Former SMRT chief Desmond Kuek joins Swiss bank UBS as a divisional vice-chairman

Former SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek will join Swiss investment bank UBS as its divisional vice-chairman for global wealth management starting from Feb 18.
Former SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek will join Swiss investment bank UBS as its divisional vice-chairman for global wealth management starting from Feb 18.PHOTO: UBS

SINGAPORE - Former SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek, who stepped down from the role at the transport operator in August last year, is joining Swiss investment bank UBS as its divisional vice-chairman for global wealth management.

The bank said in a statement on Monday (Feb 4) that Mr Kuek, 55, will start work on Feb 18, and will be based in Singapore.

He will report to UBS head of ultra-high net worth, Mr Joe Stadler, and Asia-Pacific president Edmund Koh.

Mr Koh said he is happy to be working with Mr Kuek, whom he said can handle pressure well.

"He is tenacious, always calm under pressure and not afraid to take on the toughest challenges with commitment and perseverance. His rich and diverse range of experiences driving complex businesses through innovation and transformation will serve UBS well into its next chapter," he said.

Mr Kuek, who was president and group chief executive at SMRT Corporation from 2012 to 2018, helped steer the rail operator back to reliability – a task marred by accidents and incidents. He oversaw its delisting from the Singapore Exchange in 2016 and its migration to a new financial framework.

He is a former army general who was Chief of Defence Force from 2007 to 2010. He also served as permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources before moving to SMRT.

He has been on the boards of Singapore Technologies Engineering, Defence Science and Technology Agency, the Housing Board, Jurong Town Corporation, International Enterprise Singapore and the Civil Service College.

 
 

He also founded and chairs leadership consultancy Genium & Co, which was registered in July last year.

UBS said Mr Kuek's wealth of experience as an executive, government official and board member "will be of great value in strengthening our relationships with existing clients, forging new ones and growing our business across Asia-Pacific".

Mr Kuek said in the statement: "I'm looking forward to starting on this exciting new role with the incredible team at UBS."