Olwen van Dijk-Hildebrand


Education is a vital aspect of modern society. Young people learn to navigate the diverse world around them, and grow their social skills during their educational journeys. Education, of course, takes different forms – homeschooling, private tuition, public schools, higher education like universities, etc – but they all have one thing in common: they are all striving to help build a better society through our youth.

Higher education marketing is a role that many of us will have encountered at some point in our lives, whether subconsciously or obviously. Physical flyers or digital advertisements have at all drawn our attention to different educational opportunities. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, we delve into the complex and fascinating world of marketing in the higher education industry. Join us as we speak with Ooi Lay Tin, Head of Marketing & Sales at the International University of Malaya-Wales in Kuala Lumpur. With her vast wealth of knowledge, Lay Tin talks in depth about her diverse experience in the industry and her outlook of its future.

Welcome to the Marketing Expert Series, Lay Tin, thank you for coming onboard. Let’s kick off with a little background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

During my school days in Penang and my uni days in Kuala Lumpur, I was an introvert. I also bloomed late in my career. For a time I worked in the publishing and the retail industry – all very much people-based lines of work. Since then, I have been in the private higher  education industry for some 29 years. 

The demands of a customer-facing and business development role, and adapting to constant change, moulded me into more of an extrovert in my work. I enjoy learning and solving problems. Somehow I never liked standardised operational or compliance work. In marketing, sales, business development, and communications no two days are the same. These areas are always evolving and are even more challenging to navigate in difficult times.

What was it that first attracted you to this work? 

It all started with an opportunity to join an enterprising Malaysia education group (MBf Education Group) and work with the president. The internal Management Development Programme allowed me to move into areas I showed an affinity for.  

At an international marketing conference, a topic on the “Importance of Branding Strategy” really spoke to me. I even did my MBA dissertation on it!  Afterwards, all my bosses gave me opportunities in different roles to help their organisations grow.

Looking back now, I realise that my underlying interest was in writing and communicating, meeting many new people, while further developing myself.

Currently, you’re the Head of Marketing and Sales at the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW). It seems like such a unique combination – Malaysia and Wales – can you tell us a bit about IUMW? 

Yes, I am back in an organisation that has links or roots close to my heart. I am a proud alumna of University Malaya. 

IUMW is owned by two prestigious universities – University of Malaya and the University of Wales, UK. Set up 8 years ago, it provides affordable study for students in Malaysia and more than 40 other countries. We offer programmes at the foundation or pre-university level to MBA, DBA and PhD. 

The University is special because of its Dual Awards programmes. When students graduate, they receive 2 certifications, one from IUMW and one from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in the UK.

Dual Awards programmes also provide a valuable opportunity for students to experience global education by spending a semester abroad at UWTSD in the UK.

What is it like to shape the marketing strategy of a university like IUMW? 

While there are similarities, each university I’ve worked at has its own organisational culture, is at a different product lifecycle stage, and attracts a slightly different market segment. The market strategy depends on differentiation, specialisation, segmentation and positioning. 

Being young, IUMW has a much flatter and leaner structure. With its reputation and management,  the academic quality is very much governed by the University of Malaya, a highly ranked university internationally and the oldest university in Malaysia. 

This year, we looked for modest growth by increasing sales of existing programmes and introducing new online programmes. We are also growing distribution channels using student recruitment agents and direct digital marketing efforts, competitive pricing, and partnerships. Our efforts using omnichannel marketing focus on the highest return initiatives. 

For 2021, it’s about enhancing student experiences and rebuilding consumer confidence in online and blended learning.

Do you think that we will continue to see a growth in the online and blended learning opportunities in Malaysia and South East Asia even after the pandemic is over?

Students need to study and follow well-structured lesson plans so that they can graduate on time. With the uncertainties and the dynamic changes of the last year, institutions are blending online and face-to-face learning. This entails combining online seminars and tutorials with face-to-face delivery prioritised for workshops, and studio and practical laboratory work.

We expect growth; both students and lecturers find this blended method of learning viable. The downsides, however, include lack of social interaction, limited collaborative learning,  and the need for more preparation and adjustment time.

The review of pedagogy (approach to learning), learning design, curricula and assessments  to meet the needs of the future generations and global  competitiveness of the education industry will need a lot of effort.

Before joining IUMW, you worked as the Deputy Director of Marketing at Monash University Malaysia, and before that you were at Taylor’s University College, ACCA and at the International Medical University. You clearly have an affinity for marketing in the education sector. What is it about this industry that drew you to it? 

I’m thankful to have led marketing at 5 top education brands, contributing my ideas, and sometimes even shaping structure at each institution.

Somehow opportunities were always there for me as a higher education marketer and I do like a people or service-related job. At IMU, I worked alongside professors of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing. These super smart yet humble colleagues inspired me. It’s like they say: everyone you meet knows something you don’t. I spent days talking to students and parents about study opportunities in Malaysia and abroad. We shared countless real-life experiences and stories with them. The end goal is to make someone else’s life better. 

Can you give us some insight into your time at Monash and Taylor’s? What was it like? Is IUMW very different?

Private higher education is very competitive and the Ministry of Higher Education strictly regulates it. Taylor’s was always on-the-go and would invest a lot to have top-of-mind recall. It had large marketing budgets and produced amazing work, they still do it today. It was a place determined to be a trendsetter.

It was a privilege to work for Monash. Working with such a strong global brand, I got noticed and was even invited to events as a panel speaker at marketing conferences. I worked with the CMOs in Australia and was involved in brand refresh, brand reputation projects, research positioning, and digital transformation projects. The scale of marketing campaign projects aimed at global audiences amazed me. The ‘Monash – Change it” campaign, for example, focused on research initiatives to bring real positive impact to communities. (For these projects, I worked with Ms Margot Burke and Mr Fabian Marrone, CMOs of Monash University in Australia).

In IUMW, my aim is to help in talent development, team upskilling, spearhead the digital marketing direction, and using resources effectively and efficiently.  Exploring the huge Malay student market is an interesting new project. With the changing customer landscape, my team and I spend time to finetune our customer lookalike audiences and customer personas. We also work with industry and brand names that want to collaborate more with universities.

In every organisation, I have worked with incredible people – colleagues in Malaysia and abroad and  mentors who have become personal friends. It is truly a satisfying industry to be in.

What is the best part of your role? Is there a specific thing you enjoy most about your work?

In a way, it’s about getting visibility. Business viability rests on a strong and visible brand and annual student growth. With this knowledge and the skills I’ve learned, I can go places; I feel that I am seen and heard.

I enjoy working with many different people and learning from them. I like helping academic researchers profile themselves and their outstanding research. I feel relevant when it comes to digital transformation, especially in brand building and key market outreach. There’s so much to learn and I enjoy sharing results with like-minded people from the sales and marketing fields. 

Recently, however, I feel that it’s much more about doing something meaningful for younger people. For example, I feel like we should be working with Student Councils and youth leaders of clubs and societies.

Universities have been under a lot of pressure during the pandemic. How have you and IUMW worked to overcome any obstacles or challenges you’ve had to face this crisis?

When the COVID-19 situation hit universities in March 2020, our priority was the health and safety of our students and staff. Communication and messaging played a key role in this area. 

We also sought the help of our parent universities since we needed to accelerate our digital teaching readiness. Today, we use a plethora of tools such as Google Classroom, Open Learning, Zoom, Discord, and Labster (Science) to deliver the lessons. 

On the marketing front, my team sets up virtual open days and exhibitions, runs live chats and FB sessions, hosts webinars, and responds quickly to our customers. I am grateful to have a team that can work outside the normal office hours; for example, when we reached out to interests from the Middle East markets in the virtual education exhibition. 

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

I have yet to see many more exotic places and experience new cultures. Travelling within the country and to other new places abroad such as Scandinavia is on my agenda. Meanwhile, I have earned certifications for coaching and mentoring. I’ve also successfully completed the certification to be an HRDF trainer. 

There is still so much I can offer.  I would like to help SMEs (small-medium enterprises)  set up sales and marketing functions. Help them  build a talent pool, set KPIs, integrate and streamline key processes, that sort of thing.

Now, your career and your many successes are inspiring to women everywhere. I understand that you’ve done some work to help advocate for women entering more C-level, leadership roles. Could you share something about that with us? Why is it so important for women to be part of the leadership fabric?

Women improve the company’s performance and gender-diverse teams have higher sales and profits (Gallup). Having women in leadership roles can bring some balance to male-dominated industries. My contribution would be in the area of ‘brand visibility’. I am glad to assist many female academic staff tell their research-related stories. I also enjoy helping them get noticed by upper management, and be able to compete for and win grants or funding for their projects.

Now is an exciting time for women. We are strong and capable and we need to support one another by acknowledging achievements and encouraging each other.

My colleagues and I look forward to helping  young students and student leaders increase their confidence and unlock their potential. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with an eye for the education sector? 

After all these years, it’s truly a blessing to be in the private higher education sector. It helped me guide my own children in their educational journey and they are making good progress in their respective careers.

All experiences are individual, and for me, it would be to have a love for learning and keep company with knowledge workers. Be curious and have the ability to communicate well with a wide variety of stakeholders, from your customers (students and parents, alumni), corporate colleagues, media agencies, to the rest of the academic  community. We need to emphasize interpersonal skills and learning to sustain conversations. 

The decision to pursue a higher education degree or postgraduate degree requires a lot of research, thought, budgeting or financial commitments, as well as some soul searching for the intended career pathways. A young marketers planning to build a career in this specialised area of marketing should:

  1. Enjoy working with people and be customer-centric or customer focussed. You will have to create campaigns that appeal to the emotions of students and their parents. You don’t work on your own so you need the support of the academic team.
  2. You must be digital savvy. Understand the purpose of your campaigns, and know which need investment: video marketing, podcasts, social media campaigns, website development, Google search, etc.
  3. You should enjoy creative work and  engaging with your target audience. You should also know that you must deliver the right message and outcomes (lower cost per lead, conversion rates, etc).
  4. You can grow in this industry if you are someone who loves to learn and isn’t afraid to  ask “why?” or “how?”.

Things to consider for career growth for young people in this sector:

  1. The international education, distance learning, and virtual learning market are expanding. Aspiring marketers will find lots of opportunities to learn, contribute and to grow. Foreign universities are always looking for talents in Malaysia and the South East Asian markets.
  2. Learn finance and analytics to understand the student enrolment numbers and to help you make business decisions. 
  3. As a staff benefit, most  institutions offer full or partial scholarships for you to continue your postgraduate studies. We look for staff with open mindsets, seeking to do more.

It’s been a great pleasure and privilege to learn more about you and your very impressive career, Lay Tin, thank you for sharing your experiences. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I am quite active on LinkedIn and use it as a learning and engagement tool with people around the globe. I am also active on Instagram @ooilaytin which I use to showcase my home cooked food and travel experiences.

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

When marketers launch their careers, the engineering industry isn’t usually the first to jump to mind. Yet it’s this industry that builds the infrastructure that we take for granted – roads, bridges, apartment blocks, houses; without the engineering equipment, the world as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. With the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, the engineering industry has had to undergo a digital transformation to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Join us in this issue of the Marketing Expert Series as we talk with one of the most experienced marketing professionals in the South-East Asian engineering industry. Mei Huang Loh is the head of marketing for the industrial equipment division of Konecranes APAC. With more than fifteen years of experience, Mei Huang entered the engineering industry by accident, finding a niche for which she developed not only a passion but a keen interest in marketing industrial equipment.

Welcome, Mei Huang! Excited for you to join us on this issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Let’s start with something easy. Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are today?

Based in Malaysia, I am currently leading the marketing for the industrial equipment division of Konecranes in the APAC region. Before being appointed to the role, for four years I was the regional marketing manager of MHE-Demag (a member of the Konecranes Group) for Southeast Asia, Australia and Taiwan. I have been in marketing for 15 years, since 2005. Starting with zero marketing knowledge and skills, I was fortunate to have great marketing and career mentors at different stages of my career. Without their generous guidance and opportunities given, I would not be where I am today. 

You’ve been working as a marketer in the engineering and construction sector for quite some time now. Was there something that attracted you to this industry in particular?

I did not choose this industry in the beginning. It was a job opportunity with Monier Malaysia (Lafarge Roofing back then) referred by a friend. I took a four-hour bus ride, went for the interview, got the job, and returned home by bus on the same day. This marketing role then led me to BlueScope and AkzoNobel, which are also related to the construction and building material industries. 

Back then marketing in the engineering and construction sectors was limited to B2B marketing, which I would say less interesting compared to F&B, beauty, and other FMCG marketing. However, times are different now. I personally think there is no boundary between B2B and B2C marketing. A CEO of a development company browses Facebook every day, a director of an engineering consultant uses Instagram too, so when doing strategic marketing, why should we define our target audience as B2B or B2C? 

The most interesting thing with marketing in engineering-related businesses is that there is so much more to do because our marketing is not as advanced and vibrant as the consumer industry yet. Introducing a new way of marketing and ensuring it works in supporting the business growth keeps me excited and motivated. 

Another interesting factor is the people. It is very fulfilling to grow marketers in the engineering industry and equip them with relevant digital marketing knowledge and skills. The appreciation received from my coworker is another reason why I love this industry. Little did they know, I’m only paying it forward, just like how my bosses guided me in the past. 

Now, I have to ask, how does one go about marketing large equipment like cranes or diggers? 

In the past, marketing for large equipment, specifically engineering equipment like cranes and diggers, mainly involved in the “conventional” way of marketing such as exhibitions, brochures, billboards, etc. While these methods still work to a certain extent, digital transformation and digital marketing introduce new mechanisms, new tools, new processes and so on to the way we do marketing now. Webinars, live demo, e-commerce, mobile apps, you name it. 10 years ago who would have thought we could sell excavators or demonstrate crane maintenance services on Facebook live? Nobody expected to rent a wheel loader via a webshop too. And it actually works. 

On top of the tools and platforms, data analytics also play an important role in increasing the effectiveness of our marketing initiatives. There are fewer trials and errors, the accuracy of data helps us to offer the right solution to the right audience via the most effective channels. 

At the moment, of course, you’re with Konecranes, leading marketing initiatives. Can you tell us about the work Konecranes does? 

“Lifting Businesses™” is not just a beautiful slogan but a mission that everyone at Konecranes truly believes in. We have real-time knowledge of how millions of lifting devices perform, and we use this knowledge, around the clock, to make our customers’ operations safer and more productive.

The business is divided into three business areas, Service, Port Solutions and Industrial Equipment, where I am attached. 

Konecranes Industrial Equipment provides an extensive range of industrial cranes, from components and light duty applications to demanding process use and solutions – serving general manufacturing and various process industries. We are the world’s largest supplier of industrial cranes and wire rope hoists and a technology leader with digital controls, software and automation. serving a broad range of customers including manufacturing and process industries, shipyards, ports and terminals.

With the acquisition of MHE-Demag in January 2020, the Industrial Equipment portfolio is now expanded, especially in Southeast Asia. On top of cranes and hoist, we engineer, manufacture and maintain a comprehensive range of warehousing equipment such as lift trucks and dock levellers, aerial work platforms, building maintenance units for safe working at heights, compact construction, as well as automated car parking systems. 

Now, officially, you’ve only been with Konecranes since November 2020. Before that you were working as the Regional Marketing Manager for SEA, Australia and Taiwan at MHE-Demag, which I understand is a member of the Konecranes Group? What was the experience like, shifting within the same company group?

Cultural difference was the first thing I experienced when Konecranes acquired MHE-Demag in January 2020. Headquartered in Singapore, MHE-Demag operated almost like a family enterprise which is completely different if compared to Konecranes, a public listed global company with headquarter in Hyvinkää, Finland. However, we are lucky to have a group of Integration Management Team consisting of colleagues from both the legacies who lead the integration processes and change management in a professional way. My boss always talks about stages of change. I must say the whole structure and the leadership help us to move on from the denial stage fast and effectively. 

Before taking up the new role of APAC marketing, I was heavily involved in the integration projects, so the transition was quite smooth. The biggest difference is I now have a bigger product portfolio and more responsibilities. The fundamental of marketing remains unchanged. 

Is there something you enjoy most about your work in the sector or at Konecranes in particular?

Interestingly the integration that gave me culture shock also became the reason I enjoy working in Konecranes. It enables me to meet new colleagues from various backgrounds and functions. I like meeting new friends and hearing their work and life stories, which certainly open my mind and enable me to see things from new perspectives. 

As a successful global business, there are many things I learned in Konecranes including new technology, new tools, new processes, way of doing business, resources management, etc. What better way to understand a business than to be part of it? New knowledge is also acquired by learning and working with new colleagues who have different skill sets and experiences, which are valuable to the business.

It’s clear that the sector you work in has been impacted by the pandemic, how have you and Konecranes worked to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19?

It is not easy. Everyone in the company plays a role and puts in tremendous effort in the area of their responsibilities to ensure “business as usual”, and “usual” means adapting to the new norm. One of the examples is the lockdown in many countries that prevented our sales team from meeting their customers. Activities such as seminars, roadshows, exhibitions, test drives, demonstrations, launches, training, etc. can no longer be conducted in ways they used to be done. Thanks to management with the foresight to invest in digitization and digital marketing, our processes, platforms and tools were put to good use during the pandemic.

What impressed me the most is how fast the employees accepted and coped with the change. Webinars, Facebook live, campaigns that incorporate social distancing, etc, our employees did their best to reduce the business impact by ensuring our products and services to customers are not affected. In some countries, our e-commerce business improves significantly during the pandemic. 

One thing the pandemic did was transform the way many industries and individuals think about their online presence. How do you see marketing evolving as a result of these difficult times? What do you think will be the biggest impacts faced by B2B and B2C companies in the region?

Customer acquisition, customer retention and value creation remain the basics of marketing. Speed to market gives a business a competitive edge over their competition. On top of technology, material planning, after-sales service and a few more key areas, businesses cannot run away from digitisation and digital marketing. Sadly, many still do not see the importance or are confused between the two. I have met people who told me they do digital marketing for their businesses, and what they meant is by registering a Facebook account and LinkedIn account for their companies. 

Digitalisation and digital marketing are new to many of us, including myself. Companies should start investing in these two if they have not done so, and most importantly, get the right people to lead and to execute the much-needed change. 

How about when the pandemic is finally behind us and we can safely go into the ‘new normal’, do you have any big plans?

Travelling and scuba diving! 

I don’t think we will ever go back to the old days but yes, we can always adapt to the “new normal”. The pandemic has changed the lives of many and “online” is another new norm that we are now used to, and is proven effective and efficient in many areas. The business will continue to grow with the right people, strategy, products, processes, etc. However, when we are back to the new norm, what I want to do the most is to connect with people, face to face. As much as we try, technology can never replace human touch. As a marketer, I want to create opportunities for people to get connected, in a fun and safe way.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers, particularly those with an interest in engineering or construction? 

Marketing in the engineering or construction industry may not be as glamorous as beauty, F&B, or entertainment industries, but it is people from this industry who built the houses we live in, the roads in our neighborhood, the train we took, etc. I personally find marketing in the engineering industry meaningful, not only because it lifts businesses like the Konecranes mission wants, it improves the lives of many.

If you are keen to do marketing for engineering, never let the “industry norm” or the old-timers like me stop your creativity. Work in a company and with a boss who allows your imagination to run wild and turn your creativity into reality. 

Thanks for taking part in this Series, Mei, and for sharing your experiences with us! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Digital marketing and thought leadership go hand in hand. With the recent rise in key opinion leader (KOL) marketing, personal branding has become even more important to successfully dominating the thought leadership arena. This issue of the Marketing Expert Series introduces us to one of the most prolific advocates of digital marketing and personal branding in Malaysia. Nowrid Amin discovered a passion for digital marketing and turned it into a successful career, choosing to share his knowledge and expertise with those around him. Currently the Head of Digital Marketing for Juwai IQI, Nowrid is also extremely active in the marketing community, speaking at numerous conferences and running several workshops every year. 

Join us as Nowrid takes us through his passion for digital marketing and vast knowledge of personal branding. Learn why he believes it’s so important to help pass on knowledge, and how he has managed to lead his team to great successes, despite the Covid-19 crises of 2020.

Welcome, Nowrid! Happy to have you with us for this next issue of Marketing Expert Series! Let’s get the ball rolling with an easy question. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Hello, thanks for inviting me! Pleasure to be here. 

I am a passionate Digital Marketer who loves everything about digital marketing. Currently, I am working in Juwai IQI as the Head of Digital Marketing. I love and enjoy public speaking, and have attended more than 50 conferences as a speaker, including Tedx Talk. Besides that, I am a freelance digital marketing trainer and have trained more than 10,000 people so far.

Were you always interested in digital marketing, or did it grow on you?

My love for digital marketing started after I read a book called ‘Purple Cow’ by Seth Godin in 2011. He is my marketing guru. I then explored more on it, and read more books about marketing. However, implementing what I learned into real life was challenging because of the language barrier. Most of the books I read are from US or European business perspectives, and I was working in Bangladesh during that period of time. 

In 2014, I found out about digital marketing and realized that it is something AMAZING. Implementing and measuring the performance of digital marketing is universal. The targeting, marketing spend and operation were all very exciting to me. As a result of my newfound passion, I left my well-settled job and joined a startup in 2015 to learn more and further execute it in real life. From there, my journey has never stopped.

Currently,  you’re the Head of Digital Marketing for Juwai-IQI. Can you tell us more about IQI and the work that you do there? 

Sure! Currently, I am working as the Head of Digital Marketing in Juwai IQI, leading the digital marketing team in Malaysia, Canada and China which consists of a team of 22 people. My core job is to manage my team, and to set the strategy and direction to ensure a strong digital presence. Optimizing existing resources and usage of marketing budgets is something I need to take care of as well.

Juwai IQI spends 80% of its budget on digital marketing. When we are talking about digital marketing, it covers operations for: Facebook marketing, Instagram ads, Linkedin marketing, SEO, blog writing, and video production. All this and more, we implement it ourselves using our internal resources.

And on that note, I would like to add that the marketing team has made a significant impact to grow the business in 2020 for Juwai IQI. We brought in more than 320% increase in website traffic and business leads from our paid ads, and optimized our ad cost up to 50%. I believe that we are among the few companies who not only hit the target in 2020 successfully, but also excelled in performance despite the Covid-19 crisis.

Back in 2019, I first ran into you at an Inbound Marketing Masterclass hosted by Hubspot and Launchpad in Kuala Lumpur, where you gave an in-depth talk about using LinkedIn. You’re very active in the digital marketing community, online and offline – can you tell us more about these activities? What drives you to do them?

I told you, anything about digital marketing or content creation just gets me excited!

Why am I massively active in the digital marketing community? This is because of the two challenges I faced when I first came to Malaysia from Bangladesh. I was keen to learn about digital marketing. Firstly, not everyone is the expert or practitioner they claim to be to the public. Secondly, people who are actually the real deal may not be willing to spend time or give any information for free. Malaysia is a country where people are keen to learn about new skills and want to listen to you, if you can offer them added-value. 

I saw this window of opportunity and seized it. I know that I have the expertise and if I want people to listen to me, I have to offer good value for FREE. I did just that, and I got an overwhelming response! Following that perspective, I decided to assist people in digital marketing with free content. To do that, nothing can be better than LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn not only helps you to connect with industry leaders, but also allows you to consume content from industry practitioners. Most importantly, you can share your voice there and make an impact in society. You can probably tell that Linkedin is something very close to my heart, that’s because LinkedIn made me what I am today. 

You’re certainly a strong advocate for teaching digital marketing. What is it like, working with – most often – younger people looking to break into the marketing and communications world nowadays?

I have been working in Malaysia for the last 5 years and let me tell you something, the young generation here is immensely talented. They don’t stop! They are hungry to learn new things and keep improving themselves. They are finishing their Bachelors or even a Masters degrees, and they are still going for professional training and online courses! Impressive. 

Most of my team is aged between 22 to 26. Honestly speaking, when I was 26 I had no clue what to do with my life and career. These very people are the ones playing vital roles, taking care of different projects, and making it happen. Most importantly, they are not afraid to grow!

If you ask me to highlight one of their most promising key aspects, it’s speed. They are blazing fast and know how to take up responsibilities.

I’ve heard you speak on the importance of personal branding and what it can do for anyone, even a non-marketer, why the focus on personal branding?

If you would like to grow yourself or your business, personal branding is key. In 2020, people didn’t want to believe what companies were saying. People are interested in people; what they do, where they travel, where they eat, etc. If people are paying attention to you or are interested in knowing about you, they will eventually find out about your work and business. If you can influence your followers, it can make a great impact on your business. This is the reason social media stories, influencer or key opinion leader (KOL) marketing are getting more popular.

We all know digital marketing now is no longer a choice, it is a must. The same thing is happening with personal branding and KOL marketing as well.

Some people ask me: how can I become a KOL? My answer is that personal branding is your first step. The steps for creating a personal brand? It’s simple. Discover your passion, find your niche, create content out of your passion, find the platform to share your content, be consistent, and connect with people. Boom. You just kick started your journey to become a KOL.

Now, COVID-19 – the topic on everyone’s mind this last year. WIth lockdowns and movement control orders in Malaysia driving everyone a little crazy, has it had any impact on your work at all – either as a digital marketing influencer or at IQI?

I think Covid-19 has brought change to the way we used to think and how we live our lives. For most, Covid-19 sounds negative, but I try to see it in a positive light. Come to think of it, Covid-19 actually exposed us. Exposed us to the fact that we know what we need to do, but we are still not doing it. However, if you are someone who can adapt to change, be agile, complain less and focus on working, you can surely survive in this tough time.

With regards to my job and workplace, Covid-19 has definitely made an impact on everyone, as we have never experienced anything like this before. However, we adapted to it very quickly and as a team, we have sold more units in 2020 than in 2019. My team has even achieved exciting improvements in times like this, with them being a part of a conference as a speaker or a trainer in a workshop.

We can go anywhere with digital and technology, and we never tried to use its best elements before Covid-19 hit us. 

And when, finally, this pandemic is behind us – what’s next for you?

This pandemic made us all feel one thing for sure, and that is that you have one life, literally one. There may not even be a tomorrow, we shouldn’t waste it by over thinking, dwelling, or complaining.

I am so excited about 2021 for so many reasons. I am officially launching #IamSocial, my very own platform. It will be for youths! They can enjoy free training, write blogs, share their ideas and also be a part of different global events. I am also excited as I am now promoted as the Head of Digital Marketing in Juwai IQI. From now on, I will take care of the digital marketing operations for a few other countries alongside Malaysia, Canada and China.

Aside from this, I am also excited to see how business will evolve, and to make our youths ready to be active in business and grow during and after this tough time. 

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers specialists? 

Don’t chase or do something just to please others, or to get social media engagement. Put in real work. As a trainer, I found out recently that people go crazy to get certificates from sessions, or focus too much on CGPA while not actually interested to learn in class. So focus on what you need to grow, personally and professionally. No one cares about certificates or CGPA if you cannot explain your learning in an interview, or it cannot reflect in your work.

Learn from the right source, improve your knowledge and implement your learning in your work. Look at how you can make an impact with your learning. Your work can make a difference, not the amount of certificates.

Thanks for spending some time with us, Nowrid! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thank you as well. Anyone can connect with me on Linkedin or Instagram. On Linkedin, you will find me as Nowrid Amin and on Instagram you will find me as nowrid. 

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Welcome to another interview in our Marketing Expert Series! 2021 is taking off at a different pace, and we’re striving to make the most of every opportunity that’s presented to us during these trying times. This week we delve into the world of digital advertising, guided by Wayne Liew, the Head of Advertising at Mindvalley in Malaysia. 

Digital advertising is one of the key marketing initiatives that can drive company growth and sales. As such, it’s one of the best skills to have in your marketing toolbox. Digital advertising specialists like Wayne focus on optimizing paid content to raise brand awareness and get the word out to the right audience. For a company like Mindvalley, a teaching and mentoring institution specializing in helping people grow, reaching out into the world makes all the difference.

Join us as we learn more about what makes digital advertising tick for this company, and how Wayne came to be where he is today. 

Welcome to the latest issue of the Marketing Expert Series, Wayne! Happy to have you with us! Let’s start with an easy question. Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get to where you are today?

Hi everyone! Thank you for having me! I am Wayne, and I lead the advertising function in Mindvalley.

In college, where I was pursuing an accounting degree, I was already building websites, growing them, before selling them off at a profit. When I left college, I ended up working in an audit firm for a couple of years, and I didn’t like the mundane nature of the work.

My marketing career started when Lazada established its presence in Malaysia around 2012. Even though I didn’t have formal education in marketing, I managed to impress the marketing manager back then with the SEO results that I’ve accomplished and the volume of organic traffic that I’ve acquired for my online projects.

I think my curiosity and the passion I have for growth are the two things that got me to where I am today.

Was there something that drew you to this line of work or was it always going to happen?

Looking back, I think I always wanted a career revolving around creativity and entrepreneurship.

When I was building and growing my websites during college, I was always fascinated by new growth strategies to experiment with. There was one time I burnt the midnight oil one day before my exams. It wasn’t because I needed to study, it was because I wanted to implement a new design that will make visitors spend more time on my website.

On your blog – – you describe yourself as ‘a digital marketer who is deeply passionate about personal development, career growth, and productivity.’ You’ve written about self improvement and development. Is there a philosophy or thought that motivates or inspires you?

We all have a limited time to live. Make the most of every minute. Be intentional about crafting the life you want to live.

Currently, you’re the Head of Advertising at Mindvalley. Can you tell us a bit about what Mindvalley does and your work there?

Mindvalley helps our users transform every dimension of their life through state-of-the-art online courses and the most uplifting community platform. At work, I lead a team of media buyers and advertising specialists to maximize the returns of our marketing spend. We strategize, launch, and optimize our campaigns to make sure our promotional messages are reaching potential customers in a profitable way.

What does it take, in the 2020s to be a solid advertising specialist for a company like Mindvalley?

On top of having deep knowledge about advertising platforms, a solid advertising specialist at Mindvalley must be able to collaborate with other marketers, turn data into actionable insights, and communicate them to key decision makers of a product or the company.

Has COVID-19 impacted your work and the strategies you’ve had to employ? Do you see any lasting trends that will impact your work?

COVID-19 accelerated the ongoing shift of many activities from offline to online, including education. More people than ever are exploring options on the Internet to upskill themselves or to become better at something.

The surge in demand also means that more people are seeing our campaigns. When this happens, we are constantly looking for ways to come up with more personalized ad campaigns at scale. How can we come up with more ad creatives that relate to different audience groups at scale?

With more businesses coming online and with existing players becoming more savvy with digital marketing, the marketplace is becoming more competitive than ever. Marketers will need to be more open to experimenting with new ideas. The duration of any effective marketing strategy is just going to become shorter. What’s working today may no longer be effective tomorrow.

What about ‘after’, when this pandemic is over  – any plans on the horizon for you personally?

Aside from wanting to travel again, I also want to create more content for my site and on social media as a way to build a community for people who share the same interests as myself.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers or entrepreneurs? 

Take action. You can read about something, listen to every single podcast, or buy all the online courses out there, but if you are not implementing the ideas in your projects or campaigns, you will not make progress, grow or learn.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Wayne! How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thanks again, everyone! You can learn more about me on, which is where I am publishing most of my work. They can also send an email to, or reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s digital advertising, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

A few weeks ago, we explored the digital convergence revolution and the impact it has on society, both in the past and in the future. We learned that digital convergence has been around for while, leading us towards a single digital ecosystem that allows for the complete merging of all things digital. COVID-19 has further empowered digital convergence and the digital transformation that gave birth to it. Society has taken to digital convergence with a passion, integrating communication, access and sharing of information across all manner of its facets. 

What role does Digital Convergence play in Performance Marketing?

The merging of the digital experience across all devices no matter the format of the content has presented performance marketers with new tools and access to flows of information. Digital convergence has given rise to a new level of user experiences (UX) and user interfaces (UI), as well as a whole new wave of performance marketing strategies and tactics being used across all platforms and channels available.

Performance marketers are always looking to bring their target audience closer to the brands they are marketing. Digital convergence has allowed for seamless sharing of information across all marketing channels. Where before content had to be tailored for each channel, requiring customized visual dimensions and even style, the developments in multimedia streaming and sharing have created a smoother experience for both the development and posting of content. Think of it like this: where before three representative visuals based on one piece of content might have been created to allow for sharing across Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, now each channel can swallow one style. Similarly, responsive website design allows for the viewing of the same website across all devices. 

As digital convergence continues to evolve, marketers are going to have to adapt and take advantage of the changes. Fully understanding the changes that digital convergence offers their audience, will also dictate the types of UI and UX that need to be designed. 

What are the advantages of Digital Convergence for Marketers?

It’s not only marketers that are taking advantage of digital convergence but consumers too. A great example of this is the camera, previously we used cameras to capture moments in time for personal use. Now, with smartphone cameras, they are a part of every day existence – to share images with friends and strangers across the Internet, on social media, blogs, and email. Additionally, videos have become as easy to create as photos. Then there’s audio recordings… All these forms of multimedia, previously the realm of designers and specialists, are now in the hands of every consumer out there. Marketers share more and more with their audience than they did previously.

On the face of it, this may seem like the cat is out of the bag and marketers have no more tricks up their sleeves with which to impress their audiences. The thing is, however, that it also makes marketers more accessible, as humans, and at the end of the day everyone is looking for that human-to-human connection.

The ‘bundling’ of formerly separate multimedia content, allows marketers to more efficiently create and share knowledge and raise brand awareness more efficiently. As the name suggests, digital convergence has brough diverse channels and platforms together. People want absolute connectivity, easy use, and streamlined experiences that require as few changes of platforms as possible. Experiences may differ – LinkedIn users don’t want to see the usual day-to-day content of Facebook, for example – but at the heart of it marketers can exploit ever connection between every channel to best reach their target audience. 

As a direct result the convergence of multimedia, data collection and analysis is converged as well. With all the information at the tips of their fingers, marketers are better able to interact with their audiences and first react to then preemt to changing trends in any industry.

Final Thoughts

Essentially, digital convergence has allowed marketers to develop multi-channel marketing strategies that allow them to reach prospective customers in the places where they live. Digital transformation is leading us towards a new form of digital interaction, and marketers are growing with the changing circumstances. Multi-channel and omnichannel marketing are the strongest assests for any performance marketing strategy, and with digital convergence on the rise it is important for modern marketers to bring all these facets together and spur us towards the single digital ecosystem that we are headed for.

Are you ready to take the next step towards your company’s digital transformation? Bring your performance marketing initiatives together in your own convergence event. We can help you navigate towards a strong performance marketing strategy that takes full advantages of global digital convergence.

Digital convergence has been around for a while, following in the footsteps of evolving technologies and upgraded networking. The development of the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the amount of multimedia available to consumers all around the world – multimedia being the combination of audio, video, and data. 

There’s a lot of talk about digital convergence with a global pandemic raging and how it has been affected. Digital convergence has seen a massive uptake due the digital transformation demanded by the changes of 2020.  But what is digital convergence, really? And how has it impacted society?

What is Digital Convergence?

Digital convergence is the ability to use any device to view any kind of multimedia regardless of what format it takes. This seems very straightforward on the surface of things, but the technology required to allow us to stream videos from our smartphones to our televisions, read emails on our tablets, or send instant messages from our computers, has been evolving over decades. The seamless experiences so many of us take for granted has already transformed the way in which we live and work. 

What Impact has it had on Society?

Digital convergence has given society a new interconnectedness across all facets – both our personal and professional existances. Convergence has opened access to information in all its shapes and forms to all of us, no matter what devices we own. It has also allowed us to share that information more easily with others; we are no longer depenedent on the content’s format to be able to view or share it. This has lead to improved integration in communication, not only between individuals and companies but between machines as well. 

Think about it this way, if we can share information more readily across all our devices without fussing over the kind of shape it takes or its compatibilty with devices, the sharing of data between machines has taken on a whole new speed. 

The downside of digital convergence is ‘fate sharing’. If everything is interconnected across one network, then if something goes wrong with the network everything will be affected. Think of it like ‘all eggs in one basket’ – if the basket breaks, all your eggs will be on the floor in pieces, leaving you with a mess and no omelette. 

The Digital Convergence Revolution in 2021

One of the keys to unlocking the advantages of the digital convergence in 2021 will be agility. The ability to pivot based on the changing circumstances will be the difference between companies that survive the pandemic and companies that fail. 2020 taught us that digitally transformation is no longer optional, but demanded in the face of the unpredictable world we live in – you never know when a start-up competitor will undercut you, or your industry will take a hit, or a pandemic will bring the entire world to a halt. 

No matter the situation, an agile company is a strong company. In fact, 75% of executives believe the pandemic’s lasting impact will mean that we will be working faster and with more agility than before. Combined with the pandemic, the digital revolution has already left behind those brands that were stuck in rigid systems. Those brands may never recover. In fact, in the Forrester predicts that lines between marketing and customer experience functionality will blurred more than ever before, eventually leading to a true convergence and a definite increase on loyalty and rentention marketing.

2021 will be a make or break it year for all brands: either join the revolution or be left behind and miss out on all the opportunities that the new year will have to offer.

Final Thoughts

Digital convergence has carved the path for all future technology. It’s come as the natural progression through the impact of digital transformation and it’s not going anywhere. It empowers the IoT and drives the strategies behind digital marketing, research and development for new technologies, improving the way we gather, communicate, and track data, and as automate systems. Where will it all lead? Only time will tell, but with the rise of seamlessly integrated technologies like smart home devices and voice  controls, we can assume that somewhere down the line digital convergence will give birth to a single digital ecosystem. 

 Happy 2021! Welcome to this year’s first issue of the Marketing Expert Series. This week we take a step back from the world of corporate marketing and branding and take an insightful stroll through the world of marketing academia. This week we talk to Dr. Mansur Khamitov, who, up until the end of 2020, was Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Nanyang Business School (NTU), and has now joined the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. A prolific thought leader and influencer, Dr. Mansur’s work has been featured in Forbes, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, and many other publications.

Like all things, marketing has many facets both positive and negative. When we look at the world of business, we sometimes forget that there is a dark side to it all. Ethical marketing and branding is the focal point of much of Dr. Mansur’s work, shedding light on the darker underbelly of marketing practices. The global COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably impacted these practices as well. Join us as we dip into the world of marketing academia with one of the world’s leading experts and explore the experiences and motivations behind Dr. Mansur’s life and work.

Welcome, Dr. Mansur, and thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. To get the ball rolling, can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

Thank you for thinking of me and for your kind invite. Sure, I’d be happy to tell you more. In a nutshell, I’m inherently a marketing guy. I view myself as a thought leader in the domains of marketing in general and branding in particular. 

I started out in the industry before transitioning full-time to academia back in 2013. While my passion has always been in the practice of marketing, I came to realize back that the corporate world – while incredibly stimulating – was not something that I wanted to do long-term, which led me to pursue my PhD. 

Aside from my career, I’m an avid sports fan, traveler, poet, book lover, and musical enthusiast.

You’ve lived, studied, and worked in different countries across the world – Kazakhstan, Canada, Singapore. What’s it like to study and work in those locations with differing cultures? 

The cross-country and cross-cultural perspectives are definitely the ones I cherish. Those experiences have been truly invaluable. It’s always a little bit of a steep learning curve and it takes time to adjust and fit in, but once you figure it out and find a way to navigate your cultural surroundings, you actually start to see and enjoy its beauty. Ultimately, these diverse cultural experiences contribute to your self-concept and form a big part of who you are, enabling you to embrace the cosmopolitan identity of a truly global citizen.

You also spent several years in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry working for some very well known names like Procter & Gamble and Polpharma. How did those experiences influence your path as a researcher and academic?

A lot of the stuff I do presently has been shaped and inspired by my past industry experiences in branding and marketing management at P&G and Polpharma. Even my original interest to pursue a marketing PhD has been driven by my passion for branding, and this intrinsic interest in brands and branding has stayed with me ever since. I take pride in grounding my academic research in real-world, cutting-edge marketing problems. Not to sound critical but a lot of my fellow academics have a tendency to sit in their ivory towers, work on very abstract theoretical problems, teach decades-old outdated insights, and completely lose touch with what’s happening in the industry. This is not my path and as a business school professor I would very much want to avoid it and instead strongly prefer to keep my finger on the pulse of latest industry developments and trends.   

Unlike other interviewees of this Series, you’re now a professor, with research focuses like ethical branding and brand transgressions. Why this particular focus? What was it that first drew you to these areas of research? 

A lot of my early research has focused on what I call the positive or “light” side of branding including consumer-brand relationships and brand loyalty. While these phenomena are quite common and prevalent, we’re seeing a huge increase of widely publicized cases of brand transgressions, corporate misconduct, and firm wrongdoings as of late. I’m finding myself increasingly fascinated with this “dark” side of branding and its ethical (or rather unethical) implications. The two key reasons that drew me to this area of research are:

  1. The sheer prevalence and magnitude of such high-profile brand transgressions (think Luckin Coffee misconduct, HSBC money laundering controversy, Foxconn scandal, etc.) 
  2. Comparative lack of research on the dark side of branding compared to the positive or light side of branding.   

Has your research been influenced at all by the different places you’ve lived and worked over the years?

It sure has. As a case in point, I’m currently working on a research project where I and my co-authors compare the relative effectiveness of different brand relationship strategies (e.g., brand love, attachment, identification, trust, etc.) across different countries and geographical regions, including the ones where I myself got a chance to live. 

Another recent example comes from a consulting, advisory, and thought leadership engagement I had with Eastspring Investments (part of Prudential Group) and Duxton Consulting Group. As part of that large-scale project, we surveyed thousands of Singaporean consumers as well as consumers from other parts of Asia which I’m quite familiar with.    

Ethical marketing practices are a big part of the modern landscape. Do you think the 2020 pandemic is going to change that landscape, or impact the importance of these practices?

If anything, my prediction is that we will be seeing an increase in the importance and significance of ethical branding and marketing practices, doing the right thing, and brand purpose for that matter. Decades of research on the topic clearly indicates a substantial financial, reputational, and loyalty upside for brands and companies that have embraced ethical marketing practices as part of their DNA. 

In the current tough landscape where people are particularly sensitive to value-based violations, performance-based violations, safety and security crises and failures as well as other types of corporate breaches of trust, brand teams that are able to pull it off are likely to be disproportionately rewarded. Having said that, any such efforts have to come across as authentic, genuine, and credible. It’s all about actually walking the talk as opposed to simply jumping on the bandwagon.      

Do you see your own work changing due to the impact of COVID-19?

As business school professors, we’ve been truly fortunate and privileged in many different respects both in the pre-pandemic period and the current pandemic period. Having said that, like many of my colleagues, I had to make a number of adjustments to my regular routines. These range from switching many of my undergraduate and graduate classes entirely online in an extremely short period of time, changing my data collection methods from in-person to remote, to no longer interacting with my co-authors and colleagues in person for an extended period of time. Research-wise, I’m seeing a number of my branding projects naturally evolving to have more of a prosocial, societal, and well-being angle to them.  

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is past, what would you like to do next?

I’m very much looking forward to this pandemic being finally over, sooner rather than later. I am starting a bunch of new and exciting projects including, but not limited to studying the dark and negative side of brand personality and corporate arrogance on one end and the upside of brand trust and perceived competence on the other end. I can’t wait to fully dive deep and make more progress on these projects in the coming months. Personally, I’m very eager to resume travelling and get a chance to visit my and my wife’s parents and friends which has been long overdue.   

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers or communication students? 

Be agile. Be daring and brave but don’t cut corners. Develop a habit of regularly stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new and useful. Engage in continuous learning and personal and professional development whether via your mentors, peers, thought leaders or via free cool platforms like Coursera or edX. 

Thank you, Dr. Mansur, for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I’m typically very open to any collaboration and cooperation opportunities and prospects. Hence, I’d love to keep in touch with all fellow marketing enthusiasts. The easiest and most straightforward way to connect and keep in touch is either on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Alternatively, I do have my personal webpage, which contains more information about my background, interests, and projects.

Thank you, hang in there, and please stay well & safe! 

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Welcome back to the Marketing Expert Series! In this issue we venture into the fields and minds of some of the most important people on Earth: our agricultural experts. Most of us do not give much thought to how the agricultural industry works, and how they have adapted to the changes in technologies and consumer trends. Who among us has stopped to think about how the agricultural industry has adopted new technology to improve the quality, quantity, and sustainability of the food that ends up on our tables.

Meet Avinash Deshmukh, Vice President for Marketing for BASF Asia Pacific, a man not only passionate about the agricultural industry but also about humanity. Well-traveled, vastly experienced, Avinash has worked in agriculture for most of his life, and takes us on a fascinating journey of digital transformation and adaptation in an industry that we really should all be paying more attention to. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed below are personal and should NOT be interpreted as BASF views, although several references have been made to BASF.

Welcome, Avinash, it’s great to have you on our Marketing Expert Series. To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in your current role? 

While growing up in Mumbai, India, I visited my uncle’s farm every year during the summer vacation. This led me to study agriculture and has become both a passion and my life over the years. 

I am grateful for the  opportunities in my life, which has taken me around the world – circa 10 years in the UK while also working across Europe, around another 10 years in the USA, followed by 6 years in Germany, and now 4 years in Singapore looking after Asia-Pacific marketing. 

In agricultural business, I meet many farmers and associated colleagues. I’ve visited places that you tend not to find in the ‘Top 100 Must-Visit Tourist Places’ and I enjoy every bit of it. I have met farmers who farm more than 10,000ha and farmers who farm less than 1.  I find amazing similarities in all their passion for food production and their feet-on-the-ground approach. 

On a personal side, my wife’s support has been the most critical success factor in living around the world, travelling +50% of the time and bringing up our son in so many different places. Currently, my son is pursuing his PhD in Astrophysics in Germany and I am hoping that he will contribute to agriculture in the Space 😊.

Was there something that first drew you to marketing? Was it something you always wanted to do?

I started my career with a passion for agriculture and a strong desire to work internationally. Flexibility, attitude, and respect for humanity have been my key companions in this journey. I’ve been a salesperson, logistic coordinator, regulatory affairs manager, product manager, commercial (export) manager, strategic manager, a leader, helping M&A etc. I never looked at any of these roles as being less important than others. I don’t even have a formal MBA in marketing, and my MBA was achieved over 30+ years interacting with farmers, professionals, colleagues in real life across various roles & with differing responsibilities.

At the moment you work with BASF Asia Pacific, what kind of work does BASF do? 

We create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. 

Our portfolio is organized into six segments: chemicals, materials, industrial solutions, surface technologies, nutrition & care, and agricultural solutions. I work for the Agricultural Solutions segment where we firmly believe that farming is the biggest job on Earth – and it’s getting bigger and more complex. The challenge is to give our growing population access to enough healthy, affordable food, while reducing its impact on the environment for future generations. At BASF, we not only take up this challenge but also aspire to  lead the way forward for agriculture by finding the right balance for success – for farmers, for agriculture, and for future generations. 

To sum up in 6 words: “The Right Balance For Better Yield”.

Is there something in particular you enjoy most about your role at BASF?

Several things actually, but to name just a few: 

First and foremost, the people-oriented culture & creative working atmosphere.

Secondly, the diversity of businesses, people and cultures throughout the organization.

And lastly, for me personally, the unmatched opportunity to interact, learn from and contribute to the farmers, professionals, and colleagues who ensure there is enough food on our table.

When I first approached you about joining this Series, you mentioned that agriculture is the latest frontier being disrupted by digitization. What’s it like working in the agriculture industry as a marketer? 

We could talk about this for hours. Digitization is changing the world at a much faster pace, especially with the COVID-19 situation. Although we use digitization as a generic term, I want to focus on three areas: automation, outreach, and convenience. 

Agriculture has always been people’s business and will stay that way, but the way we do business is changing. 

Examples of automation in the industry include GPS-guided farm machinery allowing precision sowing/seeding,  harvesting, etc.. Machine learning and algorithms are also helping provide prognoses and solutions for future problems, while computing allows us to access and record farm data.

In terms of outreach: traditionally, a new product training or piece of information was disseminated through face-to-face meetings. This method is time-consuming and less efficient. Today we can reach an audience of 50,000+ in one go through online platforms. 

With regards to convenience, many farmers can now buy and sell their produce at a click of a button. They can spray their crops using drones – making the operation both faster and safer for the operator. BASF has recently announced a joint venture with Bosch in the field of smart seeders and smart sprayer technologies. Additionally, through BASF’s Xarvio digital platform, we are already helping thousands of farmers identify crop-specific problems and solutions – all through a simple app on the smartphone.

Agriculture is undergoing tremendous changes this decade as many genius minds and organizations are focusing on this sector. Personally, I believe that all these changes will contribute to sustainable agriculture that we will all be proud of.

Has being involved with agriculture impacted your marketing style in any way?

Absolutely. I deal with farmers, channel partners, and professionals who live either on the farm, usually in rural places and small villages. There are many special  traits of the farming community. For example, this is the only community that consistently sees sunrise every day. In my travels many of my meetings have started at 6am. Also, farmers buy everything retail but sell their produce wholesale. And lastly, farming is still the most unpredictable, largest scale operation in the world that is totally at the mercy of mother nature – you can not control rain, shine, wind, hail, cold, hot…… I can go on 😊.

Having worked with this community over the years makes me appreciate their challenges, contribution, and needs. BASF is a trusted brand all over the world for that very reason, because every employee is in it to find that right balance.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, has there been any strain on the industry? Have you had to adapt your marketing strategy to any changes?

Fortunately, agriculture is one of the least affected industries because food production is the basic need. That said, the industry has suffered from supply delays or additional freight costs, shortages, volatility in currency rates, trade barriers, low commodity prices etc. Closure of restaurants, public places, and state boundaries has affected demand for fruits, vegetables and perishables. I am confident, however, that the resilient farming community is overcoming these pressures.

For us, not being able to meet our customers face-to-face has been the most important challenge. We are adapting our interactions to online platforms, virtual trial tours, permissible small face-to-face meetings, and various other means. Digital Marketing has become extremely important, especially content creation. So we are adapting our digital marketing outreach. For example, BASF Agricultural Products has one of the largest Facebook follower communities in Asian agricultural markets.

What about for you, personally, when this pandemic is over, what’s next for you?

Well, first and foremost, I would like to see my family and friends face to face. Then I will take as much time as required to connect with the farming community “in person” and fill my lungs with farm air – honestly, I miss it. The majority of the food is and will be produced on the farm for the foreseeable future and I cannot wait to get out there to find that right balance for success – for farmers, for agriculture, and for future generations.

Any advice you’d give to young and aspiring marketers? 

I would not call it advice, but rather a sharing of what has worked for me. 

Flexibility, attitude, and respect for humanity have been my key companions in this journey. In any business, it is important to identify and resolve the pain points of the customer, and/or to create a new “wow” experience. It is vitally important that the marketed product meets the value propositions assured by an organization. Always remember that customers will ultimately figure out the authenticity of your product/service promise.

There will be rapid changes all around us but as long as you have a big heart, open mind and a strong character,  you will always come out better.

Thank you, Avinash, for sharing these insights and experiences. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more?

You can always reach me at +65 8139 6153 either by phone or WhatsApp, or they can always email me at

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a performance strategist? Performance marketing is – as its name suggests – marketing based on performance. It’s a term that refers to a skillful combination of online marketing and advertising campaign programs.

Did you know that between 2019 and 2020, digital marketing budgets saw an increase in an average of 13%? This upward trending budget indicates an uptake in digital marketing. Technology is constantly changing, and performance marketing uses those advancements to drive successes. Performance marketing initiatives are the latest ‘hot’ thing, and not likely to go away, in fact, it’s likely to dominate the marketing sphere for the years to come.

As a result, a performance strategist plays a key role in the future of marketing. This week, we hear more about what makes a performance strategist tick, and how our very own performance strategist, Geetha Boyani, found her way to the #2StallionFamily.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you and where did you come from?

Hey! I am Geetha. I’m a Performance Strategist at 2Stallions. To break down my job title, I build data-driven strategies to reach target audiences in the digital space. I specialize in Search Engine Marketing (think of Google!). Furthermore, I’m a tech nerd, especially when it comes to tracking what users do on a website and how they become customers.

I come from an Engineering background, with a degree in Civil Engineering. Fresh out of college, I found an interest in the financial aspects of construction projects. Later, I went on to get a Masters in Project Management. After graduating, I made the conscious decision to switch to a career that blends my interest in dollars and numbers with project management. I must say I found that golden blend in digital marketing.

Is there someone who inspires you? Or something that motivates you?

I don’t really have role models per se. Being a numbers person, I find motivation in results. I wake up every day knowing I have a challenge ready for me at work. Solving these challenges and hearing “wow, it’s solved!” is definitely inspiring. I store these reactions so I can draw on them when things get tough.

You’ve come from a non-marketing background. Was it difficult for you to work in a field that was outside of your degree specialization? Do you have any advice for fresh graduates who are currently looking for jobs and are open to explore different career paths?

The world of work has changed drastically. We’re moving away from the belief that your degree decides your entire professional life and with technology updating practically every day, new opportunities are constantly created. 

In my opinion, learning new skills based on your passions can go a long way.  For example, I learned Java programming as part of my school curriculum nine years ago. Between then and now, I hardly used it in my work. When I made the transition to digital marketing and joined 2Stallions, one of the early projects required a custom script to track how users interact with a form. The script used Javascript. Going back to the basics I learnt nine years ago, I picked up how Javascript works and then implemented the solution. 

I started my journey as a fresher in all three  companies I have worked in so far. Each experience has been different however the common learning has been to stay teachable. Also, as freshers, we come into industries with some expectations like about the kind of work we do, or the team we are in. We all need to identify what our priorities are, not every workplace has a pool table. Ask yourself, does that even matter? What worked for me was to find a mentor or  friend to talk with. Those conversations helped me manage my expectations.

Are there any tips or tricks you use to get yourself going when you might find yourself stuck with developing a strategy or tactic to help a client or even your own personal brand?

Competition is a Pandora’s Box of insights. When I develop strategic plans for clients, I take time to check out what the competition is doing. This puts me in the place of an end user. When I am stuck, I go back to that user journey and ask myself, “Why would I go for this <brand> vs the other?” This gives me a new perspective on what I am missing and how I can better provide for my client.

Can you share some of your favorite marketing guides/non-marketing books?

I prefer to listen to podcasts or read blogs for marketing aspects. Currently, I have The Paid Search Podcast and Neil Patel’s Marketing School on my playlist. The audiobook Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis is lined up as my next read.

As for non-marketing books, I found Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis memorable. It’s a must-read for anyone feeling that they are not good enough.

Is it true that an agency life is work without play? Tell us a little bit more about the culture at 2Stallions.

Honestly, I was scared to join an agency after hearing those stories. After joining 2Stallions, I believe the team played a huge role in helping me fit in. Our agency culture is best defined as “supportive”. I found amazing friends in my co-workers. Even though we are all working from home for most of this last year, we have come together virtually (and sometimes in person) to catch up on life outside work.

What about outside of work? What makes you tick? 

Anyone who knows me associates me with the word “Toastmasters”. When I am not working, there are high chances that I will be working on Toastmasters related projects. 

Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit organization, based in the USA, committed to developing communication and leadership skills with a learn-by-doing approach. In Singapore, there are more than 200 clubs where people can practice their speaking skills. I have been part of Toastmasters for close to 10 years now, and through this movement, I have met my mentors as well as got the opportunity to mentor others. To an extent, I would credit Toastmasters for helping me identify digital marketing as a career choice.

Wrapping Up 

Connect with Geetha on LinkedIn to learn more about her work as a performance strategist or about her work with Toastmasters!

Get to know our #2Stallionsfamily with the #2Steamstories tag.  Discover the works done by our diverse team of digital marketing professionals who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. Browse and download our case studies now. 

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Welcome to another issue of the Marketing Expert Series! From journalism to property development, this week showcases Alexander Knight. Currently the Sales & Marketing Director for Asia at The London Resort Hotels, Alexander has worked for many different media companies throughout Europe and Asia before landing in the incredible position to help bring forth the massive production that is The London Resort Hotels. 

When we take the time to think about ‘theme parks’, most of us will inevitably think of places like Disneyland, or Warner Brothers Movieworld. Theme parks exist in all shapes and sizes, of course, and the logistics required to develop and market them are immense. Join us as Alexander lays it out for us, taking us through his own background, experiences, and philosophies.

Hi, Alexander, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. To get us started, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

I grew up in London in a family of journalists so had the media in my blood from day one. My first real job was at the News of the World newspaper. After which I was headhunted to be the production manager at The Moscow Times – just after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. That was fascinating as there was zero concept of marketing in Russia then. 

I went back to London to work for Thomson, then Argus Media, which gave me an insight into oil and gas pricing – and marketing. 

Subsequently, I moved to Singapore in 2006 and set up my own magazines to help property developers find clients. Now I am the Sales & Marketing Director for Asia of The London Resort Hotels – a £2 billion project soon to be under construction in Kent, UK. My three kids think it’s great as they are hoping to have unlimited access to Europe’s biggest theme park when it opens!

On your LinkedIn profile you state that your ultimate goal is to make sure that your client’s products and services are delivered to the right people. Has this been the overarching theme of your professional life?

Very much so. In my view, it is very important to help clients attain their sales goals as rapidly and painlessly as possible. Selling property is not easy – it is about trust and working closely with both vendors and vendees to make sure everyone is happy. Repeat business is the best kind!

Is there a single experience from your past careers that stands out? 

I think the night that Freddie Mercury died was one of the most poignant. I was a junior on the newsdesk at the UK’s biggest selling newspaper when the news came in about Mercury’s death at just after midnight. We were all totally shocked but we carried on and proceeded to remake the first 9 pages of the newspaper in tribute to the singer. 

The most interesting experience from a sales and marketing perspective was running my own publishing and events company – so many moving parts. Our ability to use our platform to get customers to come to events was just staggering.

And now you are the Sales & Marketing Director for Asia at London Resort Hotels, one of the biggest hotels and theme parks in the world. What is it like to work for such a massive brand with so many consumers?

We have such an amazing team spread across the globe. We are all extremely excited about The London Resort – the theme park looks like nothing I have ever come across before and the guests will absolutely love it! We are just about to launch a special club for those who want to ride the experience from now to opening and beyond. We are all now just getting strapped in now for the ride of a lifetime.

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

The way that doors open when I start talking about the project. There is so much interest in The London Resort that it really grabs and holds people’s attention. I also like knowing about all the amazing rides and other parts of the park that will be included.

There has been a lot of pressure on the hospitality industry during the pandemic, how have you and the London Resort Hotels worked to overcome these obstacles?

It has allowed us to plan for social distancing compliance and I am pleased to tell you that The London Resort will be the world’s first ever theme park and resort that has this baked in. 

And what’s next for you, personally, when this pandemic eventually passes?

To travel. I hope that by Q2 2021 we will be able to move freely again. My family and I are keen to see relatives in the UK and Russia, where my wife is from. I am also keen to sit on a beach!

Any advice you’d like to share with young and aspiring marketers? 

It’s all about the product and the client – assisting them in their business should be seamless. It is, however, very good to remember that life as – with work – is a two way street. Not only can a client fire you or your company, but you too can fire a client!

Thank you, Alexander, for joining our Marketing Expert Series. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

Thank you too! They can connect with me on LinkedIn or just WhatsApp me.

The Marketing Expert Series features marketing and communications experts from across every industry. Every month, 2Stallions will showcase the stories and expertise of marketing experts from around the world, join us as we explore how marketers navigate the challenges of the regions and industries they work in. If you’d like to be featured in a next issue of the Marketing Expert Series. Please reach out to us via email.

If you are interested in building your own company’s marketing presence, get in touch with us today, and find out how you can optimize your digital marketing strategies.


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