Initiative's Steve Blakeman works and plays hard in Singapore

Steve Blakeman is chief planning officer, Asia Pacific, at Initiative, based in Singapore

Singapore: an 'always on' attitude
Singapore: an 'always on' attitude

I worked for Initiative in Paris as director of communications planning on the Unilever account. Three years ago, Initiative's chief executive for Asia asked if I would be interested in doing the same thing across Asia Pacific, working on clients such as Coca-Cola and Marriott.

My role
My territory stretches to China, Australia, Japan and India. But the travelling is a poisoned chalice. I have visited some fascinating countries, but you may not see anything apart from your hotel, the taxi and the office.

Media agencies
China and India are spearheading growth in the region and Asia remains resilient despite the global economic doom and gloom. Communications planning is at the forefront of agencies' offering and is being embraced by clients. This is reflected by the strong performance of Asian agencies at global awards, such as Cannes Lions.

Main differences
Asian offices start work later, say 9.30am, but people work until 9pm or later to compensate. There's an "always on" attitude to work, so weekends and holidays are not sacred. Thankfully, people play hard too - although the parties are not quite as raucous as they are back home.

Asia has four of the top five countries in the world for household broadband penetration and the Philippines is the world's number one texting nation. To give perspective, Asia has more internet users than Europe and North America put together.

Culture and social scene
Cars drive on the left, we have three-pin plugs and you can buy underwear from Marks & Spencer. Down time is more focused on being outdoors, Sunday brunch at a luxury hotel is an expat institution and it's easy to visit Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia or Vietnam.

One thing we can learn from Singapore
Real collaboration and interaction between all the stakeholders in a client's business and a multi­discipline approach to problem solving.

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