329: Damien Cummings – Peoplewave, Building the Google of Recruitment

Damien Cummings, CEO of Peoplewave, has experienced 20+ years at the highest levels of corporate. His marketing career resume includes some of the world’s most prominent blue chip names: Standard Chartered Bank, Philips, Samsung, Dell, Ogilvy & Mather, Citibank Australia, Coca-Cola and McKinsey. Damien knows better than anybody how the market for talent is evolving fast and how many corporates are struggling to both retain and reward the best. In this interview, we explore Damien’s motivation to leave the most comfortable of corporate careers and explore the startup world of the entrepreneur. We also explore the world of Peoplewave and Damien’s personal mission to enable corporates to nurture and retain talent in meaningful ways.

275: Bob Gallagher — Appsynth

Podcast highlights:

  • 04:18 Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. — We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it’s onward and upwards!
  • 26:00 Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? — On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We’re talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people’s QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • 44:10 So now you’re 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? — For us it’s a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we’ll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we’ve engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Bob Gallagher, Managing Director and Founder of Appsynth to ATP Stories with Graham Brown.
  • 00:40 You set up Appsynth in 2010, correct? — Yes, that’s correct. Coming up on 10 years in Thailand with 8 of those years running Appsynth. We have over 50 people working for us now and have seen a steady stream of growth in this regard.
  • 01:40 So your background was originally in music, wasn’t it? — Yep. Started working in mobile 12 years ago for a mobile music distributor and even before that running a record label. Came to Thailand first at age 18 and saw the potential in the markets there.
  • 04:18 Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. — We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it’s onward and upwards!
  • 07:48 These awards must help in terms of recruitment. Can you talk a little about that? — We’ve probably hired a bit more than 15 recruits in the past year, which is a lot. The award adds to the prestige of working with a company like ours. While we’re growing, we’ve been focusing on things like company culture and creating an environment where people want to come but also then want to stay.
  • 10:35 When you look at other companies, who do you admire in terms of getting corporate culture correct? — There are many different role models in this regard. There’s no one way to run a business. But to name a few, there’s Spotify. Of course there are other inspirations from different fields. Just take a look at who are the best software teams in the world and how do they operate. One benefit we have in terms of hiring people is the ability to tell candidates they will be able to work on many different projects given that we’re not such a big company. We don’t have teams devoted just to narrow features or products.
  • 15:15 Can you describe a bit about how you capture the sort of software engineer who wants to go out and make a difference in the world? — This is really a reflection on how we go about business development and being selective in terms of who we work with and what sorts of things we take on. There’s a lot of work out there, but we need to find things that are exciting and are going to be used by millions of people. This gets people motivated.
  • 20:30 You’ve recently published some data about working in Thailand and the changes taking place there. Can you help us understand some of these trends? — We clearly see how hard people work in Thailand. Certainly in technology and knowledge work, people work very hard here. The pace of work has been increasing here and we expect this to continue.
  • 23:50 In Thailand you have a hard-working population, and a young population very connected on social media. What sorts of opportunities does this create for a company like Appsynth? — This is a point we like to highlight because Thailand really is at the forefront for mobile usage and mobile shopping. It’s not in places like the US, it’s here in Thailand.
  • 26:00 Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? — On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We’re talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people’s QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • 35:20 What sorts of other things are you experimenting with there in terms of mobile payments and money transfer? — The app we produced for 7-Eleven here in Thailand has a feature where parents can top up their children’s accounts and eliminate the need for those kids to carry cash. This helps parents better control where and how their kids can spend money too. Another feature you see is loyalty tracking, which can be used to offer discounts and enticements to consumers.
  • 36:45 Do you think Thailand will be a leader in terms of being a cashless society? — Yes, I think so. People have really embraced this new QR-based payment model. Maybe Thailand won’t be the first country to go cashless, but it will certainly be one of the first.
  • 37:45 What is the mobile music scene in Thailand right now? — People here obviously love music and mobile, and in fact Spotify as the big player in this space was actually a bit late to come to Thailand. There are other players here including well-established local labels who are getting into mobile music.
  • 39:50 Do you see a lot of Chinese investment coming into places like Thailand? Are there Chinese companies coming in and making big investments? — Yes, definitely. There’s pros and cons of course. We’ve seen some cases were Chinese investment comes in and ends up moving development jobs back to China where some Thai developers simply don’t want to move for whatever reason. This has opened up new talent avenues for the companies that remain. This is what happened, for example, at Lazada.
  • 44:10 So now you’re 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? — For us it’s a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we’ll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we’ve engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

260: Michael Bloomberg On-board for the Asian Century? (Asia Matters)

Podcast highlights:

  • 02:42 Michael Bloomberg’s vision for an Asian Davos
  • 19:56 Asia Tech Podcast gets a new studio in Singapore
  • 31:05 Podcasting and the future of branding
  • 55:15 Asia Tech Podcast’s new internship opportunity

Podcast notes:

  • Note: This podcast contains explicit language
  • 00:05 ATP650 – Asia Matters with Graham Brown
  • 02:42 Michael R. Bloomberg, American businessman and philanthropist, wants to create a rival to the Davos-based World Economic Forum that will focus on Asia and the Asian Century. The inaugural session will take place this November, 2018 in Beijing. — This is certainly a way to acknowledge China’s lead in the global ecosystem.
  • 07:50 Data from the #AsiaMatters Report published this year bolsters the case for Bloomberg’s vision. Key takeaways include Asia is a US$27 trillion economy. This is 50% bigger than either the US or the EU. By 2030, the Asian middle classes are expected to grow to 3.2 billion people — an enormous market potential!
  • 12:09 The Asia Matters Report talks about four steps that will bring about the Asian Century. 1) The demographic advantage that allowed for low-cost manufacturing production. 2) Capital reinvestment that helped build the Asian middle class and a skills, talent, wealth, and innovation boom, which is now allowing for 3) an increasing innovation advantage (AI, autonomous vehicles, etc). Asia is taking the lead in innovation. Finally, 4) Asia will eventually become the global hegemon and the “default option” for business.
  • 17:12 The Asia Matters Institute was created as a forum to help foster these connection. The goal was helping experts outside Asia find their counterparts in the region, and also to help people in Asia better find and communicate. If you are a speacalist with something to offer, get in touch!
  • 19:56 Exciting news from Singapore as Asia Tech Podcast opens its own studio! Special thanks to the team at Platform E for making this possible!
  • 22:18 Platform E is a co-working space, incubator, accelerator, and community. Shout-out to Rina Neoh and Abdul Malik! They get things done!
  • 26:06 Thunder and lightening shenanigans!
  • 26:25 On networking. There are two types of people: energy-takers and net energy-givers. Find the energy-givers and work with them!
  • 31:05 Why podcasting is the future of personal branding. Conferences and traditional networking events almost never give you information beyond what’s available on someone’s website. Nothing “wow’s” us at those things. Podcasting, on the other hand, brings out the human element. That’s what people want!
  • 38:08 Revealing your vulnerability and humanizing yourself to others is one of the most effective ways to get ahead. Show that you have the confidence to take the arrows of criticism. Blaze the trail! Give people the Oprah moment! People want to know about you!
  • 43:10 The vision for Asia Tech Podcast is to create the platform for those human conversations…to give that voice to the Asian tech ecosystem. The new studio will really help to make live radio shows…to make real conversations!
  • 52:28 For all the talk about the digital world being the future, you can’t fake a real, human conversation. This is what makes podcasts. And this is what will make the Asian Century. There are countless stories waiting to be told! That’s what we’re going to do here on Asia Tech Podcast.
  • 55:15 If this sounds like your passion, apply to be our intern. Come be a part of the Asian Century!

230: Jon Tanner – Talent Trends and the Future of Work in Asia

Podcast highlights:

  • 06:45 The Asian talent Market is “equalising” says Jon Tanner. What does this mean?
  • 29:20 Are coworking spaces the future model of work? We look at the latest trends. Still an ongoing social experiment but it certainly benefits the movement of talent in Asia
  • 40:50 Talented employees want to build something, solve a problem, make a mark in some way – we refer to the case study of Chirayu Wadke from SeedPlus ex Google Silicon Valley talking about working on 10x projects

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Jon Tanner to Asia Tech Podcast Stories
  • 00:45 What are the big changes in the Asian talent market?
  • 03:10 What are the reasons why people are coming to Asia now? San Francisco, New York and London are potentially both pricing themselves out of the market and offering less opportunity for the most talented of employees.
  • 05:25 Bali Green School in Bali and Bali House in Canggu – mix, co-working, incubator, hospitality space. People are making some serious choices about their lives and careers today beyond their benefits package
  • 06:45 The Asian talent Market is “equalising” says Jon Tanner. What does this mean?
  • 10:25 Talented employees aren’t focused on taking the highest-paying job in San Francisco anymore. A new generation of talent is seeking out something riskier, that makes Asia an interesting option
  • 12:20 Silicon Valley leads with regard to stories about role models which inevitably attracts people to the West Coast but the gap with Asia is closing fast. Asia is slowly discovering its own role models
  • 16:05 Could Jon see the situation where he could run Mitchell Lake from Bali and send his kids to Green School? We talk about the backstory of Steve Monroe coming into Ubud to found co-working space Hubud. Career paths are changing
  • 19:30 Do large IT companies need to rethink how they work with talent? Are they sending departments out into coworking spaces such as Hubud for the right reasons?
  • 24:00 Would this kind of remote work for a bank? What would the benefits of HSBC setting up in a coworking space be?
  • 27:20 Why did Jon suggest to his clients the idea of coming across and working in the same coworking space? What’s it actually like sharing a coworking space with clients?
  • 29:20 Are coworking spaces the future model of work? Still an ongoing social experiment but it certainly benefits the movement of talent in Asia
  • 33:30 Which IT companies does Jon admire with regards to digital transformation? We look at who is leading the way in decentralizing the workspace
  • 36:25 The success or failure of digital transformation comes down to its mechanics: The backstory of Innovation Director of Intel China – Kapil Kane – and his battle in getting Intel to agree to build the accelerator outside their office. We also look at the Virgin group example
  • 40:50 Talented employees want to build something, solve a problem, make a mark in some way – we refer to the case study of Chirayu Wadke from SeedPlus ex Google Silicon Valley talking about working on 10x projects
  • 42:30 The sharing economy combined with changing attitudes towards the “stuff” of life means talented people who have choices aren’t necessarily motivated by the things which our parents sought out like cars, job titles etc.
  • 44:55 Jon’s thoughts on frontier markets such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand
  • 47:05 Does Jon see a lot of interest in recruitment coming from that Asia-to-Asia market?
  • 49:40 Thoughts on Asia as frontrunning global trends in the curation of workplace culture and talent
  • 54:00 Check out Jon Tanner at www.mitchellake.com
  • 126: Sangwon Park – Founder Favorite Medium

    Sangwon Park is a Math and Computer Science guy…I am already impressed.

    I will admit that I tend to like anybody that lists their first employment as ‘guitarist, van driver, map reader’ and then notes that he also has a masters degree in Computer Science.  Sangwon is also the Founder and CEO of Favorite Medium…an enterprise that builds digital products with a tangible purpose.

    With offices in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and the United States, Favorite Medium is a truely global business.  We had a wide ranging discussion that included AR / VR, software development, technology market gaps and the challenges of running distributed teams.  It was really interesting to get Sangwon’s perspective on growing a business from scratch and developing software in a fast moving development environment.

    106: Thomas Pouplin – Startup Life in Fukuoka

    Thomas Pouplin is Co-Founder of Ikkai with partner Yasmine Djoudi.

    Ikkai aims to make people less busy and students richer by connecting students with the short term staffing needs of Japanese companies. This is an area overlooked by traditional Japanese recruitment agencies due to a combination of tradition and fear of trying something new.

    Thomas and Yasmine are based out of Fukuoka, Japan’s designated “Startup City”. In this interview Thomas shares insights into how they arrived in Fukuoka, how they set up business there including applying for government grants and startup visas, and also reflections on their business growth.

    100: Jerome Le Carrou – Next Step Connections Thailand

    Jerome Le Carrou left his home in the Brittany region of France when he was 21 years old to do a study abroad program in Utah in the United States.  It was his first exposure outside of his small hometown and his home country.  He lived in a four story dormitory for a year with students from 50 countries and this opened his eyes to the power and excitement of varying countries and cultures in the world.

    Between finishing his undergraduate degree and applying for graduate programs in journalism, he made his way to Shanghai for an internship and an experience that changed the course of his life and lead to his starting and founding Next Step Connections.

    Jerome’s story is a compelling one for all entrepreneurs starting a business outside of their home country and outside their comfort zone.  

    077: Paul Bradley – CEO of Caprica International

    Joining us on ATP stories today, we have the Chairman and CEO of Caprica International, Paul Bradley.  His career spans leadership positions in American, Japanese, Chinese and Indian companies.

    Paul has started 7 ventures, managed multi-cultural businesses spanning 14 countries and has participated in 2 successful IPO’s. He received his MBA in International Management from the Thunderbird, School of Global Management, worked in politics, lead multiple companies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and has also been involved in restructuring SME’s and Mentoring Tech Start-Ups and Entrepreneurial ventures in Asia. Mr. Bradley has held leadership positions in American, Japanese, Chinese and Indian companies. He was selected as a “New Asian Leader” by the World Economic Forum and recently served on the B20 Task Force on Employment and Education for the G20.

    We are going to talk about entrepreneurship in Asia and the importance of both mentoring and being mentored by the right people.