Standing Among Giants At The ZICO ASEAN 40 Under 40 Program

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It has been said that “if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

Well, recently, I was definitely in the right room – where I was left awestruck being amidst some truly incredible, talented and smart individuals doing amazing things all over Southeast Asia!

We were part of the inaugural cohort of the ZICO ASEAN 40 Under 40 – a flagship program by ASEAN Advisory, the consulting arm of ZICO. The program paid tribute to 40 trailblazers under the age of 40 in, or from, Southeast Asia who are driving positive change and creating impact in this region. Each honoree is addressing a trend or challenge in the ASEAN countries through our work.

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L-R: Richard Yim, Winston Toh, Ada Chirapaisarnkul, Danial Hakim, and I. Photo credit: ZICO

You know that feeling you get where you meet someone and start asking yourself, “What am I doing with my life?” Yeah, that’s how I felt when I met some of these truly exemplary people (picture above, L-R):

  • Richard Yim – who co-founded Demine Robotics to develop better robots that more effectively remove land mines; starting in Cambodia where he was born, which unfortunately also holds the distinction of being one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world with an estimated 4 to 6 million land mines in the country.
  • Winston Toh – a bright young man who helped bring to life the ASEAN Advisory 40 Under 40 Program; with whom I’ve also enjoyed scintillating conversations on economies of the future and its impact to modern society.
  • Ada Chirapaisarnkul – who, among many other achievements, is the founder of the Thai Young Philanthropist Network (TYPN), which today sees 2,700 young leaders working to strengthen civil society in Thailand through youth entrepreneurship training for students and teachers as well as business consultation and capacity building support for to over 100 social-purpose organisations.
  • Danial Hakim – a young grassroots leader who balances his time between his full-time job and championing the issues and concerns of his community.

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Pictured in the middle here and highly deserving of a shout out is Van Ngoc Ta, chief lawyer of the Hanoi-based Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, which is involved in anti-trafficking work. Van has personally helped hundreds of victims of forced labor and sex trafficking, working closely with authorities. He’s a real-life superhero: when I met him for dinner the evening before the awards event, he was on the phone in the midst of coordinating a case. I can’t speak highly enough of the great work that he is doing.

I also met many other amazing fellow honorees – including a dear colleague Warren Tseng, formerly the General Manager for Uber in Singapore.

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Making a point to a compatriot about the new government in Malaysia. Photo credit: ZICO

It was inspiring to meet them all to hear their stories as well as perspectives. It truly augurs well for ASEAN’s future potential as a political, economic, and sociocultural bloc. I am truly humbled and very grateful to have been included as one of these great luminaries.

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Looking at the other names and their achievements – I am truly humbled to be included.

Now showing: Head of Corporate Communications – Southeast Asia, Netflix

I’m thrilled to announce that, earlier this week, I started my new role at Netflix as Head of Corporate Communications – Southeast Asia, based out of Singapore.

In this role, I will report to the Vice President of Communications – Asia, and be part of a team to help to formulate, execute and sustain a global communications strategy for Netflix in the Asia region. I will also focus specifically on corporate and policy communications issues.

It’s really quite exciting, though somewhat surreal, to be working at Netflix. I mean, I still remember Netflix back in college (showing my age here!) when it was still mailing DVDs! Since then, I’ve watched how it’s pivoted – successfully – to become a leader in technology and entertainment today!

What really got me excited about working at Netflix was discovering its Culture Memo – which I first encountered several years ago (as a slide deck). I get why it was hailed as “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley“; and believe this is the “secret sauce” to the company’s ability to pivot successfully, again and again.

The Culture Memo lit a fire in my belly – it felt like I was screaming “YES” to a lot of things, like: “People Over Process,” “Working In A Dream Team,” and “Freedom & Responsibility.” It also crystalized my thoughts and gave me the language to appreciate how lucky I have been to have great leaders, managers and mentors throughout my career who have embodied these principles, which resonate so meaningfully with me.

It’s a privilege to now have this opportunity to play my part in making Netflix more of a hit here in Asia!

Well, wish me luck… #onwards!

Meet Mr Kamas, Inspiring UberEATS Delivery Partner & Singapore Para-athlete

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Photo: Screen grab from Straits Times’ video

I first learned about Mr. Kamas Mohammad when an UberEATS consumer shared how Mr. Kamas travelled 2.5km in a wheelchair to deliver his order. We got in touch and invited Mr. Kamas to share more about his story during UberEATS Singapore’s first anniversary in July. Besides delivering with UberEATS, we learned that he was also a para-athlete who represented Singapore at the 2015 Asean Para Games in wheelchair basketball.

Earlier this week, The Straits Times – Singapore’s most widely read newspaper – featured Mr. Kamas across print, digital and video.

In a very inspiring video (I really encourage you to watch it and add to the +52k views garnered since it was published 2 days ago!), Mr. Kamas shares his life story and how he delivers with UberEATS. He spoke about how grateful he felt being able to find a way earn his own income and care for his cancer-stricken elder sister through UberEATS, saying, (Translated) “They let me work, so I’m happy. I’m more encouraged to work. Since they let me work, I feel compelled to repay them by working hard. As long as I can work, I will work.”

 

Besides the video, The Straits Times also shared more in a written feature story. The story appeared online as well as in print – earning a front cover mention, as well as taking up 2/3 of a page in its “Top Of The News” section.

Once again, Mr. Kamas was effusive of his experience with UberEATS, saying, “I liked my previous job, but the salary was not enough to pay rental and buy food. Now, with this job, it is easier. I can follow my own time and target, and earn more.”

He also shared that seeing his photo being shared on Facebook made him happy: “Maybe then, more people like me will realise they can also do such jobs.”

As I’ve said before, this is the kind of technology-changing-the-world awesomeness that I signed up for by joining Uber!