Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Jessica Tan Shu En, Chief Marketing Officer at Accredify

Jessica Tan Shu En is the Chief Marketing Officer at Accredify, a Singapore-based company pioneering the world’s transition to verifiable data.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I was previously from CNBC, where I was the Marketing and Communications Assistant for the APAC region. In this role, I was tasked with partnering with international events, such as the APEC CEO Summit 2020 and Asian Financial Forum 2020, to increase brand awareness and obtain exclusive coverage of these events for the news team. 

I joined Accredify as the first member of the Marketing and Communications department. For a year and a half, I worked closely with the management team to build Accredify’s brand from the ground up, and to position the company as Asia’s thought leader in the verifiable data and identity space through public relations efforts such as media engagement, securing spokesperson speaking opportunities, and social media management. 

Currently, the Marketing and Communications department has expanded to a team of four, and I have the responsibility of guiding the team and ensuring our department’s objectives are aligned with the company’s larger business goals.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As our team is still growing, I take on a very hands-on role while also strategizing for the department. My day-to-day usually begins with calls with my team to understand their workload and progress.

During these meetings, often I also serve as a sounding board if my team requires a second opinion on any blockers they are facing or new initiatives that they would like to experiment with.

There are also a number of inter-departmental discussions for company-wide alignment throughout the week, and it is during these meetings that I gain insights into how my department can support the others through marketing and communications. 

Usually, I will lead major PR and marketing initiatives, as well as partnerships. As Accredify has grown in terms of awareness, the number of requests for Accredify to speak at events has increased quite significantly. As such, I do spend some time nowadays performing due diligence on which panels are suitable for our spokespeople, in terms of content and branding. 

When I have the bandwidth, I will spend some time finding ways to optimise our customer outreach to increase organic leads.

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Rather than ‘work-life balance’, I subscribe to the idea of ‘work-life rhythm’. There are slow and busy days in the office, and how our days play out cannot be controlled. 

I always emphasise to my team that they are not being paid for the time they are spending in the office, but rather, for the value they bring to the company. Hence, it is important to take advantage of slower days to prioritise self-care, such as mental health and well-being.

This could mean ending work a couple of hours early for some quality time with yourself, taking a walk by the beach, or treating yourself to a nice take-out and a movie. If you are able to draw boundaries between work and your personal life, you will feel more rested and motivated, which will lead to stark improvements in decision-making and creativity.

Achieving ‘work-life rhythm’ means more than just finding it myself. To me, ‘work-life rhythm’ is also something that my team must experience. As a manager, you are responsible not just for your own mental well-being, but also for your team’s.

I always make sure that my teammates are offline by 6 PM whenever possible – if I still see them online, I will send them a personal message to knock off and enjoy the evening. I also try to make it a habit to speak to them individually once a month to see how they’re coping with work. If they are overwhelmed, we’ll discuss if there are any projects I can help to take on.

If they need a break, we’ll see if any project deadlines can be pushed back, or if I can help substitute while they take their time off. To me, an individual’s well-being trumps their work commitment any day. 

Looking after your team is the greatest responsibility you have as a manager because without them, you are nothing.

4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

It’s always about finding a way to manage your responsibility and commitment to the company, and your responsibility to look after yourself. As a leader, you will always carry the mental burden of providing appropriate guidance to your team and deciding on what’s best for the company.

If left unchecked, this can have a profound impact on your mental health. As someone who has been clinically diagnosed with several mental illnesses since I was 14, I’ve realised it’s important to find ways to safeguard your mental well-being.

For myself, I have found productive outlets for nagging thoughts of uncertainty and self-doubt. I’ve taken up digital drawing, journaling, and watercolour as modes of self-expression, and I visit a mental health professional at least once a week. If you’re in a good place mentally, your performance at work will benefit greatly.

5) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I don’t think it would be an interview really because it’s a fictional character I’m truly inspired by. People call me a nerd but I embrace it – my aspiration is Captain Kirk from the original Star Trek series.

His leadership and communication skills are something that I have always admired while watching the show, and the way he treats his crew as extensions of himself, and not just workers that run the ship, is a trait that I always try to live by. 

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s exceedingly important not to neglect your team members; I cannot emphasise it enough. Sit down and understand what working style works best for each individual on your team. To do this, there must be mutual trust.

Trust is important and powerful – empower your team by encouraging the working style that is best for them, and supporting them in whatever way you can, whilst balancing their work goals. Do this, and you’ll have a team that is bonded and efficient, and you can achieve anything with them. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.