24 Hours With… Starcom’s Ian Loon

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 Ian Loon, the managing director of Starcom Singapore

7:45am: Three glasses of water and daily supplements to start the day before a 15 minute HIIT workout at home – interval training using kettlebells, jump-ropes, paralletes or pure bodyweight (at least twice on weekdays).

A high protein breakfast and coffee always follows before a cold shower and getting dressed. Core habits are essential to keep me centred and feeling good about myself before I face the world.

9am: Onto the train. For 20 minutes, reading and responding to chats and emails that landed overnight from other parts of the world. Making full use of the commute. Once I get to the office, I switch on the lap top and refer to some notes and scribbles before I left the office yesterday.

10am: A work-in-progress status with one of our teams on a key regional account. At such meetings, we encourage action-orientation vs issue-orientation so that everyone remains positive and focused on what needs to get done. Alignment on task owners and timelines most critical before set-off again.

11am: Alignment with our Head of Strategy on client prospecting initiatives and status on new business engagements. We discuss who would work and support on an upcoming pitch. Our consideration extends to Publicis Media Practices, and Publicis Groupe colleagues from other agencies whose value we look for to deliver.

12pm: Lead a call to update fellow Starcom leaders in APAC on several new initiatives briefed by a regional CMO a few days earlier. Discuss implications and next steps to be led by one of our directors at Starcom Singapore, alongside a Publicis Media Practice Lead to support a capability-led conversation. The Starcom Singapore office sits at the heart of key regional activity for some clients; we do our part to connect and involve our colleagues across markets.

1pm: Step out of the office and find a quiet place for lunch while reviewing chats, missed calls, emails, and reflections from the morning. When there are no client engagements, meal time is often precious “me” time to re-center myself for the 2nd half of the day.

2pm: A walk around to the corner of the office I haven’t gotten to since the morning to check on how another team is doing with a new brief and requirement from their clients. Align with them on scope, and commercials. We make a call on matters we can decide on immediately to get going. Zero procrastination and hesitation is key as long as everyone agrees we are doing the right thing.

3pm: Meeting with our finance director to review budgets for an upcoming workshop we intend to run for some of our key clients and staff across the region. We discuss quick status on pipeline projects and pitches, and how that would impact the coming monthly forecast.

Commercial prioritisation should never be overlooked to ensure agile decision-making to remain in-check with financial considerations. A tech-platform partner steps into the pantry for a quick 30 minute update on their product and client opportunity – where possible, I pull the people he should speak to into the room for a quick minute to acknowledge necessary follow-up.

4pm: A slow walk around the colourful Telok Ayer Street to get my take-away coffee while clearing more emails and chats. Glad that we have eclectic cafe options around the office. Most days, I get more than 25 individuals or group chats – I manage the load by finding personal time pockets to respond.

5pm: Reviewing and signing-off agreements and expenses. The door to my office is usually shut to honour the habit of treating approvals with proper review and care. I head to a nearby bar for an interview with a candidate for an open position. A spontaneous conversation with a stranger always work best for insightful and genuine takeaways. Apart from hearing about their career experience, I make it a point to know the person, his or her interests, and common connections – we shouldn’t expect anything less in a people-driven industry.

6:30pm: A business call is happening tonight (usually once or twice weekly), so no Yoga class or social plans this evening. Some scribbles on my note pad for thoughts to be left behind before I catch the train back home. While commuting, more email and chat follow-up, with an order for a healthy dinner through Ubereats.

7pm – 9pm: Dinner arrives shortly after I return home. While enjoying the meal, I browse through Flipboard and Social Media to catch on news and inspiration from friends. Relax before the scheduled call.

9pm: Steps out to the nearby park connector for a moderately-paced walk to the 24/7 Cold Storage for groceries while taking the scheduled call on a high-quality, noise-cancelling headset. I make it a point to hit at least 12,000 steps, 4 days a week.

1030pm – 1230am: Rest, which currently involves the latest season of Black Mirror, Manhunt:Unabomber, and Dark. Netflix has gone from amazing to mind-blowing with the volume and quality of content. My days are usually high on engagement and productivity – no trouble hitting the pillow for the ideal seven hours.


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