This series takes a peek into what each of our team does and how they work with the other teams towards our mission of inspiring every person in the world to start selling and buying to make more possible for one another.
Unlike engineering or finance where most outsiders would have some inkling of their nature of work, strategy may seem like an enigma. What do they strategise for and what kind of plans do they craft?
Carousell’s Business Strategy Senior Analyst Zhi Yuan shares that while the Strategy team’s mandate is broad, it encompasses three main areas. “First, we assist the leadership team to develop corporate group level strategy that everyone can get behind on. We also work closely with the Data team and individual business units to come up with relevant metrics that are tied to our strategic objectives, and monitor them. Second, we undertake strategic review of our business activities to seize growing opportunities and adapt to unforeseen situations. For example, during the COVID-19 period, we formed a ‘SWAT team’ and analysed data trends to determine how best to pivot our business and focus our resources,” said Zhi Yuan.
“The third area that we look at is on developing strategic partnerships regionally, including with public sector stakeholders. Given my background working in the Government, I tried to create as many opportunities for public-private partnerships with Singapore Government agencies. I am very proud to see both sides coming together to support the community during the COVID-19 period, and two major initiatives which I have helped to drive are #MADEinSG with Singapore Brand Office and the CarouBiz Booster Package with Enterprise Singapore.”
The value that the Strategy Team brings to the other teams is that they are on top of the company direction and also plugged into what everyone is doing, so they help to put everyone on the same page to avoid redundant work. Zhi Yuan said, “I love how my role allows me to work closely with different teams. I always learn something new talking to different people, as they always have interesting work and stories to share!”
One memorable experience for Zhi Yuan was conducting user interviews regarding Home Services on the Carousell app. He shared that Carousell is user-centric, so user interviews are key to developing a good marketing or product strategy. “My team travelled all across Singapore to gather user feedback, visiting them in their homes and shops, and taking the time to probe about the problems they face. Despite the user complaints, it was inspiring to hear first-hand about how Carousell has made a difference to the everyday user and businesses. One home tutor told me that Carousell really changed his life and enabled him to make the switch from a full-time teacher to a home tutor. These stories really reinvigorate the teams to improve the app for our users.”
The open and collaborative culture where everyone’s opinions were valued — be it Carousell users or teammates — was refreshing to Zhi Yuan. He shared that it was the complete opposite of what he was used to working in the Government where he was seconded from. “There, the roles and responsibilities are more delineated, and exchanges are typically conducted more formally via email,”said Zhi Yuan.
Caption: Photo of Zhi Yuan (middle) and his Carousell induction batchmates
For Zhi Yuan, joining Carousell was a second chance to pursue his interest in working in a tech startup. He had done his engineering Masters degree in the West Coast of the United States, the hotbed of several tech unicorn startups. As he was on a Government scholarship, he was committed to return to Singapore to contribute in public policy. “As part of my development pathway in the public service, I have to do a six-month operational posting to gain on-the-ground experience. Usually we get posted to a statutory board, but I was one of the first batch who got to choose to be seconded to a private company,” shared Zhi Yuan.
His six months at Carousell taught him to be adaptable and relentless in the face of new challenges. “The Carousell culture is about challenging the status quo. Our CEO Siu Rui is always telling us that we are less than 1% done, and that we must always find ways to do better. This is the kind of spirit that I will take back with me when I return to the public service,” said Zhi Yuan.
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