This month we sat down with Naeema Ismail, General Manager of Ying Communications, to talk about the future of the digital & programmatic industry and what they look for in great talent
Name: Naeema Ismail
Role: General Manager, PR
Age of company: 14 years old.
Key clients (PR and Marketing): Airbus, Cargill, Cisco Systems, Citrix, Cloudera, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Microsoft, Symantec, Shell and Tableau Software, among others
Number of staff: 35 in total (12 in PR)
WHAT SETS YOUR COMPANY APART FROM THE CROWD?
We are defined by our love of all things B2B. We were one of the first, if not the first, agency set up locally to fully focus on B2B. Whether clients need marketing or PR, we start from a strong foundation of “getting” the industry we are talking about, no matter how technical it may be.
Allan and Yin Ching, who founded the company, are an unusual breed in the agency world – the first agency they ever worked at is the one they started! Shaped by their experience supporting internal ‘clients’ while at Singapore Airlines, Shell Petroleum and IBM, where I met them as colleagues, Ying is an agency with an understanding and appreciation of in-house demands.
CAN YOU DEFINE YOUR CULTURE?
A few years ago, we came up with the values that define us. We want to be great at what we do and the only way to do that is to empower the team, to give them a sense of ownership and purpose in deciding the destiny of the company. We want to build long-term relationships – and to build them, we ask our people to treat everyone – colleagues, partners and clients – with honesty, respect and empathy. We work hard to build a happy workplace where teamwork and supporting one another is expected and practised. Anyone – from interns to the MD – can suggest and get support for a new way of working, employee programmes, a CSR activity, you name it!
We also ask that everyone keep an open mind to new ideas and possibilities because we as a company embrace change that leads to personal growth and empowerment. This then results in a team who is happy and motivated because they know the company values and invests in them. When it comes down to it, it's about getting people to do what they're passionate about and getting them to be passionate about what they do.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN GREAT TALENT?
One of the first things I tell both clients and candidates when I meet them is that we embrace and celebrate the geek in all of us! We define a geek as someone who has a deep sense of personal pride in his/her contribution, as well as an immense curiosity about everything. This is a big part of our ethos – in terms of what we bring to the table, the people we hire and how we run the company.
We also want people who always do their absolute best, for their clients and their team, people who have ideas and passion, built on a strong foundation of integrity.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME KEY EMERGING TRENDS IN THE COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY IN 2016 AND BEYOND?
There are significant consolidations in many of the industries we work with as companies try and find ways to build better economies of scale and combine complementary technologies and market presence. For companies that remain independent, it is still a period of tremendous change which results in a need for sensitive, yet effective, change communications.
We are also seeing a growing pressure on internal marketing and communications teams to deliver great results with falling budgets. The answer, while simple, isn’t always easy to execute – you have to work smarter, and this is only possible with the right partner. We excel in situations where clients are willing to see us as an extension of their internal teams, rather than just another supplier. When that happens, it’s a great feeling all round, which in turn, typically produces great results.