More than three decades of excellence: Tan Joo Tong’s remarkable career at AIS is a testament to his timeless dedication. Uncover the driving force behind his enduring commitment to AIS.

In the Spotlight

Interview with Tan Joo Tong, Senior Consultant

Q1. Could you please share a brief overview of your career journey within AIS? How many years have you been with the Company?

I have been with the company for 35 years, rising from the grade of Senior QS to become an Executive Director prior to retirement at the end of November 2016 and thereafter coming back to work part-time as a Senior Consultant at the request of the Senior Management. 

Q2. What drew you to AIS originally?

The status of AIS as the leading QS Consultancy in Singapore and the opportunities to work on diverse projects in the private and public sectors were the key factors that drew me to join the company.

Q3. What were some significant milestones or turning points that you experienced during your time here?

The company being the first QS Consultancy in Singapore to secure ISO 9000 certification and opportunities to be part of the Team to lead the Cost Control function for the Suntec City Project (largest commercial, retail, convention and exhibition development in Singapore during the late 1980s) and being the Director for the Team working on Singapore Management University City Campus in Bras Basah Road and Victoria Street (the only City University  Campus in Singapore) were the significant milestones in my experience with the Company. 

Q4. How has the AIS’s culture evolved during your tenure?

The culture of AIS had evolved from being a partnership dealing purely with cost management for residential and commercial developments to a multi-faceted cost, contract and project management consultancy with international linkage dealing with infrastructure, commercial, retail, residential, healthcare, hospitality, industrial, data centres and resorts developments. 

Q5. What is one thing that you wish people knew about your job?

I wish to let people know that our job is not limited only to cost and financial management but also covering development management and working with the Clients and other Consultants on innovative procurements and improving productivity through promoting communication, collaboration, cooperation and mutual trust to achieve alignment of objectives amongst all the stakeholders involved in a project.

Q6. What do you enjoy most about working here?

The freedom to do things right and the trust and confidence of Management in giving me the space and freedom to perform our professional services.

Q7. What do you look forward to most when you come to work every day?

I look forward to working with staff to impart knowledge on good professional practice so they would do things right the first time.

Q8. Have you had the opportunity to work with or be mentored by any influential leaders in AIS? If yes, how did they impact your career?

I was fortunate to work directly with all the Senior Management Teams through the evolution of the business from a partnership to an international multi-professional consultancy. Their trust and confidence in me, led to my having opportunities to continuously improve my professional skills.

Q9. Have you taken on a mentorship role within AIS? If so, what are some lessons you’ve passed on to others?

I had mentored many QSs over the years, enabling them to move up the corporate ladder from basic QS grade to Senior Directors. The key lesson I passed to them is to be honest and professional in dealing with Clients, Consultants and Contractors to gain their respect and trust. 

Q10. How has working for AIS influenced your personal and professional development?

AIS is a good Employer who cares about my personal and professional development and recognises my contributions.

Q11. Are there any specific skills or qualities you’ve gained through your experiences here?

Besides professional skills, I also learned the soft skills of being kind and compassionate to all Team Members and Clients, Consultants and Contractors to gain their trust and respect.

Q12. How has the industry evolved during your time at AIS, and how has AIS adapted to these changes?

Over the past thirty years, the construction industry evolved from one based purely on projects being designed entirely by Consultants engaged by the Clients to embrace design and build and develop and construct by Contractors leading to less delay in the completion of the various projects and reduction in variation claims.

Q13. What are the most significant challenges and opportunities for AIS in the future?

The most significant challenge for AIS is to make our company the choice of our Clients for cost and contract management as well as project and programme management services. There are opportunities for us to strengthen our position as a market leader and innovator in procurement to improve the productivity of the whole construction processes.   

Q14. Are there any heartwarming or amusing anecdotes from your early days at AIS that you’d like to share?

The consolation and praise from the bosses for working with a client and his team of design consultants to control the cost of a residential project to below market level during the East Asia Economic Crisis in 1997 so that the construction could still proceed at a time when most of the projects were suspended.

Q15. What has been your most meaningful accomplishment so far?

The most meaningful accomplishment in my working with the company is to secure continuous commissions from a client for all their projects, big or small.  

Q16. Could you share some of the most memorable projects or events you were a part of during your career at AIS?

Singapore Post Centre and Singapore Management University City Campus were the most memorable projects in my career at AIS as they enabled me to help overcome lots of issues not normally encountered in other projects, such as changing difficult clients at the early stage of the design to become our supporters through recognition of our unique skills in helping on resolving issues of budgets and site constraints.

Q17. Were there any challenges you faced during those projects, and how were they overcome?

The projects were in delay during the first half of the construction period, and I guided the Clients on the soft approach to adopt to incentivise the Contractors to eventually expedite the progress to achieve timely completion. 

Q18. What has motivated you to stay with AIS for so many years? Is it work satisfaction, culture, colleagues, leadership, or others?

A conducive work environment and understanding bosses.

Q19. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in your career?

I would not do anything differently due to the job satisfaction and recognition of my effort by the bosses.

Q20. What have been some of the most important lessons you have learned throughout your career?

Maintaining calmness under pressure. 

Q21. What would your perfect weekend look like?

Spending time with my loved ones.

Q22. Describe an interesting hobby or pastime that you have.

My favourite hobby is reading articles about construction and global developments online.

Q23. What’s something surprising that not many people know about you?

My hot temperament. 

Q24. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career at AIS?

Be patient and spend a few years developing professional skills through on-the-job mentoring and attending training conducted by AIS.

Q25. Are there any key values or principles that you believe have contributed to your success here?

Safeguarding the interests of Clients and being honest in admitting mistakes.

Q26. What industry changes or trends do you think will have the biggest impact?

Digitalisation and decarbonisation to control climate change would significantly impact the built environment sector.  

In the past 35 years at AIS, the company’s culture had evolved from being a partnership dealing purely with cost management to a multi-faceted consultancy serving multiple sectors.
Tan Joo Tong, Asia Infrastructure Solutions
Joo Tong is more than a seasoned professional; he’s a cornerstone of AIS, bringing over 30 years of unparalleled expertise in cost planning, procurement, and cost management services. Since joining AIS in 1988, Joo Tong has been instrumental in shaping the success of our company, working diligently for various private and public sector clients across Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. His consistent excellence, innovative approach, and commitment to client satisfaction have not only contributed to AIS’s growth but have also set a high standard within the industry. Joo Tong’s legacy within AIS is a testament to his passion and relentless pursuit of excellence.

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