Over-achieving millennials give us career advice

Three nominees (who are all under 30 by the way!) for the IAS Hall of Fame Awards tell us how they got ahead in their marketing careers

Over-achieving millennials give us career advice
Over-achieving millennials give us career advice
23 Nov 2017

Over-achieving millennials give us career advice

Over the past 17 years, the Institute of Advertising (IAS) Hall of Fame Awards celebrate rising stars in the industry, including a category of nominees under 30 who have performed above and beyond what is expected from people in their age group. Since it’s not always easy to succeed in your field when you’re first starting out, we talked to three finalists for Young Talent Of The Year in Marketing – an award for those under 30, with less than 3 years of relevant experience –  to find out their stories, and to glean some wisdom on how to get ahead. 

The Institute of Advertising Singapore (IAS) Hall of Fame 2017 Awards will take place on 24 November 2017. 

Adeline Tan, Scoot
Adeline Tan, Scoot
23 Nov 2017

Adeline Tan, Scoot

Age: 29

Don’t be afraid to pursue progress, even if it means starting all over again in a new line of work.

Q: How did you end up in this industry?
I actually started with media sales. From there, I came to interact with a lot of brands, and that’s when I realised I wanted to be on the client side – the decision making and marketing side – creating messages that resonate with people. I sought for opportunities, then eventually went into Singtel dealing with customer management. Yet, I continued to seek opportunities in full-fledged marketing. I’ve always sought out work that relates to me – media relates to me, telcos relate to me, and travel relates to me. So when this job with Scoot came up, I grabbed it, and I’m very glad to be given the opportunity. You need to make progress in different parts of your life, so over the past 5 to 6 years, I progressed from selling to people, selling to customers, and then to selling stories that appeal to customers. I could have done sales for 20 or 30 years, but that’s not the only thing I wanted to do in life.

Mine your love life for ideas

Where do you get your inspiration?
I keep track of trending topics so that with every campaign that we roll out, we can create a message that resonates with people. Recently, I worked on a campaign called “Fly Out Of The Friend Zone” to get Singaporeans to fly to Perth. Rather than just telling people what to do, we rode on a trending topic – ambiguous couples who are in the friend zone, so that people can perceive Perth as romantic and be inspired to go there. This was the first “above the line” (mass media promotion) campaign that I did when I joined Scoot, and it took a lot of planning, but our video got a lot of views and more engagement than on our usual Australia route campaigns. Even with my own friends, I didn’t need to explain the campaign – they watched the video and they got it. When you create a message that is inspiring, and that gets people talking, you feel very happy and glad that your efforts are being recognised not just by bosses, but by actual customers. 

Adeline Tan, Scoot
Adeline Tan, Scoot
23 Nov 2017

Adeline Tan, Scoot

Success doesn’t necessarily mean working 24/7/365

Describe your lifestyle
I don’t stay very late. I knock off around 7-ish, then reply to really urgent emails at home. I believe in work-life balance. I make sure I eat healthily, I exercise twice a week, and I always go out and meet people. I try not to do work on the weekends unless it is really urgent, so that I can feel fresh and energised before Monday.

Resist cynicism

What advice would you have for people entering this industry?
Fresh grads need to be humble. School is different from the real world. Marketing might seem all glam and nice, but there’s a lot of late nights and getting your hands dirty. Be very humble and willing to learn. For people who are transitioning from another industry, be constructive. After working for 3 to 4 years, you can be a bit negative and think that things cannot be done, but in marketing, you need to be open to different opinions and able to come up with alternate solutions.

Ester Lam, OCBC Bank
Ester Lam, OCBC Bank
23 Nov 2017

Ester Lam, OCBC Bank

Age: 27

Go for a job that gives you exposure

Q: As someone who works in the digital marketing team, how does the reality of this job stack up against what you expected?

What I really like about my job in OCBC is that it covers not only digital media, which was what I was doing before I joined, but it allows me to expand the breadth of my knowledge beyond media. Now I get to do a bit of content, because there’s social, and I am involved more with customer experience (every time three is a new webpages, websites to launch, I work with this team to draw out the user journey). I also get to do HTML and coding, which is something I didn’t really get to experience prior to this. As part of the e-biz team, I can even dabble in traditional offline marketing. I really appreciate the expanded breadth of knowledge this job has given me.

You’ll need to work really hard in order to win over the skeptics

What are the most challenging parts of your job?
Skepticism. Because I work in digital, trying to convince people to adopt new digital tools, or to try different ways in digital, is still a challenge sometimes because a lot of people are not familiar with how digital works. Every day there is something new that is coming out. The whole journey of trying to get people to come out with test plans, and evaluate whether they work, is still a challenge that we’re trying to solve internally, but it has gotten a lot better. Everyone can see the results of digital. The key is to have a very good test plan and to bring in the right people to execute your plan so that you can show results and have a good case study. 

Ester Lam, OCBC Bank
Ester Lam, OCBC Bank
23 Nov 2017

Ester Lam, OCBC Bank

Take big risks, even if they sound crazy

What are some of the most gratifying parts of your job? What makes the intensity worth it?
One of the most gratifying times occurred this year was when we launched the PayNow campaign. This was a special campaign because it was an industry-wide product. All the banks were launching it at the same time and everyone was focusing on acquisition and signups because once you sign up with one bank, the other bank has basically lost you. How we would differentiate ourselves from other banks? We knew that all the other banks focused on usual promotions, like the first 10,000 would get $5, but because we had a crazy KPI to hit, we decided to give an over the top lucky draw, of $50,000. The response in the first week was already 100,000 signups, which was one third of the KPI that we were supposed to hit at the end of 1 year.

Work with someone who will mentor you

Tell us about the factors or people who helped you succeed
One factor to my success was having very good mentors at the start of my career. They were very key in my career progression, because to me, they are role models when it comes to basically wanting to improve themselves and not being complacent with where they are. And being able to work with many different stakeholders has also built my people skills.

When I was still working in an agency, I had to work with clients and at the same time manage different agencies and publishers to launch campaigns. Then when I went over to Citibank, and now OCBC, I had to manage internal as well as external parties. It was a totally different ball game, so having a very good network and support system helped to move things along easier.

 

Poh Si Jie Angeline, Daikin Air-conditioning
Poh Si Jie Angeline, Daikin Air-conditioning
23 Nov 2017

Poh Si Jie Angeline, Daikin Air-conditioning

Age: 28

A smile can land you the job

Q: How did you end up in this industry?
I’ve always wanted to do marketing because I’m a people person. Before Daikin, I had no idea what air-conditioning was about and had no technical background. But I went through two rounds of interviews, where they found out more about my personality. The feedback I got is that I am a positive person with a certain passion for things. My now-boss said that I was smiling throughout and that I can bring [that spirit] to the team.

You might need to unlearn what you learned in school

What were some expectations about life in the marketing industry that you had before joining, and how does your actual experience compare?
A lot of times when you come up with ideas, you think, “I’m going to do this, and this is what I’m going to achieve, and I’m going to measure it this way” because that’s what you learned in your marketing course in school. But once you start working, you realise that measuring is not always that simple. We have figures from various media owners, but they’re not always accurate. For instance, we can know how many people pass by a billboard, but these people can also pass by and not see, or pass by and not register what’s on it. So what we do now is get feedback from actual people. We wait for them to tell us, “Oh we’ve seen this particular ad.” Of course we still rely on the data that comes in, but sometimes we have to ask ourselves if all these measuring tactics are really effective. If you do something new, and there’s zero feedback, well (chuckles).  

Poh Si Jie Angeline, Daikin Air-conditioning
Poh Si Jie Angeline, Daikin Air-conditioning
23 Nov 2017

Poh Si Jie Angeline, Daikin Air-conditioning

Talk to your Grab and Uber drivers

Q: How has this job changed your lifestyle?
Most of my friends say, “Angeline works 24 hours!” I start work at 8:30 am, and leave at 8 pm, but even when I’m not at work, I’m always thinking about work. I don’t call it being a workaholic though, it’s just that I have a passion for my work. I can work on the road. As in, when a taxi drives by and I realise “OMG, the sticker on the back is peeling off,” I feel affected, like maybe the branding is not there, and I take a picture so that I can rectify it. Or if I’m taking Grab or Uber, I would want to find out more [about brand awareness] even if I’m just talking to one person. I try to ask them questions, like which aircon do they use, in a casual way. People say I’m networking every day! And sometimes at weekend roadshows, marketing will still go down even though it’s more of a sales event, because you can hear the questions that customers have.

Don’t take feedback and disagreements personally

What should people be prepared for when they enter this industry?

When you want to launch a certain idea, management might think differently, or people you are selling your product to might have an expectation or opinion that you don’t agree with, but you must find a way to convince them. For instance, with the ‘5 Ticks’ jingle – previously, Daikin has been known as a very premium brand, used in offices or by celebrities, and when the dealers heard about the song, they thought, “We are premium – can we really do this?” But we understand that as a brand, we cannot just be happy in the commercial zones, we have to go into the residential zones and change the customer’s mindset. 

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