Robb Report Singapore Thought Leader: Michelle Koh, executive director of Singapore River One

By Robb Report Singapore 30 August, 2023

Meet Michelle Koh, executive director of Singapore River One, and member of the Robb Report Singapore Thought Leaders community

Singapore owes its life to the Singapore River. It is the city’s heart, shaped by history, memories and the country’s immigrants looking to build a better life for themselves. It’s been through plenty, but a team of workers has been putting in the hours, pulling off every placemaking initiative possible to make the Singapore River great again.

Thanks to executive director Michelle Koh and her team at Singapore River One, it is now a destination for both locals and tourists, connecting the country’s rich past to its present. Thanks to the not-for-profit private-public partnership, the river is now a fixture in the city’s mental map and will continue to be so for a very long time. Koh shares more about her passions, the industry and the superpower she’d very much like to have.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

I am passionate about what I do because my work is far from complete. I envision the Singapore River becoming as renowned as the River Thames and River Seine. The potential for making history and creating a legacy motivates me to push boundaries.

What are you most proud of about your company?

Our collaboration with the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2016 to revamp the Boat Quay waterfront was a game-changer. Positioning it as one of Singapore’s premier waterfront destinations was a testament to our company’s role in shaping the city’s landscape.

Where do you see the placemaking industry headed?

I see it thriving and evolving into a prominent force, reshaping urban landscapes across the globe. This sunrise industry holds immense potential to create sustainable, inclusive and culturally rich spaces that will enhance the overall quality of life.

What motivates you?

The desire to make a lasting impact on the world and lives of those I encounter.

What scares you?

The prospect of succumbing to mediocrity, complacency and settling for the status quo. The thought of remaining stagnant terrifies me.

What advice would you give someone already so successful?

Celebrate your achievements, acknowledge your worth and remember that success is not solely defined by external accomplishments. Your happiness and well-being are essential to sustained success and fulfilment.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation. I could unlock the world’s wonders, connect with loved ones and embrace new adventures in a blink of an eye.

Singapore River One

Photography by Eugene Lee, Enfinite Studio

Hair & Makeup by Sophia and Victoria, Suburbs Studio