ST Engineering needs fresh pair of eyes, says outgoing CEO

Mr Tan Pheng Hock, outgoing president and chief executive of ST Engineering.
Mr Tan Pheng Hock, outgoing president and chief executive of ST Engineering.

Singapore Technologies (ST) Engineering will need a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at itself and its direction for the next 10 or 20 years, said its outgoing president and chief executive Tan Pheng Hock.

He made the observation in a poignant farewell letter to shareholders, as part of the group's annual report released yesterday.

Mr Tan, 58, has been the CEO since 2002, and announced his retirement plans last September. He is expected to retire by October.

Mr Vincent Chong Sy Feng, 46, the deputy CEO of corporate development then, was appointed president and CEO-designate.

Of his retirement, Mr Tan added: "I also felt that it was time for me to seek professional fulfilment and satisfaction in new vistas."

He described how the board held an extensive search for both internal and external candidates for his replacement. It underwent a "structured selection process" and found a successor in Mr Chong.

TIMELY MOVE

I also felt that it was time for me to seek professional fulfilment and satisfaction in new vistas.

MR TAN PHENG HOCK, outgoing president and chief executive of ST Engineering, in a farewell letter to shareholders.

Mr Tan said Mr Chong will understudy him until the second half of the year, before taking over.

"Vincent has excellent credentials and global experience. He is an engineer who has had hands-on work in the petrochemical industry, he has served customers and has managed global profit centres successfully," said Mr Tan, who thanked everyone in the group, including fellow board members, customers and shareholders.

He said he is privileged to be part of the management team that, over a period of 14 years, has taken the firm from being largely dependent on business here to "a global engineering company" serving customers in more than 100 countries.

Mr Tan's awards include Outstanding CEO of the Year at the Singapore Business Awards in 2014.

Mr Tan later described a global environment which is "about to experience a technology-driven wave of change in everything from computing to communications", including transport, healthcare and even personal entertainment.

On the back of that, he noted that ST Engineering is positioning itself to be part of that, and cited various examples.

For instance, he said the firm has "developed new capabilities in Smart Cities... and designed a satellite that is now in space".

He was referring to the launch of Singapore's first commercial earth observation satellite on Dec 16 last year. The satellite was developed and built by ST Electronics.

Mr Tan also gave a glimpse into ST Engineering's future, saying it is going "to invest and focus on robotics as a group".

He added: "As I move towards a new phase in my life and career, ST Engineering will remain in my thoughts. I will be your friend, cheering you on as the group continues to strengthen and grow."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'ST Engineering needs fresh pair of eyes, says outgoing CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe