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#AOTYAwards 2021 spills: Fostering a family-like culture at Finn Partners

#AOTYAwards 2021 spills: Fostering a family-like culture at Finn Partners

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FINN Partners is a global, independent marketing agency with offices in China, France, Germany, Singapore, the UK and the US. It provides its clients with a powerful combination of hands-on partnership, highly specialised expertise, and values-driven culture that champions integrity, collaboration, and innovation. Among the list of brands the agency has worked with include Blackmore, Meharry Medical College, Jack Daniel's, NutriBullet and The Miami Lighthouse. It was also recently nominated for B2B Agency of the Year, Integrated Marketing Agency of the Year, and Public Relations Agency of the Year at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's AOTY Awards 2021. 

Finn Partners' managing partner Naeema Ismail (pictured) told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that she sees the agency as an extended family, which is heavily ingrained in its culture. It prioritises ensuring its people continue to feel valued and are in a psychologically safe environment where they can be their full selves; for instance, organising virtual events during the pandemic to encourage bonding and cultivate overall wellness.

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners' and finalists’ interview series for AOTY Awards 2021. To find out more about the awards, click here.

Tell us what these achievements mean for you?

Naeema: Being a finalist is a hard- and well-earned recognition of the talented and dedicated team that we have. We are proud of the great team we have cultivated over the last 20 years since our founding.

It also speaks volumes of our agency’s ability to be nimble and pivot in these ever-evolving times to continue delivering exceptional value above and beyond our clients’ expectations, while remaining true to our fundamental values: to be amazing people who do amazing work, and who work hard and play nice.

The pandemic has further emphasised the importance of never standing still and the need to constantly push ourselves to continually learn, grow and evolve – and this is what we will continue striving for.

What makes you proudest about being part of your agency?

Naeema: I’m proud to call my agency an extended family, and a big part of that is ingrained in our culture. Culture is like the playbook for our team – it sets the tone and defines the rules of engagement for how we’re treated and how we treat others. A good culture is an acknowledgement of the humanity in all of us – a reminder that our work life, while significant, is but a facet of something larger.

The bedrock of our workplace is a culture rooted in trust and respect. We make sure that our employees feel they have a voice and are valued as an individual and team member, which motivates each of us to bring our A-game every day.

Every success is shared and any failure is seen as part of a learning process shouldered collectively. Sure, business success may not materialise overnight just because you have a positive culture – but from what I’ve seen, there’s a direct linear relationship. When people are secure enough to be bold and take the risks to achieve their best work, financial rewards follow.

What are some of the initiatives you have in place to ensure your staff feel proud to be associated with your agency?

Naeema: At FINN, we actively and consistently work on maintaining culture through a number of initiatives all year round. Our priority is in ensuring our people continue to feel valued and are in a psychologically safe environment where they can be their full selves. Who better to enrich our culture than the same people who live it? Our cross-agency culture team, comprising volunteers across all levels and departments, spearhead employee engagement initiatives and keep our FINN family traditions alive.

We also formed a DEI Committee made up of volunteers across our offices in Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong to set goals and activities to push the agenda forward in the region. Our DEI committee bands together as well as with our colleagues globally to discuss what our people can do, both at the workplace and in our communities, to effect change.

We constantly look for ways to keep our people engaged and connected, providing platforms for our team to push creative boundaries and find new ways to add value within and outside of client work. In a physically distant world, we’ve paid extra attention to keeping up a regular stream of activities that encourage bonding, including casual movie nights, virtual game-a-thons, virtual yoga sessions and even makeup tutorials — a variety of fun activities that cultivate overall wellness, while helping to further strengthen team bonds.

How are you attracting talent to your agency?

Naeema: We believe that being our authentic selves will best attract the best talents. Through regular social media campaigns, we have been able to let our good work and culture show for itself – the value we have brought to our clients and our employees’ experiences at our agency.

Furthermore, we recently established a brand-new cross-agency culture team, comprising volunteers across various levels of seniority who spearheads employee engagement initiatives and events, which are also showcased on our social media channels.

What are your hopes for Singapore’s marketing communications scene in 2021?

Naeema: The pandemic has disrupted various industries, transforming the way we interact, bringing business and social interactions online, and even forcing us to adopt new technologies to simply operate. Consumer habits, too, have evolved — and the PR, marketing, and advertising sectors are not immune to these changes.

These disruptions will push us to think harder about how to make meaningful connections with our target stakeholders in this ever-changing paradigm. And that also means doing more than capturing attention, but prioritising the stories that we tell in our campaigns, our media outreach, and our marketing, to connect with our ideal audience, and keep them engaged.

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