The Entrepreneur Series – Michelle Yong (Aurum Group)

Who is She?

Michelle Yong, 40, hails from the family behind the construction of some of Singapore’s most iconic developments, such as Gardens by the Bay and UOB Plaza. Construction conglomerate Woh Hup was founded by her late great-grandfather. 

Ms Yong wasn’t interested in the construction side of the family business, but agreed to head Aurum, a subsidiary of Woh Hup in 2007. She had previously worked in academia, consulted for a private sector think tank for the UK government, and later did a stint in management consulting. Aurum comprises Aurum Land, Aurum Investments, Collision 8 and Core Collective.

As the only female director at Woh Hup, she has grown Aurum Land into more than just a boutique property developer. In 2016, she co-founded Collision 8, a co-working space, and earlier this year, started Core Collective, another co-working space but for the health and wellness community.

Under her leadership, corporate venture fund Aurum Investments has recently pivoted to focus on proptech startups that are creating human-centric innovations within the real estate industry, the first being Singapore’s first tech-powered co-living service provider, Hmlet.

Why She Joined the Family Business?

Michelle did eventually end up joining the family business; however, it sadly happened under less than ideal circumstances. “My uncle, who was running one of our subsidiaries, Aurum Land, passed away unexpectedly. He was only 40 years old and had a stroke. The timing was right for me personally; I was looking for a change, so when I was approached by the family and asked to take over that business, I said yes.” Michelle was at a point in her life where she was looking for something new.

Challenges Faced in a Family Business?

“There is a rule not to discuss work, outside of work. The rule was set a long time ago, and also broken a long time ago. At dinners on Thursday with my immediate family, we talk about work. On Sundays when the extended family meet at grandpa’s house for lunch, we talk about work again. There is no clear line separating work and family, which is not good. I don’t get much “me time”, but I feel very responsible to give everything that I have to the family business. This will be my last job.”

Future Plans For Aurum?

“I am interested in retirement resorts, where there would be different businesses providing the necessary amenities on site. My team has done some field trips to retirement villages in England and Japan, with Ageing Asia Alliance, an industry network on the business of ageing. I have not started looking at potential sites yet. But the retirement resorts are unlikely to happen in the next two years, because I’ve promised my husband that I will not start a new business for now.”
Credits to

Do you wish to learn more tips about digital transformation? If so, then do attend our upcoming H.E.R Asia Summit happening on the 2-3rd October. The theme for this year will be on digital transformation and innovation to accelerate business growth. For more information, click here.

Leave a Comment