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Tan Su Shan | Women of Power 2022

Tan Su Shan

Group head of institutional banking at DBS Bank

Over the last three decades, Tan Su Shan has built a formidable career and established herself as one of the most influential Singapore-born figures in the industry. Since joining DBS 12 years ago, she has been a leader in driving change in the home-grown bank and helping it to become one of the most successful consumer banking and wealth management franchises in the region.

The esteemed banker now leads DBS’ institutional banking arm, which services clients including bank and non-bank financial establishments, government-linked companies, large corporations, as well as small and medium-sized businesses.

For Su Shan, having clarity about what is important can be a force for good in society. “In these times of great disruption and massive change, it’s crucial to be anchored in a strong foundation of purpose and values,” she says. “This means knowing your true north, being able to galvanise your community based on these shared values and purpose, and ultimately being a collective force of positive impact.”

One of her biggest achievements has been to support businesses during difficult times in the beginning of the pandemic. In conjunction with various governmental support schemes, Su Shan and her teams at DBS rolled out a slew of measures aimed at helping SMEs – especially the micro- and small enterprises – to survive the crisis. These were a mix of financial relief packages and digital initiatives enabling companies to fast-track their digital adoption and transaction fulfilment needs in the face of pandemic-related safe management measures adopted by most companies.

“I am heartened that since 2020 and over the course of the pandemic, DBS has approved over 14,000 collateral-free loans totalling more than $6.4 billion to SMEs in Singapore, with over 90 per cent of the loans going to micro- and small enterprises,” she adds.

As part of DBS’ responsible banking commitment and prioritising sustainability as an urgent imperative, Su Shan’s institutional banking team assists its customers’ transition towards lower-carbon business models through a variety of tailored green financing solutions while enhancing their access to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments.

She shares her excitement about an upcoming white paper with medium- and long-term decarbonisation targets for nine priority industry sectors in DBS’ portfolio. The bank is set to publish the report in the second half of this year. “The insights will enable us to determine the scope of our net-zero coverage and develop decarbonisation transition pathways for our clients.”

She explains, “For example, in the power sector, DBS will guide as many conventional power generation adopters towards a credible net-zero plan, principally through a shift to renewable energy.”

In her position of power, Su Shan says humility in leadership is vital. “In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world that we live in today, effective leaders need to realise that they don’t always know everything. Therefore, surrounding yourself with diverse expertise and talents is what will make your team stronger and more resilient.