Serm Teck Choon steps down as country head of CtrlShift Malaysia

Serm Teck Choon, country head of CtrlShift Malaysia, will depart from his role come April 2020. As country head, Malaysia, Serm (pictured) has led CtrlShift Malaysia’s operations, product initiatives, and strategic partnerships, both locally and regionally, for more than four years.

Serm said he truly enjoyed his tenure with CtrlShift and working with such a committed team has been truly rewarding. I believe there’s more to come from the team in the years ahead. It was a very tough decision for me to say goodbye to the CtrlShift family, but it is time for me to start a new journey. I have always been passionate about using technology to help businesses to transform, and I am excited to stay in this field with my upcoming venture​,” added Serm.  

Meanwhile, Dominic Powers, CEO of CtrlShift, said Serm's dedication to the company and the industry over the past four years has been invaluable. "We wish him well and look forward to hearing more about his next venture,” he said.

According to Powers, Serm’s regional market knowledge underpinned the launch of some industry firsts, such as Asia’s first private marketplace for publishers, AMP, and helped inform the road map for its enterprise advertising software, The Hub. The Hub has recently integrated over-the-top media as part of its ongoing evolution into an efficient and effective multi-channel, agnostic media management and optimisation platform, Powers explained. 

According to the company, in the initial years of programmatic, many firms were forced to provide managed services as part of their offering in order to support their brand and agency clients. Over the last decade, the programmatic industry and capabilities in Asia Pacific have substantially matured. "This has provided the opportunity for CtrlShift to transition back to its roots as a technology company to support brands and clients, and gradually de-emphasise its managed-service business," the press statement said.

“We have renewed our focus on The Hub as an enterprise advertising software that brings true efficiency, effectiveness and transparency to brands and agencies. Serm led the charge for Malaysia making it a key market for us, and that same focus will remain,” added Powers.

In an exclusive conversation with A+M, when asked about the current state of digital in Malaysia, Serm, who also served as the president of the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA), said there is now a need for a "dare to fail" spirit.

"We have to dream big, try it, and dare to fail. Take Silicon Valley as an example: embracing failures is one of its cultures for many years. And that’s always one of the key characteristics of successful founders of startups. If only we dare to fail, then we will try, learn, and grow. Digital is the now and the future, and there are still many uncharted territories that are waiting for us to enter and exploit. We can only discover the new land of digital if we have such a spirit," he explained.

He added that more collaborations should be the norm in the industry be it between people, companies or association. "While digital has already become part of our daily lives, I always think that the cake is big enough for everyone," he said. Serm also said that innovative spirit is needed for businesses and products to be built in this decade.

"5G, IoT, data as the new oil - the next ten years will be a fantastic decade. I truly believe the changes digital has brought to our daily lives and business world so far are just a fraction. There are more to come, and we all have to work on that and ready for the real digital era," he said.

When asked about his greatest moments working with CtrlShift, he said the first was working with leading publishers in Malaysia, including Media Prima, Star Media Group, Sin Chew, and RevAsia in 2017 to launch the premium private marketplace named AMP in the country.

"We surprised the market by striking the partnerships with the publishers, which has never happened before. Later, we expanded the project to invite other publishers from Thailand and Indonesia, which formed a regional marketplace," he said. For the past two years, Serm has also been actively involved in the senior management team working on transforming CtrlShift from a managed service-led business into a product and technology-led business, by building The Hub for unified media planning, activation, and insights.

Lastly, he added: "I represented CtrlShift and was elected as MDA president for two terms within the last four years. With such an opportunity, I have been very honoured to have the chance to work with many senior leaders, who are also MDA members or members from other associations, for growing the digital media and advertising industry. We launched many initiatives, include endorsing measurement partners and releasing relevant reports, launching MDA School and MDA Video Series, making Digital Wednesday as industry flagship event, and d Awards."