Jannie Chan



Jannie Chan Siew Lee  (Dato’ Dr) (b. 7 May 1945, Ipoh, Malaysia–)1, commonly known by her former matrimonial name, Jannie Tay, is the co-founder of luxury watch retail group, The Hour Glass. She was named one of the  50 winners of the inaugural Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World award in 1997,2 and became the first female president of both the ASEAN Business Forum and the Singapore Retailers Association.3

Early life
Chan was born the eldest in a family of three brothers and three sisters. Her father ran a Chinese medicinal hall, an insurance business and even a travel agency. From young, Chan often accompanied her parents on their many business trips, and this nurtured her entrepreneurial skills at an early age. At the age of 17, she left to study at Moreland High School in Melbourne, Australia.4


The following year when Chan was 18, she lost her father to a sudden heart attack. Being the eldest in her family, she had to shoulder the responsibilities of raising her siblings. Chan moved the whole family to Australia where she aimed to complete her master’s degree.5 In 1968, Chan graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physiology (Honours) from Monash University. In 1971, she obtained a Master of Science in Pharmacology from the same university. It was also at Monash University where Chan met her husband, Henry Tay, who was then doing his medical degree. They married in 1969, and the couple returned to Singapore in 1971.6

Chan worked as a lecturer of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Singapore (now National University of Singapore) for a couple of years. However, when her husband decided to leave his family business to return to medical practice due to differences in management styles with his brother, Chan stepped in to help with the family business. In 1973, she joined Lee Chay & Company, her in-law's family watch business, as a salesgirl. A few years later, she was put in-charge of the branch at Colombo Court.7

Entrepreneurship

Chan had always dreamt of owning a luxury watch boutique. When her concept of a high-end watch shop failed to gain acceptance with her husband’s family, she decided to start her own business with her husband’s support. In 1977, Chan and Tay opened Orchard Watch at Colombo Court. Encouraged by its success, they established The Hour Glass with Metro Holdings in 1979. The first Hour Glass shop was located in Lucky Plaza, and specialised in Swiss watches. With a $200,000 price tag on its renovations, the store projected a classy image to its customers.8 When Metro decided to sell its luxury goods subsidiary, Transmarco Ltd, which The Hour Glass was part of, Chan and her husband arranged a buy-out and acquired 60 percent of The Hour Glass in 1987.9

Under her directorship, The Hour Glass expanded to six local stores and one overseas outlet, and diversified into wholesaling and gift retailing by 1988. The company attained a successful listing on Sesdaq in the same year, and was upgraded to the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange in 1992.10

After The Hour Glass went public, Chan and her husband launched an ambitious expansion plan into foreign markets such as Australia, Hong Kong and Thailand, and broadened its customer base to a younger clientele.11 The company also ventured into the food retail business,12 fragrances,13 porcelain,14 jewellery15 and wholesaling.16


The company has won many awards for its entrepreneurship and service excellence. These include the 1990 Enterprise Award at the Singapore Business Awards,17 the National Productivity Award, and the Excellence in Customer Service (Silver) award by American Express , all in 1991.18 In 1994, The Hour Glass was named Speciality Store of the Year at the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board's (STPB) Tourism Awards.19 In the same year, it received the ISO 9002 certification, making it one of the first Asian retailers to receive such an award.20 In 2002, the company was one of 14 winners of the inaugural Singapore Brand Award organised by IE Singapore. That same year, it  also received Spring Singapore’s Excellent Service Award and the People Developer certification.21

Chan has been widely credited for her foresight and recognition of a gap in the upmarket watch retailing scene of the 1970s. This allowed Chan and Tay to establish an early niche in the merchandising of expensive and specialty time-pieces. Chan also played an instrumental role in building and marketing The Hour Glass’s brand and corporate image as one of prestige, exclusivity and excellent customer service. She is often acknowledged as the driving force behind The Hour Glass’s commitment to customer service and employee training.22

Chan stepped down as the managing director of The Hour Glass in 2004 to pursue other business interests. She continued as executive vice-chairman and executive director until her retirement on 31 March 2016. She is currently serving as a non-independent, non-executive director of the company.23

Social contributions
Apart from holding positions in various business and women's organisations, Chan is also noted for her dedication towards women's issues. She has devoted a great deal of her time in support of charitable causes such as the Community Chest of Singapore, the Autism Resource Centre, the Canossian School for the Hearing Impaired, the Ong Teng Cheng Music Fund and the Timor-Leste Foundation.24:

Positions held
1990:
President, Women for Other Women Association (WOW).25

1997–1998: Director, International Women's Forum Leadership Foundation.26
1997–1999: Board Member, Women's Leadership Initiative Board, John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.27
1998: President, ASEAN Business Forum.28
Jul 1999–Jul 2016
: President, Singapore Retailers Association.29

2002: President, Women’s Business Connection.30
2002:
Chairperson, Commonwealth Business Women Leaders network.31

2003: Founding member and Chairman, Retail Academy of Singapore.32
2004: Chairman, Retail Industry Skills and Training Council.33
2004: Member, United Nations ESCAP Business Advisory Council.34
2011: Chairman, Asia-Pacific Retailers Association.35

Selected awards
1989: Special Volunteer Award, Community Chest of Singapore.36
1996: Louis Feraud Les Honours award (Business category).37

1997: Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World award, Paris.38
1999: Honorary Doctorate, Oxford Brookes University.39
2002: Darjah Sultan Ahmad Shah Pahang (DSAP) which carries the title “Dato”.40
2004: Monash University Distinguished Alumni Award.41

2009: APEA Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award, Enterprise Asia.42

Family 43
Father: Chan Chee Kheong
Mother: Loh Swee Lan
Brothers: Danny, Ben and Kenny Chan
Sisters: Ann, Lin and Bebe Chan
Former husband: Henry Tay Yun Chwan (divorced in 2010)
Son: Michael Tay
Daughters: Michelle Tay (died in 1980), Audrey Tay, Sabrina Tay



Authors

Jenny Tien & Gracie Lee



References
1. Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub, pp. 502–503. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 3. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM)
2. Hour Glass Jannie Tay receives top award. (1997, April 18). The Straits Times, p. 3; Jannie Tay on top int’l businesswomen’s list. (1997, April 18). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Azhar Ghani. (2002, November 29). Accidental entrepreneur. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 3–6, 36, 152. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Chua, R. (1984, May 9). From salesgirl to managing director. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 6–8. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM)
6. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Low, K. T. (Ed.). (2006). Who’s who in Singapore 2006. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub, pp. 502–503. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 WHO); Monash University. (2010). An outstanding entrepreneur. Retrieved 2016, September 27 from Monash University website: http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/monmag/issue13-2004/community/entrepreneur.html The Hour Glass. (2016). Annual report 2016 (p. 6). Retrieved 2016, September 25 from The Hour Glass website: http://www.thehourglass.com/web/app/uploads//2016/07/ARFY2016_SGX.pdf
7. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 14–15, 17, 33, 138–139, 153–154. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Wee, L. (2004, August 27). A doctor who measures returns, not temperatures. The Business Times, p. 54; Cheah, U. H. (2008, December 19). Leaving a lasting legacy. The Business Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 22, 147. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Gwee, M. (1983, June 13). Two with time on their side. The Business Times, p. 2; Choo, S. E. (1984, August 27). It’s all or nothing for Jannie Tay. The Straits Times, p. 3; Tee, H. C. (1999, August 15). Time to do businessThe Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 23–28. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Transmarco confirms sale of Hour Glass for $11m. (1987, August 18). The Business Times, p. 1; Wee, L. (2004, August 27). Hour Glass: History. (1999, August 15). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Lim, D. (1988, September 10). Hour Glass to launch public offer on Monday. The Straits Times, p. 23; Lim, C. (1988, September 10). The Hour Glass seeks a listing on Sesdaq. The Business Times, p. 1; Hour Glass shares to start trading on Monday. (1988, October 1). The Straits Times, p. 29; Mulchand, S. (1992, March 2). Hour Glass aims for upgrading to main board. The Business Times, p. 3; Hour Glass for main board. (1992, September 30). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Lam, J. (1997, December 10). Hour Glass targets younger market. The Business Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Hour Glass buys majority stake in Milano Pizza. (1989, July 1). The Straits Times, p. 43; Hour Glass reveals more details of Milano acquisition. (1989, July 12). The Business Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Lim, P. L. (1990, May 8). Hour Glass launches perfume. The New Paper, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Rashiwala, K. (1993, December 13). Hour Glass goes into porcelain, art. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Koh, E. (1990, June 14). Hour Glass buys 60pc of Mondial–Glayz. The Business Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Hour Glass goes into wholesaling with Japan’s Amita. (1990, June 12). The Straits Times, p. 39. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Timely award for the Hour Glass. (1991, January 19). The Business Times, p. 16; A family business that blossoms under a watchful maternal eye. (1991, January 22). The Business Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Teo, A. (1991, November 1). Keppel, Excel Machine Tools and Hour Glass win productivity awards. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Leow, A. J. (1994, March 31). Tourism, retail sectors urged to aim for higher standards in service. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Giordano, Hour Glass get service seal. (1994, September 11). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Lim, R. (2002, October 22). Singapore’s favourite 14. Today, p. 4; Tan, A. (2002, October 22). Top 14 S’pore brands worth $7.6b. The Business Times, p. 2; Excellent Service Award 2002. (2002, December 5). Today, p. 54; And the winners are… (2002, December 2). Today, p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Personality interview: Mrs Jannie Tay. (1989). High networth, 3(5), 83–86. (Call no.: RSING 332.605 HN); Pangarkar, N. (2013). Business and corporate strategy at The Hour Glass. In K. Singh, N. Pangarkar & L. T. Heracleous. (Eds.). Business strategy in Asia: A casebook. Singapore: Cengage Learning Asia, pp. 57–69. (Call no.: RSING 658.4012095 SIN); Tee, H. C. (1999, August 15). Time to do businessThe Straits Times, p. 2; A family business that blossoms under a watchful maternal eye. (1991, January 22). The Business Times, p. 9; Hour Glass way of running a successful business. (1989, July 24). The New Paper, p. 4; Hour Glass: Acclaimed as the most prestigious. (1982, April 27). The Straits Times, p. 11; Success moulded in time. (1986, November 28). The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Jannie Tay steps down as Hour Glass MD. (2004, April 1). The Business Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; The Hour Glass. (2016). Annual report 2016 (pp. 3, 6). Retrieved 2016, September 25 from The Hour Glass website: http://www.thehourglass.com/web/app/uploads//2016/07/ARFY2016_SGX.pdf
24. The Hour Glass. (2016). Annual report 2016 (p. 6). Retrieved 2016, September 25 from The Hour Glass website: http://www.thehourglass.com/web/app/uploads//2016/07/ARFY2016_SGX.pdf
25. Rohaniah Saini. (1990, September 15). Start own ‘buddy’ system to get to the top, women execs urged. The Straits Times, p. 28; Tan, H. Y. (1992, March 2).  Businesswomen to go on study mission in Vietnam. The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM)
27. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM)
28. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); Asian management for two timepiece giants. (1998, May 5). The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
29. Jannie Tay is president of retailers association. (1999, July 21). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lin, M. (2016, July 9). Jannie Chan steps down as SRA president. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
30. Networking group for women business leaders. (2002, April 11). The Business Times, p. 6; Soh, W. L. (2002, April 11). Knowledge economy gives women the edge. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Behrmann, N. (2002, September 25). C’wealth women’s network launched. The Business Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 91. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM)
32. Wong, D. (2003, April 1). A higher degree of service. The Straits Times, p. 2; Chan, J. (2009, September 1). Not content to rest on her laurels. The Business Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Azrin Asmani. (2004, August 4). New council to plan retail training courses. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. The Hour Glass. (2016). Annual report 2016 (p. 6). Retrieved 2016, September 25 from The Hour Glass website: http://www.thehourglass.com/web/app/uploads//2016/07/ARFY2016_SGX.pdf;United Nations ESCAP Business Advisory Council. (n.d). EBAC members. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from United Nations ESCAP Business Advisory Council website: http://ebac.unescap.org/ebac/members#gotoL 
35. APRCE 2011 in Singapore calls on retailers to ‘discover, differentiate and deliver.  (2011, December). Retail Asia. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Retail Asia Online website: http://www.retailasiaonline.com/magazine/archive/2011/mag2011-12_story08.html
36. Fund-raisers get their ‘Oscars’. (1989, June 30). The New Paper, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
37. 3 women honoured for their roles in society. (1996, November 19). The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Hour Glass’ Jannie Tay receives top award. (1997, April 18). The Straits Times, p. 3; Jannie Tay on top int’l businesswoman’s list. (1997, April 18). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
39. Tee, H. C. (1999, August 15). I’m glad my kids are normal. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
40. Azhar Ghani. (2002, November 29). Accidental entrepreneur. The New Paper, pp. 8–9; Page 12 advertisements column 2: Heartiest congratulations to Dato’ Dr Jannie Tay. (2003, March 26). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. Monash University. (2004, Autumn/Winter). An outstanding entrepreneur. Monash Magazine, 13, Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Monash University website: http://www.monash.edu.au/pubs/monmag/issue13-2004/community/entrepreneur.html
42. Chan, J. (2009, September 1). Not content to rest on her laurels. The Business Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
43. Wong, W. L. (Ed.). (2002). Time to live: Jannie Tay’s journey. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 3, 5–60, 129. (Call no.: RSING 338.7681114092 TIM); The Hour Glass. (2016). The board of directors. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from The Hour Glass website: http://www.thehourglass.com/about-us/directors-profile; Ng, M. (2012, April 25). Hour Glass pair settle legal dispute out of court. The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Buenas, D. (2003, June 17). Money’s not everything. The Business Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Buenas, D. (2003, October 17). Jannie Tay ventures into biotech. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Cheah, U. H. (2008, December 19). Leaving a lasting legacy. The Business Times, p. 25. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Hour Glass success ‘due to self-taught management’. (1989, July 25). The Straits Times, p. 37. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Lam, J. (1993, March 29). He has the final say. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Lee, D. (2005, September 18). Clarity is power. The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Lee, J. (Producer). In conversation. Episode 89, [Jannie Tay, Managing Director of The Hour Glass] [videorecording]. Singapore: Television Corporation of Singapore.
(Call no.: RSING 080.95957 CON)


Leong, C. (1990, August 3). Hour Glass woman made of steel. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Ng, W. C. (2000, May 28). Beneath the glitter, her sad, sad story. The New Paper, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

People at the peak: The who’s who of Singapore. (2006). Singapore: Magazines Incorporated, p. 380.
(Call no.: RSING 920.05957 PEO)


Royal touch at The Hour Glass. (2004, July 8). Today, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Singapore Management University. (2010, March 2). Beyond watches and reishi: Jannie Tay’s approach to business. Retrieved 2016, September 25 from Knowledge@SMUwebsite: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=ksmu

Tee, H. C. (1999, August 15). I'm glad my kids are normalThe Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 27 September 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Businesswomen--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Directors of corporations--Singapore--Biography
Community leaders
Business, finance and industry>>Business organization>>Business enterprises
Entrepreneurship--Singapore
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Tay, Jannie, 1945-