Sleepless in Singapore: Anthony Chong, Group Managing Director of Kingsmen Exhibits PTE LTD

Sleepless in Singapore: Anthony Chong, Group Managing Director of Kingsmen Exhibits PTE LTD 450 450 C-Suite Network
Sleepless in Singapore: Anthony Chong

Deadlines are a daily reality for Anthony Chong, but that’s all part of the attraction for Kingsmen Exhibits’ group managing director.

Anthony Chong is the first to acknowledge that his phone never leaves his side – even when he’s on holiday. “We have to be contactable around the clock; there’s no alternative,” he says. Due to the live nature of the business, the group managing director of Kingsmen Exhibits, a wholly owned subsidiary of Kingsmen Creatives Ltd, admits he “can never totally switch off.” It’s a sacrifice that comes with the job, managing the leading Singapore-based communication, design and production group’s theme parks, museums, exhibitions and events operations – a remit that covers everything from live motor racing to luxury product launches and beyond.

Managing an events company comes with its benefits, and in talking to The CEO Magazine, it’s obvious Anthony wouldn’t have it any other way. After 36 years in the business, he still gets as much buzz from the successful completion of a project – and the smile of a satisfied client – as he did on his first day on the job.

The CEO Magazine: You joined Kingsmen Creatives Ltd in 1981 as a visual merchandiser, and today you’re group managing director of its subsidiary Kingsmen Exhibits. How have you risen through the company? What have been the biggest highlights?

Anthony: From operations to sales to project management, I’ve held a variety of roles at Kingsmen Creatives Ltd. Today, I am group managing director of Kingsmen Exhibits, and I also sit on the Board of Directors of Kingsmen Creatives Ltd.

One of the highlights was when I was transferred to Bangkok in 1984 to establish the company’s presence in Thailand. It was only our second office outside of Singapore; the first was Malaysia, which opened in 1982. Working in Bangkok was quite difficult because of the language barriers and the different culture, but I mastered the local tongue and we were able to really develop the business there.

Along the way, we have also been involved in a number of projects which really stand out. One of them was Universal Studios in Singapore, which opened seven years ago, and also the inaugural Youth Olympic Games, which was held in Singapore in 2010. We also played a very significant role in all the hospitality and events surrounding the first Formula One night race at the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008.

Most recently, we were accorded the ‘Exceptional Achievement Award’ by the Singapore Tourism Board for being named ‘Best Business Event Service Provider’ for three consecutive years – 2014, 2015, 2016. It coincided with our fortieth anniversary celebrations last year, so it was a great recognition of all we have achieved since the Group was established in 1976.

You’ve been with the Group for 36 years. What keeps you motivated?

The desire to see my people succeed, the team succeed, and the company succeed and maintain its position as one of the leaders in our industry in the various disciplines we specialise in. I am actually very excited to see the extent to which we have expanded our service offerings to advantage our clients.

We started out with display works, before expanding into exhibitions and retail interiors, followed by museums and theme parks, and now corporate marketing. It’s a dynamic industry, and that is something that motivates me. No project is the same and every day is different. It really is a job that never ever ceases to surprise.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

The biggest challenge was being able to deliver close to S$100 million worth of themed attractions in Universal Studios Singapore within a short time frame. Normally, it would take around five years to build a theme park on this scale, but we had half of that time; two and a half years at most.

Fast facts: Along with Universal Studios Singapore, you may have felt the Kingsmen creative touch in the Enchanted Garden at Changi Airport, under the Christmas Lights on Great Street or in the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay.

As it was essentially Singapore’s first major theme park, and, as you can appreciate, resources were scarce, we had to draw in support from all over the world – with the limited amount of time, the financial strain, the technical calculations, the project management issues all as constraints. I can’t think of anything that has been more challenging.

Can you elaborate further on your role in Universal Studios Singapore?

We were commissioned to design – from the concept provided by Universal Studios, of course – and build a significant part of the base park of Universal Studios Singapore. Since the park’s opening,…