Published on 02 Oct 2021

Jeff of all trades and a giver with heart

Founder of BD CraneTech Pte Ltd and Chairman of NTU Business and Community Partners (BCP) Programme, Mr Jeffrey Lim Pang Hern, explains why he gives to the University and how he hopes to make a difference in society.

By Jasmine Tiong

Founder of BD CraneTech Pte Ltd and Chairman of NTU Business and Community Partners (BCP) Programme, Mr Jeffrey Lim Pang Hern

In the late 1970s, it was Mr Jeffrey Lim's dream to study at the then Nanyang University (or Nantah). However, life had other plans for him when Nanyang University merged with the University of Singapore to form the National University of Singapore. After completing his National Service, Mr Lim decided to enter the workforce where he rose through the ranks to become a Division Head in a German multinational corporation. At the age of 29, he left the organisation and founded BD CraneTech Pte Ltd. Today, at age 59, he has established diverse business interests in crane manufacturing, precast, marine, offshore, coating, oil and gas, property, furniture, hospitality, F&B, food logistics and social enterprise. Nonetheless, the construction entrepreneur remains a modest and unassuming man who strives to do more for the community at large.

"Just as the Chinese saying '取之社会,用之社会' goes, we earn from society, so we give back to society," said Mr Lim. "And while I volunteer and provide help to the community, I can come up with unique and creative methods to do so, which is something I enjoy doing." Throughout his life, Mr Lim has stood by the virtues of bravery and determination in taking risks. Hence the initials 'BD' within the name of his founding company, BD CraneTech.

Mr Lim regularly works with business people to gather resources to provide care for teenage children whose parents are incarcerated by law. He also has been volunteering with a Chinese temple for more than 20 years, and seeks to help needy residents with their rental and utility bills.

"The usual ways to help needy families are to give their children textbooks, school uniforms and daily necessities. But we also need to provide help to ensure these families have proper places to stay," said Mr Lim. "Some HDB units that I've visited do not have tables and refrigerators for these families to dine and store their food properly."

As well as his contributions to society, Mr Lim also plays an active part in the OneNTU community. When a fundraiser approached Mr Lim to set up a named bursary at NTU, it made him recall how much he had once wanted to be a Nantah student. With this emotional attachment to Nantah, coupled with his willingness and ability to help students in need, Mr Lim made a S$100,000 cash gift to establish the BD CraneTech Bursary Fund in 2011.

"I gave because I thought it was a meaningful and unique way to donate to needy students in my 'dream school'," said Mr Lim, who felt that not being able to study at Nantah was a missed opportunity for him. "Besides, I can finally be part of the University community – not as an alumnus but as a donor."

He has since encouraged his business partner, Mr Ang Ah Nui, to also start a named bursary. The latter agreed, and he established the Roseline Lau Bursary Fund with a cash gift of S$100,000. Mr Ang decided to name his Bursary after his wife, and Mr Lim observed with a warm chuckle: "It is a good way to keep his wife happy." To date, a total of 27 needy undergraduates have received timely bursaries of S$5,000 each from the BD CraneTech Bursary Fund and the Roseline Lau Bursary Fund.

In 2020, when Mr Lim met a student beneficiary who came from a single-parent family, he learnt that the student’s mother was unemployed. Moved by compassion, Mr Lim subsequently arranged for the student's mother to work at his company.

Even though his life may have taken a different path to the one he initially hoped for, Mr Lim highly values the importance of higher education. He pursued weekend courses in electrical engineering followed by finance while continuing to work. In 2012, Mr Lim graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Masters' degree in Technology Entrepreneurship from UniSIM (Singapore University of Social Sciences) when he was 50 years old.

Mr Lim is the Chairman of the NTU Business and Community Partners (BCP) Programme, an initiative that supports NTU students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds while providing opportunities for member organisations to fulfil an aspect of corporate social responsibility. Since its establishment in 2011, the BCP Programme has grown to more than 800 members and has raised over S$10.3 million for needy NTU students.

If you would like to learn more about the BCP Programme, please contact Mr Eugene Lee, Senior Assistant Director, NTU Business & Community Partners Programme, at +65 9012 0949 or EugeneLee@ntu.edu.sg.

Establish a named bursary fund at NTU

Just like Mr Lim, you too can establish a named bursary fund with a minimum donation of S$40,000 for a four-year term gift or S$150,000 for an endowed fund which exists in perpetuity. Your gift is tax-deductible at 2.5 times your gift value (applicable to Singapore tax residents only) and is matched by the Singapore Government, thus increasing the value and impact of your contributions.

Please do get in touch with our advancement professionals for a confidential discussion if you wish to learn more about how you can support NTU students.