HE HELPED sketch a state-of-the-art sports, entertainment and lifestyle hub to replace the ageing National Stadium. The plan was to have a one-stop destination that could host a range of indoor and outdoor sports and entertainment events.
The idea was ambitious, and to bring this to life as a vibrant, sustainable facility, the project had to be a public private partnership (PPP). As CEO of the Singapore Sports Council, which is now Sport Singapore, Oon Jin Teik held its hand from conception in 2005 until construction began five years later, before leaving for the private sector.
But he returned to the project in 2014, just before it opened, this time as Singapore Sports Hub chief operating officer. In that post, he helped guide the spanking new sports and entertainment complex through its birth pangs and teething phase. Earlier this week, the Olympian and multiple SEA Games swimming gold medallist was promoted to CEO. It was a sound move.
If there is anyone who can take the Sports Hub forward in the new year and beyond, Jin Teik is tailor-made for the job. His task now is to preserve the PPP’s goal, which is to be a resounding success. This simply means that the facility must first and foremost serve the public and athletes. And no less important — to deliver the return on investment for the Sports Hub consortium that designed, built and now operate it.
This is not an easy assignment. But as the man who was on the payroll of the civil service through the project’s critical initial phases, he understands fully what the Sports Hub means to Singapore. At its heart is to preach Vision 2030 — encouraging people to live better lives through sports. Now that he is on the roster of the other half of the partnership, he is also able to offer the business side of this story to his former colleagues.
Can he deliver?
Why not? First of all, he has established contacts within the government arm, SportSG, and other public agencies and is tuned in to their goals. Smoothening the kinks, wherever and whenever they appear — though never always easy — can be tackled to everyone’s expectations because he understands their point of view. Now that he is on the other side of the fence, Jin Teik is in a position to accomplish this without compromising the interests of the Sports Hub.
Second, he goes into the job with deep knowledge of the corporate world’s demands. Before he was hired as Singapore Sports Council head in 2004, he spent 11 years as an executive with DuPont. From 2011 until he began his stint with the Sports Hub, he was group CEO and executive vice-president at Hyflux. So he knows his way around dollars and cents … and sense.
Third, as an athlete, he was a regular record breaker as a young swimmer and recipient of the national Sportsboy of the Year award in 1980. His brain is programmed to win and this is an indispensable asset in the job he has taken on.
Fourth, and not least of all, Jin Teik is a trained chemical engineer. Why is this invaluable for the Sports Hub?
All engineers thrive in solving problems, and they excel in the most difficult ones. It is in their DNA. As complex as operating the Sports Hub is with its many demands, difficulties naturally come with the package, and when they occur, Jin Teik will only be motivated to hunt down the best solutions for them.
An engineer, sportsman, accomplished winner, civil servant and corporate executive all rolled into one, this is what the Sports Hub needs at this juncture of its life to shift to a winning gear. With Jin Teik in the driving seat, the bets are on.