Senior Management

In Discussion with StarHub's Senior Management

Hear from the leadership team on how our business has performed in 2017, what has kept them busy this past year, as well as their own stories on inspiring change.

StarHub Leadership Team

Catherine Chia

Senior Vice President, Human Resource

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Kee Yaw Yee

Chief Information Officer

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Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

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Jeannie Ong

Chief Strategic Partnership Officer

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Tan Tong Hai

Chief Executive Officer

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Chong Siew Loong

Chief Technology Officer

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Howie Lau

Chief Marketing Officer

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Dr Chong Yoke Sin

Chief, Enterprise Business Group

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Veronica Lai

General Counsel & Company Secretary

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Tim Goodchild

SVP, Government & Strategic Affairs

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How has the year been for the businesses and what can StarHub do to remain competitive?

In Discussion with

Tan Tong Hai

Chief Executive Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Tan Tong Hai

Chief Executive Officer

In 2017, the telecom industry experienced some intense headwinds including high-priced spectrum auction, heightened pricing competition with the return of unlimited data plans, and a more crowded marketplace with new Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). In 2018, more competition is expected with the entry of a fourth mobile network operator into the market.

In this challenging environment, it is important for us to focus on customer-centricity by utilising customer insights to deliver innovative segment-specific propositions. We aim to provide the best service experience by engaging and servicing our customers based on their needs through omni-channel platforms. 

We continued our multi-year Digital Transformation initiative, which drove improvements in service levels, better engagement with stakeholders and cost efficiencies across multiple functional areas of our business via digital technologies.

‘Curiosity’, our social and digital analytics hub, was set up to enhance our community management and social customer care. We also invested resources to drive increased end-to-end digital sales, optimise backend processes through automation and enhance customer support through deployment of chatbots.

In the Consumer space, we are enhancing our Hubbing strategy to Hub+ to deliver lifestyle services alongside our existing connectivity and entertainment services. We understand our customers’ needs are evolving beyond basic connectivity and so we intend to build a wide umbrella of highly relevant lifestyle services across major consumer spending categories through partnerships.

Investment Activities

2

Acquisitions

(as of January 2018)

Mobility Activities

2.3m

Subscriber base

Our partnership with OCBC Bank is a good example of how we can develop a ‘We Economy’ ecosystem by harnessing shared data insights to deliver digital lifestyle services and enhanced customer experiences.

We are applying the Hubbing strategy to the Enterprise space too as we focus on certain industry segments and offer specialised ICT solutions to help them combat the digital disruptions. We can enable the digital transformation of enterprises through our Hubbing suite of connectivity, data analytics, IoT, robotics, cyber security and managed solutions. Our Enterprise business will be a key growth driver of our overall business.

We also announced the opening of a 58,000 square feet innovation centre and converged operations cockpit named ‘Hubtricity’ in March 2017. The new facility acts as a foundation to accelerate service innovation and co-creation with partners and customers. It will enable us to work with local and global partners to build platforms, such as smart home, intelligent vehicles, connected buildings, virtual reality and smart retail, to meet the future needs of our customers. 

We announced the opening of a 58,000 square feet innovation centre and converged operations cockpit named ‘Hubtricity’ in March 2017.

Mobility

Mobility continues to be our largest contributor of revenue. We are the second largest mobile operator with a mobile subscriber base of 2.3 million. The global trend of declining voice, IDD and roaming usages continued to dampen revenue growth, partially mitigated by increased usage of data and higher revenue from mobile value-added services (VAS). 

In line with our customer-centric focus, we launched Unlimited Weekend Plans and VAS such as DataJump and DataShare that cater to our customers’ growing appetite for data brought on by more advanced smartphones and pixel-heavy content. We have also started deploying TDD-LTE spectrum at key high traffic areas, starting from the Marina Bay area, to boost capacity for eventual gigabit-capable 4G services.

Pay TV & Broadband

In the pay TV space, we have seen the rapid proliferation of OTT players in the market. To address this, we are constantly improving our own online streaming service StarHub Go and also launched StarHub TV d’Lite packs for different content genres without having to subscribe to the Basic Groups, thereby giving our customers more flexible viewing options.

We have also seen a rise in the availability of alternative pirated content sources and will work closely with our content and government partners to protect the copyright owners’ intellectual property rights. Finally, we remain committed to managing our content costs by optimising our content lineup based on the analytics of customers’ viewing preferences.

In the Broadband segment, competition remains strong but we are tracking well as seen in our stable residential broadband customer base and revenue. We will continue to introduce unique offerings like Google Wifi with our fibre broadband services to enhance our customers’ home broadband experience.

In 2017, we established strategic partnerships with ST Kinetics, Prudential, NTUC and OCBC Bank.

Enterprise Fixed

We registered a healthy growth of 9.2% year-on-year in our Enterprise Fixed revenue to $436.9 million, driven by managed services and the consolidation of ASTL’s results. We continued to deepen our penetration into selected verticals and enhance our ICT service capabilities.

In 2017, we established strategic partnerships with ST Kinetics on robotics solution for the Hospitality sector, with Prudential on blockchain-based digital trade platform and with NTUC to enable workplace digitalisation. We also acquired ASTL and announced an intention to acquire D’Crypt to enhance our cyber security solution capabilities, making us well-placed to compete in major government and commercial tenders.

We also appointed Dr Chong Yoke Sin as Chief, Enterprise Business Group. Her extensive background helming ICT companies such as NCS and Integrated Health Information Systems will be instrumental in helping us to accelerate our growth in the enterprise business.

It is publicly known that I will be stepping down come end April 2018. This past nine over years at StarHub has been a fulfilling chapter of my career as I have achieved what I set out to do, which is to grow StarHub’s Enterprise business. I have also instilled in the Company a culture dedicated to delivering happiness for our staff, shareholders and customers.

I believe my management team and I have laid a strong foundation as I pass on the baton to the next CEO to steer the Company onto the next level of success. 

Enterprise Fixed Activities
GROWTH
+9.2%

year-on-year

$436.9m

revenue

In 2016, you acquired a stake in mm2 Asia. This year, you looked at more acquisitions. Can you share your inorganic growth story?

In Discussion with

Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

The whole premise of our acquisitions is to complement and strengthen our existing service offerings to both our consumer and enterprise customers. With that in mind, we went on to increase our stake in mm2 Asia from the initial 8.8% in June 2016 to approximately 9.8% in July 2017.

Having a strategic stake allows us to offer hard-to-get premium tickets to top international music acts as well as exclusive meet-and-greet sessions to the stars, and sneak previews to blockbuster movies to our lucky customers as part of our Hubbing perks.

In 2017, we acquired an 80.4% stake in ASTL; a cyber security systems integrator specialising in the provision of security solutions, consulting and managed security services. Two weeks before the year ended, we also announced a deal to bring D’Crypt; a cryptographic and secure communications solutions provider, into our fold. With these two acquisitions, we have become more equipped to provide our enterprise customers with services in cryptography and cyber security.

We are confident that these purchases will pay off in a sustainable way for our shareholders as we arm ourselves with newer and additional enterprise capabilities, expertise and revenue-generating opportunities.

Financial Activities

PURCHASED

80.4%

stake in ASTL

ANNOUNCED

$122M

D'Crypt deal

The 700MHz spectrum payment is likely to be due in 2018. Are there any other substantial CAPEX that you need to look at as well?

In Discussion with

Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

The licensing fee of $282 million for the 700MHz spectrum, which we won in a bidding exercise in 2017, is expected to be paid six months before the regulator releases it for our use. Assuming the spectrum is available in January 2019, we are then required to pay the fee in July 2018. Other than the spectrum fee, we do not foresee any major CAPEX needs.

We have always taken a balanced financial approach to acquisitions, CAPEX and dividends. For dividend payments to shareholders, the Board takes a forward three-year view of our earnings, free cash flow, growth prospects, investment needs and an optimal balance sheets. Their preference is to make sustainable dividend payments.

For FY2018, the Board has recommended to pay four cents per quarter per ordinary share.



We have always taken a balanced financial approach to acquisitions, CAPEX, and of course, dividends for our shareholders.

In 2018, we will see the adoption of new Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (International) or SFRS(I). What kind of financial impact do you see for the Group?

In Discussion with

Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Dennis Chia

Chief Financial Officer

From 1 January 2018, Singapore listed companies will have to adopt the new mandatory SFRS(I), which are identical to International Financial Reporting Standards adopted by many global companies. At our Group level, we do not expect the application of the standards and interpretations to have a significant impact on our financial statements for FY2018, except for SFRS(I) 15 (Revenue from Contracts with Customers).

Under SFRS(I) 15, our service revenue is expected to decline as we must now attribute a ‘fair value’ to each element of a customer’s contract, including the sale of handsets and equipment.

As we allocate a portion of our service revenue to sales of equipment revenue, you will see that the service revenue will be lower while sales of equipment revenue will be higher compared to the current accounting treatment. You will also see an increase in our total assets, as sales of equipment revenue will be recognised at the start of the contract when the equipment is transferred to the customer.

Accordingly, the group EBITDA margin as a % of service revenue is expected to be higher following the adoption of SFRS(I) 15. However, this does not have any impact on the Group’s cash flow at all.

You were hired to grow a new ‘strategic pillar’ of StarHub. How do you expect to make this happen?

In Discussion with

Dr Chong Yoke Sin

Chief, Enterprise Business Group

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Dr Chong Yoke Sin

Chief, Enterprise Business Group

The relevant experience I bring to StarHub is managing technology solutions for industries such as banking, government, healthcare, hospitality and retail in Singapore and the region. My recent involvement in the healthcare sector where IT made a significant impact in the delivery of medicine and healthcare, in general, will help the development of industry practices for StarHub.

For both of my previous organisations, I devoted a large part of my effort in transforming them into strong service-oriented and technologically-sound organisations with deep domain expertise that understand our clients, to enable us to help with the transformation of their business successfully.

I believe in nurturing talent to fulfil the mission of StarHub. So, it is important to create the right vision and strategy, and then to execute with the right organisational enablement and passion for the customer’s success. Technologies evolve and so will demand, but the constant is the will of the Company to keep on innovating to provide solutions that make our customers successful.

The strategy for our Enterprise business is based on enhancing the current slew of telco and ICT solutions through Enterprise Hubbing, transforming organisations digitally through Digital Hubbing and addressing our business customers’ needs through Vertical Hubbing. Enterprise Hubbing includes cyber security, IoT and robotics, insights and artificial intelligence. They will complement our existing services like enterprise mobility, IT managed services and advertising solutions.

With the global and local companies placing an increasing interest in cyber security, we have made two bold acquisitions to boost our expertise in this field: ASTL and D’Crypt (as of January 2018). These acquisitions will help to widen and deepen our cyber security capabilities to capture a bigger and meaningful share of revenue in this space.

The healthcare sector is growing and can be made more efficient with the right IT solutions. Outside of the healthcare space, the enterprise market is big, dynamic and enlivening.

Next, we have enabled the Enterprise Digital Hubbing, which is essentially about creating marketplaces for enterprises to serve and target customers better. We believe that companies do not just want to come together and do business with each other, they also want to do so in the most efficient and secure platform possible.

To help create one such platform, together with Prudential, we introduced Singapore’s first digital trade platform for SMEs, the Fasttrack Trade (FTT). Built on blockchain technology, the transactions made on the FTT will be fast and secure. We expect more businesses and partners to come join the platform and make the FTT a livelier place.

Lastly, we created Vertical Hubbing as we want to stay focused on selected verticals like the government, financial services industry, hospitality, transport, SMEs, and of course, healthcare. Different industries have varying requirements and needs. We will make sure we have the relevant account managers with the necessary domain knowledge to provide the soundest advice and service to our customers in each of these verticals.

Underlying the three Hubbing layers will be complemented by a high level of customer service experience from us. We strongly believe that for our customers to enjoy the maximum value, the best technical expertise should be matched by the best customer service. 

Enterprise Business Activities
ENABLED

Enterprise Digital Hubbing

What were some of StarHub’s networks innovation that took place in 2017?

In Discussion with

Chong Siew Loong

Chief Technology Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Chong Siew Loong

Chief Technology Officer

My Networks colleagues and I have years of experience working with a group of leading technology partners and equipment vendors on our mobile, HFC (Hybrid Fibre Co-axial) and fixed networks. We are always on the lookout for technical capabilities that makes business sense for our customers and ourselves.

We also make sure our voice is heard as the entire telecommunications industry debates and create new technological standards. For example, we continue to undertake trials of new wireless standards with infrastructure partners such as Nokia, so that we can jointly test how the technologies and systems perform at actual events and locations.

One such pilot we did this past year was at the Marina Bay area, the venue for Singapore’s National Day Parade. The tens of thousands of spectators and performers, each with their own mobile devices, was an ideal launchpad for our latest 4G equipment carrying the 2.5GHz TDD-LTE spectrum; a spectrum which we only acquired in July. We are pleased to report 30% improvement in network capacity. This means we can accommodate sudden, temporary spikes in data carrying capacity and that our mobile subscribers’ usage experience remains good.

Another trial we conducted featured drones equipped with a small cell base station. Imagine a network of flying machines autonomously boosting mobile signals where needed, to ensure connectivity during mega events and emergencies. The dawn of new possibilities excites us, and we will continue to deeply explore experimental technologies to serve our customers better.

The industry is gearing up for the rollout of the next big milestone: 5G. While exact industry standards have yet to be fully firmed up, we can expect many more different ways on how the much bigger mobile data bandwidth can be used. Various industry bodies and operators have marked 2020 as the year for 5G rollout and as this timeframe approaches, we look to introduce a lot more specific solutions and services making good use of this technology to improve the services our customers get to enjoy.

Over the last few years, as part of our progressive rollout and deployment of efficient, future-ready equipment, we have been transforming our backend using cloud and software-defined networking technologies. Our digital transformation allows us to drive efficiency in our IT backend and network management to cater to evolving customers’ expectations and competition.

We have also introduced a wider coverage of 4G services carrying data up to the gigabit-level and beyond. Outside of higher-speed mobile services, we also see significant potential in the IoT space. Which we believe will gain popularity once the 700MHz spectrum is released for use by the regulator.

Lastly, to fuel the growth in the likes of wearables, robotics and sensors, we extended support for eSIM (embedded SIM), NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) and LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) standards last year.

We have introduced a wider coverage of 4G services carrying data up to the gigabit-level and beyond.

How is StarHub refining its marketing activities to make the StarHub brand a more meaningful one?

In Discussion with

Howie Lau

Chief Marketing Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Howie Lau

Chief Marketing Officer

Customers today are flooded with traditional marketing messages wherever they turn. Information has been democratised and it is no longer sufficient to ‘spray and pray’ with marketing messages. It is increasingly important for brands to be able to engage their customers in meaningful ways.

Similarly, at StarHub, we hope to differentiate ourselves as more than just a service provider. We want to engage our customers beyond the transactional level; we hope to appeal to emotions, communicate that we care and we are here to make lives better, and in turn, happier.

A campaign we did in the past year was built on the theme “#LoveNoMatterWhat” in the context of PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) scores – something Singaporeans can empathise with. No fanfare, no special effects, no dizzy camera angles. Rather, we would capture the raw emotions of parents simply sharing their unconditional support and love for their children an hour before the actual PSLE results were released.

As Education Minister Ng Chee Ming shared on his Facebook about this video “Use your grades to guide you, not define you.” This campaign was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and was intended to engage our customers on the theme, ‘Love, No Matter What’.

Another video campaign we produced for National Day 2017, “#RegardlessofColour”, was shown entirely in black and white with many scenes of Singaporeans living side by side regardless of our race or religion. It ties in with the message we are delivering: that Singapore is a multi-racial, multi-religious country in harmony.

We wielded a bit of artistic license here and juxtaposed the Martin Luther King, Jr’s iconic speech “I Have a Dream” in our video. Half a century after his death, the US civil rights leader continues to inspire millions and generations to come. This campaign created many conversations on our amazing multi-cultural country we are very fortunate to have. We believe we were able to inspire a certain level of emotional connection with our customers. 

Marketing Activities

#LOVENOMATTERWHAT

Video Campaign

Consumers are getting more demanding, competitors have also upped their game. What has StarHub done to keep its level of customer service ahead?

In Discussion with

Howie Lau

Chief Marketing Officer

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IN DISCUSSION WITH

Howie Lau

Chief Marketing Officer

Our underlying thinking, which has served us well, remains the same: deliver a high service standard and delight our customers. As we gain better insights into our customers’ lifestyle needs, we constantly improve on our customer service experience.

Customers of today are using all types of channels to engage with us; from offline ways like calling the hotline to online omni-channel means like on a social media platform. To meet their evolving needs, we have changed the way we are organised. We have integrated the various customer service touchpoints, starting from our physical retail centres, to our online contact points, such as our comprehensive My StarHub app.

We have also deliberately blurred job descriptions. Our technical support crew called ‘Hubtroopers’ are not just equipped with screwdrivers and devices for diagnostics, they have been empowered to make the relevant recommendations and sales of our products and services. The whole idea is to put ourselves from our customers’ perspective; when they have a technical issue or a service need that requires help, why go through the various seemingly redundant, and at times, frustrating steps?

When new technologies are available, we are happy to introduce them as well. For example, with algorithms getting more sophisticated, we have introduced chatbots to answer simple questions which customers might have. If the queries happen to be more complicated or urgent, our customer service agents are always ready to jump in and take over.

We have also deliberately blurred job descriptions. Our technical support crew called ‘Hubtroppers’ are not just equipped with screwdrivers and devices for diagnostics, they have been empowered to make the relevant recommendations and sales of our products and services. The whole idea is to put ourselves from our customers’ perspective; when they have a technical issue or a service need that requires help, why go through the various seemingly redundant, and at times, frustrating steps?

When new technologies are available, we are happy to introduce them as well. For example, with algorithms getting more sophisticated, we have introduced chatbots to answer simple questions which customers might have. If the queries happen to be more complicated or urgent, our customer service agents are always ready to jump in and take over.

We no longer look at the customer’s journey with us from a transactional manner but a more holistic one. Instead of clearly demarcated processes, we are creating a seamless ‘episodic’ journey for our customers as we serve them from the start to end.

We are also using an efficient way to build a feedback loop to ensure that we are serving our customers right via the Net Promoter Score. When customers have their queries addressed or services subscribed, we seek feedback by sending them a simple SMS, with just four questions, to rate the service they have just received.

As a testament to our efforts on ensuring customer satisfaction, we are happy to have received top scores for Broadband and TV services, and retained second spot for Mobile service in the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore 2017.

Finally, with our all-inclusive loyalty and rewards program that extends ‘money cannot buy’ experiences to our customers like priority ticket bookings to top music acts, sneak previews to hit movies and privilege meet and greet sessions to popular TV stars, the various enhancements will help put the StarHub customer experience a notch above the competition.

Marketing Activities

My StarHub App

Online Customer Service

As we gain better insights into our customers’ lifestyle needs, we constantly improve on our customer service experience.