Olivia Lum is a Singaporean businesswoman and founder of Hyflux, a water treatment company.
Olivia Lum: Education
• 1986, National University of Singapore, Bachelor degree in Chemistry
Olivia Lum: Early days
Olivia Lum never knew her biological parents. A lady she called “grandmother” adopted her, with whom she lived in Kampar, a mining town in Malaysia. An exodus of jobs left the majority of Kampar residents without income. Lum’s grandmother had to sell the house to pay debts for bets. She and Lum lived in a wooden hut after that. Lum tells that to encourage her; she said to her that she would buy a house when she had money, which never happened because the grandmother died before Lum became successful.
Lum arrived in Singapore at age 15 to enter the Tiong Bahru high school. She worked in tutoring and sales work during this time to survive. In 1986, she graduated with honors from the National University of Singapore.
Olivia Lum: Career
Olivia Lum considered that business was the only way she could get out of poverty. That’s why I saved up Hyflux in 1989, a company with several ventures such as the cleaning of waste in China and water desalination in Singapore.
The company became one of the most valuable companies in Asia in the treatment of water thanks to the development of ultrafine membranes for filtering and a condensing device that converts moisture from the air into drinking water.
In 2003, Hyflux became the first water treatment company to be listed on the stock exchange. The company is now valued at more than one billion dollars and has operations in China, India, the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, and Singapore.
Olivia Lum accepted various positions as a counselor and public director, which she had to leave to take care of the company’s problems. Hyflux has gone through a moment of restructuring to recover from debt.
Recently, a Chinese investor whose name was not disclosed offered to invest in the company, which would allow him to get out of trouble.
Olivia Lum: Distinctions
Olivia Lum: Other facts
In 2005, Olivia Lum received the “Singapore Business Award,” being the first woman to receive this distinction. In 2007, Olivia Lum was the only woman to appear on the list of the wealthiest people in Asia and was described by Forbes as “The Queen of Water.” Olivia Lum is described as a carefree and calm woman.