In an interview with Manisha Seewal, chief marketing officer at Gumtree Australia, she shared her marketing journey and her experience in overcoming preconceptions about all women working in the automotive industry.
“It was my love for cars and technology that made me take a leap of faith and join Carro, which was a young startup in 2018. I wanted to be part of a change where we use data and technology to remove human bias from car buying and selling,” she shared in the ‘Empowered Women’ interview.
Manisha emphasised, “I think that’s the main reason why we need more women to join the industry so we can start changing the narrative.”
During the conversation with Manisha, we asked about her top leadership strategies in ensuring a successful marketing business of a brand, she shared, “[My] top leadership strategies are: Clarity in communication, leaning on your team and enabling them rather than being too prescriptive, owning up if we make a mistake – leaders are just normal people. We should not shy away from owning up if we make a wrong decision, call it out, learn from it and move on.”
“I think it’s important because as leaders, we lean a lot on our teams, to be able to buy into the vision that we have to be able to drive the strategies together and really grow the business together. So clarity and communication are important,” Manisha adds.
In an interview with Melissa Sandhu, deputy general manager of marketing communications at Desaru Coast, she discussed her marketing and communications career path, from a young kid discovering the importance of personal messaging to the marketing leader she is now.
Melissa’s marketing and communication skills led her to work in various industries such as the banking and publishing industry, as well as the advertising and real estate industry until she finally landed in the area of hospitality.
“The ability to bring ideas to life makes me happy, and marketing allows me to do that. I enjoy bridging business goals with marketing outcomes, and I do that by leveraging technology, focusing on value creation and emphasising customer-centricity. And what I enjoy at the heart of it all is the ability to be creative with your storytelling,” Melissa shared in the ‘Empowered Women’ interview.
During the conversation with Melissa, we asked about her marketing and leadership philosophy, she shared, “Part artist, part scientist is how I would define it. Although ROI tends to always be at the forefront in marketing investments, it’s also about fully understanding the brand values, understanding what parameters can be worked around or what parameters can be ‘stretched’, and whether there would be any positive or negative impact on the brand in the long run.
Melissa emphasised, “This also includes the importance of being fully aware of current and emerging trends, yet having the ability to recognise what would or potentially wouldn’t work for the brand. In developing content, I generally use a 3-step framework that focuses on who am I speaking to, where do they consume content, and how can I make them care.”
In a conversation with Angeli Beltran, director of interactive commerce ASEAN & global care centre of excellence at Reckitt, she shares her industry journey and the challenges she faced upon building her marketing career.
Angeli boasts more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications and business management. Of what makes her thrive in handling different market profiles she shared, “I always tell my teams that if we are generalizing, we’re probably not doing the right thing for the consumer because the purpose of digital and CRM is to recognize consumers as individuals and rather than nameless homogeneous cohorts.”
“My role has been really focused on capabilities building, which is equipping and empowering the markets with lasting competency so that they can outperform in their categories and their markets,” Angeli adds.
During the conversation with Angeli, we asked about what remarkable progress in gender equality in the workplace she experienced and how she addressed it, she shared, “You know, the reason why I’m passionate about gender equality is that I’ve experienced firsthand what it means to be a victim of gender inequality.”
Angeli emphasised, “In Reckitt, for example, we believe that gender equality is not just a moral imperative, it’s also good for business. Our focus is to increase the number of women in Reckitt’s leadership. So right now, within Reckitt, men and women have the same level have the same earning opportunity, which is great.”
Currently, Angeli is the sponsor for the Asian chapter of Spark, which is the empowerment of women in digital and e-commerce within Reckitt. This initiative encourages women to learn from the success of other women and build a network of support within the organization. [And also] leveraging that enormous skill set and capabilities that women can bring to the industry.
Women in marketing, media, and technology enterprises are increasingly embracing the reins of their respective organizations. This connotes how women are excellent, not only in management but as well as handling business transformation.
In this podcast episode, we are featuring two industry leaders who are ‘Empowered Women’ in their own way, handling top management and executive level of leadership at Society Pass.
This episode will discuss topics focusing on the career journey and leadership of Arbie Pagdanganan, Philippines country manager & vice president of product development and Pamela Aw-Young, chief operating officer at Society Pass as well as their insights on the recent announcement of SoPa to transform the Philippine market with the strategic purchase of an online grocery platform as part of their Southeast Asian expansion.
Society Pass Incorporated is a Southeast Asian e-commerce loyalty platform that will transform how consumers and businesses in the region engage with one another. With their society points, they are generating long-term client loyalty by adding value to every transaction.
Expansion to the Philippine market
Filipinos have embraced e-commerce like a fish to water, and the market has flourished tremendously over the past years. By 2025, the Philippines’ e-commerce business is predicted to generate $7.67 billion in revenue. Following the SoPa’s $28 million IPO on the stock market, the company has decided to expand to the Philippines.
The announcement comes at a time when the Philippines’ internet economy is predicted to rise by 24% from US$17 billion in 2021 to US$40 billion in 2025, accelerating the rapid growth of delivery services in the country. To date, Pushkart.ph has amassed more than 125,000 registered members, 35,000 social media followers, and more than 20,000 mobile app downloads in the Philippines. For the company to commence operations in the Philippines, acquiring e-commerce based businesses is a necessary first step.
SoPa’s VIP (Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines) regional expansion strategy includes the Philippines as a significant component. By using SoPa’s capital, Pushkart.ph plans on expanding its food delivery services to more people and businesses in the Philippines, starting with Metro Manila.
To further serve its clients SoPa can now provide consumers with even greater value by letting them purchase whenever and wherever they choose, without having to deal with any hassle, through Pushkart.ph. A major objective of the organization is to make it easier for local businesses in the Philippines, both established and start-ups, to expand their reach into the internet marketplace.
Commenting on this strategic step Pamela said, “Philippines is an exciting space for us with a population of 112 million economic growth forecasts 6% new young median age of 26 that represents the future for us. It has a high Internet penetration rate of 67%. What we would like to do is give opportunities to entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, integrate platforms for users, and create efficiencies in this ecosystem.”
SoPa’s aggressive new plans for Pushkart.ph, which include expanding its network of hubs in key cities and regions and boosting its workforce, make this acquisition of this company extremely important to the end customer. By 2022, SoPa hopes to increase the number of registered users to over 300,000 and the number of app downloads to over 150,000 by expanding Pushkart.ph’s technological capabilities. Using Pushkart.ph, Metro Manila residents will be able to get their purchases delivered the following day in 19 cities.
Creating an interconnected loyalty program
Building a reward system that stands out in the world of customer loyalty programs is a huge undertaking for any organization, and it can be a game-changing opportunity if done with care and accuracy.
At its core, SoPa’s primary goal is to keep clients abreast of the most recent goods and services. It is possible to increase customer retention and revenue by building emotional connections with customers and developing long-term relationships with them.
On the subject of SoPa’s priorities and programs, Arbie discussed during the ‘Empowered Women’ interview, “[Because of the sheer number of orders], delivery, and loyalty programs available for virtually every type of business or service, customers are becoming increasingly disenchanted with online shopping. In addition, it is time-consuming and cumbersome to utilize multiple applications or reward programs for different purposes and at different points in the purchasing process. So our business on the consumer-facing side, we aim to integrate everything that you need into just one ecosystem. This is where consumers can easily search books or order anything they want or need, through our values interconnected that works.”
We also asked Arbie on what are the most important verticals that SoPa needs to revisit in terms of customer loyalty and programs, she discussed, that she would revisit food and beverage and as well as lifestyle verticals.
Arbie highlighted, “So in theory, rewarding the customer’s loyalty is a great way to boost customer interaction and engagement for a business. So we do think that this is one way for them to be a frequent customer, right. But actually, from the customer’s perspective, sometimes it’s challenging to redeem the points awarded to them. Take restaurants, for example, the only time a customer can redeem points is when they return to the restaurant that awarded the points to them. And normally, a person does not eat at the same restaurant every day unless they have limited options.”
“Furthermore, most loyalty points have an expiration date as well and this withholds consumers to maximize or enjoy their points. So I believe that for a loyalty program to be effective, it has to be interconnected and accessible. Like the number of points I earn at store A, I can also spend it at store B,” Arbie adds.
Pamela also shared her tips for brands when it comes to creating loyalty programs, “Think beyond value creation. Consumers always look for choices and variety as Arbie said earlier. But connecting with other like-minded businesses, you can grow your business faster and drive efficiencies. This is what our ecosystem is all about.”
SoPa as a female-dominated company
Alongside SoPa’s expansion is its commitment to promote equality and diversity for women in the organization. With the two highest positions occupied by a female, it tells how SoPa is a company that values gender equality.
We also made sure not to miss Arbie’s take on how SoPa came to encourage gender equality and diversity in the workplace.
Arbie underscored, “To be transparent, we are a very diverse and inclusive organization. And we believe that it creates a huge impact on our productivity and success. So take, for example, in a male-dominated industry, like tech and operations, we don’t exclusively really look for men, nor do we seek women actively. But of course, it’s a breath of fresh air if a woman applies, like, for example, for a tech position, because that doesn’t usually happen. But really, all we care about is if the candidate shares our vision, passion and mindset.”
Meanwhile, Pameladiscussed the importance and influence of women in marketing decisions, she shared, “Well, there are two forces driving the retail landscape, women and technology. Women drive 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions and are great influencers. Even before the time of social media. Women are great at spreading information through word of mouth, e-commerce combines retail and technology which makes it interesting. Who understands women best? It takes one to know one.”
During the conversation with Arbie and Pamela, we asked them about their advice to those who want to become part of SOPA, Arbie said, “In terms of what advice I can give for them to have an edge to be selected. Actually, we equally value technical skills with both soft skills and attitude. So having an entrepreneurial spirit with a clearer sense of ownership, and if they have our results and data-driven and being able to adapt it to a fast-paced environment, will give them the upper hand. And also we would love to work with people with the ‘right now’ mindset [or simply being diligent and persistent].”
Arbie emphasised, “Our culture at SOPA is something we are incredibly proud of, we get to spend our time collaborating with warm, talented and motivated colleagues. So what we are currently looking for is expanding our marketing. So that includes digital marketing, search engine optimization, and content managers, for example. And we would also want to expand our business development and customer support teams.”
In a conversation with Charlotte Ward, founder of Agnes Media, she shared her entrepreneurial background, which fueled her desire to one day establish her own business.
Even as a teenager in secondary school, Charlotte was able to demonstrate this character, when she developed her own business plan and launched her own organic soap company. Fast forward to her professional career, she built the Agnes Media we now have today through tremendous effort, starting as a freelancer and taking contract works.
“I always felt that we can do things better ourselves after working in various large agency corporations,” Charlotte adds.
During the conversation with Charlotte, we asked about her philosophy in leadership, by which she shared, “Empathy and transparency are at the core of my leadership style, I think this is [something many leaders missed], without this, you’re really just a business owner or a manager, you’re not a true leader.”
Charlotte emphasized, “Leadership is not something that I developed overnight, definitely, when I started out my career I was not the best manager and it’s something that comes with mentorship and learning and being able to admit to yourself when you’ve made a mistake.”
In a conversation with Raushida Vasaiwala, general manager for Asia-Pacific at Celtra, Inc., she shares her career trajectory and what motivated her to pursue the marketing and tech industry.
“I grew up in a family of businessmen so entrepreneurship quite comes akin to my nature. So there was this constant internal push of leading business that would help me pursue my varied passion in advertising, brand communication, art, and technology, ” she shared in the ‘Empowered Women’ interview.
Raushida believes that having a different career from the degree of specialisation is perfectly fine, especially if you have developed a new interest or have better self-awareness.
“So essentially love what you do and do what you love,” she remarked.
During the conversation with Raushida, we asked about her marketing journey and her leadership, and she shared, “A mentor in my family guided me to explore digital marketing especially the adtech and martech ecosystem.”
“As leaders, we need to ensure that our teams are upskilled and kept abreast with the latest tools that can help in driving better business outcomes,” Raushida adds.
Meanwhile, Raushida strongly urges marketers to re-evaluate the implementation process of their marketing activities and do a deep dive to look for areas that keep them from achieving their goals.
In a conversation with Azadeh Williams, founder and managing partner at AZK Media, she talked about her path to founding AZK Media including previous stints as a global journalist, lecturer, and living out her passion for marketing and public relations before finally deciding to establish her own.
“It all started with a laptop, myself, and a dream. [After two years], [my spouse], a design and technology professor and investor, and I formed a partnership and [hired a slew of talented people]. [And now] we’ve served [plenty of clients] from all over the globe,” she shared in the ‘Empowered Women’ interview.
Azadeh emphasised, “Before I was a journalist, I was also a lawyer and being a lawyer really helped me understand accountability, transparency, contract negotiation, a lot of the wider business setup and structures that you really do need to be able to set up a framework and scale a business.”
During the interview with Azadeh, we asked about her most challenging experience as a mother and as a professional, and she shared, “My husband and I, we have a very modern relationship. I feel like [being a good example] for our daughter, [will help her understand] that we’re definitely pushing all the boundaries that are what is expected from women and men in relationships and in business.
“You know, when you’re servicing clients around the world across nine different time zones while also trying to spend meaningful time with your family, I believe delegating is a necessity. That’s for sure,” Azadeh adds.
Listen to the full conversation with Azadeh over on YouTube, where she talks about her leadership philosophy as well as her advice for women marketers struggling in finding a balance between personal and professional life.
In a conversation with Eileen Ooi, the chief executive officer of Omnicom Media Group Malaysia, she shares her career journey which began with working in different media agencies including Starcom, Mindshare, Carat, Maxus, PHD. Her job experience at several media agency firms has aided her in shaping her career into the chief executive officer she is today.
In college, Eileen did not receive full support from her mother but she still persisted in following her passion for marketing and advertising.
“Self-belief can take you far or it can limit you as much as you want it to be. So for me I think just be fearless and courageous and go out there and [break your limits],” Eileen adds.
During the conversation with Eileen, we asked about her journey in working as a leader in the media agency industry, and she shared, “When you become a leader, let’s say director the way you need to manage your team is very different, you learn with leadership authority versus leadership with influence and thinking whether to take an empathetic route or a task route. It is the transformative moment where you actually become aware of who you are and where your gaps are and opportunities and strengths.”
Meanwhile, Eileen also discussed how media agencies and media planning have changed, she explained, “We no longer just think about how do we win the consumers over but we also need to think about how do we win the algorithm and how do we outsmart the algorithm to ensure that our campaign will be the most effective and also the most efficient way of delivering it as well.”
Watch the full conversation with Eileen Ooi over on YouTube, where Eileen shares further on her best leadership practices as well as her insights on how the landscape of the media affects consumer behaviour.
In a conversation with Vasuta Agarwal, the senior vice president & managing director for Asia Pacific of InMobi, she shares the career journey she’s had, from starting off as a chip design engineer at Intel, then climbing into the senior vice president & managing director at InMobi, and how she continues to champion for women in the world of marketing.
Vasuta boasts more than 10 years of experience in the marketing tech space. Of what makes her thrive in different roles she managed, she shares, “I was fortunate to try different [functions] and [roles] and I think all of these different roles really helped me to get a holistic understanding of the business and help make my transition to advertising technology.”
“I think it’s very important for women to [explore] and in order to sort of compete or survive you need to keep yourself continuously being updated and prepared for every new role and challenge and never stop learning because it’s the only way to thrive in competitive environments,” Vasuta adds.
During the conversation with Vasuta, we asked about her leadership and management journey, and she shared, “As a leader, I feel like I really need to create other leaders, I should not create followers that’s not my job as a leader but to create more leaders and enable other people in their leadership journey.”
“In management, it is really important to trust people to do the right thing because when you create that trust then they feel empowered to make the right decisions. Then you can encourage them to dream big to take risks, to take big bets,” Vasuta said.
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