In The Hot Seat: AsiaOne CEO Suzie Wang

April 16, 2019

This April, we put AsiaOne Online Pte Ltd CEO Suzie Wang in the hot seat where we discovered a recurring theme in her career and what excites her as she and her team create the new AsiaOne brand.

She also shared what keeps her grounded, how spending time with her kids helps her in the workplace and just how important eyebrow pencils are to her.

What was your first job after getting your Economics and Political Science degree from NUS?

Fairly fresh out of school, I joined the then Radio Corporation of Singapore as a radio airtime sales executive. Under the training of American consultants (I believe I was among the last batch of trainees), I became a radio evangelist who sold everything from weather report sponsorships, customised open talks to live events. It was a baptism of fire and a real eye-opener to the world of media.

From radio sales exec to CEO, wow! That’s some career! Can you share some of the highlights along the way?

A recurring theme in the last 20-plus years of my career in media is constantly being part of or leading pioneering teams that spearhead innovations and digital business transformations.

In 2009, I was appointed Executive Producer and launched xinmsn, a joint venture between MediaCorp and Microsoft. Two years later, I became the Head of Digital Content Production. It was a huge learning curve on the best practices of digital content production – that job scopes and production workflows have to be radically disrupted on a constant basis to ensure sustainability and retain relevance within the dynamic media landscape.

Fast forward to 2018, when I was appointed CEO of AsiaOne. In the last eight months, it’s been an exhilarating experience building up a new team and strategising its content direction. We are focusing on creating engaging content through distinct formats and faces.

AsiaOne’s reach on the site and on social media has been growing month on month and revenue streams are gradually evolving from pure display to content marketing/cross platform packages. We are proving our capabilities in telling stories across multi-platforms, all within a brand-safe and credible environment.

Suzie and the AsiaOne team before moving to their new office

After 20-odd years in media, does it still excite you? What keeps you going?

The digital advertising market is experiencing headwinds for us publishers as we battle for budgets against global giants like Google and Facebook. In the face of duopoly, we have to really think out of the box and break out of the “same-old” mindset.

I am excited about how technology can augment our content strategy and distribution. As an aggregator, we curate and create content, and good tech can help us ‘force multiply’. Our tech team has been looking at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can help us in areas of story-writing, summarising and content personalisation.

While technology can help in multiple areas, our content team is still driven to create content with a human touch. Creating solid, compelling content will still be our most important mantra. Rather than being daunted by a crowded market of content creators, I feel an adrenaline rush thinking of new stories and video content formats we can create under the new AsiaOne brand.

You must be incredibly busy. What does 24 hours mean to you?

“Trying not to drown!” This is what a senior executive said to me when I asked her how life has been. Very relatable.

There are just too many things to do, with too little time in each day so I try to stay focused on work during the day but when I get home, it’s precious time with my two girls and my fur kid, Bubbles.

What do you do when you’re not working?

Catching up on Asian dramas, Netflix and Ted Talks on my laptop or iPad.

I also enjoy spending time with my two teenage girls, aged 17 and 15. I try to engage them like friends and refrain from nagging at them like a typical mom. In the process, I stay updated on Gen Z speak and am happy that I can somewhat understand the interns in the office!

Staying connected with girlfriends over a nice dinner and some champagne also keeps me sane and grounded.

Is there one thing you cannot live without?

Makeup pencils for my eyebrows… because I raise them a lot.

Cafe or bar?

Cafes for sure, but I prefer them in far-flung places, and they have to be as quiet as possible. Unfortunately, the ones I like tend to close down, and for obvious reasons.

If you could ask anyone anything, who and what would you ask?

I would ask the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew what he’d put in his IG stories.