CNBC International top executives and winners of the 15th Asia Business Leaders Awards at a gala event in Jakarta on Wednesday (23/11). (Photo courtesy of CNBC)

CNBC's 15th Asia Business Leaders Awards Recognize Outstanding Achievements


NOVEMBER 24, 2016

Jakarta. Global financial news network CNBC announced the winners of the 15th Asia Business Leaders Awards during a gala event at the Hotel Mulia in Jakarta on Wednesday evening (23/11).

The annual award, which was attended by over 200 business leaders from 10 countries, aims to recognize the region's top business leaders for their vision, competence and achievement in six categories.

Six Capital, a diversified Singapore-based company, was the presentation sponsor of ABLA 2016, while and diversified Indonesian conglomerate Astra International was the event sponsor.

Achal Agarwal, president of Singapore-based personal care products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark Asia Pacific, took home top honors as Asia Business Leader of the Year.

Agarwal is considered to have played an important role during his eight years at the helm of the company to turn Kimberly-Clark into a giant brand in the international market.

The company's products, which have become essential to consumers in more than 175 countries, include Kleenex, Huggies and Kotex. They are also consistently featured among the most trusted brands in the Asia-Pacific region.

"I am honored to be awarded the prestigious CNBC Asia Business Leader of the Year 2016, and delighted that Kimberly-Clark Asia Pacific is being recognized for its leadership in innovation, talent and sustainability," Agarwal said after receiving the award.

Agarwal is also a board member of the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network, the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore.

CNBC's main award event in Asia was launched in 2001 to recognize outstanding business leaders who have introduced positive changes into the corporate culture of the region. Wednesday's award ceremony was preceded by the Sixcap CNBC Exchange – an invite-only panel discussion.

ABLA shortlists its candidates through three judging phases, with the first phase including a quantitative data analysis of company performance. In the second phase, judges conduct face-to-face interviews to assess candidates' leadership abilities before the final round, where an expert panel selects the overall winners.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Development Dimensions International (DDI) were CNBC's knowledge and research partners for the award.

More than 60 candidates were shortlisted for the award.

Maximilian Bittner, founder and chief executive of e-commerce marketplace Lazada, which has been hailed as the "Amazon of Southeast Asia," was awarded Asia Disruptor of the Year.

Bittner is regarded as the driving force behind Lazada's rapid growth, with the company having expanded its product range and services to support consumers as well as developing its own logistics network in Southeast Asian markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Over 15 years, the Asia Business Leaders Awards have recognized and celebrated the region's best," CNBC International president and managing director KC Sullivan said during the event. "I congratulate this year's winners for their outstanding achievements and welcome them to the ABLA alumni circle."

Other winners were Rohana Rozhan, group chief executive of Astro Malaysia, who received an award in the Asia Talent Management category; and Somchai Lertsutiwong, chief executive of Thailand's biggest mobile operator Advanced Info Service, in the Corporate Social Responsibility category.

This year's Lifetime Achievement Award was handed to Liu Chuanzhi, chairman of Legend Holdings and founder of Lenovo Group.


Business leaders from Indonesia were also recognized for their achievements during this year's event.

Garuda Indonesia chief executive Muhammad Arif Wibowo and Maybank Indonesia chief executive Taswin Zakaria received the Indonesia Business Leader of the Year award.

Arif, who took over the top job in 2014, is considered as having been successful in transforming Garuda Indonesia with his "Quick Wins" strategy involving network restructuring, fleet management, and the reduction of overheads.

Under his guidance, Indonesia's flag carrier clocked positive performance growth by the end of last year, with domestic and international flight frequencies up 9.53 percent and passenger numbers up 13.12 percent year-on-year.

The airline has also secured 49 national awards and 15 international accolades since he took the helm, including the World's Best Cabin Crew 2014-2016 at the Skytrax World Airlines awards.

Maybank Indonesia chief executive Taswin, who took up the position in 2013, is regarded as having been successful in improving the lender's capital efficiency to kick-start growth.

Taswin, who was an independent commissioner at the bank before becoming chief executive, succeeded in reorganized the corporate banking unit and generating income through transactional banking as well as cash management.

Maybank Indonesia posted a 40-percent increase in full-year operating profit for 2015.

CNBC, which belongs American multinational media conglomerate NBCUniversal, is a global broadcaster of live business and financial news, providing reports directly from the world's major financial markets through regional TV networks in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the United States.

Its portal is a financial news source featuring videos, real-time market analysis and financial tools.

The broadcaster, whose services are reportedly available in more than 381 million homes worldwide, targets the most influential senior executives, financial industry players and investors.