As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia presents “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time.
This week we talk to Alvin Su, a 26-year-old Performance Manager/Biddable Channel Manager at GroupM in Indonesia.
Over the course of our conversation, he talks about how he got his first break in the industry, what he loves about the work, what he doesn’t like about it, and more.
Name: Alvin / Alvin 苏 (Su)
Position: Performance Manager/Biddable Channel Manager
Current Location: Jakarta
Education: Gadjah Mada University, Technology and Business Law School 2017.
How did you get your first break in the industry?
I started my career while I was an undergraduate student in 2013. I worked on an SEO team for an educational institution in Yogyakarta, a city near Central Java in Indonesia. I graduated from the Faculty of Law Gadjah Mada University, one of the best universities in Southeast Asia, with a concentration in Business and Technology Law.
The biggest challenge for me is being able to understand technical SEO and content well. At that time, learning resources about SEO were still very rare, and best practice studies about SEO were not as many as now. However, because the results obtained from SEO are very great, it motivates me to learn from various sources and have the mindset to dare to explore and learn a lot.
What is your personal mantra?
“Pain Is Temporary Pride Is Forever”
This is a mantra to keep me innovating and also learning new things. In this day and age, technological developments are increasingly rapid, consumers are increasingly dynamic and competitors are increasingly aggressive.
Learning new things is an attempt to stay relevant and make new breakthroughs. Learning takes time, it takes a lot of energy too. After that, when we finish learning something new, we may not be able to implement it properly. We must learn to apply it at the right time and application.
If we look at the theory of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, we can see and feel for ourselves that the process of learning and applying new knowledge takes time and we must be prepared to feel uncomfortable for a while.
The thing to remember is that when we give up the only guarantee that it will happen is that we will not improve, we will not learn and we will not be relevant to solving problems. Therefore I need the mantra “Pain is Temporary Pride Forever”.
When I have managed to learn new things and also apply them properly, I can support clients and fulfill customer obsessions. Because in my opinion, a good leader in Digital Strategy and Optimization Management must maintain customers’ trust, even though we pay attention to competitors, we are obsessed with customers.
From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?
I got inspiration from Jack Ma, who is a successful entrepreneur to help many people in his country become entrepreneurs and market their products online in the global community.
Jack Ma was not the son of a rich man, nor did he have the privilege of inheriting from his parents. He works hard all the time. After college, Ma applied for 30 jobs in his hometown of Hangzhou, China. He was rejected by everyone. At KFC, Ma said 24 people applied for the job, and while 23 people were hired, he wasn’t one of them.
The same thing happened when he tried to be a cop. This time four of the five applicants were hired, all except Ma. Jack Ma also tries to apply to be a waiter, but his cousin accepts and he doesn’t, even though his cousin’s grades were lower than his.
Jack Ma did not give up, he kept on improving himself, learning to be even better until finally, he became the success he is today.
In a digital industry such as digital business, almost everything is rarely taught on campus. The campus may provide theory, but the implementation of learning must be carried out in the industry because when the campus will print modules for learning, there is a possibility that the digital business algorithm will change due to the rapid development of the digital world so that conventional campuses are very difficult to teach digital business implementation including digital marketing.
The only mentality that a winner in the digital industry must have is to dare to try, use data-driven to improve performance and not be afraid to fail as Jack Ma did.
What do you love about the job?
I really love my job when I see the big impact it has on my team and clients. For example, when I helped create an automated reporting system for the Programmatic GroupM Indonesia team, the largest team in Southeast Asia. So they can cut their time by up to 25% for creating manual reports, with automated reports their time can be allocated to other important work like strategy building, optimizing campaigns, and educating clients about business algorithm changes or they can use the time to learn new things.
In addition, I also like to do things related to data and product development. It’s no secret that the term “Product-Led Growth” reminds us that not only marketing can drive growth, but products also play an important role in business development and growth. With more than 8 years of experience in the field of digital strategy and optimization leadership, I like to provide input to clients and the companies I work for based on data-driven. So the phrase Product Team vs. Growth Team is no longer relevant but instead becomes Product Team + Growth Team = Success and Scale Carrying Broad Responsibility.
What about your job are you not so crazy about?
I do not like it when my team feels too comfortable. Because if we feel too comfortable, it means we may not grow, if we do not grow, then we may no longer be relevant to provide solutions for clients. Growing up requires positive discomfort.
In leadership, I adhere to the following principles:
“Train Me and I Will Learn.”
“Challenge Me and I Will Grow”
“Believe in Me and I Will Win.”
When I feel my team feels too comfortable, that is the right time to give my team a new challenge. Every week I would ask about the progress of each of their projects or work to keep them in line with the clients’ needs and their personal growth.
By giving them a new project, I believe my team will grow well. I believe that by helping others grow, we are also helping ourselves to grow.
What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
What I am very proud of while working at GroupM is being able to collaborate with the internal team as well as with the client, namely Netflix, where my team and I helped Netflix spread its message to the Indonesians. In addition, I learned from the Netflix team about their ambition to become the best global entertainment distribution service.
Through working with Netflix, I feel like I am working with the right partner because enthusiasm is contagious, and passion is contagious, I caught the desire to grow and did not give up easily on Netflix.
One of the projects I did with Netflix was The Adam Project:
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
I would be a Product Manager because this role is very strong with leadership and has such a huge impact on the company. Producing a good product can provide a large income for the company, and a good product can facilitate marketing.
Product Managers have job roles that include conducting research, prioritizing, and working with engineering teams to create product roadmaps or work with them. As a product manager, one must have excellent leadership and communication skills because usually, a product manager does not directly code, but the engineering team does.
In addition, product managers must also have good business skills so that they can make priorities based on business needs with the aim of solving consumer needs accordingly.
I see that the product manager is an excellent career alternative for me by looking at my achievements and experience in helping clients achieve their business targets and leading the team in strategy, analysis and implementation and machine learning optimization to help performance to achieve business goals.