Neo Kian Hong Stepping Down as SMRT CEO & Will Be Succeeded by Former LTA Head


If you’re like me and have no idea who works behind the scenes of SMRT despite taking the MRT every day, here’s your chance to find out more.

Come 1 August this year, SMRT’s new chief executive Ngien Hoon Ping will be taking over as SMRT group CEO.

The current chief executive, Neo Kian Hong, will be stepping down after four years of assuming his role at SMRT. Mr Neo was hired to replace the previous CEO, Desmond Kuek, in 2018 after a “global search” conducted by SMRT.

However, Mr Neo will still remain as an adviser for SMRT until 31 October this year.

Although talk regarding Mr Neo stepping down has been going around since December last year, it is speculated that plans for him to do so were discussed earlier than that.

When Mr Neo first joined SMRT, SMRT’s chairman Seah Moon Ming spoke highly of him, noting that the SMRT board was impressed with his “appreciation of interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as his vision and experience in leveraging new technologies for public service”.

Mr Seah also acknowledged Mr Neo’s contributions to SMRT and expressed gratitude on behalf of the board.

“He oversaw a deepening of rail engineering capabilities and consistent delivery of high rail reliability,” he mentioned.

Apart from his service in SMRT, Mr Neo also acted as Singapore’s seventh Chief of Defence in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). He also held the role of permanent secretary in the education and defence ministries.

SMRT’s New CEO: Ngien Hoon Ping

Mr Ngien, who is an engineer by training and profession, was the chief of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) from 2016 to 2020. Under his leadership, his team managed various infrastructure projects. These projects included Thomson-East Coast Line, Mandai Depot and Lornie Highway.

In 2020, Mr Ngien departed from the LTA to join FairPrice, leading FairPrice Group’s supply chain business.

Prior to his tenure at LTA, Mr Ngien was also from the military. He assumed the role of director of joint operations in the SAF from 2010 to 2013.

According to an internal company memo issued by SMRT today (18 March), Mr Ngien will join SMRT’s board from 1 May onwards before taking over as CEO on 1 August.

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“The Board has put in place a leadership succession plan with a robust talent pipeline at different levels. We review it regularly to ensure relevance and currency,” Mr Seah explained through a media statement issued by SMRT.

He also emphasised that Mr Ngien’s experience at both LTA and NTUC will allow him to lead SMRT well, especially during an “era of disruption”.

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Featured Image: LTA + SMRT