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Paul Polman recognized with National Honours

Singapore President conferred the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) on Paul

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(Front row from left to right) His Excellency Jacques Werner, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, Mr Tony Tan Keng Yam, President of the Republic of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies and Dr Koh Poh Koon, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of National Development.

(Back row from left to right) Mr Christopher Pook, Regional Director for UK Trade and Investment & FCO Prosperity Network in South East Asia at the British High Commission, Singapore, Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman, Singapore Economic Development Board, Mrs Ow Foong Pheng, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Trade & Industry and Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board.

On 18 March, Paul Polman was conferred the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) by President Tony Tan Keng Yam of the Republic of Singapore.

Inaugurated by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) in 1998, the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) is among Singapore’s most prestigious awards, awarded in recognition of the outstanding contributions of international business leaders to the economic growth of Singapore. Mr. Paul Roger Adams, President, Pratt & Whitney was also a recipient of the award.

Dr. Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of EDB, congratulated the executives on being conferred this prestigious award for their contributions to the nation. 

“Mr. Polman and Mr. Adams chose to make Singapore a principal base for the businesses they lead. They initiated long-term investments in Singapore, and established capabilities that have led to the development of innovative products, services and solutions. These have in turn created exciting job opportunities and careers for Singaporeans and residents here. Their commitment to Singapore speaks volumes of their confidence in our country and our future. I congratulate both of them on their awards, and we look forward to deepening our partnerships with them,” said Dr. Beh.

Paul was recognized for being the driving force behind the positioning of Singapore as a key business hub for Unilever, consistently advocating for Singapore to be a global hub for brand management and the regional headquarters for the fast-growing South-east Asia & Australasia cluster.

Paul was also congratulated for his efforts in establishing Four Acres Singapore, the second global training and development centre after our “Four Acres” site in London. Four Acres Singapore has formed solid partnerships with Singapore-based institutes such as INSEAD, the Singapore Management University and the Human Capital Leadership Institute, and has become a best-in-class example for many other companies interested in establishing corporate universities and training centres in Singapore.

On top of learning and development, the President recognized the Asian arm of the Unilever Foundry, which is located in Singapore. He also heralded Unilever Singapore as a global centre of excellence for digital marketing, e-commerce and analytics capabilities.

“I feel both proud and privileged to be receiving this recognition from Singapore. I would never have imagined that I would one day be standing in such an amazing historic place and receiving such an honour. I want to thank Singapore again for this great honour. But the truth is, this award belongs to all of us because it is all of us here today, as well as those who came before us, that helped create together the Unilever and Singapore partnership.

Our key global and regional hubs for supply chain, personal care business, marketing, HR and customer development operations and most recently, our global leadership development centre Four Acres, are all based here. Our investment reflects our long-term commitment to Singapore, and our growth ambitions for the region. 

Most importantly, Singapore and Unilever both recognize that true growth and development must be inclusive and sustainable. That is why last year, Unilever joined the management committee of the Global Compact Network Singapore to contribute to Singapore’s sustainable development as well as the Singapore Economic Development Board’s International Advisory Council where we can help chart Singapore’s sustainable economic future,” said Paul on receiving the award.

The Investiture Ceremony was held at the Istana where Paul were joined by Unilever employees from various parts of the Singapore office, including Marketing and Customer Development teams from Unilever Singapore, as well as global and regional business leaders. “We are so proud of what Paul has done for Unilever and for Singapore and I am very happy to be here today for such a significant moment,” said Susanne Arfelt, Country Director of Unilever Singapore. External guests from Wilmar International, Olam International, LJ Consulting and members of Singapore Economic Development Board were also present at the event.

A celebration dinner followed at the Ritz Carlton where many guests took the opportunity to personally congratulate Paul on the award. Paul was also presented with a commemorative gift by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry.

Paul invited everyone to observe a minute of silence to mark the 1 year anniversary of the passing of Singapore’s founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew on 23 March. “Everything that we have created here in Singapore, we were only able to create by working in partnership together with all of you and upon the shoulders of all those that came before us. This award is called the Distinguished Friend of Singapore award. I’m not sure I’m qualified to be called distinguished but I’m proud to be called a friend of Singapore. 

"They say that we have three friends in life: “Friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime.” Singapore, for myself and for Unilever, will always be a true friend for a lifetime.” said Paul.

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