DAN's talent management lead on why hybrid talent is crucial for the network

Dentsu Aegis Network Malaysia's talent management director, Gan Mei Lian (pictured), is no stranger to the adland. Prior to joining the network, she was general manager of communications agency Milk & Co, and before that, she worked in a client servicing role at Euro RSCG (now Havas), Grey Worldwide and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Having been with Dentsu Aegis Network for a little over 2.5 years, Gan is certain that talent has and will always be its number one asset. As the network is committed to innovating the way brands are built, Gan said it appreciates talents who like to "push the envelope" on how it can do things differently and better, as it attempts to deliver innovation solutions to clients.

In her role, Gan plays a crucial role in pioneering talent management initiatives that aim to promote operational excellence, improved engagement and capabilities development. She shares with A+M the aspects she looks out for when hiring to help Dentsu Aegis Network continue its journey on promoting cross-agency and cross-discipline work.

A+M: What do you look for when hiring for a role that requires digital capabilities?

Digital knowledge, technical skills and experience would be hygiene requirements. That said, the digital industry is not only massive, it’s also always changing rapidly. So it’s not uncommon to see new roles and opportunities develop.

In view of this, curiosity and adaptability are good qualities to have. Also, a talent who invests in upskilling himself or herself, as well as one who keeps abreast of the latest technology and best practices in the digital sphere, is often favoured.

If it’s a senior role, we welcome individuals with transformational leadership qualities who can drive digital innovation. All in all, Dentsu Aegis Network runs on a collaborative operating model in which we promote cross-agency, cross-discipline work, hence it’s important that we hire hybrid talent.

A+M: What new skill sets do you think are crucial in today’s industry?

Knowledge and understanding of digital and data, regardless of whether or not one is in a “digital” agency.

A+M: What are some of the things that turn you off completely?

When the sole motivation seems to be money only, with little consideration for learning opportunities such as exploring and broadening their experience or developing their skill sets in different areas.

A+M: What should individuals take note of when negotiating for a pay rise?

Be prepared that with higher remuneration and benefits, come higher expectations and greater accountability. Also, be clear about the expectations, as one’s credibility and professional reputation are at risk.

A+M: How important is word of mouth references from former employers/employees?

I’m of the opinion that former employers/employees are powerful advocates in talent attraction and they do contribute to the decision-making. However, it is important to note that whilst feedback from former employers is significant, we also need to exercise some level of discretion as there are other factors that come into play, such as objectivity and circumstances that may have contributed to an employee’s performance.

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