Ex-SMRT boss opens leadership consultant firm

Mr Desmond Kuek is listed as the firm's founder; two former military men are managing directors.
Mr Desmond Kuek is listed as the firm's founder; two former military men are managing directors.

Former SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek, who stepped down from the role in August, has started a leadership consultancy company with two men who were also from the military.

The firm Genium & Co lists Mr Kuek, 55, as the founder on its website, and Mr Fred Tan and Mr Ang Yau Choon as its managing directors.

Mr Tan, 48, was head of the Singapore Armed Forces' Centre for Leadership Development (2011 to 2018), while Mr Ang, 51, had served as commander of the Commando Training Institute.

All three men are directors at Genium & Co, according to Bizfile data, which also shows the firm was registered on July 24 - a few days before Mr Kuek stepped down as SMRT CEO.

In response to queries from The Sunday Times, Mr Tan replied in an e-mail last Friday: "We see a strong need for effective leadership in private and public organisations, given the disruptive world we operate in. Effective and trusted leaders will make the difference to inspire their teams towards achieving excellence.

"Given our diverse experience in leadership and management over the years, the team is able to provide an Asian perspective for leaders to effectively lead self, lead teams and the organisation."

He added that the firm would focus on areas such as organisational transformation, strategy execution, crisis leadership, experiential learning and performance excellence.

To keep overheads low, it will have a pool of associate trainers who "must have a high level of competencies and are aligned to Genium's core values of honour, commitment and excellence," said Mr Tan.

The firm will begin offering seven training programmes from January. Prices were not revealed.

In terms of clients, Mr Tan said the firm was "in discussions with various organisations from the public and private sectors" and it was not able to share details now.

Mr Kuek took over the helm of SMRT in October 2012, replacing interim CEO Tan Ek Kia, who had assumed the role after Ms Saw Phaik Hwa resigned in January 2012.

He led SMRT for 5½ years, during what was probably its most tumultuous period.

 
 

Even though his tenure was marred by incidents such as deaths on the track as well as tunnel flooding, he was part of the team - along with SMRT Trains chief Lee Ling Wee - that rebuilt the reliability of the North-South and East-West lines.

As of the third-quarter of this year, the North-South Line clocked an average of 734,000 train-km before a delay of more than five minutes.

For the East-West Line, the figure was 361,000 train-km. This was some 10 times better than the performance of both lines in 2011.

On whether his role at Genium was a full-time position, Mr Kuek told Lianhe Zaobao last Thursday: "I am still resting for a while before deciding on the next step and thinking about what opportunities there are in the future."

His successor at SMRT, Mr Neo Kian Hong, who also succeeded Mr Kuek as chief of defence, took charge of the rail operator on Aug 1.

Last week, Mr Neo revealed a reorganisation of the transport operator that is meant to help take its engineering capabilities to the next level, as well as improve customer experience.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 25, 2018, with the headline 'Ex-SMRT boss opens leadership consultant firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe