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I’m in charge of commercial strategy at ShopBack. Here’s what my day-to-day looks like

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Day in the Life is a series where personalities in the Asian tech community recount what they do on a typical day. 

I’m Candice, and I take care of regional marketing and country management at ShopBack.

Prior to joining ShopBack in 2017, I was a managing director at Zalora, where I held multiple roles across five years. In the earlier days, I started my career in investment banking at Barclays Capital in New York and then Credit Suisse in Southeast Asia.

For my role, there are very few typical days, as in most weeks I am in different countries. I try my best to start Mondays in Singapore, so let me run you through how a Monday might look like.

Mental priming in the morning

I usually wake up at 7:30 am on Mondays but earlier on other days due to flights. I try to keep the gap a bit wider between waking up and starting the day on Mondays to reflect on what has gone well for the month or previous weeks and what areas I need to pay more attention to.

The start of the week is very important to me to also make sure that there is positive energy in the team. It’s more like mental priming for the week ahead and for any important conversations and decisions I need to make.

First tasks in the office

I get to the office at around 9 am. Every fortnight, I start by having a breakfast meeting with our CEO/co-founder, Henry Chan. It is important to establish regularity in one-on-ones, as conversations are important in ensuring alignment and in building a strong working chemistry. If I don’t have this meeting, I’ll usually be grabbing coffee to start the day.

In the mornings, I typically spend my time to look at where we stand across the region, problems I need to solve, and how to tackle them. Mornings and late afternoons are where I have a stronger peak in mental agility, and I try to look at the trickier issues during these periods.

In a fast-growing startup, it’s not just about tackling the current problems and challenges, but thinking a few steps ahead about new experiments, areas of growth, and the steps we need to take to achieve those things.

Afternoon and evening meetings

Slightly before lunch, at about 11 am, this is when I meet the Singapore and regional marketing teams. Similarly, we do a debrief or a “look back” on the week’s core performance or strategic focus and what the week’s focus is/would be.

ShopBack’s Speaker Series

I would probably take a brief lunch in between, but sometimes I will also step out to meet people. These meetings could just be conversations with other industry individuals or people from whom I can learn more about specific things. Sometimes, these could also be hiring conversations.

In the afternoon, I’ll usually get on calls with different countries and their country general managers (CGMs) at different time slots. We discuss performance and strategic initiatives and plan forward steps. This is also the time where we try to problem solve issues or raise emerging ones.

At about 6 pm on Mondays, I’ll meet with the regional marketing team. This is one of my favorite meetings of the week because it has a wider scope where I try to push boundaries of thinking. And it is also a time for the team to ask questions. For example, sometimes I do a 10-question format where they can ask me anything and everything. And sometimes, I’ll pull up reports or examples and discuss my worldview of a market that we may not even operate in or my worldview on the ecosystem.

On other occasions, different team members present strategic projects they have been part of, pitch projects they would like to take forward, or collect ideas from their peers to further improve them.

After-work activities

In the evening,  some members across teams in Singapore gather to do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts together. This happens about twice a week, on other days there are activities like Yoga as well.

ShopBack’s Sports Day

On Mondays, there’s usually also a session of floorball. We play downstairs in the futsal court with a mix of players from ShopBack, startups in the LaunchPad @ one-north area, or other companies. These are all optional, and we take pride that these activities are internally and organically initiated/organized. I believe that it is important that there are avenues that different team members are able to interact and get to know each other better for stronger cohesion.

The day ends at about 10 pm if there is floorball for the day.

Some advice

  • Leadership: I don’t really believe in the concept of directing by micromanaging. Instead, I believe in extracting the best from individuals. This is perhaps a concept similar to coaching and being able to energizeteam members. I think it is important to constantly motivate and enable the team to level up as well.
  • Curiosity: It’s very important in this day and age to stay curious. Learning agility is very important, especially since the world changes so fast. What you might know to be true might change because something in the ecosystem changed or something new has been developed. This is why I encourage my team to read widely and be knowledgeable in market trends. Many of my team members subscribe and listen to podcasts (which is also my medium of choice during commutes). We also constantly discuss trends we see in China, the US, or even Europe, and how these could possibly affect us and actions we should take.
  • Development: I usually think about development in three buckets: technical, personal, and leadership development. At ShopBack, we have a program called IDP (individual development plan) where people have a budget which they can use to embark on their development path. Having some responsibility of your growth is important, as professional life is not like school where there is a clear curriculum to be assessed by. To be excellent professionally, you need to figure out what skillsets/experiences need to be honed to deliver consistent, outstanding outcomes.
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