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30 AUG 2020

My Way: Seah Choo Meng FRICS

Known as a legendary figure in the built environment, Seah Choo Meng is considered by many to be the doyen of contract administration and practice of construction projects. He was the earliest to adopt concepts that shaped Singapore’s construction industry and his innumerable contributions over the past decades are well recognised by many even until today.

The beginning

It all starts from my late father, Seah Mong Hee, who was the first Asian to become a Chartered Quantity Surveyor just after the Second World War in the firm, Langdon & Every, which was first established in Singapore in 1934.

In 1968, I joined the firm, then known as Langdon Every and Seah, under an articleship and thereafter travelled to UK for my studies and training. During my stay there, I obtained my professional RICS membership.

Upon my return to Singapore, I was elected an Associate in 1975, Partner in 1976, Managing Director in 1995 and finally Executive Chairman in 1999. I retired in 2008 and became a Director of the firm from 2009 to 2016.
Due to the influence of my father’s profession, I followed the same path and my entire working life is dedicated to the built environment through my affinity as a second generation to uphold the firm’s tradition in providing cost management services.

The breakthrough

The breakthrough did not come about through any momentous occurrence. For more than four decades, I dedicated myself to one firm only, firstly on local projects and thereafter for the whole region including China. The exposure to both local and regional projects allowed the gradual but relentless build-up of experience and knowledge which would not be achievable by any other means.

Challenges I faced were mainly on the diversity in culture of the various geographical regions and countries. Despite that, the key to my success was maintaining integrity and trust in the conduct of our business through providing quality and efficacious service.

Seah Choo Meng
Seah Choo Meng FRICS

Timeline

  • 1975 Elected as Associate in Davis Langdon & Seah (Singapore) (now known as Langdon & Seah Singapore Pte Ltd)
  • 1976 Becomes a Partner
  • 1995 Named as Managing Director
  • 1999 to 2008 Becomes Executive Chairman
  • 2009 to 2016 Named as Director
  • 2017 to Present Assumed appointment of Senior Advisor to GCEO’s Office (Surbana Jurong)

By all means take into account the commercial or profitability aspect of the project but do not forsake the universal aim of ensuring a project’s long-term green sustainability while maintaining an iconic design.

Seah Choo Meng FRICS, FSISV, FRISM, MCIArb (UK), Senior Advisor, GCEO’s Office (Surbana Jurong); Group Head, Internal Audit and Chairman, Threesixty Cost Management and Threesixty Contract Advisory

The present

I am now with Surbana Jurong, an Asian based urban and infrastructure multidisciplinary consultancy group with diverse specialism across the entire spectrum of build assets and global infrastructure construction works after I left my old firm (which is now part of Arcadis).

As the Senior Advisor to the GCEO’s office, I am directly involved in a multitude of tasks and the provision of advice covering the conduct of business of the various business units/companies under the Group’s global portfolio.

I am concurrently the Group Head for Internal Audit and Chairman of Threesixty Cost Management and Threesixty Contract Advisory under the Group. The Cost Management unit provides quantity surveying and cost management service, while the Contract Advisory provides mainly dispute management service such arbitration and adjudication, while at the same providing internal advice to the various business units in contractual claims and disputes.

As a RICS member, I was consciously promoting the profession to the industry as a whole and later in the local institutions such as SISV. I was awarded the SISV Meritorious Award in 2012 – the highest SISV award for senior members in key positions who are praiseworthy and have demonstrated exemplary contribution in serving the Institute and elevating the profile of the profession to a higher echelon.

Presently, I am engaged in various advisory appointments in a number of private organisations and as a member in a few government and related agencies.

The future

It would be immensely beneficial for Surbana Jurong to tap on any expertise or know-how from RICS in some form of collaboration that would enhance our knowledge base. In turn, we hope to improve our standard of service and reinforce our brand name across the globe as we expand our range of services and together with RICS, capitalise on growth opportunities.

On a celebratory note, it would be pertinent to mention certain milestones achieved by Surbana Jurong, namely the completion of the following:

  1. Built a million homes in Singapore
  2. Completed masterplans in more than 30 countries
  3. Developed more than 100 industrial parks globally

In terms of the message that I would like to share on the built environment, it is simply this – by all means take into account the commercial or profitability aspect of the project but do not forsake the universal aim of ensuring a project’s long-term green sustainability while maintaining an iconic design.