SINGAPORE — According to The Straits Times, SPH Media has addressed the issue of its hiring of former staff from information technology services and consulting company Accenture in an internal memo to SPH Media staff on Thursday.
In the memo, it said it had hired 21 people for senior leadership positions since it was formed in 2021.
Of these people, three came directly from Accenture, while another three had experience at Accenture at some point in their careers and were in other companies prior to joining SPH Media. The remaining 15 came from other organizations.
The head of human resources, Maureen Wee, wrote in the memo that “all staff appointments are undertaken after careful evaluation to ensure that each individual is able to contribute effectively. We will continue to recruit individuals with different perspectives, skills, and experience to augment and enrich our talent pool.”
She added that all members of the SPH Media family are valuable regardless of where they came from and how long they have been with the organization.
“Everyone has a role to play as we navigate the future together,” she said.
The issue about hiring former Accenture staff came about from a Facebook post made by Leslie Fong, a former editor at The Straits Times who left in 2016.
Last Saturday, he stated that seven members of the SPH Media Trust’s leadership team, such as its Chief Executive Officer, Ms Teo Lay Lim, Chief Financial Officer, Mr Andy Hui, Chief Transformation Officer, Mr David Pang, and Chief Technology Officer, Mr Kaythaya Maw, were all former Accenture employees.
“Coincidence? You draw your own conclusions, my friends,” wrote Mr. Fong.
He added, “The board of the company, to be funded by taxpayer money to the tune of $900 million, does not appear to have any problem with the composition.”
New senior leadership team’s long history of employment with Accenture
Ms Teo Lay Lim, former chairman of IT services and consulting firm Accenture Singapore, was publicly announced as SPH Media’s CEO in February last year, taking over from interim CEO Patrick Daniel, which ended a leadership succession process that lasted nearly nine months.
According to Ms Teo’s LinkedIn profile, she worked with Accenture from 1988 until August 2021 before being appointed as Executive Director of SPH Media in December 2021, before becoming CEO.
Mr Andy Hui served as Accenture’s Southeast Asia CFO and Geographic Operations Managing Director for 11 years since 2011. He only joined SPH Media last year.
Mr Kaythaya Maw worked for the firm (then known as Anderson Consulting) from 1998 until 2009, serving as its Senior Manager for Head of Portals & Content Practice in Australia before joining Amazon. He was hired as CTO in SPH Media only in July 2022.
Mr David Pang was Senior Manager of Accenture from 2008 to 2013.
Ms Jennifer Lee, SPH’s head of Corporate Real Estate/Workplace Services, had worked for Accenture for 27 years before joining SPH. Her last position at Accenture was as Workplace Solutions & Workstation Lead in Southeast Asia.
Ms Fen Peh has worked for Accenture since 2019, as its Marketing and Communications Southeast Asia lead. However, no update has been made to her LinkedIn profile.
As for Mr Melvin Tan, no public records of his alleged employment at SPH Media can be found.
In any case, it would appear that these senior management staff from SPH Media were employed after Ms Teo was appointed as CEO.
They also would have been her former colleagues at one point, given that Ms Teo had worked at Accenture for 33 years since 1988.
Singapore on funding SPH Media
Before selling off its assets and delisting from the Singapore Stock Exchange, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) craved off its publishing business into a nonprofit entity in December 2021, which is named SPH Media Trust (SMT) or commonly known as SPH Media.
This was said to be in light of the declining publications revenue.
Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo then announced in Parliament last February that the Government will fund SMT to the tune of up to S$180 million annually over the next five years, or S$900 million in total.
This year, SMT was faced with a scandal after Wake Up Singapore (WUSG) exposed firings and penalties imposed on staff for misrepresenting circulation figures on January 8.
The scandal involved misrepresenting circulation data, counting lapsed contracts, printing and counting copies for circulation, and double-counting subscriptions across multiple instances.
A whistleblower alleged that at a town hall meeting over actions taken against executives connected with the misrepresentation of circulation figures, Ms Teo told her staff to “let the matter rest.”
Despite TOC’s request for confirmation, there has been no response from Ms Teo.
Despite the scandal, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo reaffirmed the Singapore Government’s commitment to fund SMT to S$180 million annually over the next five years for a total of S$900 million.
She said the Government has yet to make payments pending agreement over the Key Performance Index used to assess SMT for the purpose of the funding.
Mrs Teo told the Parliament that there is a need to preserve local news in the public interest amid severe disruption in the media industry and that circulation numbers of the SMT’s publications were not a key consideration in assessing the funding required for SMT’s transformation.
She, however, notes that “SMT’s Board and management must also be mindful of their public duties, their responsibility to maintain the public’s trust in their newsrooms and journalists, and the need to discharge these responsibilities in a diligent and timely manner.”