Winning Gold At The Microsoft Worldwide Communications Summit 2014!

Thrilling news – I recently got back from Seattle, Washington from the company’s Worldwide Communications Summit 2014 with a Gold Newshound Award – my second one in a row! I am truly touched and flattered by this recognition, which builds on the momentum of having won a Gold Newshound Award the previous year as well as being a multiple-award winner at last year’s Malaysia PR Awards.

Me&MyNewsHoundJust me and my hound dog!

Every year, the global community of Communications professionals at Microsoft gather from around the world for our annual Worldwide Communications Summit. This year’s summit was held in Seattle, Washington. This year, we were also joined by the highly-talented team of consumer/devices Communications experts from Nokia (now known as Microsoft Devices), which provided a great opportunity for us to welcome them to the Microsoft family.

At the Summit, we also take the opportunity to showcase and celebrate best-practices, via our annual Microsoft Newshound Awards (held at the very lovely Chiluly Garden and Glass in Seattle), which recognize excellence in Communications from our global community of passionate and committed PR & Communications professionals. Each Newshound Award category recognizes three winners: Gold, Silver and Bronze.

LeighNewsHoundWin2014_editedWith Microsoft’s top Communications Leadership (L-R): Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications, Microsoft Corp.; Yunsun Wee, Director, Worldwide Field Communications, Microsoft Corp.; and Doug Dawson, Vice President of Media Relations for Nokia (now Microsoft Devices).  

My award recognized a year-long effort throughout the fiscal year where we competed aggressively in the education sector. I partnered with my leadership team, along with our education, legal and area headquarters communication teams, in a year-long campaign that communicated our local value-proposition in Education. The campaign showcased Microsoft’s long history of contribution to education in Malaysia, as well as independent research, 3rd-party op-ed pieces, executive media engagements.

Here’s what was said about the work that I did:

This is a best practice of good programmatic execution with business impact. The team did an excellent job with this year-long integrated PR campaign that includes activities that supports and aligns to the National Plan.  Congratulations on delivering a strategic, matrixed campaign that began with the end in mind – showcasing Microsoft as a trusted advisor and partner to Government, and a thought leader for educators and students.

Me And The APAC TeamWith friends and colleagues from across Asia!

Needless to say I couldn’t have done this alone. I’d like to specifically call out and thank:

  • My team from Priority Communications: Elaine, Ashley, Kenny, Calvin, Atiqah and Sylvia for all their hardwork and partnership throughout the year.
  • My media friends: There are *SO MANY* of you have been very kind and supportive, always being open to our story pitches and engaging with me regularly. I’m blessed to count many of you as friends today.
  • My colleagues in Microsoft Malaysia: Much of what has been achieved is a result of intense partnership and collaboration – building upon each other’s initiatives and achievements towards a larger goal of success in this area!
  • My colleagues in the Microsoft Asia Communications team: Especially Andy, Verdayne, Jesse and Darryn. Your support and partnership throughout the year has also been invaluable, leveraging upon the greater network of expertise and investment for us to drive truly impactful initiatives to competitively position us in the education space.
  • My family: Without their support, I would not be free to do great things at work.

A huge congratulations also to the rest of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Newshound winners from Asia! In fact, the Asia Pacific region won the most Gold Newshound awards of any worldwide area (tied with our Central & Eastern Europe area. This is a tremendously creative, professional, committed team – and I’m proud to be a part of it. Go team Asia!

DSC_0514_editedThe Asia Communications Team, with our four Gold Newshound Winners – two from the area headquarters, another one from Australia… and me.

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2nd Annual Digital Marketing & Advertising Asia (DIGMA) 2014 – What’s Next: 5 Capabilities For Marketing & Communications In The Next Digital Decade

DIGMA 2014

I was invited to speak at the 2nd Annual Digital Marketing & Advertising Asia (DIGMA) 2014 today. DIGMA 2014 is a trade show that recognizes the huge potential of digital marketing and advertising opportunities in the Asian region. Digitally based initiatives are expected to make up 20 percent of the global advertising market by 2014, with the Asia Pacific region, in particular, already reaching $27.3 billion in digital advertising spend in 2012 alone. The trade show was officially launched by the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives & Consumerism Malaysia, YB Senator Dato’ Seri Ahmad Bashah Bin Md Hanipah.

DIGMA 2014

I spoke on “What’s Next: 5 Capabilities For Marketing & Communications In The Next Digital Decade“, touching on what skill sets marketing and communications practitioners need have in a digital future:

  1. Be agile, nimble, 24×7, global
  2. Embrace your community
  3. Be authentic and transparent
  4. Integrate across media
  5. Build owned media platforms

 

I’ve uploaded my slides and embedded them below. Do let me know what you think – I’d love to have a conversation with you.

 

Taking A Stand Against Online Bullying – 10th Annual APIRA International Conference 2013

This morning, I was invited to present the Malaysian findings of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing‘s Global Youth Online Behavior Study at the 10th Asia Pacific Internet Research Alliance (APIRA) International Conference held in Kuala Lumpur.

APIRAtag

This issue of cyberbullying – and the survey findings – have been close to my heart.

The survey findings touched a raw nerve in Malaysian society because of the rising trend of online abuse. Alarmingly, the survey revealed that 1-in-3 Malaysian children say they have been subjected to a range of online activities that some may consider to be online bullying. In fact, the Malaysian study findings eventually formed the basis of this cover story by The Star: “Virtual Punks“.

StarRageCyberPunksCover

It’s not just young, teenage fan girls who’re getting abused. Local YouTubers have spoken up regularly about Internet “trolls”, a term to describe people who persistently post negative comments online to provoke someone. It has become a wider part of Internet culture, and everyone from footballers and reality TV stars to the average Malaysian teenager is a potential target, largely thanks to the anonymity afforded by the Internet.

So, as a parent, it thus became my vested interest to follow this issue closely and to go beyond the statistics. This is a starkly real issue that needs to be addressed by the collective efforts of parents, educators, experts and corporate citizens like Microsoft.

Here are the slides I presented. I hope, like me, you will also be moved to action:

Winning At The Malaysia PR Awards 2012

I’m very honored to be recognized with two awards at this year’s Malaysia PR Awards, held by the PR Consultants Association (PRCA) of Malaysia.

The first award was given for #OfficeOutside, for the launch of Microsoft’s new version of Office in Malaysia earlier this year. To do this, we figured there was no better way to showcase the flexible-working scenarios enabled by this new version of Office than to shut down the subsidiary and have our employees work from the shopping centre underneath the Petronas Towers, where our office is located. Then simply invite along the media (with their cameras) and tell our simple, but compelling story, which is that with Office you can be productive virtually  anywhere using tools you know, love and rely on every day.

This was hailed as an innovative campaign, which has since been replicated in several regional subsidiaries, and is now being adopted as a worldwide best practice by the Office team at Corporate HQ (also nabbing me several more awards and recognition globally as well as regionally along the way).

 

MPRA2012 For OfficeOutside

The second award was in recognition for the work we did in launching Windows 8 here in Malaysia – which was certainly a really fun launch to pull off! We were recognized for the high-impact and creativity that our team drove – orchestrating a fully-integrated, high-profile communications campaign to bring the ground-breaking capabilities of Windows 8 to a waiting Malaysian public. This included reviewers workshops, product reviews, partnering with OEMs, launch PR programs/activities and post-launch sustaining momentum.

MPR2012 For Windows8

My heartfelt appreciation goes to our PR team – without whom I definitely could not have won these awards!  “No man is an island” and I am certainly no exception! Thank you so much to the awesome team at Priority Communications!!!

MPRA2012 TeamMicrosoft

I also dedicate the awards especially to my manager Danny Ong as well as my tech media friends who treated the newbie from banking & finance very graciously when I first showed up on the scene.

Onwards and upwards!

Why I joined the technology industry

MicrosoftAppointsPRLead

Right around the July 2011, I was completing my role leading the branding and communications function throughout one of the longest-drawn merger exercises in the history of Malaysia’s financial services industry. While it was truly one of the most fulfilling, enjoyable experiences in my career at that point, I felt it was time to move on to something new.

I considered one of two options – I was either going to explore Islamic finance or technology banking. Even though the industry was still in its nascent stage, Islamic finance held great fascination for me because the financial principles on which it was based were particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of the worldwide financial crisis exacerbated by the US sub-prime crisis. Technology banking, on the other hand, was something I believed had huge potential as banking customers moved from traditional brick-and-mortar bank branch to click-and-mobile “banking everywhere” experiences.

It was during this time that I got the call to consider working for Microsoft  as its communications lead.

One of the main questions I was asked, which I remember till today, was, “You’re from banking and finance, why do you want to join the technology industry?”

This was one of those questions I could genuinely answer with wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm.

I honestly believe that, with technology, I’m participating in an industry that sees tomorrow, today.

Maybe I’m still a n00b, but I am in utter awe and wonder when I consider how the computing power of the phone in my pocket had to be housed in a room a mere XX years ago.

I stand amazed when I consider how my children today will have absolutely no concept of analog phones, dial-up modems, etc. Not only that, their practically intuitive grasp of touch-screen interfaces has created an entirely different paradigm and worldview today.

I’m constantly amazed with cloud computing – and the ability to work anywhere anytime and on any device. In fact, I’m writing this thought-piece on Microsoft OneNote (apologies, this is the only product plug in this article – but it’s meant to illustrate a point), which syncs across my phone, tablet and PC. To me, it’s like magic: I just typed this sentence on my PC. This sentence on my phone. Now this sentence on my tablet! (Yes, I really just did that purposely).

As a marketing and communications professional, I’m constantly amazed at the changes brought about by technology. Even as some businesses are only now getting the hang of incorporating social and digital insights into their strategy and operations, we are already looking at Big Data, discovering the best  ways to glean actionable insight from varied, voluminous and high-velocity data sources. Think: how can marketers aggregate the brand perceptions of consumers from multiple social network feeds, forum responses and even mobile data all at once, in real time?

For the long time veterans of the IT industry, I know it’s easy to be jaded.

Nevertheless, there’s never been a more interesting time to be in technology. With the consumerization of IT well under way, technology has been removed from the domain of geeky experts and into the hands of everyday users. It’s so fundamental to our lives today that it’s practically invisible – we take for granted the kind of revolutionary thinking that took us from “a PC on every desk in every home” to solving the world’s greatest problems through technology today.

What a ride!