coordinates consulting projects, structures proposals and plans programmes relating to Golden Equator’s cross-border partnerships.
Shane picked up valuable skillsets in areas of strategic planning during his time at F&B startup YOLO, where he secured multiple partnerships with banks and technology partners. Among them were industry giants Standard Chartered, Airbnb and Fuji Xerox.
Prior to that, Shane co-founded Sykconcept, a company that provides niche design and commissioned art services, where he led the marketing, financials and partnership accretion areas of the company.
Shane graduated from Nanyang Technological University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Animation. An adventure enthusiast at heart, he relishes adventure sports such as naval diving and skydiving, has a thirst for travel and enjoys conversations over a good ‘Teh Tarik’.
Mr. Atsushi Taira is currently Chief Growth Officer of Mistletoe Inc and Managing Director of Mistletoe Singapore PTE. LTD., the corrective impact community that facilitates the growth of startups and venture companies in United States, Japan, India and SEA.
From 2011 to 2016, Mr. Taira was the CEO of Bharti Softbank Holdings. Pte.Ltd. in New Delhi, a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises Limited and Softbank Group Corp with an active participation in the mobile internet ecosystem. He was also a member of the Board for InMobi and Hike Messenger for 4 years, while concurrently holding the positions of Chief Planning and Optimisation officer in Brightstar Corp and SVP in SoftBank for strategies in overseas, both under the Softbank Group.
Prior to that, Mr. Taira was a CEO at My Space Japan from 2008 to 2012 and CMO at Yahoo! JAPAN from 2003 to 2007, both companies subsidiaries of the Softbank Group.
Mr. Taira’s decorated portfolio also saw him fill the position of Director of Marketing to Richemont Japan for almost 3 years. He managed the marketing and product strategies for multiple luxury brands such as Piaget and Panerai, to name a few.
Mr. Taira’s experience across his prestigious positions at various establishments makes him an invaluable addition to our board of Portfolio Mentors.
MR. PATRICK TAN
Mr. Patrick Tan is a Portfolio Mentor to Golden Equator Capital. He is also a business development consultant and representative of several international firms, with a successful career spanning nearly four decades.
Patrick is currently responsible for the managing and running of PEL Pte. Ltd., a wholesale trading company incorporated in 1994, specialising in the direct sourcing and sale of Tahitian Pearls. A natural at maintaining customer relationships, he has developed a wide network of business contacts and customers during his time in the fine jewellery industry, proving to be an invaluable member of any organisation he joins.
With experience in the direct sourcing and sale of Tahitian Pearls to customers, he was a representative of Okuda Pearls from 1988-2008, also running a business in the wholesale pearl manufacturing space.
Patrick now focuses more on bespoke sourcing of rare and valuable Tahitian Pearls for his valued customers.
Prior to his pearl business, Patrick was involved in the fire-fighting and security systems business. He was the director of Fire Safety Consultations from 1976 – 1988 and oversaw the full-scale design, supply and installation, testing and commission work related to it.
DR. THOMAS CHOONG
Dr. Thomas Choong is a portfolio Mentor to Golden Equator Capital. Known for his particular expertise in the technology sphere, he is also an angel investor, business advisor and a partner of several firms in Singapore.
Operating under Waylion Advisory & Consulting, which he started in 2008, Thomas has helped numerous firms with funding, strategic marketing, business advisory, development and consulting projects. Some of these firms include Brandtology (now renamed iSentia Brandtology), TAC Financial (Thierry Apoteker Consulting from France), Elipva Ltd, Ohanae Inc, Kidotech, ArrowCrest Technologies as well as the Singapore Sports Hub amongst others. Prior to this, from 2000 to 2007, he started and ran several tech startups in Asia with investments from ST Telemedia and the Lippo Group. Thomas also served on the board of M Dream Inworld, a HK stock exchange listed company with a focus on online gaming for the Chinese market.
Adding to his diversity of interests, in 2005, he co-founded Xi Yan, the first contemporary Chinese private dining restaurant in Singapore and ASEAN that has since continued to win numerous awards each year with an international following. In 2014, Xi Yan Singapore extended its investment into Xi Yan Penthouse HK and Xi Yan Shaw- a modern Chinese bistro. In 2008, Thomas was a seed investor of Brandtology, helping in the development of its business. The company was acquired in 2011 by an Australian Media conglomerate with the company being renamed to iSentia and a successful IPO in 2014.
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Thomas was particularly known for his pioneering efforts in developing businesses and markets in the emerging technological sphere. From 1984 to 1999, he held various senior management positions with Sun Microsystems-iPlanet (a Sun Microsystems Inc and AOL/Netscape Alliance), IBM in ASEAN, Convex Computer and Apollo Computer in the Asia Pacific.
Thomas also served as an adjunct professor with the National University of Singapore (Engineering faculty) from 1997 to 2000. He served on the judging panel for Start-Up@Singapore – a business plan competition organised by NUS – from 2003 until 2013. In 2010/2011, he was a member of the Executive Global Network and chaired the EGN Young Leaders Network group. Thomas has served as a board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation (a charity that supports children with life threatening illnesses) and currently is a board member of the YMCA (where he also chaired the YMCA Charity Golf from 2010 to 2013 and co-chaired the Education Committee since 2013).
Thomas graduated from the University of Bath with a BSc Engineering (First Class Honours) and a Ph.D. in 1982 under the UK Science and Engineering Research Council scholarship. He lived in the UK for more than 8 years and worked at Ford Motor Company as a control systems analyst after his graduation. To date, he has published and contributed to more than 40 conferences papers and articles.
Suguna Madhavan is a respected global business and brand architect with a successful track record for charting new enterprise across diverse industries. She has over 25 years of strategic new product concept, market development and commercial operational experience spanning early stage start-ups to full commercial businesses.
Suguna is Founder/Director of Firesong Initiatives Pte Ltd, a specialised business and management consultancy she founded in 2005, with a focus on innovation and startup development from incubation to commercial launch and strategic growth. Through Firesong Initiatives and via highly selective mentorship and advisory board roles, Suguna works symbiotically with both individuals/founders as well as companies and has been strategically involved in a number of exceptional new concepts and businesses across different market segments spanning luxury, audio, mobile technology, and the digital space.
Since 2012, Suguna has collaborated with her long-time associate Frank Nuovo of DesignStudioNuovo (DSN), Los Angeles, in the strategic commercial development of a suite of cutting-edge new concepts, including the development of DatZing a mobile locational discovery application. She is currently engaged as Global Strategy Advisor to DSN, a design & concept incubator.
Between 2007 to December 2011, seconded as President, APAC & Middle East and dual-hatting as Global Chief Marketing Officer, Suguna played an instrumental role from inception in Steinway Lyngdorf, an innovative audio start-up which launched the world’s first fully digital luxury sound system. In parallel, in 2009, she was Asian Ambassador and Global Advisor to the CEO of the newly formed company Faberge Services Ltd, which expanded the revered Faberge heritage into exquisite contemporary jewelry for connoisseurs.
In 1999, as a key member of the global founding team of Vertu, the world’s first luxury mobile phone, she led the initial global brand development towards funding and played a strategic role in the global commercial development. She also spearheaded Vertu’s business operations across the Asia Pacific region from incubation through to full commercial operations until 2003 when she embarked on a sabbatical.
As Regional Director, Communications for Nokia Asia Pacific, she spearheaded the development of teams, processes and programmes across 12 markets from 1996 to 2000, and was credited for being part of the core team that contributed to the development of Nokia into the World’s number one cellular brand in terms of brand equity and market share. Prior to 1996, Suguna held several roles in strategic marketing and business consulting, sales, and the academic sector.
In the last decade, Suguna has been actively involved in charitable initiatives including the support of the arts and community services. She served as Board Director for Singapore Repertory Theatre, a leading English Theatre company, over 2 terms from 2010 to February 2016, has worked with Beautiful People, a volunteer community group that mentors young girls on probation through life-transitions and helps re-integrate them into society. Always one to support a good cause, her fundraising efforts include serving as a committee member for British Theater Playhouse’s 2016 Art for Charity fundraiser, benefitting the International Committee for the Red Cross.
A yoga practitioner for 30 years, she professes a long-standing love for the Scottish highlands and single-malt whiskies. She counts hill-walking, writing prose and poetry, reading, and the enjoyment of the arts amongst her hobbies. Along the way, she picked up a Bachelor of Arts (National University of Singapore), a post Graduate Diploma in Teaching, a Master of Science, International Marketing (University of Strathclyde, UK), and completed the Advanced Management Program (AMP) at INSEAD, Fontainebleau.
MR. IVAN THAM
Ivan Tham is a Portfolio Mentor at Golden Equator Capital, with close to 30 years of experience in the investment advisory and fund management sectors.
Prior to joining GEC, Ivan was the Head of Funds Management at Kuwait Finance House in Singapore. Besides managing the company’s funds and business development, he also set up fund management operations that included a risk and compliance as well as processes manual.
Ivan was also a Senior Fund Manager for City of London Investment Group PLC, a firm specialising in fund of funds investment strategies, where he managed emerging markets closed-end funds and developed and managed new equity funds. He was also in charge of business development that included marketing to existing and potential clients as well as advisors.
As the Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer of Hong Leong Group Asset Management, Ivan was in charge of reshaping, restructuring, development, branding, marketing, strategy and management of the assets and funds of the corporation.
The head of Investment Advisory at the Private Banking branch of OCBC Singapore, Ivan organised the division’s marketing, setting up of Clients’ Risk Profiles and Asset Allocation Models as well as the introduction and selection of 3rd party products. He was also successful in raising the revenues of the branch four-fold.
Holding the title of Vice President of the Bankers Trust Fund Management in Sydney, Australia as well as Singapore for four consecutive years, Ivan was a member of the team whose International Equity Fund was rated the top foreign stock fund and awarded a 5 stars rating by Morningstar (a rating agency in the US) for 5 years, a testament to his skills in bottom-up investing indexation.
Ivan also held the role of Senior Fund Manager at Rothschild Asset Management, where he managed the Group’s (including funds from the Rothschild offices in United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore) equity, cash and fixed income investments in Southeast Asia.
With his extensive experience in the managing of institutional finances for both the public and private equity sectors, Ivan understands business processes and is extremely apt at analysing companies and making sound investment calls. His sense of responsibility towards the trust placed in him by investors has been paramount to his success.
Over the span of his illustrious career, Ivan has gathered valuable experience in the finance industry across the sectors of investing with strict adherence to Islamic principles and structures, options, fixed income, warrants, bonds as well as private equity. He has also displayed his proven ability to adopt different styles of investing across various asset classes, using both top-down as well as bottom-up approaches.
Ivan has also been invited to participate in interviews with both leading newspapers as well as other media agencies, a testament to his standing in the industry.
Ivan received his Master of Business Administration (Finance and International Business) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA.
MR. CHONG EE YONG, STEPHEN
Apart from being a Portfolio Mentor to Golden Equator Capital, Mr. Stephen Chong is active in private equity investments and holds directorships in several Singapore and Asia-based companies. He has over 20 years of experience setting-up, managing and re-structuring companies in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. He has been based in China, HK, Vietnam, Hungary and Australia and is thus familiar operating in diverse, cross-cultural environments.
His past appointments include establishing and managing operations abroad for multi-national and local companies including Singapore Technologies, JIT Electronics, Flextronics and Hyflux. Stephen was also Executive Director at Raffles Education Corporation Ltd., the largest for-profit education provider in the Asia-Pacific listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange where he was responsible for the Group’s Corporate Finance, Enterprise Risk Management and IT functions, M&A activities, new start-ups, the restructuring of unprofitable entities and all ex-China operations.
He is also on the Board of several SMEs and has been helping such companies grow by providing M&A expertise, access to debt & equity financing, and when required, appropriate advice & support in managing team development.
Stephen holds a BE (Civil) from the Royal Military College (UNSW), Australia. He is also a graduate of the Royal Military College of Science (Shrivenham), UK, has a GDFM from the Singapore Institute of Management and an M.Sc (Finance) from City University of New York.
MR. HO TIAN LAM
Mr. Ho is a Portfolio Mentor of Golden Equator Capital’s Development Fund. He is a leading property consultant in Singapore with over 35 years of experience in the real estate industry.
Unrivalled in the Singapore property scene, Mr. Ho has an impressive track record in residential development consultancy and marketing, not to mention auction and valuation of all types of properties. Mr. Ho has been a licensed auctioneer since 1987. He has held key management positions, holding responsibilities for a range of portfolios including valuation, industrial and residential sales, investment sales and auction and is pivotal in the establishment of major investment deals.
Mr. Ho holds the position of CEO of DTZ Tie Leung (SEA) Pte. Ltd., and is a member of the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).
Mr. Ho is a Fellow of both the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (UK) and the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers.