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Singapore Sports Hub Chief Executive looks to generate ‘attachment’ to the precinct

Singapore Sports Hub Chief Executive looks to generate ‘attachment’ to the precinct
April 8, 2021

Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive of the Singapore Sports Hub, has explained his objectives for the precinct and its National Stadium, explaining how he aims to bring stability to the role.

In an article for Singapore publication Mothership, Yeo, who took on the role in February last year, became the Sports Hub’s fourth Chief Executive (permanent or acting) since 2015.

The role was first filled by Frenchman Philippe Collin-Delavaud, who led the Sports Hub for four years (March 2011 to December 2015), and then taken on by Manu Sawhney in 2015.

Sawhney's 19-month tenure saw complaints about his management style and decisions, as well as a spate of resignations from the Sports Hub's senior management and staff.

Former national swimmer Oon Jin Teik, who had been the Sports Hub's Chief Operating Officer from May 2014 to May 2017, became acting Chief Executive from May to December 2017 (initially in a dual role), then resigned after being the permanent incumbent in April 2019 along with a couple of other senior executives, reportedly over disagreements with the Sports Hub's board over the business direction the company was taking.

Welshman Bryn Jones, Sports Hub's Chairman, subsequently took over as acting Chief Executive in May 2019 until Yeo’s appointment.

Yeo (pictured below), a former Chief Executive at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), was immediately faced with the COVID-19 pandemic after his appointment and the challenging of keeping the precinct alive.

The National Stadium and the OCBC Arena became home to 3,000 foreign workers requiring community isolation accommodation at the height of the spread of Coronavirus.

The Sports Hub was later the location chosen for Singapore's first live event in October 2020 - a mixed-martial arts one organised by Singapore-based ONE Championship, for which all 250 tickets were sold on the first day they were launched.

Yeo’s vision for the Sports Hub is for it to be not only to be a premier destination for big-time sporting events or entertainment gigs, but also, as he told Mothership, for "every Singaporean to develop a personal and collective attachment" to it.

Commenting on how he aims to create a more harmonious and productive environment for staff, Yeo explains "how can I help my staff do their work better? How can I help my peers do their work better, because a lot of the government worries about collaboration across agencies.

“So it's not just about well, my agency, and what I want to do, but it's also about how my agency works well with another agency as well. So this culture of working with other CEOs, and their success is my success."

Externally, Yeo is also mindful of the multiple operating partners and the priorities that Sport Singapore and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) have pertaining to sport and the Sports Hub, commenting “how can I help the Singapore Government succeed? How can I help them do their work better?

“I'm always asking myself, what's MCCY's policy agenda when they look at a project like the Sports Hub? I need to understand their agenda so that I can understand how I can lead the Sports Hub to meet those policy objectives."

Article amended 24th April 2021 to calrify Oon Jin Teik's roles.

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