.

Seeing the world from the top of Mt Everest. I climbed Everest with the Singapore Women’s Everest Team in 2009. People laugh when I tell them we trained for 5 years and spent only for 5 minutes at the summit. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

I'm 29 and I’m a Senior Copywriter with OgilvyOne Singapore. This has been my first and only job since graduating (my boss didn't know I'm a degree holder until I asked him to sign some admin papers a month into the job and he was like, oh wow, you went to university?) 

The clients I work with span across quite a spectrum: Nike, Levi's, Google, American Express, Singapore Economic Development Board, Nestle…

What do you do for inspiration?

I remember at an annual review with my ECD, I asked him how do I become more creative. And he told me the most amazing answer, he told me to “live life”. I’ve made a conscious effort to do that since.

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Seeing the world from the top of Mt Everest. I climbed Everest with the Singapore Women’s Everest Team in 2009. People laugh when I tell them we trained for 5 years and spent only for 5 minutes at the summit. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. 

It’s one of the toughest things I’ve done. I think that being able to climb Everest was a privilege, and come backing alive with all my fingers and toes was a blessing.

How many hours do you work each week?

I guard my work-life balance very fiercely. I try to leave office before the sun sets, so that gives me 8 to 9 hours of work on a daily basis. But of course being in advertising, I have my fair share of 10 to 53 hour days. I try to minimize that because I’ve observed that lack of exposure to the evening sun gets me depressed. 

How do you relax or unwind?

The less embarrassing things I do to relax include reading, playing the guitar, and sports like running and mountain biking. 

The more embarrassing ones include singing in the shower, disturbing my dog, Facebook stalking, watching romantic comedies featuring Sandra Bullock. 

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

You mean if I’m not doing anything that’s got to do with the internet, what would I do for a living?

In all likelihood I’ll still be doing something creative-led, perhaps writing full-time, or teaching art, or blogging and earning money from it. 

What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?

The favourite part of my job is definitely the ideation process, but it is also the hardest part. We could do everything right – do our research beforehand, come into office early, find a secluded area to brainstorm, stay there for hours but still find nothing (this happens especially when the deadline looms dangerously near). Sometimes, we could be having lunch in a crowded hawker centre, hardly able to hear each other above and idea strikes us.

When I get stuck, I go and do something else totally unrelated for a couple of hours. It usually gets better when I come back to the issue. Talking to people helps too, although I’ll be very careful who I talk to, because most people would be nice and sympathize with you on how tough your brief is, and that doesn’t really help.  Asking them the right questions to get the insights you want is useful.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

It was a site for Castrol Edge, a premium lubricant for vehicles. I just did a quick search and good Lord it’s still alive! Right here: http://www.castroledge.co.za/

Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I’m currently working on a book with my team to chronicle our Everest journey. The book is conceptualized to give space to all 6 voices in the team, so we have a bunch of headlines like “Beginning” and “Dealing with Fear”, and because each of us have a different personal journey going into the team and dealing with the issues that came up during the 5 years together, this book will offer 6 different perspectives on the Everest journey.

I’m also working on a full-length play as part of the National Arts Council’s Mentorship Access Programme, where playwright newbies like me get paired up with established local playwrights who give advice and feedback on our work. The play I’m working on is about a middle-aged man struggling to come to terms with his newfound hearing disability. It focuses on the sensorial aspects of what goes on in a play, and aims at pushing the boundaries of what a play-watching experience can be.

Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?

I’m a serial blog surfer. I have a list of bookmarked blogs I HAVE to visit everyday. These are mainly design/inspiration/living/food related blogs which give me snippets of life around the world. 

I also have to exercise to keep mentally sane – mountain biking, running, swimming, trekking… these gives me the space I need to reflect on things happening around me, and hear my thoughts.

Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?

Plenty of times – mainly because we insist on things being done this way.

Ok the truth is, there was a time when briefs come in and ideas were formed around all other touchpoints before it gets trickled down to us, and it just didn’t make a lot of sense, especially for briefs where the target audience are online-savvy folks.

So over time, we started insisting that we be involved right from the beginning. Our persistence paid off because the ideas which sprout forth from the digital platform produced results. That earned us the voice to carry on with this way of working for other relevant projects.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

I think design school gives one the right environment to be exposed to ideas, experiment, fail and try again. In a work environment, the latter two are more intimidating to do, especially with things like a real budget and an impatient client. But I think failing and trying again builds character, skill and experience – all of which are extremely useful for a designer’s personal and career growth. 

Having said that, I think advertising is very open to newbies with no relevant experience. Case in point: refer to Question 1. 

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

A Volkswagen campervan where I can dump mountain bikes in the back and drive to obscure trails to ride. It should also come installed a loud hailer so I can say “Thank you” or “You jerk!” to drivers around me. 

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I don’t need to. I’m paired up with a really talkative Art Director who cannot stop spewing the latest digital/web trends. But on very rare occasions when he’s not talking, Facebook and advertising/awards-related blogs do the job well. 

What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?

I think for Singapore to grow from a tiny Malay fishing village to one of the most prosperous counties in the world in the span of decades is mind-boggling. There’s been a lot of creativity in its growth and I’m damn proud to be part of this country. 

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I would love to do a project for the National Library to encourage people to read. When I was young, my mum used to bring my sister and I to the neighborhood library every week and we would borrow so many books they literally had to be lugged home in huge bags. 

Reading books opened up doors I never knew existed but sadly people hard have time for it now in our fast-paced society. 

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

I don’t know. Isn’t that the point? :)

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

Probably food. My husband and I spend too much time loitering in grocery shops. 

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Just 2 things: 

1) Don’t let anyone else tell you it won’t work. Find out for yourself. 

2) The answer really is 42.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

The pleasure is mine :)


Links

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That's me, in our old office.
That's me, in our old office.

I can't remember the exact reason, but one day I decided to tie up the stuff on my Art Director's desk with string
I can't remember the exact reason, but one day I decided to tie up the stuff on my Art Director's desk with string

When I went out for lunch, he used the string to tie everything on my desk up and hung them from the ceiling.
When I went out for lunch, he used the string to tie everything on my desk up and hung them from the ceiling.

Singapore's 1st social cinema where kids can watch short films together without ever getting shushed.

People who love sports hate the hassle of planning it. MILO Match-Up is an app we created to make things easier for them

To encourage kids to study Engineering in school, we showed them that Engineering isn't as boring as they thought.

To find a runner to represent Southeast Asia in Nike's punishing 315km race, we wrote the world's longest email.

How we demonstrated "unbelievable cushioning" for the launch of Nike LunarTrainer+

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