How I got here…Sarin Wee of NewBase

In our feature exploring career trajectories, the commercial director of Singaporean content marketing agency NewBase, explores her rise through the ranks at Singapore's biggest media houses, the pains of being a working mother and how getting a scooter helped her career


I grew up in Singapore with two older sisters. Our mother raised us alone, which looking back, influenced me a lot. Watching her work long hours as a beautician to support us established my desire for success. She taught me the importance of determination, hard-work and most crucially, independence. I have always tried to emulate her;  she taught us to be fearless. We were mostly left on our own while she strived tirelessly to support the family. 

Childhood: ‘Our mother raised us alone, which looking back, influenced me a lot.’

Later, while studying mass communication at college, I took on a part time job at IBM Singapore in order to support myself. It also gave me some extra cash which I used to gain my Class 2B motorcycle licence, and later got my very own scooter. Back then, women on two-wheelers were nowhere near as prevalent in Singapore as they are now. However I didn’t let that deter me as I wanted the independence it would bring me.

My Start

After my stint at IBM,  I went on to land a sales position with SPH AsiaOne. Those were early days for digital, a long way off the dominant force it has become today. Learning the basics of digital advertising during its infancy proved fortunate. While many in the industry were not giving it any thought, I was already well-experienced, putting me ahead of the curve that became the largest sector in advertising.

After working at SPH AsiaOne for a year, I ventured into the world of publishing and events. I was given a role where I was responsible for driving sales revenue for Motoring, an automotive magazine in Singapore. I drove my scooter to all client meetings, which proved to be a great conversation starter – and I’m sure it even helped me bag a number of sales. Gaining my licence all those years ago proved more valuable for my career progression than I first thought.

‘Gaining my scooter licence all those years ago proved more valuable for my career progression than I first thought.’

The industry back then was a totally different experience to what it is now. The working atmosphere was so regimented compared to today. It was compulsory for everyone to clock in out each day, and salaries would be docked if daily sales reports weren’t submitted by 10am on the dot.

As rigorous as it was, learning in such a high pressure environment was beneficial. It taught me discipline and a strong work ethic. However I still vividly recall the endless evenings spent at mandatory training sessions where we took part in pain-inducing ‘role play’ exercises. One particularly excruciating scenario involved a ‘sell me this pen’ scenario in front of all our colleagues. If this wasn’t bad enough, the role of the ‘client’ was played by the business owner. It proved too much for one unfortunate newbie who resigned the next day.

Despite the rigorous sales regime, I flourished and progressed from a junior sales executive to a manager, leading my own team. I stayed there for four years. An important management lesson I learnt was to always lead by example, something which echoed back to watching my mother put her nose to the grindstone when I was a child. I then made my move to Mediacorp, the main broadcasting network in Singapore.

“An important management lesson I learnt was to always lead by example.”

At Medicorp I had the great privilege of working with Angela Tong, a well-respected business sales veteran. A no-nonsense, straight talking woman, she taught me resilience and, most importantly, shared all the ins and outs of the media sector. Her tutelage had a big influence on me back then and still does. It has proved invaluable in my current role, whereby you balance the interests of client and work closely with the unsung heroes of the media industry: the editorial and creative staff and our suppliers.

After 10 years at Mediacorp, working across digital, TV, radio and print platforms, I was hired as senior director for digital and content at Publicitas, now known as NewBase. Within a year I was promoted to commercial director.


I have always believed in fully committing to the task at hand. There is no point in half-measures; treat every company as if it was your own. It is as important to understand one’s offering as it is to know your customer’s needs, even if that means going back to the fundamentals. I made a point to reach out to all customers to understand their objectives, ask how we fared and how we can improve. When I became commercial director, I applied my approach to NewBase itself. I went through each of our own functions, looking at how they worked, and pinpointed opportunities to put new systems in place that would improve our work.

Highs and lows


I feel very blessed in my current role – I have colleagues all over the world and a fantastic editorial and creative team. As a global business, NewBase has presented me with the kind of opportunities I wouldn’t have received at a monocultured one. Collaborating with people from different cultures and backgrounds has diversified my experience, priceless in today’s world.


With every opportunity, there also lies a challenge, and for me that’s juggling my career and family life. As much as I love my job, spending time away from my daughters, aged 5 and 7, is tough.

I always set aside a period of time when I get home for reading and talking about our day’s activities together. However I don’t think you can ever really take away the guilt chip in working mothers, especially when your kids are so young. No matter what tactic I use to get round this it will always be a low point in any job.

Dos and don’ts  

Don’t shy away from adversity. Things that scare us, make us uncomfortable and push us to our limits ultimately help us define our character.

Be proactive in all that you do because that’s how you discover what you’re really capable of and exceed expectations. Make the sale, work with people with different views, ask how you can improve. Do your best to be your best; no one else can do it for you.


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