Rachel conducts her day-to-day workflow at our Singapore operation with the logic of an engineer and the soul of an artist. We were fascinated to discover how her diverse skills developed.
What interests were you drawn to when growing up?
The arts. Early on, I took up painting and attended design classes. I also learned to play musical instruments, mainly the violin and the erhu (known in the West as a ‘Chinese two-stringed fiddle’).
Do you still play music?
It’s been so long since I’ve touched the instruments. Sadly, I gave them away when I left school and started working. There is, however, one erhu piece I can still play – even in my dreams – ‘Horse Racing’
Do you find those early artistic hobbies serve you in your work today?
I suppose they enable me to fully appreciate the beauty of the design work we see in our industry. The layered, feedback-intensive developmental processes of fine art are quite similar to what we do at CDI World.
When did you first realise that you wanted to build a career in project and marketing management?
It would have to be the very first time I was placed on an overseas project to manage exhibition booths and installation projects in various countries. The feeling of meeting a tight timeline, communicating with locals of different cultures (and often languages) to achieve a common goal. The best part was seeing the smiles on the clients’ faces at completion. I found the entire process very satisfying. Still do!
How do you approach your marketing role?
It’s about engagement. Having a thorough knowledge of CDI World’s capability and operations gives me a good foundation to market our services. At the same time, I constantly visit social media channels to keep updated on global, retail and exhibition news. When a certain brand catches my attention, I’ll look for further information on their campaigns and activities. I also research clients and competitors so I can inform and support our team in their projects and presentations.
It sounds intense!
The better you can
understand client’s changing needs and their specific marketplace, the better
you can identify the service offerings that will give them real advantage. That’s
why it’s vital to keep well-informed about developments in technology and design.
Is there a new design element or industry trend that you find particularly interesting?
A number of retail brands are exploring the use of technology which appeals to all of our five senses. This can create immersive, interactive retail-spaces which leave an impactful impression upon consumers. I’m intrigued by this kind of experiential approach.
What recent CDI World project has given you the most professional satisfaction?
For me, it’s the continuing retail showcase roll-outs across Asia for major clients. As a person who manages projects on the ground every day, you have to co-ordinate suppliers on site, collaborate with clients and meet unforgiving deadlines. It’s a bit like being a Broadway stage manager! But, for all involved, it’s very satisfying when a job is completed well.
What would you say is the single most important factor in achieving a successful project?
Having a motivated team of people working together in their individual roles to make it all possible. It takes all the working partners, including the client, to continually convey their constructive and detailed feedback to make a project great.
Do you have any professional heroes? If so, who are they and why do you admire them?
I would pick out Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and Jonah Berger. I admire their practical insights on marketing using social influence and their depth of knowledge in digital marketing.
What gets you excited to begin work each day? And what about your days off?
The feeling of connecting with people at work (clients, colleagues, partners) and being able to assist them. On days off, I look forward to spending time with family and friends. It is also important for me to take some time for self-enrichment.
It may sound boring, but I love looking after my air-plants (Tillandsia) and succulents at home. And when I tend to them, I ‘talk’ to them! Colouring and painting is still a relaxing hobby for me – I’ve recently started purchasing painting outlines and filling in colours. Meditation helps give me an extra boost when I am stressed or tired. Photography is a hobby which I’ve begun to explore during the lock-down, I’m really an amateur. It all began by chance, with my capturing some nature hiking pics.
If CDI World offered to fund and manufacture a personal, ‘passion project’ of yours what would the project be?
Though funding this one might be a little over the top, as an experimental project, it would be really interesting to conceive, design and model a new, Lego theme park project which would feature themed interiors. Years ago, we completed a Disney-themed café that deeply impressed me. Back then, I’d just started learning how interior projects are developed and implemented. From creating Disney character figurine display cases, to themed furniture and even a kids’ play corner, it was definitely a challenging project and one in which I gained loads of new knowledge and picked up some really great ideas.
It’s a brand which I’ve always found to be intriguing and creative. They have created a theme park in Johor, Malaysia, which many Singaporeans visit. Putting my own spin on a more local, Lego park, I envision it featuring a restaurant with a play corner and retail area all in one. We could also create a small event corner where clients could host private functions, featuring props and decorations all created in collaboration with Lego!
If you weren’t working with CDI World, what profession would you like to follow?
Either civil or environmental engineering, such as water treatment or waste management, or teaching maths to primary school children.
We heard that in the past you’d spent some time working in a monastery. What’s the story there?
The monastery compound is quite extensive, and they have various buildings and facilities which need maintaining. I was in the purchasing department, helping to coordinate contractors skilled in different areas, such as fire safety, M&E, air-conditioning, cleaning works, pest control, landscaping, security, etc. I was grateful for this opportunity to acquire new knowledge and offer my skills to such a beautiful and contemplative institution.
Thank you, Rachel, for letting us finish on such a serene note!