THE civil service's loss is the private sector's gain when it comes to former International Enterprise (IE) Singapore chief executive Chong Lit Cheong.
The 55-year-old, who retired from the trade agency last year, will be joining real estate giant CapitaLand as chief executive of its commercial properties unit on Feb 10.
Mr Chong will be taking over as CapitaLand Commercial CEO from Mr Ee Chee Hong, who is on six-months' sabbatical leave, said CapitaLand yesterday.
Mr Ee is expected to assume a new role within the group when he returns in the second half of this year.
CapitaLand president and CEO Liew Mun Leong - himself a former civil servant - said the firm hopes to tap Mr Chong's extensive experience to grow its commercial properties portfolio.
He added that CapitaLand plans to acquire more commercial property sites, after having sold eight of its older commercial buildings in 2006 and 2007.
Mr Chong has nearly 30 years of experience, both in the private and public sectors. He will oversee CapitaLand Commercial's commercial properties in Singapore and other markets including Malaysia, India and Japan.
The former Monbusho (Colombo Plan) scholar became CEO of IE Singapore in 2006, replacing Mr Lee Yi Shyan, who moved into politics and is now Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Manpower.
An electronics engineer by training, Mr Chong had some aspirations to be an academic when he graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1980, but found himself working at the Ministry of Defence instead.
He left the civil service for French oil exploration firm Schlumberger in 1983, but returned to Singapore to join the Economic Development Board (EDB) three years later.
From 1998 to December 2000, he was managing director of the National Science and Technology Board, now the Agency for Science, Technology and Research. Prior to joining IE Singapore, Mr Chong was CEO of JTC Corp.