Joining us on for this edition of Women In Marketing is Deborah Tan-Pink who is the Head of Communications and Marketing at fintech company, Revolut. Remote, as well as hybrid work, are on the increase. Deborah shares with us how she’s managed to find her balance so far — we can all take a page out of her book. Let’s learn more about her 🇸🇬
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MAfRKETING SERIES, DEBORAH. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born, raised, and educated in Singapore. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother because both my parents worked. My grandmother was a great cook. I like to think she found a lot of joy in cooking for the family. The folks in my family love to eat and I remember how we were always having late-night suppers, thinking about which eateries or hawker stalls to check out next.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Being Singaporean and Chinese, not sharing a meal is unthinkable! For me, a meal is a social event and a chance for conversations and for building relationships. The most enjoyable meals I’ve had have always been those that were shared with friends and family.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I’ve always had a socialist streak in me.
Don’t get me wrong — I like money as much as the guy next door. I just don’t see why we need to have a lot of it.
I recognise the value of money and appreciate the comfort and security money gives. But how rich does a person have to be to feel that all is “right” with their world?
So whenever I’m told, “So-and-so has bought another house or so-and-so is worth $10 billion”, it just doesn’t impress me at all.
If I woke up $10 million richer tomorrow, I would take $2 million because it’s a sum that will pay off my mortgage and take care of my retirement. I would give the rest away to families struggling to put food on the table or those who need to pay off insanely high medical bills.
Everyone deserves a chance to not worry about food and housing, and I believe recognising that you don’t need an insane amount to be comfortable is a good place to start.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
I see dead numbers! What I mean to say is, “Numbers are dead, but stories are what makes them come alive”.
When people look at my LinkedIn profile, read my CV, or even when they are talking to me, they often only see “the creative”, that I’m not a “numbers person”.
I see the stories behind the numbers. When I look at a chart or a dashboard, I see patterns and I think about the behaviours behind them.
Then I think about how to change or promote those behaviours through outreach and advocacy.
My soul dies a little every time someone says, “Let’s focus on the numbers and discuss ideas later.” The two don’t have to, and shouldn’t, be viewed in silos.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
If I could turn back the clock and study harder, I would not go into marketing. I think I fell into marketing because it was just something that came so naturally to me after so many years of dealing with advertisers and brands. I’m first and foremost a communicator, then a content producer. You can’t market without wanting to build content that communicates and connects.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I start my day by walking my dog. When I get home, I make myself a smoothie. Once I finish the smoothie, I get up and brew myself a pot of Earl Grey. I’m #TeamTea. I have no less than ten types of tea at home. I find the process of tea-brewing extremely therapeutic; it’s a chance for me to slow down and recalibrate.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I’ve got to admit that the pandemic has been mentally and emotionally taxing. I think work-life balance went out of the window when work-from-home became the norm for many of us. If you are still trying to find “work-life balance”, I think you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. What is working for me is finding my unique work-life flow. If life flows into work, go. If work flows into life, do. I think the more you try to draw boundaries, the harder you’ll find staying within the lines.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN?
The exhaustion — I believe — stems from us women trying to ensure that we are treated fairly and that we are seen and recognised, and when we fight for our seat at the table, we are not stuck with labels like “paranoid” or “dramatic”.
First, I think organisations should widen their understanding of what “support” means. It needs to include clear guidelines of what it means to succeed, what it takes to get that promotion, and they need to be open about the candidates they are assessing so that everyone knows how they’re being measured.
Second, women suffer more from labels and stereotypes. If we are young, we are dismissed as “inexperienced”. If we are older, we are viewed as “dated” and “tired”. If we want to engage with a toxic colleague, we are seen as “taking things personally”. If we try to get along, we are “passive” and seen as “followers”. If organisations are serious about supporting women, they need to establish a system where such toxicity can be addressed safely and everyone is taught to correct their unconscious biases.
2021 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
Like many people, I have struggled with the restrictions introduced to contain the pandemic. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so powerless in my life. There have been more than a couple of times where I would burst into tears and start second-guessing myself. It’s been an emotional and psychological rollercoaster.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Go to culinary school and become a chef.
I have side-hustle selling cakes and pies. What I have learnt is that in Singapore, if your food is good, you don’t need to care about SEO, social media, and marketing. People will come to you. If they like your food, they’ll come back. If they don’t like your food, no amount of marketing is going to change their minds. The proof in the pudding is hard work and talent.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Eventually, I hope to write and publish that novel I have brewing inside my head. I still harbour dreams of running my own media empire.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I use Audible to “read” non-fiction books. Whenever I’m running or walking the dog, I listen to an audiobook so I’m learning new stuff when my mind is most receptive and least distracted. I am a Kindle user — sometimes when a friend gives me a book, I’d give that copy away and buy the ebook version to read on my Kindle.
I’m currently listening to Stacey Vanek Smith’s Machiavelli For Women.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I spend more time with Disney+ than with Netflix. Right now, I’m binge-watching all 16 seasons of Criminal Minds. My husband is a bit worried.
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
A politician because (1) I don’t like money (2) I like order and (3) I think having too many men in power is generally a bad idea.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG SEASONED PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Yes, you’ve been there and you’ve done that. You came and you conquered. Own your swagger. Don’t let labels or numbers define you.