(Editor's Note: Elieen has since left iFoundries for a great opportunity after this article was published. We wished her all the very best to a new milestone in her career!)
Having more than 20 years of experience in various digital roles including web design and project coordination in Informatics, Banyan Tree, DataOne, Singapore Press Holdings and Bubble Motion; Elieen in this casual interview session, describes the culture at iFoundries, what motivates her to stick in this industry, and has some very wise words for aspiring young women and mothers who want to know how to succeed in a management role, persevere through the ever-evolving market in this digital era while perfecting the balancing act of juggling work, family and home.
What made you decide to stay in iFoundries and the digital industry throughout these years?
Elieen: In my initial years with iFoundries, although the team was smaller, we had very strong camaraderie. We looked out for each other and pitched in to help when needed. It was a refreshing change from the previous work culture I was so used to. In my 3rd year, I was offered an opportunity to explore a different role from what I was initially hired for.
The bosses saw a side of me I didn’t know I have, and I am grateful for the faith they put in me. I have always loved being in the digital industry. It has literally changed the way we do things. If we were to look back 20 years ago, would we have imagined that we will be purchasing via our phone on the go?
This is a job that is ever-changing and engaging, and there is a need for constant learning and upgrading. Working in an agency means working with different clients all the time, which means you’ll probably never get bored.
What was the company’s biggest challenge throughout the years and what valuable experience did it learn?
Elieen: I must be honest here, I feel that cashflow management is our biggest challenge. Being an SME that rely heavily on resources, we are very subjectable to market changes. If the company we serviced has a 90 days payment policy, we would also have no choice but to wait. It would require our company to hold a tighter rein on our reserves as well as our incoming funds.
Being a mom in the marketing and digital media world means having two very demanding full-time jobs. How do you balance work and home life as a working mum with young kids?
Elieen: Time management, prioritization and a good support system are a must! I am thankful for the support and help I get from my mum, as she was (and still is) my kids’ primary care-giver, when they were babies and needed constant care. Her love and care for my kids give me peace of mind to fulfil my duties as a full-time employee, and not having to constantly worry about their well-being.
I am also thankful for the support and understanding I received from the bosses. I breastfed my youngest exclusively for more than 2 years, and I did a lot of expressing of milk in the office. Our line of work involves a lot of client meetings, and they were accommodating in allowing me to schedule them around my pump’s schedule.
For my part, to minimise time away from my desk, I invested in a hands-free pumping kit. It allowed me to express and work at my desk at the same time. It really takes a village to raise kids and having a good support system in place with understanding bosses is the best scenario a working mum can ask for.
What is the company’s culture like? Were there shifts throughout the years? What are your thoughts on having to manage youths in this Millennial generation?
Elieen: We are definitely close-knitted. But as the company grows bigger, it is no longer possible for all of us to go out and have lunch together! Most of the millennials I had the opportunities to work with are very hardworking people.
There seems to be a misconception about this generation, or it could be that we are blessed with good hires. But I must admit that they tend to be less resilient and are easily stressed.
Is digital marketing a profitable sector to venture into currently, are there going to be hard disruptions in the forthcoming decades?
Elieen: Profitable or not, marketing will always be needed. There are just so many products and services out there in the world. The digital economy is embedded in every corner of our lives, and it’s definitely not going away.
Anyone thinking about starting or leading a business needs to have a basic understanding of digital marketing. To be able to anticipate and create strategies will still be the way to go.
In your management role, what inspires you to be a great leader, and what discourages you most?
Elieen: I am still learning, and I hope that I am doing a good job! I would have to admit that people management is the toughest role in this position. It can never be easy when it comes to handling people and emotions.
Other than the digital industry, what is another sector you are highly interested to start a career in given the time and privilege?
Elieen: Fashion buyer, so that I can do all the shopping I want! Ha-ha.
What are the best advice you would give young adults who are giving it a go in this industry and just starting out in this career path?
Elieen: This industry has many career opportunities and plenty of room for techs, creatives and people who have business or communications backgrounds. There are so many avenues that you can choose from, focus on what you can do best or are passionate about and go forth from there.
In this age, I think it’s pretty obvious almost all businesses, sooner or later, must include digital in their marketing activities. And with the demand for digital marketers outweighing the supply, there are many roles and opportunities in this industry. Go out and explore, find your forte and always work hard!