James is often seen sporting a hat of some sort, which hints at the great many he wears as a fitness advocate, a singer, a stage actor, HGTV host… He’s even an accomplished, self-taught interior designer with an impressive portfolio of high-profile creative clients who have entrusted their homes to him. Of the many hats James wears, however, the one he’s most known for is being one of the industry’s top talent recruiters.
For proof of this, look no further than the team he’s built. James isn’t just passionate about building businesses, but also the careers of the people behind these businesses.
Just like the vampire Lestat from Anne Rice’s novels, James is ageless, and has handpicked just about every member of his team, turning them from passionate industry members to recruiters. Their actual, impressive industry experience allows them to better understand and empathise with the needs of their clients and candidates, setting them apart from most other recruiters, a huge reason why his namesake agency is one of – if not the – best in the region.
James prides himself in not only understanding the industry, but also the people in it. Anyone can take notes over a coffee, or follow a candidate’s awards journey in industry media. But that doesn’t mean you’ll know they actually want to move. James listens – beyond coffees and hearsay – as a friend who understands their motivations. That’s why having James Kenneth Koh by your side gives you visibility as to when people are ready to join you.
James is always looking to grow the team at James Kenneth Koh, so feel free to drop James a note to schedule a coffee, karaoke session, crossfit workout… Unlike Lestat, James doesn’t bite!
Connect with James Kenneth Koh
“James and his team are long-standing partners of ours at BBH in Singapore. Because of this, he understands our brand, our standards and is well-placed to judge who is likely to prosper with us. ”
“JKK is a trusted partner that understands business and people.”
“My name is Andrea Ross and I’m a corporate trainer and executive coach at The Career Establishment.”
“I have known James for a long time, and he has always managed to answer my brief with great and unique candidates.”
“I met James right at the beginning of my advertising journey.”
James and his team are long-standing partners of ours at BBH in Singapore. Because of this, he understands our brand, our standards and is well-placed to judge who is likely to prosper with us. It probably also helps that once – many moons ago – he was also an Account Director at BBH. His knowledge of the Singaporean landscape in terms of talent is likewise comprehensive. It's these factors that make the recruitment process so productive with JKK. Recommended!
JKK is a trusted partner that understands business and people. I remember talking about future business plan for hours before we even started discussing talents. This type of conversation does not easily happen unless the partner fully understands the business you’re in. This is JKK.
I love JKK’s “can do” spirit, no matter how challenging the search may be. Group of fun folks too!
My name is Andrea Ross and I’m a corporate trainer and executive coach at The Career Establishment. I first reached out to James at James Kenneth Koh in 2019, when he was recommended to me as someone I had to meet to have as a guest on my podcast Talent Talk Asia. What struck me immediately when I first met James was the warmth and down-to-earth attitude he possesses. Before long, an hour had passed and I felt like we had known each other for years. That first meeting has led to James being a guest on the show, as well as JKK engaging in leadership & team-building training activities. James isn’t like most recruitment leaders, he comes to every interaction with a sense of curiosity and passion, displaying high levels of EQ and a strong belief that nothing is impossible.
I have known James for a long time, and he has always managed to answer my brief with great and unique candidates. The successes I have had in the past can be linked to the candidates JKK has either brought to me or assisted with in the past. I would not hesitate working with them again.
I met James right at the beginning of my advertising journey. And while he didn't place me till much later, he was very much present the entire 17 years with great career advice, nurturing coffee chats as well as brutally honest feedback (important!). James played a key role in elevating my post-baby advertising career not once but twice. These roles have taken me to a wonderful point in my career today.
People know me for being the Founder of James Kenneth Koh.
People don’t know that I am an Introvert by nature. However, I’ve learned to adapt for work, so now i’m more of an ambivert (or outgoing introvert!).
A job I’ve had that nobody knows about is when I worked front desk at the Oriental Mandarin Singapore, handling keys and information. I did this for 2 years, before managing to secure a study loan to pursue my Bachelor of Commerce Degree at the University of Calgary.
When I was 12, I wanted to be a singer or fashion designer.
I start my day by feeding my 2 cats at 6:30 in the morning.
My favourite time of day is the end of the work day – because that’s my fitness time – be it running, HIIT or weight lifting.
My favourite JKK moment is when I decided to shift gears, going from being an employee to being an entrepreneur, starting JKK.
My motivation is very different from when I started my advertising career back in 1994. Now, my motivation is to achieve and maintain a state of happiness both personally and professionally. What that means is trying, to the best of my abilities, to engage in positive relationships.
My personal hero is my mum. I was raised by a single parent. She is just an amazing lady. She did not have much, but has touched and impacted so many people around her unconsciously through her actions, her food and by just being who she is – through her nature.
The last person I spoke to on the phone was my ‘office wife’ Linah – who is my right hand person at work. She keeps me on track and supports me in so many ways, which allows me to focus on building the business.
The last text I sent was to the team to accept our coffee break which we’re holding virtually as we are all currently working from home.
My drink of choice would be an ice-lemon tea (less sweet). If we’re talking alcoholic then it would be a lychee martini.
You’ll never see me without my mobile phone.
My work from home situation is great, I actually enjoy working from home because I am able to focus and get more things done. Spoken like a true introvert.
When i’m not at work I’m usually at home nesting or engaged in some fitness activity.
The one talent I wish I had is the ability to play the piano.
My pet peeve is toxic personalities.
Cat or dog? I love animals but given the hours I put in at work – I will now say that I am more of a cat person. I currently have 2 cats: a Scottish Fold called Simba and a Maine Coon called Coonchye.
If I wasn’t a headhunter, I would be an architect or interior designer. I love creating beautiful spaces for people to live in.
The top 3 things on my bucket list are more travel (e.g. Amalfi Coast), maintaining a state of healthy mental, spiritual and physical well-being, and positive relationships – otherwise why do we keep ourselves busy doing what we are doing?
My biggest fear is heights.
Having been through SARS, 9/11, and the Global Financial Crisis, James speaks from a wealth of experience, leaving you with practical tips and advice to help you “ride out the storm” of Covid-19.
You know what you’re looking for. A good search firm will know who you’re looking for.
We might be good, but we’re not that good. Recruitment isn’t magic, it’s a process. And we all have a part to play.
People work best when they’re seen, valued and treated right.
Frustrated with your boss? You’re not alone. But understanding his or her working style could benefit the both of you in more ways than you think.
Our business is evolving, and so is the language. Here’s a little Rosetta Stone of sorts to help you talk the talk.
It’s not a competition. Fostering a good collaborative relationship either way can lead to better efficiency – and even better hires.
Diversity and inclusivity in the work place is great. But it means so much more when approached with sincerity.