NOV 26, 2000


     The Straits Times, Singapore

New economy, new titles

The whizz-kids of the new economy have become so creative that such job titles as detonator, flame thrower and rocket scientist are the in thing

By R. Senthilnathan

IF THOSE who meet Ms Chris Holten-Hempel raise their eyebrows for a moment they can be pardoned, because her visiting card introduces her as Chief Detonator at SparkPR, a California-based public relations firm.

What, after all, does a detonator do in a public relations firm?

Well, neither the 31-year-old former Netscape executive nor her PR firm has anything to do with explosives. Her job, like that of her company, is to map out public relations strategies for Internet companies.

'My primary goal is to help Internet companies explode into the scene,' says Ms Holten-Hempel, who co-founded the firm almost two years ago.

Among her customers is, a global marketing site where people could offer or bid for a wide range of products - from writing to selling computers.

Just as the so-called new economy has created new technologies, and new jobs to handle them, it has also paved the way, at least in the US, for spectacularly creative job titles.

Initially, the new technology titles that raised eyebrows were Web-Master, Content Editor and Web Developer - titles which have since become universally recognised.

Now, it appears, the whizz-kids of the new economy have become even more creative. Fastcompany, a Boston-based magazine monitoring trends in the world of work, has listed a number of interesting titles, such as Chief Acceleration Officer, Chief Imagination Officer and Director of Fun. There is even a Creatologist.

Mr Nicolas Grahams, founder-head of Boxer Joe, a California-based underpants firm, calls himself as Chief Underpants Officer.

And if one were to give an award to the company with the most creative job titles, it would perhaps be SparkPR.

The person responsible for the launch of Internet firms calls herself Rocket Scientist, while another calls herself Flame Thrower - she is the firm's facilities manager, human resource consultant, computer help and desk and executive assistant.

Another company that can compete with SparkPR is the Seattle-based, which creates New Media infrastructure for streaming companies.

Its founder and chief executive officer, Martin Tobias, is Minister of Law and Reason while its chief financial officer is appropriately named Minister of Dollars and Sense.

Ms Holten-Hempel says that new titles such as hers - all her co-workers are allowed to choose their own titles - promote equality.

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