Taking care of customers and employees is as crucial as handling the cargo.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Taking care of customers and employees is as crucial as handling the cargo.

Singapore’s commercial port operators handle several tens of  millions of containers and other diverse cargoes every year. But increasing their efficiency and competitiveness requires more than hardware – it also needs “heartware”, such as fostering good customer relations and improving staff  engagement.


Wendy Teo (NEAR RIGHT), Vice-President, Human Resources, Jurong Port

Wendy has been a human resource practitioner in the automotive and retail industries, but the maritime sector captured her heart – she has been with Jurong Port since 2006.

While the learning curve was admittedly steep at first, Wendy is now a whizz with the ins and outs of the business, and manages a team of nine staff. The dynamic nature of  the industry keeps the petite woman on her toes, and often calls for her to develop practical and creative manpower solutions. This was most evident in 2016, when a business-model change required Jurong Port to take in 250 port workers from various companies at short notice.

Transitioning these workers to a big corporation was a delicate task, but she ensured that they continued to receive daily cash allowances while improving their safety awareness and providing training opportunities. “It was hard work, but I believe that we have succeeded. Our recent survey showed that they are pretty happy working in Jurong Port!” says Wendy.


Ong Chiew Suan (ABOVE RIGHT), Head of Commercial, PSA Corporation

Such long service is almost unheard of today, but Chiew Suan has spent a good 22 years at PSA, her first employer since she graduated. “It may seem like a long time to be in one company, but I feel that every day is different and my work still challenges me,” she shares.

This high-flier handles wideranging responsibilities, including formulating marketing and pricing strategies, cultivating strong customer relationships, driving commercial negotiations and doing competitor analyses.

While no classroom helped to prep her for her role, Chiew Suan had her parents to thank for her “training”. “My parents used to be business owners. Growing up, I watched them interacting with their customers and creating lasting relationships with them. I learnt so much from them,” she says. Plus, her job rotations in China, Turkey and Portugal helped improve her skills in negotiation and relationship building.

Her advice for succeeding in the maritime industry is simply this: “Be genuine and always work towards win-win outcomes with business partners. I believe that if  you love what you are doing, you will be able to do it even better!”

ON WENDY: Dress, Max Mara. ON CHIEW SUAN: Feather-trimmed jacket and sleeveless lamé top, Brunello Cucinelli. Pants, Kate Moss for Equipment.