Juinn Tan, LinkedIn, Women In Marketing (Yellow)
Women In Marketing

Women In Marketing 2020 Edition ft. Juinn Tan from Supahands

For this segment of Women In Marketing we had a chat with Juinn who is actually our very first Malaysian candidate! Excited we are. Juinn is the Head of Marketing at Supahands. When she’s not busy with work, you can find her on Twitch flexing her gaming muscle. Let’s learn more about her

LET’S GET PERSONAL

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, JUINN. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?

I was born in a small(ish) city in Malaysia called Malacca which is known for its history and, some might even argue, the best food in Malaysia. 2 distinct memories stand out for me:

I think I was roughly around 3-4 years of age and playing with my Barbie Dolls when my dad walked over to me and said: “One day you won’t just own all the Barbie Dolls in the world, you will own the factory that makes them.” That has been the main driver for my ongoing discovery of having my own business one day.

Another memory is that of being surrounded by books. I loved reading and would always have a book with me wherever I went. I dropped that habit when I first started working back in 2013 but, I rediscovered my love for it again four years ago and never stopped since! 

WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS? 

Stubborn, selectively nerdy and mostly introverted. 

Somehow I was always in some form of leadership that my peers wanted me in but not those who were in positions of authority. If we had to vote on something, then I would usually be among the ones chosen by my peers. But if it were entirely up to the teachers to decide, they wouldn’t choose me. Many of my teachers saw me as a troublemaker because of rules that I didn’t follow even though some of them were honestly really ridiculous. 

I was selectively nerdy because I would only study hard for the subjects that I enjoyed (English, Maths and Physics). I’d be acing those subjects while failing or barely passing the rest at the same time because I just had no interest in them. 

As for the introverted side, I wasn’t one of those people who knew everyone. I kept to a couple of small circles of friends within different settings. I was very openly sharing my vulnerabilities and insecurities in certain circles of my friendship. However,  I would much rather be at home alone with my video games than go out. 

IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY? 

I’m born in the Chinese zodiac year of the snake. My dad used to call me a python because of how much time I’d spend being horizontal on my bed or the sofa whilst reading or watching TV. I happen to think that pythons are super cool as well so I’d say a python simply because it’s such a chilled yet powerful animal! 

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!

There’s a Malaysian dish called nasi lemak, which translates into fatty rice. Enticing, I know. 

It’s rice cooked in coconut milk and traditionally served with a side of peanuts, either fried or boiled egg, anchovies and chilli paste. I can eat that for breakfast, lunch and dinner and spend the rest of the day in a lazy state of euphoria, like a python.

IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE? 

I think about this a lot. And in the order of what I’d do first:

  • I would allocate half of it as capital for my venture. 
  • Pass some to my parents. Not too much that it’d be overindulgent, but enough for them to be very comfortable and not have to worry about health, bills, food etc. 
  • I would be an angel investor; spread some money across several companies that I think are doing some cool stuff. 
  • Buy a house that’s big enough to be mine forever home. 
  • Split the rest up into different forms of investments. I like the idea of using money to make even more money. 

WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, DR. LIEZEL BYGATE SAID THAT SHE IS AN EXPERT HULA-HOOPER!

I like to call myself a professional shit shield and people reader. 

I can take a lot of knocks. I might have a little cry about it for a while but I always pick myself back up and go again. Having a team to lead also taught me a lot of empathy, allowing me to be more sensitive to the changes in human behaviour, understanding someone’s motivations and not taking things at face value.

CAREER AND WORKPLACE

WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?

To be honest, I never set out to be a marketer. 

I fell into the role as a means to join a startup and get the experience of building a company from the ground up. It wasn’t until four years into my career that I truly fell in love with Marketing, specifically B2B Marketing in the Tech industry. 

The technical, high stakes and complex nature of B2B Marketing drew me in. And I see it as an eternal puzzle that I need to solve. 

GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!

I’m a creature of routine so every day starts the same for me. My alarm goes off, I snooze it for 45 minutes before I get out of bed. 

Then, it’s 10-15 minutes of meditation followed by getting dressed for the day while listening to a podcast. And then I make coffee, grab my packed lunch which I prepped over the weekend, and drive to work. I usually listen to an audiobook on my drive as well. 

Once I’m in the office, I spend about 30-45 minutes reading newsletters or articles on Medium and then it’s full steam ahead for the workday.

HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?

I live by my Google Calendar. If it’s not scheduled in, I will probably forget about it. 

I have a pretty unreliable memory so I use my calendar to even remind me to do certain things like buying a gift for someone or bring my bottle to work. Most of my week usually consists of work even after I leave the office so I try to make up for that over the weekend.

I schedule time in my calendar for work, exercise, friends, family etc. I’m very into computer games and that’s what I tend to spend a chunk of my weekends on. 

YOU OBTAINED YOUR BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MATHEMATICS AND PHILOSOPHY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER. YESSS GIRL! ACCORDING TO CNBC, RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY GLASSDOOR FOUND THAT COMPANIES LIKE APPLE, GOOGLE AND IBM (AMONGST OTHERS) OFFER WORK-FROM-HOME JOBS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE ANY FORMAL EDUCATION. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEIR CAREERS PARTICULARLY IF THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO AFFORD A FORMAL EDUCATION?

There are a ton of free courses available online that can serve as a good start into whatever it is that they want to explore, whether it is marketing or coding. 

Apart from that, I highly recommend getting knowledge from more “informal” sources like podcasts, videos or newsletters. There are also plenty of online communities for specific skill sets that you can also join for free.

YOU HAVE A GREAT RESUME. YOU’VE WORKED FOR COMPANIES SUCH AS CIMB AS WELL AS SUPAHANDS. HOW IMPORTANT HAS LINKEDIN BEEN FOR YOU AND WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN LOOKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR PROFESSIONAL BRAND FOR NETWORKING PURPOSES?

While I’ve been on LinkedIn for a long time, I only started using it in 2020 after I saw how it could connect people of similar professional backgrounds. 

I worked with multiple people in the company to come up with a framework to help others establish their brand on LinkedIn.

Here are some of the tips:

  • Make your brand about what you value and what’s important to you, not what you think others want to see. 
  • These things take conscious time and effort to gain traction and maintain a presence. You need to dedicate time and effort towards thinking about what to post and interacting with others on the platform.
  • Don’t add every single person under the sun. You’d want to connect with people who are within the same field or industry as you.

SABRA MWAURA WAS A FEATURE FOR OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES. SHE MADE A FEW GOOD POINTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MENTORSHIP?

I think it’s very important for anyone regardless of gender. Getting access to the right mentor can do wonders for your career as you’re not just leveraging off her/his experience, you’re also getting an accountability partner who can be there to motivate and encourage you. 

Having said that, a lot of people take for granted that a mentor is expected to spoon-feed information to a mentee, failing to realize that a successful mentor-mentee relationship is one where both parties have to keep doing their homework and taking each others’ time seriously. 

WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?

Learn to say “no”.

You don’t have to attend every single meeting that you’re invited to. You don’t have to take in every single task that’s handed to you. Recognize your own time and resources, look at your work from the standpoint of impact vs time, and know when to say no to the things that you cannot commit to. 

JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?

It depends on the individual’s reason for job-hopping and how many times they’ve done it. Anyone who knew me at the start of my career would assume that I’m a job hopper – I spent a year each in my first 2 roles. But once I found a company whose values and purpose resonated with my own, I stayed and I’m still here after 4.5 years. 

If you’re in the early stages of your career and you’re job-hopping because you’re still trying to figure out what you like, I think that’s forgivable. Not many of us know what we want in our early 20s. But if you’re in your 4th company in 2 years, then it’s worth taking a step back to ask yourself why this is happening. It could lead you on a path of self-discovery that will be beneficial to you in the long run. 

FOR IT’S 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL CMO’S REPORT, FORBES LISTED 31 WOMEN OUT OF 50 CANDIDATES (19 MEN). IT APPEARS THAT MORE WOMEN OCCUPY CMO ROLES COMPARED TO OTHER C-SUITE ROLES. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?

CMOs are required to multi-task A LOT. Look at the varied structure of a Marketing team – you have everything from Growth Marketing, Product Marketing, Content Marketing, Performance Marketing, BDRs etc. – that is a huge range of skills for one person to manage. 

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It requires the CMO to split themselves up into multiple parts and I think that’s something that women tend to do better. We’re so used to holding multiple roles in our lives – mother, daughter, employer/employee, wife, homemaker, confidant – that leading a Marketing team might come more naturally to us. 

Having said that, I know both men and women CMOs who are amazing at what they do! 

REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN MARKETING, PARTICULARLY, IN SENIOR ROLES IS ON THE UP. IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN STILL FACE DESPITE THESE CHANGES AND HOW BEST SHOULD THESE BE ADDRESSED?

From my own experience, a lot of the challenges are internal. 

You are responsible for the ceilings that you build over yourself. You are responsible for how far or high you can go, not anyone else. 

To some extent, I think women have been conditioned by a lot of external messaging that programmes our subconscious into thinking that we are built in a certain way that gives us fewer opportunities. If those statistics are something that you’d rather focus on, given that you are what you think, then you will become the statistic that they report on. 

I try not to focus on the fact that I’m being treated a certain way because of my gender, but rather my confidence, experience and skills. If I find myself in an environment where my gender is being taken into consideration then I’ll remove myself from said environment.

ONE OF THE LEARNING CURVES FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, IS THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES TO FACILITATE REMOTE WORK. FOR TECH PLAYERS IN SILICON VALLEY THE TRANSITION WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH WITH THE LIKES OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER DESIGNING A FUTURE WHERE THEIR STAFF MAY POTENTIALLY WORK REMOTELY FOREVER.  THE ARGUMENT THOUGH, IS THAT THIS IS LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE COMPANIES TAKEN SO LONG TO IMPLEMENT REMOTE WORK OPPORTUNITIES? 

Remote work isn’t just about flicking a switch and saying “Ok now everybody can work from home and it’ll be business as usual”. It’s about building new processes and new communication frameworks. 

We underestimated the amount of over-communication that needed to be done when the entire company went fully remote because we took for granted the value that casual face-to-face interaction provided to the company. A lot of impromptu brainstorming, innovation and problem-solving takes place over watercooler chats without you realizing it. And those are the types of conversations that tend to drive the company forward. 

So if a company isn’t built with the conscious intention of recreating on the fly conversations like this, then going fully remote will impact the speed of innovation that they were used to. 

WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT IT’S SET OF CHALLENGES. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT STRAIN WITH PEOPLE WORKING LONGER HOURS AS A RESULT OF EMPLOYEES BEING ‘ALWAYS ON’ AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. HOW CAN EMPLOYERS GUARD AGAINST EMPLOYEE BURNOUT OR IN THE WORST EVENT, LOSING THEIR BEST TALENT?

Don’t underestimate the value of having conversations. 

I find we tend to over-engineer solutions to the challenges that we face in business when a lot of them can be solved just through conversation and communication alone. 

No SaaS or tool will ever replace the genuine connection a manager can have with her team when she has 1:1s with them or even team bonding sessions over Zoom where they talk about anything but work. 

As a manager or a leader, take the time to get to know your team. Ask them about their day, build enough trust so that they can comfortably come to you whenever they’re struggling, and listen. Sometimes all you need to do is listen. Start there before you run off to look for the next product or tool that can help you manage your team’s stress better.

BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? 

Does it solve a problem? Does it answer a question that a lot of your target audience has been asking for a while? 

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You don’t need to be first to market, but you do need to be better at providing value. People often assume that innovation means doing something completely original and never-done-before. But to me, innovation also means doing something better and continuously increasing the value that you provide to your users. 

Adam Grant’s book ‘Originals ‘ illustrates this nicely and has shaped how I think about originality and innovation. 

HEMAL THAKKAR, BRAND MANAGER FOR BURGER KING INDIA IS A RECENT WOMEN IN MARKETING FEATURE. ONE OF THE KEY AREAS SHE IDENTIFIED FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IS THAT OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MARKETING LOOK LIKE ACCORDING TO YOU?

Marketing is getting a bigger say in the company’s strategy. We’re no longer just about making a brand look pretty, we’re about driving revenue, driving impact and driving growth. 

2020 AND BEYOND

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

Be brave.

Don’t put others first at your own expense. Listen to your gut and stick to your values and beliefs. 

Own every success of failure that comes your way and take it all as components that build you into who you will be.

WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? 

The biggest challenge for me right now is allocating my time between the people in my life according to the different roles that I play – manager, leader, contributor, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, individual etc. 

I do tend to give too much of myself to others and only realize later on that I’ve not reserved any for myself. This leads me to burnout and feeling directionless. 

So I try to be more conscious and intent with the way I spend my time, whether it’s catching up with a friend or gaming. 

ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?

Professionally – Have my own business. I’ve always wanted to have my own mid-sized company that’s bigger than a solo venture but smaller than a multinational conglomerate. 

Personally – Do a solo trip to a country where I don’t speak the language. 

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?

Beyonce is my Number 1. I’m a loud and proud fan of Beyonce. From her days in Destiny’s Child to her Lemonade album, following her journey has taught me a lot about independence, grace, resilience and ferocity. I love the two sides of her – how she can transition between being soft-spoken and firm so easily. 

I also really admire Michelle Obama for how she’s managed to carve her path despite having a husband who is so recognized and respected around the world. Reading her book ‘Becoming’ has shown me that it is possible to be an excellent mother, a supportive wife and a career woman at the same time. Whoever said we needed to choose? 

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? 

I buy physical books, ebooks (Kindle) and audiobooks (Audible). I also listen to a lot of podcasts and watch videos on YouTube.

I diversify the channels on which I consume information based on where I am. Eg when I’m driving, it tends to be an audiobook; when I’m getting ready for work, it’s a podcast etc. 

At the moment I’m listening to Bob Iger’s ‘Ride of a Lifetime’ on Audible and reading Gillian Flynn’s ‘Sharp Objects’ on paperback. 

As for podcasts that I regularly listen to

  • “Fuck It All” by Kacie Lett Gordon has me relating to so many of the women that she interviews
  • “B2B Marketing Leaders” by Dave Gerhardt is also very relatable for those in the most senior Marketing positions in their respective companies
  • “Masters of Scale” by Reid Hoffman is a long time favourite and I love their storytelling approach to topics about growing businesses

WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?

I don’t think I’ve missed a calling. 

Whatever decision I’ve made for my career up to this point has been driven by what I enjoy doing. It might not have been what I wanted to do when I thought about my career as a kid but these things are meant to evolve as you get more experiences anyway. 

I tried going into something that someone else wanted but I realized 3 months in that it wasn’t for me and got out of it as soon as I could. Ever since then I’ve always taken the path that I wanted to take, regardless of whether it made sense to others or not.

WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?

I think I have a very strange combination of TV shows and movies on my Netflix list! I watch everything from anime (Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer) to drama (The Queen, Peaky Blinders) to what I like to call “feel good” shows (Queer Eye, RuPaul’s Drag Race) to fantasy/sci-fi (The Witcher, Kingdom) to mind-numbing reality shows (Too Hot To Handle). 

WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?

Friends that I had when I was studying in Manchester, UK. I have a strong connection to the city and the people I met there. I did a lot of growing up when I was in university, went through a lot of hurt and found a lot of strength. So the people who were with me through it all have a very special place in my heart. 

WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?

Jess Forrester, VP of Marketing at Quorum

A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY

Your seat at the table is there if you want it. Do the work, put in the effort, spend the hours and speak to the right people. 

Most of all, be patient. 

I know the pressure to “make it” before you’re 30 is constantly there, but I genuinely believe that there is no such thing as “too late”. Marketing is tougher than it looks and you can stand out if you recognize that but not be put off by it. We are unique, multi-faceted thinkers so use that to your advantage and keep experimenting.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME JUINN. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

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Head of Relationship Management at naughtybanana. I am a father to an awesome boy who thinks highly of me; perhaps I'm doing something right after all. When I'm not establishing new business relationships, you might catch me reading a book or of course, being an awesome dad.