Born on 13 July 1954, Mr Lim Swee Say studied at the Catholic High School and the National Junior College. He was awarded a Singapore Armed Forces (UK) Scholarship in 1973 and studied Electronics, Computer and Systems Engineering at Loughborough University of Technology in the United Kingdom. He graduated with a First Class Honours degree in 1976 and was admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Technology in 2006. He attended the Stanford Sloan Programme at Stanford University and graduated with a Master's Degree in Management in 1991.
Mr Lim was actively involved with the development of information technology since the 1970s. He served as General Manager of National Computer Board from 1986 to 1991, and as its Chairman from 1994 to 1998. He was also actively involved in the economic development of Singapore in the 1990s. He spent five years with the Economic Development Board, first as Deputy Managing Director based in New York City from 1991 to 1993, then as Managing Director from 1994 to 1996.
Notwithstanding his long association with technology and economic development, Mr Lim firmly believes that the end objective of exploiting technological advances and achieving economic progress is to enhance the standard of living and quality of life of the people.
Mr Lim entered politics and joined the labour movement in 1996 to help the rank and file workers upgrade and remain employable. He served as Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) from 1997 to 1999 before he was appointed Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology and Minister of State for Trade and Industry in June 1999. He became Acting Minister for the Environment in October 2000 and Minister for the Environment in November 2001.
In August 2004, Mr Lim was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for National Development. He served concurrently as Deputy Secretary-General of the NTUC. He relinquished the appointment of Second Minister for National Development on 1 October 2005 to serve full time in the labour movement. From January 2007, he serves as the Secretary-General of the NTUC. Till today, he remains as Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.
Mr Lim joined the People's Action Party (PAP) in 1996. In 1999, he was first elected a member of the PAP Central Executive Committee and chaired the Young PAP from 2000 to 2004. He was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament in the General Elections held in 1996, 2001 and 2006. In the General Election 2011, he was elected as Member of Parliament for the East Coast Group Representative Constituency. On 1 April 2007, he was appointed the Government Whip and relinquished this appointment on 31 May 2011. On 28 May 2011, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the People's Association.
Mr Lim is married to Ms Elaine Cheong, a software engineer and computer sales manager who gave up her career in 1991 to take care of their daughter Shu Ming and son Wen Zhe. Work aside, Mr Lim enjoys playing golf, traveling and spending time with his family.