In the last of our Office Profile series, we sat down with Director James Kozanecki, and Executives Asyikin Yusoff and Sharika Santha Kumar to find out more about life in Singapore.
Can you tell me a bit about the work you do in Singapore?
James runs the Singapore office, overseeing the day-to-day operations for clients and for the business – as well as doing strategy for both of those. “I get to work with the team on the variety of projects we do, which is pretty awesome. We’re going through a bit of a rebuild right now, working together on what we want the office culture to look like and where we want to take the business next year.”
Asyikin and Sharika work closely on research, writing, client management and monitoring, but Asyikin particularly picks up on James’s point about culture.
“Being part of the small office in Singapore means we get to be across nearly everything,” says Asyikin. “We also get to do the fun stuff – like networking, events, meeting clients face-to-face. We have also met many Portlanders from other offices which has been fantastic!”
What do you enjoy about working in Singapore?
“I’m Singaporean, I grew up here,” opens Asyikin. “One of my favourite things about living here has always been the efficiency. Everything’s very convenient – nothing is ever too far away in Singapore, which is great. On a Portland note, being part of the wider Portland network, and being able to work locally across all of the different markets, has been great. Culturally, everything is so different. It’s a fascinating insight into this, as well as PR across all the different markets. It’s been a real eye-opener for me.”
Sharika agrees with Asyikin on the efficiency and proximity of everything in Singapore – including other countries. “It’s easy to fly to other countries from Singapore. There are a lot of places we can go trekking – I live close to the Botanic Gardens which are beautiful. What’s really exciting though are the people. I’ve met a lot of different people from a lot of different places that you wouldn’t usually meet in one place.”
“I would definitely echo what Sharika is saying,” continues James. “I also think the scope and the breadth of clients that we get to work with here is quite exciting – we do work from New Zealand reaching over into the various regions of China, so we cover a lot of different markets. No two clients that we currently have are the same. This obviously presents its own challenges, but it’s also fun, and keeps us on our toes. Being immersed in such a fast-moving part of the world really forces us to keep our skills sharp – then at the weekends we can go to Thailand!”
How does the Singapore office encapsulate the Portland values?
“I’ve worked with multiple agencies in the past, but Portland is the first one that truly globally collaborates,” says James. “In previous agencies, I’d be going into a pitch with someone I’d met 30 minutes prior, whereas I really know and work with people in various offices in Portland. Portland is an agency that truly walks its talk when it comes to having a global offering.”
Despite only being at Portland for a few months, Asyikin completely agrees with James. “I’ve been able to work closely with people from the London office, from Berlin, from Doha. My mentor is from Berlin. This is another aspect I enjoy about life at Portland – how encouraging everybody is, both in general, but also in terms of career path and achievement. There’s a truly collaborative and growth mindset.”
“I’ve only been here three months,” says Sharika, “but in these three months I’ve been able to talk and collaborate on multiple projects across London, Qatar and Singapore. It’s been quite a learning experience for me.”
“I think to add to that collaborative piece, the team we’re building here in Singapore should comprise of people from around the region,” says James. “Right now, there’s no two people from the same country in our team. We operate in an incredible environment, so the team roster should reflect those backgrounds.“