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AUGUST 7, 2019 //     

Five lessons from five years of growth

By: Serina Tan

If someone had asked me five years ago, “Will you still be with Allison+Partners in 2019?,” I probably would have responded, “Unlikely.”

Let me explain. Before Allison+Partners, my longest tenure at any job was a mere two and a half years. So, five years seemed like an eternity. Not to mention, I started the Singapore office from the ground up. I started with literally nothing – no signage, no office, no chairs and desks, no other colleagues. It was difficult and almost impossible to imagine how things might look in a year, let alone five.

However, I’m grateful to have had a few secret weapons. I won our first retainer, had a vision to build something special, had plenty of fire in my belly, and, most importantly, had nothing to lose. It was an interesting combination that fortunately led to much success. 

As we celebrate our fifth anniversary with our growing team, here are five lessons I’ve learned along the way: 

  1. Visualisation is key. I set out with the vision of building a close-knit team committed to delivering only best-in-class work. It was meant to be an experiment, but it has since become a reality. I’m proud to say the team we have now is the best version of Allison+Partners Singapore we’ve ever had. If we can dream it, we can do it.
  2. Setting high standards is a competitive edge. It pays off. As an upstart a few years ago, we worked our socks off on a massive competitive pitch and ended up beating more than 15 other more established agencies to win a prestigious account. We surprised ourselves and made competitors who never heard of us sit up in bewilderment. Over the years, most of the business we won has been by word-of-mouth referrals from existing or previous clients who trust us to deliver high-quality results. 
  3. Progress is better than perfection. Many people who have worked closely with me in the past would call me a perfectionist. But during the course of this journey, I’ve learned nobody and nothing is perfect in this world. If we try to get something to be perfect, we will never get there. So, instead of beating ourselves up over life’s imperfections, let’s strive for continuous improvement and celebrate the successes along the way.
  4. Make data-informed decisions, but always trust your gut. Do your research and analyze the situation. But eventually, trust your instincts when making a decision – even if it could be unpopular. Being confident in yourself and your decision-making skills instils trust within your team, which is a key factor to success. 
  5. Best-selling author and psychiatrist Scott Peck said in his book, The Road Less Travelled, “To grow in any dimension, pain as well as joy will be the reward.” I remember how when we were just a three-person team in 2014, I stayed up until 2 a.m. for a few consecutive nights with a bad bout of food poisoning to work on a new business proposal. I felt miserable and wished we had a larger and more experienced team. Guess what – we did eventually win the pitch, and this client remains with Allison+Partners today. There will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, belief in yourself and perseverance, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Over the past five years, we’ve built a community – not just an office. We are a community of individuals, guided by company values but influenced by their own unique perspectives and experiences. There is a sense of purpose where we hold one another accountable for our shared success.

I come to work smiling every day, looking forward to the diverse perspectives and interactions with our colleagues from Singapore and all over the world. I know this is a work family that I can trust and rely on. Regardless of the ups and downs one would typically experience in a family, I know we will still have each other’s backs at the end of the day. This makes work all the more enjoyable, enabling us to always strive to be the best versions of ourselves.

Someone asked me last week what my best career moment was. Without a doubt, it was my decision to join Allison+Partners five years ago.

Serina Tan is managing director of Asia-Pacific. 

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