24 hours with… Exponential’s Celine Liew

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 Celine Liew, the Malaysian country head of Exponential

8.00am: The first thing I do when I wake up is to check my phone. Like the millions of other Malaysians afflicted with a smartphone addiction, it’s practically a reflex.

Then, I check my work emails and am always amazed by how they seem to pile up overnight. I shoot back a couple of responses, simple ones that require less typing (and therefore less typos). I also do the obligatory run-through of my social channels. Just because I’m working from home today for half a day doesn’t mean I don’t have to start early, after all.   

9:30am: What it does mean, however, is that I am given the flexibility to plan my work around the activities I have scheduled for the day. And I get to go to the midday gym session I’ve signed up for, after clearing my daily task list.

11.00am: The red incoming message notification on my email icon just keeps on climbing up. My colleagues from Australia start to ping me about two upcoming client events of ours and the next thing I know, I’m on a conference call. I reschedule my gym session, knowing in the back of my mind that my trainer is going to nag at me next Monday for missing the class – yet again.

12:00pm: Meeting done and it hits me quite suddenly that I’ve yet to have breakfast (the good thing about a web conference is that no one can hear your stomach protesting). I’m slightly obsessed with brunch and cooking in general. You have to take your time to get it just right, and there’s nothing quite like fresh sourdough bread and a good, strong cup of coffee to set me up for the day.

5:00pm: And set me up it does – my productivity for the past few hours has been through the roof. I’ve been powering through my to-do list and have already gone to three client meetings, all of whom have started to chat with me about what their goals are for 2018What goals do we have moving forward? What targets do we need to hit? What timeline are we working with?

But despite having done this six times in my career at Exponential, forecasting never gets any easier – every year presents a new set of challenges, simply because there are just too many contingencies involved. When I can’t even be sure when the next election will be, it’s often the case of me having to constantly revisit the plan, tweaking it as I have yet another think about the economic outlook for the next year.

6:00pm: I head home. Looking at the cross-trainer in the hall, it’s like a constant reminder of the workout I’d skipped that afternoon. And the afternoon before. And the afternoon before that. Ok, I’ve got to do this. No excuses – not when my life motto has always been ‘no better time than now’. It’s just a quick half hour’s workout but it certainly feels good.

7:00pm: Moving swiftly from one demanding client to another – I’m now giving my dog a bath, while catching up with my Korean drama at the same time. My ability to multi-task is definitely underrated.  I also check on my green garden.

12:00am: I’ve been trying to get to bed by midnight lately. I know I should avoid that quick pre-bed work email check – knowing fully well I’ll wake up to a stuffed inbox anyway – as well as refrain from making to-do lists for the next day. But the way I see it, this is my way of clearing my mind before bed.

1:00am: Ok, that didn’t work. I’ve been tossing and turning for the past hour while my husband has been sleeping like a baby. I play a few rounds of Star Chef, a cooking game on my mobile. The last thought that crosses my mind is how nice it would be to have one of those new-fangled lavender-scented pillow sprays to help me sleep. Sweet dreams.


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