Singapore, Wednesday the 13th, the last days of disco. Desiree Koh was born and raised where the endless summer makes it possible to dine al fresco on the best street food in the world and play softball (and tennis, and run, and beach volleyball, and…) all year round. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Journalism from Northwestern University, with a concentration in magazine writing and editing, emerging unscathed from and decorated by the Medill School boot camp.
The write stuff. Desiree scribes for a variety of international travel magazines such as Silver Kris (Singapore Airlines’ in-flight magazine), Sawasdee (Thai Airways’ in-flight) and enVoyage (Eva Air’s in-flight), covering everything from dining and drinking to pop culture and serious business (seriously). Like the strike zone of a baseball umpire who needs new glasses, Desiree’s beat extends as much as is fit to publish. Her chapters on nightlife, fashion, wellness and walking tours in Singapore will soon be seen in the upcoming Louis Vuitton – City Guide for her hometown. She also contributes features to whitebook (ultra-luxe lifestyle quarterly – serves as editor as well), STORM (a supremely well-crafted literary narrative journal in Singapore), SO/HO (an urban living magazine), among many others. A recent favorite assignment was covering Bruce Springsteen shows in Melbourne and Helsinki for Backstreets, and Desiree is also particularly proud of serving as managing editor of PhotoYou (a Reader’s Digest photography magazine). She has also contributed chapters to books on business personalities and food cultures. From CNBC Closing Bell reporter Maria Bartiromo, CNN renegade Richard Quest and wine guru Robert Parker to Icelandic putrefied shark, an eating road trip across northern Thailand and the best 48 hours one can spend in Amsterdam, Desiree has covered them all.
Doing copy right. Crafting copy for the best hotels in the world, Desiree works with Starwood Hotels’ W Hotels, The St. Regis Hotels and Sheraton in launching new properties or fine-tuning their texts into brand context. She has also worked with Turkey’s Hillside Hotels, the coolest resorts on the Mediterranean coast, bringing their personalities to life. Coast to coast from South Beach to Scottsdale and longitude to latitude from Istanbul to Goa, the best part of the job is collaborating with international teams of hotel marketers, web content producers and brand managers. Time zones? That’s so Lost finale.
In former P.R. agency life, Desiree worked with The Harbinger Group, a collective of former Ketchum brain trust. For her work with ethics consultancy LRN, she led a team to a Gold SABRE nomination for excellence in corporate media relations. At Ogilvy, Desiree serviced accounts ranging from Bausch & Lomb and Lipton Tea to Playmobil and LG Electronics. As part of the Arthur Andersen team at Ketchum (ask her about that P.R. story), Desiree won accolades such as the Publicity Club of Chicago’s Silver Trumpet, the Public Relations Society of America’s Skyline Award and the Women in Public Relations’ Obelisk Award – recognition for the execution of robust media relations programs.
Desiree’s earliest travel memory is building sandcastles on a Balinese beach at age four, and most recently scaled to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and cycled up Brittany’s Emerald Coast in search of Cancale oysters. She has peaked Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, one of the world’s seven highest summits, and has trekked across the Annapurna range in the Himalayas. She saw her 40th Bruce Springsteen show in Melbourne this spring and witnessed the E Street Band’s longest show in history in Helsinki, 2012. While not playing as much softball and tennis as she can, Desiree has completed eight marathons (recently a 3:54 Amsterdam finish in 2012 and the Great Wall Marathon in 2011, considered one of the world’s five toughest races) and two half-Ironman events. She has represented the Singapore Recreational Club in international softball tournaments from Thailand to China, competed in the same Major League Eating contest as Kobayashi, has set the high score in several Pac-Man machines in pizza parlors, and aspires to qualify for the National Scrabble Tournament in the near future.