One of the most important lessons MediaCom's managing director Alice Chow took away from her mentors was that transformation is driven by expertise and perspectives. Therefore she has positioned herself as a listener rather than a leader to create a truly compassionate and respectful culture throughout her eight years at MediaCom. Starting off her career as a media planner, Chow has always been passionate about marketing strategies. She has always believed that driving creativity has been the most desirable part of the marketing industry. As such, she enjoys the excitement from creating integrated campaigns to data-driven work.
Having joined MediaCom in March 2014, Chow has led MediaCom into an award-winning agency, professional in performance marketing. Well known for her creativity and passion in work, Chow has a great focus on innovation, and motivating her team to be passionate industry leaders.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What was your first job? What was your first role in advertising?
My first job was a media planner and pleasantly stayed in the industry till now. Since childhood I was attracted by the stunning visuals of different commercials and had my passion for marketing strategies grew since then. In my first job I was lucky enough to briefly touch on interesting stuff like ideations, but most of my time was on executional assignments like every industry entrant. As I moved up the career leader, my biggest satisfaction came from recognitions – either from client’s testimonials or industry awards.
Driving creativity has been the most desirable part of job till today. Also, to be part of industry transformation, like from integrated campaign creation to data-driven work as of today, makes me excited!
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What was your first impression of advertising?
Creativity stands the biggest attraction when I first wanted to join the advertising industry. But as data technology matures, we witness the industry has an obvious shift to effectiveness driven - from single bold execution to data-centric planning.
Learnt from the most recognised industry awards, we see a lot of winning cases that creativity seized audiences’ eyeballs, but it is that data technology that magnified the creative power by driving relevancy. One thing remain unchanged as agency’s management is the vitality of a leader’s ambition and persistence to drive transformation.
For instance in modern IMC planning, we work to justify full funnel planning with quantifiable KPIs, then evolved into data analytics and marketing modelling to help clients identify source of grow. What we are doing now was very different from the past, which was more focused on short term buzz and awareness. Success greatly depends on the versality and the vision of the leader, as in respecting and leveraging on various expertise to drive changes correctly.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Describe your own management style now as a leader. Who was the mentor who influenced you the most and how?
To put my style into one statement, I will say “knowing nothing to know everything”. I genuinely believe transformation is driven by “expertise” and “perspectives”, so I put myself as a “listener” before a “leader”, especially when important decisions come to place. I have been working to decentralise MediaCom, ensuring expertise of all functionalities are equally respected.
My goal is to create a truly compassionate, respectful and collaborative culture.
Therefore to be honest, I would not name any specific mentor as there were so many people to learn from. Sometimes, there are also negative examples that alert me on mistakes I should avoid. The inspiration I seek could be soft or hard skills, attitude change, habits, beliefs, work approach, etc. Citing a few scenarios:
- Senior grade: It tells me no good to company development riding on hierarchy form
- Young Planners/Executives: New trends I might have missed out, or even testing of a great headphone thus I know what is the production advancement nowadays
- Data/Tech Teammates: Brief operation understanding that guide me to drive broad and big platforms to develop. Compiling knowledge and latest market development give me perspective of business model to establish
- Many People I come across: Inspiration of boosting positivity, running a happy and energetic living
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What's the harshest criticism you've received and how did you cope with it?
When I received criticism from two of my line supervisors in the past unfairly compared by my outputs with the others. I learnt this was not the best way to give feedbacks, without sympathising the strength and weaknesses of individuals.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What's one thing you wished employees understood about being a leader?
I believe some MediaComers may face a little pressure with the speed on how we work change. I hope they will understand it is the responsibility for a leader to make decisions that align, if not ahead of changes in the market. Under the company’s big ambition, we have developed many tools that help to streamline work process, with clearer definition on roles and responsibility. This will inevitably impact the way we work, which I perceive as a short term pain that could enhance our efficiency eventually.
I hope our people to stay highly ambitious, helping Mediacom and our clients change to lead.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What do you do during your free time?
Music, Music, Music, I like to blast music through speakers or headphones.
I have at least four sets of speakers at home, and more than four sets of earphone/headphone. I like to tune volume super high and that fuels my positivity, energy and joy.
Apart from music, I also like road trips very much! Overseas would be ideal if there is chance to drive during travel, that pushes the enjoyment to the best. I had self-driving tours traveling Spain, Provence, Scotland, and others. The scenes change amazingly when you cross from a city to another city. Imagine how exciting it would be when I level up the joy by tuning up the music when driving!
Since we have been restricted from traveling for almost 1,000 days, I simulate the joy when driving everyday making it a not bad entertaining alternative.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration when I slow down or put things down such as moments I take shower, or when I’m on ‘me’ time. But there are more and more inspirations when I’m driving and having the music on, which is classically having ‘me time’ crossing over ‘work’, what a form of delighted entertainment and constructive work output.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: If not in advertising, where would you be?
Think I would want to come up a business model that puts Music X Driving together (Road Trips in ideal). Maybe I would be the CMO – Chief Music Officer – one day!
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What advice do you have for someone looking to start a career in the industry?
Be patient and persistent, it takes a bit of time to grasp the knowledge before you can manifest well.
MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: What issue would you like to see the industry change in 2022?
Talent shortage should be an industry-wise issue. From a management perspective, I would want to see agencies inflating titles to solve short-term staff turn around, but obviously it will drag down the quality of the industry’s work over time.
I hope people in the industry and new joiners are enthusiastic about data and new technology which they consider joining or working in the field of. Perhaps these are the most key factors that challenge the market at this stage.
A mindset to constantly transform, and lead, would be something I would want to push for the company. To this point, I’m highly anticipating the launch of EssenceMediacom that beautifully brings data and new tech, with scaled market size. There are lots of new games to bring forward to the market.
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