Name: Jeff Cheong
Role: CEO at DDB Group Singapore
Jeff Cheong was at DDB Group Singapore for 4 years where he climbed the ranks from Deputy President to CEO. Previously, he called the shots as the head of Tribal Worldwide with over 14 years of experience.
1. What are your hobbies?
I am a plant parent and even have an IG account for it @takingaleafoffaith. I especially love the Everfresh Tree as it is simple to care for. Plants in this family just need water daily and moderate sunlight. I even skipped lunch break a few times to bring home some from nurseries.
2. What is your favourite quote?
“Be strong and courageous.” It’s from a bible verse, Joshua 1:9.
3. What is your favourite movie?
4. What is your favourite song?
“Dream A Little Dream Of Me” by Ella Fitzgerald.
5. Where’s your top foodie spot?
Fragrant Garden (馨香园) at Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre. I love their traditional orh nee dessert. It’s life-changing with bits of crunchy chestnut in contrast with the ultra-smooth yam paste, plus topped off with delicious gingko nuts, pumpkin and shallots.
6. Three words people use to describe you:
Agile, bold and curious.
7. Three words you’d use to describe yourself:
Committed, fearless and passionate.
8. Last good Netflix show you watched?
“Don’t Look Up” I was initially attracted to the star-studded cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill.
After watching, it turns out to be a reflection of our times as we battle with fake news, the pandemic and climate change. Here we are busy looking at news, social media, divided Telegram groups, and politics when there’s a bigger natural disaster looming.
9. Celebrity crush?
10. Personalities who inspire and influence you?
11. Any personal or life goals?
To groom a next generation of leaders who will groom the next.
12. Campaign that most inspired you:
That would be the John Lewis Christmas 2013 campaign, Bear and the Hare created by Adam and Eve & DDB.
It’s a magical tale of friendship between a bear and a hare, brought to life through traditional hand-drawn 2D animation with stop-frame model animation. The bear has never experienced Christmas as he retreats into hibernation to sleep his way through the best part of the year. His friend, the Hare, is determined to give him a gift he will never forget.
13. Campaign that you’re most proud of:
Get your shot, Steady Pom Pi Pi, a vaccination campaign commissioned by MCI that created a lot of interest from global to local communities and news.
14. Peers that you highly respect in the local industry:
Low Cheaw Hwei, who is Head of Design for Philips ASEAN Pacific and Design Consulting for Asia, where he looks after the overall design direction in the region. He is also the Head of Government and Public Affairs for Philips in Singapore.
Jeff showing his fun side with a DIY Star Wars mask he did for an opening speech at Temask Polytechnic’s graduation ceremony.
15. Tell us a fun fact that most of your employees don’t know about you:
I am learning to be a barista.
16. What do you look for in employees when hiring?
Nice and multi-talented.
17. Advice for people to become more creative?
Creativity is a systematic way of thinking. Build up your lived experiences in your memory and experience bank, so that you can draw inspiration from it and make your ideas connect with others in the most authentic way.
18. Advice for students thinking of starting a career in an agency?
You must like working in a team at DDB because this is not the place for lone rangers – they don’t last very long.
If you want to excel as a creative person, then you need to commit to your craft like the artisans.
If you like the challenge of building and running business locally or globally, you must continue to study and be aware of global trends so that you can steer the business for growth.
19. Any shout-outs you want to give (to people, side-projects, clients, etc)?
Here’s a shout-out to Pann Lim of Kinetic. He’s one guy that wears passion on his sleeve and I’ve always enjoyed the work that comes out of his agency.
And also, film director Royston Tan whom I enjoy brainstorming with. He is perhaps the only person who can bounce off ideas with me at 2AM when we are working on a project.
20. What do you hope to accomplish at DDB within the next year or so?
After working away from the office for more than 2 years, it’s hard to feel the vibes and energy for an industry that thrives on human interaction. Together with my team, we are working hard to bring some of that energy and culture back.
This post is part of our Media Industry Leaders series. If you’d like to be featured, or have a nominee in mind, please drop us a note at [email protected]