Getting to No. 1: Team of Warriors

Keep going. Keep improving. Never think you have arrived. Jacqui Lim, CEO, Havas Media Singapore, says that’s what it takes to be a successful company.

Congrats on your accomplishments this year at the Hall of Fame Awards. This is the second year in a row that you’ve been named Media Agency of the Year. How do you continue to stay on top?

Thank you, we are delighted and humbled by this achievement. As competition gets stiffer with each passing year, the secret to success is to stay humble and hungry—to continue to up the game each time by innovating and integrating our disciplines more successfully.

We never rest on our laurels or take for granted that we are the ones to beat. Instead, we stay focused, work hard, and remember that there’s always someone who has a better idea. That keeps us going and spurs us to do better each time.

Agency culture is a huge part of your success. How do you motivate the team to keep driving client business forward?

Motivating teams is the most critical part of our success, and it certainly isn’t possible without building a culture that celebrates diverse thinking and encourages constant learning and experimentation while embracing a strong Together and challenger spirit.

Just as we choose to work with great brands and clients, we are equally selective when building our talent team. Cultivating a senior talent team that genuinely feels vested in our clients’ businesses helps to motivate and guide the rest of the agency to move in the same direction and tempo.

This allows us to collectively enjoy what we do and produce more inspiring work. As we all know, it is not always easy to curate clients or talent—but, we try. And we never stop trying hard to onboard the right brands and people who will move the agency in the right direction, professionally and culturally. And of course, devising a clear and proper recognition and reward system for our talent is another key component to delivering staff motivation.  

How do you promote teamwork?

For us, every single project begins by parking egos at the door, making it clear that we win together and we fail together. Every single member who has been picked to be part of the team for any project plays a specific role that adds up to a larger picture. So there is no single superstar, but a team of warriors bringing different expertise to the table.

No idea is a stupid idea, and we encourage constructive contribution without fear. However, if tempers start flaring and discussions start becoming toxic, there has to be involvement and mediation from the leadership team to maintain the right balance and objectivity and to make the tough calls. Ultimately, it is about making it clear that we only welcome people who have an open posture towards collaboration and who are keen to contribute positively. The recognition system needs to also mirror that by rewarding teamwork as much as individual excellence.       

In the last year, what do you think has been the agency’s biggest accomplishment?

I think the agency has been very resilient to have weathered the many organizational changes this year, as we evolve and shape ourselves for the future. With the tough economic climate, staying positive and resilient in the face of setbacks is definitely not an easy thing to do. But I think our tenacity paid off in the end. That to me is the biggest accomplishment. Everything else is a byproduct of having the right attitude.

If there’s one piece of advice you’d give to agencies looking to be recognized as best in class in their local markets, what would it be?

That we should be paranoid. And never see ourselves as having arrived—because there is always a lot more to do, and we’re merely 50% there. Keep going and keep improving.

When adding to your team, what do you look for in a potential hire?

A person who has great spirit, who sparkles, and who somehow has the fire to be more.  

What’s next for the agency?

To become the place that the best in class talent in the industry will want to work for. And for all the right reasons. With that, greatness is not a matter of “if” but “when.”