24 Hours With… iris Singapore’s Sorcha John

24 Hours With... spotlights the working day of some of the most interesting people in Asia’s marketing and media landscape. Today, we hear about a day in the life of Sorcha John, managing director of iris Worldwide Singapore

6.40am: The alarm goes and my day kicks off with military precision, starting with a nine-minute snooze; five minutes to throw my gym gear on, five minutes to decide what to wear and chuck into my backpack, five minutes to feed the kittens. I meet my husband Chris in the hall where he’s managed the same incredibly efficient transformation. Trainers on and out the door.

7.15am: The shuttle bus pulls up to the condo lobby. When we moved to Sentosa in February, everyone said it was the death of culture, convenience and our social life, but commuting couldn’t be easier and I see the sea every morning, so haters hate.

7.33am: The shuttle bus pulls up at its first stop just before MBFC. We have a global iris Fitbit leaderboard and I consistently languish in the bottom 50 per cent, so getting off the bus three stops early helps to squeeze in an extra 1,500 steps. I dream of crushing the likes of Ian Millner, our global CEO, and Benj Chilcott, the global CEO of iris concise, but alas it has never happened. I check my emails and flag anything that needs prioritising.

7.45am: Arrive at VisionGym for 30 minutes of HIIT circuits from Irene, the torturer. She smiles sweetly as she delivers the news – 50 more burpees.

8.40am: Attempt the perfect eyeliner flick. Despite having done this every morning for the last 15 years, I still need three attempts. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule clearly doesn’t extend to liquid liner.

8.45am: I’m trotting down Telok Ayer Street. I love this short walk, passing ladies chopping a mountain of vegetables at the double boiled soup shop, Thian Hock Keng, the café-come-cocktail bars and the small indie design shops. It represents everything I love about Singapore: that incredible combination and contrast of tradition, innovation and bustling entrepreneurialism. 4,300 steps.

9.00am: I’m at my desk and the email trawl begins. I start with anything that’s come in overnight from London and the US, a few boring bits on rate cards and forecast confirmation, then a slightly more exciting logistics update for our Life-Swappers Tania and Roy, who are heading on a creative exchange to London for scooping Silver at this year’s Young Lions.

11.00am and it’s the first of today’s three creative reviews. Two new briefs and one big pitch. Brief one, the strategy is clear and the creative is on its way to the greatness.

12.15am: Time to user-test our latest VR creation from our Labs team. We’re in the last two weeks of a four-month build, which is when the experts invite us mere mortals to have a play and talk them through any quirks or elements that feel unnatural. Combining live action video and slick CGI visuals I’m suddenly transported out of China Street. For a second I think I’ve got the high score on one of the games, only to learn I’m the first to test. VR goggles off and my gloating is short lived. Even shorter lived when I realise I’ve had an audience of photographers snapping my virtual rock climbing attempt.

12.35pm and it’s a highly predictable lunch of Salmon Poké. I reckon I eat Poké three-to-four times a week as I’ve been obsessed with fresh fish since the age of four, engrained in me by a lifetime of family holidays to Northumberland and South West Ireland, I would eat fish twice a day every day if I could. Jade Rainbird, our commercial director is mightily unimpressed with my consistent lack of originality. Today I might surprise her by getting salmon and tuna combined. Wild I know.

2.00pm: A quick check of all the client Whatsapp groups to ensure everyone is happy. When I first moved to Asia, I couldn’t quite believe the speed and informality of client and agency communications, but with clients in 11 markets across South East Asia, I’ve come to appreciate Whatsapp as a huge efficiency driver, annoying though it can be.

3.00pm: Into creative review meeting two, this client team have become masters at iterating together; I love it when our teams stop presenting to each other and start building together to sharpen an idea. That dynamic doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a good bit of trust and a mutual drive to craft an idea right through to its most powerful conclusion, encouraging this kind of passion is essential in this increasingly complex world of ours. Ed Cheong, our ECD, has this quality in spades. Talented people bring it out of others, we’ll never say no to a bit more of that.

4.30pm: Pitch time, creative briefing for the ‘big one’, the shiny new account that we all feel so excited by. I watch as one of our young super-strategists Yanling Leow fizzes with enthusiasm as she delivers a comprehensive and inspirational creative brief. The troops snap into action, we’re in questions and ideas from the moment Yanbam reaches her last slide, this is the best moment of my day.

6.00pm: I’m back at my desk, ready to cull the emails that have been mounting up all day, reviewing the income and new business sheets to see where we’re tracking and approving any new resource requests. It’s not for everyone, but I genuinely love this part of my role. Evaluating where we can make those small adjustments, improvements or efficiencies to enhance our
product and agency life is my tonic.

7.40pm: I reckon I’m just about done for the day. I’ll quickly make a to-do list for the morning, then I’ll check-in with anyone who looks like they might be staying a while longer, a stop-by our production team to steal some sweets and chat with Adam, one of our creative group heads to see if he’s heading home soon. The answer, probably not.

8.15pm: My Uber driver drops me happily home. 7,899 steps, Benj Chilcott on 13,000 and he’s seven hours
behind us. Failed again. Two or three nights a week we’ll be out and about, usually in separate places, so tonight’s evening in with Mr John is a heavenly proposition.

8.45pm: He’s cooked up a storm, being a very keen cook and gadget fiend, I’m treated to a sous-vied lamb chop with pea puree and quinoa with a glass of red. Lucky old me.

10.00pm is my dream bedtime. I truly believe eight hours sleep is the secret to happiness, I achieved it
once, it was great. It’s also the time that our two kittens (Kopi and Rascal) decide to climb the walls and curtains like
Neo from The Matrix. A dog person my whole life, I was highly sceptical about these feline additions. But what I have discovered is that cats are just as cute as dogs, but smaller and potentially funnier – controversial, I know. I adore them and plaster them all over Instagram like the people I used to mock.

10.45pm: We make it to bed and I’m asleep in five minutes flat. 8,300 steps.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing