Quoting Spiderman, Daniel Hagmeijer, managing director of Mirum Indonesia truly believes that with great power comes great responsibility. As such, the newly-appointed MD says he has taken it upon himself to enable employees to live up to their goals.
Speaking to Marketing Interactive in an exclusive interview, he said: “I don’t like micro-managing and keeping track of people’s time. I only need to know what they want to achieve, how they are going to achieve it, and where and when they can use my help.”
Hagmeijer, who has racked up vast experiences in user experience design, has held various leadership positions at Mirum Indonesia and will be spending his sixth year anniversary at the agency in October 2019. He has climbed the ranks from a strategy director to head strategy and experience design teams before assuming his current role in May 2019.
According to him, the company aims to become a CX design leader in Indonesia and come across as a challenger brand across Southeast Asia – and he prefers to empower the mid-management and give them the freedom to lead the way. He added, “Each department head must figure out how to achieve that. But I’ll raise my expectations if they aren’t met during bi-monthly check-ins or in between if I see things going off the rails.”
Read more below:
Marketing Interactive: What has been the proudest moment in your career?
In mid-2017, together with Stephanie Lukito, our former experience design director who is now at Grab Singapore, we set up the experience design offering at Mirum Indonesia. This team focuses on product and service innovation, utilising human-centered design as a mindset and framework to help disrupt clients’ industries.
Being a catalyst of innovation for some of the world’s most innovative brands such as Spotify and DBS Digibank, was both really exciting and very rewarding. In fact, in Q3 2018, Mirum Indonesia was recognised as a centre of excellence for experience design for the APAC region.
For us, this was a really proud moment as our team from Indonesia, consisting mainly of Indonesians, was able to shine on a bigger stage.
Marketing Interactive: What is the toughest part of your job?
With so many things going on, the most difficult thing to do is to properly manage my time! I must force myself to make decisions on what to prioritise every day. One way to make time for what’s important is that I’ve turned off all notifications on my phone.
So, when I want to focus, I can actually focus. I’ve also blocked off 2.5 hours in my daily calendar for focus time, to make sure I get things done. With so many things going on each day, it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture. Hence, at the beginning of the week, I look at how well I am progressing; what my personal objectives as MD are, and what needs to happen that week to achieve those.
Marketing Interactive: With all the mergers in the ad agency market, where do you think the future lies for network agencies?
A very exciting future! Mirum was part of J. Walter Thompson and is now, after the merger, proud to be part of Wunderman Thompson. It’s a great mind melt, and we suddenly have access to even more specialists when we need them. It also eases the process for our clients; instead of having to work with separate agencies, they can now benefit from the entire offering without any problems between companies.
Further benefit for the industry as a whole is that there will be more streamlining and standardisation within the network agencies, which will result in people getting better through internal education, and ultimately better quality experiences for consumers and clients. Isn’t that something we all need?
Marketing Interactive: What issue would you like to see the industry change in 2019?
“Why don’t we just add some CX?”, is something that I heard someone say a couple of months ago. Because the industry is in a constant state of flux, there are new terminologies being used every year. Words such as CX, data architecture, customer journey mapping and marketing automation all sound new and exciting, but most of the time people only understand 10% of what those actually mean.
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It would be great if people spend more time on figuring out what they are actually saying. This will help in creating alignment between different parties. People talk about the importance of CX or data without really understanding why data is important, and how it can be used to design more relevant products or experiences for their target audience first and to improve their business second.
Marketing Interactive: Who is your mentor and how has he/she influenced you?
When I was at TNS Indonesia (now Kantar TNS) I had the joy of reporting to the qualitative research lead, Nilanjan Majumdar. He always gave people challenging tasks, particularly if they weren’t yet equipped to do so. This meant we were constantly challenged to learn new things and develop our skill sets.
For example, I was in countless presentations with him but only saw him present once or twice. He’d always get the team members to present, even if they didn’t necessarily have the confidence to do so yet.
Sure, this could mean that the presentation was only 70% of what it could have been, but the learning moment and experience for the presenters was 150%. It was the long-term benefit of learning that was more important. Afterwards, he’d sit down and discuss what went right and what went wrong, and how to improve in the future. And yes, of course, he would jump in during the presentation if things went terribly wrong.
This taught me that as a leader, you have to give up the reins if you want people to grow.
Marketing Interactive: What inspires you?
Our job at Mirum is to help clients see different perspectives, so together we can make sure their business remains or becomes even more relevant in the future.
If we want to provide others with different perspectives, first we need to get different points of view ourselves.
I consciously spend a lot of time reading – mainly non-fiction – and streaming documentary and crime shows on my TV late at night. For example, learning about food cultures in different countries, or about how major players in Silicon Valley ruined their businesses gives me different perspectives on life and how (not) to tackle problems.
Marketing Interactive: What do you do in your free time?
I spend a lot of time away from home, so spending time with my wife and children is very important to me. When I am not playing dress up or hide and seek with my five- and two-year-old children, you can find me cooking in the kitchen. I don’t do enough of it these days, but I love having friends over for a home-cooked meal.
Marketing Interactive: How do you ensure a proper work life balance?
This goes back to time management. I always joke that my superpower is to go home at 6pm. I manage to do that most days because I start work in the office at 8.30am in the morning, and really think about what I need to achieve in the limited time that I have. Like I said earlier, I block out hours to focus on what’s important. Sometimes the most important thing on a day is not work-related. It could be my child’s school performance or a doctor’s visit. So instead of thinking of balancing work and personal life, I look at what is the most important thing, regardless of whether that is work-related or non-work related.
Marketing Interactive: What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?
Author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari wrote: “Any attempt to define the characteristics of modern society is akin to defining the colors of a chameleon. The only characteristic of which we can be certain is incessant change.”
The same is true for anyone who works in a product or marketing department today. As someone just starting out, but also as a senior, you need to be curious, and actively learn. Don’t wait for the company to train you or for someone to approach you with what you should learn.
Draft your own growth plan, be ambitious but keep your vision open to change.
Identify where you want to be three years from now, and set up your own learning plan. And, make course adjustments along the way. Let your manager know, and tell her to help you get there. The plan doesn’t even have to be about your current job; one person at Mirum wants to quit when he becomes 30, to open his own restaurant. We help him develop the right skill sets by having him work on business model design projects, as well as handling food and beverage clients in order to get familiar with the category.