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Out to Lunch: From marketer to mum and back again

Agnes Wan is the current marketing director, APAC of Gemalto, a global digital security firm headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and is quite obviously highly passionate about her job and the work at large.

Having found herself in an executive position at the tender age of 26, her entry into the wonderful world of marketing isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill career story.

Wan is a bit of a globetrotter, and as a result she ended up studying translation at university, even though she previously specialised in science. How, then, did she end up in marketing?

“Double C, as I always say; curiosity and courage. You get curious about the rest of the world, you want to explore; see new things and meet new people. I did not actually intend to find a marketing job,” she recalls.

“I just sent out my CV to a few companies that I liked, and ended up getting an offer from a technology company that offered me overseas training, and I thought: ‘Wow, that sounds amazing!’”

So it was written, and so it was done. She moved away from the fragrant harbour and found herself working in metropoles such as Beijing and Singapore. Over the next few years, Wan quickly established herself as a talented and driven young marketer and ended up as marketing director at before she had even turned 30.

She finally left the role to focus on her other passions – such as being a full-time mum and spending time with her family – but it wasn’t long before the old itch returned. In 2013, Wan rejoined the industry in her current role as marketing director for Gemalto, but found the transition easier than expected.

“It was challenging, but much more exciting than you would imagine,” she said with a smile.

“There are actually a few similarities between being a leader and being a parent – for example, you need lots of energy for both roles! You also need to be very driven as both a mum and as a director. Moreover, you need to be patient and persistent. Learn from your failures, move on and never give up.”

Wan explained that family support is crucial in reentering the workplace, and that this support helped her maintain her confidence and energy levels at first. Especially joining a company experiencing declining growth at the time, Agnes had a monster of a job ahead of her – which she tackled head-on. Within a few short years, the company started seeing 150% YOY growth.

“You have to embrace the changes in the industry, but also in your company,” she said. “When things aren’t working out – change. But even if things are working, you still have to make changes to make things even better. So I introduced a lot of changes, and we started to see a lot of creativity.”

In addition to all of that – if that wasn’t enough – she’s an avid hiker, having completed the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge three times, casual runner and a marketing director to boot.

“Passion is always the key to success,” she told me as dessert was served, and that statement describes her perfectly.

Lunch Box

Guest: Agnes Wan, marketing director, APAC at Gemalto.

Venue: Liberty Exchange

Main course: Liberty Burger and Salmon.

Service: Personal and professional.

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