24 Hours With… Spuul’s Subin Subaiah

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 Subin Subaiah, the global CEO of Asian OTT service Spuul

6amish: I am not a morning person. The crack of dawn has never fired up my synapses. In that sense, I am still a college kid.

That said, the sliver of bright Singapore light that slams into my face through the undrawn curtains, courtesy my wife, bounces me unceremoniously into a new day. I check my pulse. I am alive. Cleansing rituals are completed in the company of The Straits Times. The sports section validates the truth that winning is about being fearless but not stupid.

7am: I crank up the laptop. Oooh, I love the sight of emails in the morning. Family first. Make sure I get the kids’ hands out of my pocket. I cannot afford to be a schizophrenic manager. It’s disturbing to be a profligate at home and a frugal penny pinching CEO at work. I open my Spuul mail with a great sense of anticipation. Not a morning goes by when I am not presented with a rich mix of challenges, apprehensions and successes that I need to address or commend. That done, I pick up on the shifts and changes that have taken place in our eco system while I have been asleep. Enough to ponder about while I change into my exercise duds.

7.30am: Gym work while listening to a Sam Harris podcast or watching some TEDTalks or watching an episode of the surreal comedy of Monty Python just to remind me not to take myself seriously.

8.30am: Meditation. Quiet now.

9.00am: Make major decisions as to the colour of my polo for the day – white or pink? – while listening attentively to my dear wife give me a run-down of my domestic obligations for the day.

9.30am: My COO, Mohan, drives up to my doorstep. I hop into his Porsche. We shake hands. He guns the engine and our business day gets off to a roaring start. For the next hour, we brief each other on the state of play across all the drivers of our business – tech, product, content, marketing and, of course, finance.

10.30am: A quick chat with all the folks in the office to make sure ‘all is well’ and they are firing on all cylinders. The engineers dazzle me with their lateral thinking. Finance alerts me to the daily crises that bootstrapped companies wrestle with. My first brew of tea settles me in for a day in the office.

11.00am: Every day of the week turns up a planned meeting with each of our teams – content, management, investment bankers, marketing and business development. Very energising to listen and debate a team committed to driving for excellence. At the top of the hour I review my take aways/ action steps and move on.

12.30pm: Lunch with a potential business partner, financier, competitor or someone influential in the eco system. Either that or a bowl of mee pok at the kopi tiam across the street with one of the Spuulers.

2.00pm: The next three hours are totally unpredictable. I love this period. I could be trouble shooting, selling to business partners, negotiating with content owners, building bridges between our teams in Singapore, Mumbai, Dubai, Sydney and Auckland, critiquing creatives, conferencing with investment bankers, lawyers and investors, interviewing potential recruits, figuring out financial solutions, making sure project timelines/milestones are not going off kilter, doing my own secretarial work and drinking copious quantities of tea.

5.00pm: Time to spar with our shareholders. They are a savvy bunch who keep me on my toes and together we make sure that our focus is razor sharp as is the execution of our business plan.

6.30pm: I Uber home while having an en-route tete-a-tete with Rajiv, our India CEO and our business head for the Middle East & ANZ. The Uber driver is amused because our discussions are hugely animated, even cranky, as we test each other with various approaches on how to collar the complex markets we do business in. This wrestling match carries on long after I have reached home much to the chagrin of my wife.

7.30pm: Time with the wife. My lips are sealed.

8.30pm: Anything can happen. A situation could emerge that would have me on a conference call till late or everything could be tickety-boo leaving me to my own devices. Catch up on some reading, work on a play script I am adapting, follow the shenanigans of our modern day political leaders, keep tabs on the markets, check what’s cool on Spuul or just ponder the meaning of life.

10.30pm: It’s battle stations!! If I can wrench the remote out of the clenched fist of my darling wife, I will watch some sport. If not I simply surrender myself to whatever it is she is amusing herself with. There is a lovely togetherness about this time that I treasure.

11.30pm: I am comatose.


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