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By Leah Montebello
Joyce Chen, Managing Director of eg+ Singapore, is on a mission to challenge the approach of content marketing and to make work-life integration a norm in the hectic world of communications.
Make Work, Work For You
“How to make work, work for you. That’s what we aim to achieve. Agencies should be more open to flexible working hours and situations. Work should complement your life, not disrupt it”
Joyce Chen – the sprightly, straight-talking Managing Director of eg+ Singapore, Omnicom’s global production and implementation agency – is taking her “anything is possible” mantra to different aspects of her leadership.
It is a belief and a state of mind imparted by her personal hero, her grandmother. “She has always encouraged me to never let circumstances or qualifications limit what I can achieve. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything,” Joyce recalls.
Despite not having experienced prejudice personally, being young, Asian, and female has its challenges. Joyce abided by the family’s footsteps in banking and finance, first in her studies, and then in her first job, before finally answering her calling in advertising.
She was expecting a tedious passage as she worked her way through creative agencies like BBDO and Ogilvy before taking on the role of Group Account Director at eg+ Singapore. She considers herself “lucky” that she has always been given the chance to speak up. And when she was made Managing Director with under four years at the company, she holds this “luck” dearly and intends to make the most of the opportunity.
Unlocking the potential of content
Communications has seen disruptive changes over the years but it’s not until the last 18 months that the industry observed a most challenging obstacle. The pandemic has upended businesses and steered many others in varied, unprecedented directions.
When the world was grappling with the then new normal, Joyce, alongside the industry leaders, needed to help businesses pivot quicker and niftier than ever before. There was no time for laments; agility is key.
Joyce cites her work with a multinational electronics company as a prime example of agency-client collaboration to adapt to fast-evolving changes: a 3-day in-person conference involving multiple business units translated into a 3-week virtual event. All at rapid speed.
For an automobile client, Joyce and her team drove an onground activation digitally and found various uses for its content. “With showrooms shut overnight, the most agile brands that move with the times win,” she declares.
Part of the strategy has been the smart utilisation of content, or, the art of leveraging content, as Joyce puts it. “When budgets get slashed drastically suddenly brands seek efficient solutions. Our role at eg+ is to help our clients stretch their marketing dollars. One single story can be rendered in several ways.”
Working around pandemic limitations like physical shoots, Joyce recognises that content marketing is undergoing a new wave of change. The approach to creativity, production and implementation needs an overhaul.
The way forward is automation
Joyce believes that automation will benefit brands and agencies alike. Content marketing started out with the intention of being more relevant to consumers’ lives. The approach to content production has to match businesses’ changing needs as well.
As clients become more agile and adaptive, agencies need to scale for greater personalisation and efficiency. Joyce predicts, creative production will move from a resource-based business to a tech-based one. The new talent hires will include tech engineers and architects amongst hybrid art workers and editors.
Above all, people first
While Joyce champions a technology-driven future, she notes that machines cannot function without humans. In response to what defines her leadership style, the answer is people-first. She acknowledges that this industry is a demanding one, but she reasons, if more respect is shown to employees, the more pride they take in their work. Kindness, she insists, should be embedded in leadership.
Through the years, Joyce observes that advertising has a knack for driving people away, especially women. They leave the industry once they enter parenthood and agencies lose talents due to the inflexible way of working.
Joyce is adamant to find a way out and praises the openness Omnicom Group provides. At eg+ Singapore, she works closely with Human Resource and management to create a more inclusive work environment. Initiatives such as the permanent Work-from-Home Wednesdays and the fluidity she encourages with her team are just some of the steps she is taking towards work-life integration.
“How to make work work for you. That’s what we aim to achieve. Agencies should be more open to flexible working hours and situations. Work should complement your life, not disrupt it,” she remarks passionately.
From the sound of her fervour, it looks like the change will arrive sooner than later. After all, she’s already put her mind to it.
Joyce Chen is Managing Director of eg+ Singapore.