SMRT’s Chief Spokesman Patrick Nathan Resigns, Elaine Koh Appointed as Commuter Engagement Officer

After nearly 7 years, Mr Patrick Nathan’s resigning from his post as chief spokesman for SMRT, according to a Straits Times report on Thursday (18 Jan).

You may know him from the multitude of statements he has given over the years on behalf of his paymaster. From train delays, lightning strikes, tunnel floods to train collisions, the man has seen and explained it all.

After being in the hot seat for so long, one can only assume that the position had become untenable for the guy.

And can we really blame him for calling time on his career at SMRT?

With all the issues affecting the beleaguered transport operator – including allegations of work culture problems – the former Director of Security and Emergency Planning could have been terminated for not doing enough to repair SMRT’s damaged reputation.

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Other management changes on the way

Experts say that this could be the first in a wave of leadership appointments and management ‘changes’.

SMRT chairman Seah Moon Ming might be banking on this leadership renewal to help bring about a change in the company’s fortunes.

Mr Seah has brought about a modicum of goodwill by taking a much more hands-on approach compared to his predecessors.

Safe to say, the leadership of SMRT has shifted away from CEO Desmond Kuek – who is conspicuous only in his absence – to Mr Seah.

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Ostensibly as one of these management changes, the Straits Times reported that one Elaine Koh will step into the newly created role of Chief Commuter Engagement Officer.

The lowdown on the new CEO

No, not that CEO.

This Commuter Engagement Officer role – unheard of and probably unneeded in other countries – is a newly created role and the brainchild of Mr Seah.

The holder of the newly minted position will be responsible for leading a team to collect passenger feedback and improve customer experience by reviewing processes within SMRT.

In the frenzy of speculation that came after news of Mr Nathan’s resignation broke on 18 Jan, one may have missed the appointment of Ms Elaine Koh.

Described by the Straits Times as a “corporate communications veteran,” Ms Koh is, weirdly enough, in her third stint at SMRT.

According to her LinkedIn account, she first joined SMRT as a Corporate Marketing Manager in 2002, and left in 2006. She would leave the company for a couple of years at a time, but would invariably return.

She just keeps coming back
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However, part of the responsibilities of Ms Koh’s job currently fall within Nathan’s purview, as he was also the Vice President for Corporate Communications from 2013 till now.

Conclusion

As Ms Koh seems to be no stranger to the inner workings of SMRT, we hope that she hits the ground running and adapts quickly to the demands of her new job.

Hopefully, after this shakeup is over, SMRT will now provide feedback clearly and concisely, and not throw online tantrums about fake news in response to allegations.

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Featured image from Facebook.