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Balancing the Grind with Wu Ying Ying, Regional Head of Content & Market Communications at Ninja Van

Wu Ying Ying is the Regional Head of Content & Market Communications at Ninja Van, a company revolutionising logistics through their delivery systems in Southeast Asia.

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

I’ve got a penchant for 0 to 1. For starters, I chose boutique agencies as my whetstones: the small set-up is perfect for young professionals to sharpen their skills. After four years, I decided to see what I can do as a team of one, so I joined ShopBack – now the largest rewards and discovery platform in Asia-Pacific – as their first-ever Head of Communications in 2015. 

I’m lucky to have my first taste of start-up at ShopBack. It taught me how to challenge conventions, maximise limited resources, and most importantly, upgrade my OS. In my four years at ShopBack, I’ve worked closely across departments, took calculated risks, failed and succeeded (a true emotional roller coaster), and saw the team grow to 600+ employees in nine countries.  

Now, I found myself at Ninja Van with two portfolios: I oversee communications in 6 Southeast Asian markets – Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, and I kickstart Content in the Philippines and Indonesia (coming soon to Malaysia). 

Ninja Van taught (and is still teaching) me how to become a better leader for my people. The toughest part about remote management is building and maintaining trust with someone whom you’ve never met in person. Attention – today’s most treasured currency – is what I give to my people, all 9 of them, as a basic block to building and maintaining trust. I’ve also put together a manual on “How to use YY” to give my people a better sense of me and my values, quirks, and growth areas so that we can develop the strongest relationships possible. Laying myself bare to my people, including my many vulnerabilities and flaws, helps me to build a team that I’m proud of.

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

It used to look like this:

And it was terrible. 

The overcrowded calendar didn’t allow me space to think and be of more meaningful contribution to my team. I owe it to my team to be better so that together, we can always be the best version of ourselves to deliver for the company.

I’m better at budgeting my time now (since 2022, haha). Some might suggest doing fewer meetings, but there are some meetings, like one-on-ones, that I’ll never ever skimp on. I’m immensely grateful for Google Calendar’s Focus Time, which allows me to block out specific chunks of time for big-picture thinking. Everyone should use it!

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

We’re an outcome-driven company that acknowledges the many roads to Rome 🙂 I embrace challenges and to me, work is an easy source of challenge. When I work on intriguing problems, I get lost in the flow and do work till/during strange hours. 

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

For most people, ~53% of our waking hours on a weekday are working hours – that’s more than half of a day! So why not integrate it into your life? 

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

Time flows. So I don’t particularly recall the past 12 months, but here’s my general OS. 

Learning is of utmost importance to me. I’ve taken to learning via various mediums: podcasts, newsletters, books, videos, blog posts, the news, and the richest medium of all – people.

To broaden my perspective and avoid tunnel vision, I occasionally shop for new profiles on LinkedIn and reach out to them for a cuppa. I’m also on Lunchclub, an “AI super-connector that makes introductions for 1:1 video meetings”. At the time of writing, I’ve been matched with 22 mind-blowing individuals, and I shall continue using it to keep up with my goal of meeting at least one new person each week.

Writing and working out are two other huge components of my OS. The former is not only a prerequisite for my bread-and-butter but also a pertinent tool for self-expression (I deposit my words on Medium). The latter grants me a better vehicle to navigate the world in, and it is nothing short of invigorating.

I’m also looking to add meditating to my OS. It has been hard, but I look forward to the day when it becomes a part of my updated OS.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

The Hustle is my all-time favourite newsletter. Every part of the newsletter is well-constructed: subject title, self-made gifs, customisable news snippets, comic strips, and shower thoughts (I’m not sure if all are conceived during showers but they do seem to fit the bill).  Now you’ve to sign up to see for yourself.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Not really. I just need something to document my occasional daydreams, and my phone is usually most accessible. 

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

No one (since I don’t subscribe to that concept). 

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

Always be present. It’s the hardest thing to do, ever. But just keep reminding yourself to do so. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.