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Risk and reward with Mars Wrigley and GOGOVAN

The Marketing Society in Hong Kong welcomed Nicole McMillan, Vice President Marketing, AMEA, Mars Wrigley, and Reeve Kwan, Co-Founder, GoGoVan to come Under the Spotlight on Thursday 19 September 19, 2019. 

The two senior executives shared their personal and professional journeys and learnings along the way. Nicole has blazed corporate trails building major brands, while Reeve co-founded and played a significant role in creating Hong Kong’s first unicorn.

GoGo Van: Where It All Began

Reeve was raised by a single mum in Hong Kong. He graduated from UCLA and when he returned home, he couldn’t find a job. There were lots of expectations on him, but his mother was supportive. He and some friends began preparing lunch boxes, but had trouble booking vans to deliver the food. That was the origin of GoGo Van. 

The app they created to locate delivery vans worked better than any existing call center: they shortened what had been a 15-30 minute process down to 10 seconds. 
Before they started the business the founders asked drivers 'will this work?' Nine out of ten of them said no. Imagine their surprise when it worked! Not only did the lunch boxes get delivered, but also the van drivers liked the service and within four months, Gogo Van became the biggest call center in Hong Kong.

Learnings from Reeve:

  • You evolve based on the problems you encounter. What you design now may change next week.
  • In the start-up world, the company grows the way the people grow.
  • You don't have to come from a managerial background. You learn from hiring the wrong people.
  • Don't risk sharing information and insight with potential competitor brands.
  • To stay relevant, you need to implement more and more management processes. If the team's average age is 28, hire more senior people to build process.
  • The leader has to have the mindset of start-up - it's a different style to corporate.
  • Start with the objective first and then the dollars.

Risk and Reward at Mars Wrigley

Nicole has built her career on taking risks personally. She believes it’s essential to take a stand and make a difference when working at a multinational company such as Mars Wrigley. She says, 'the key is to find a rationale for what you want to accomplish and build support within the organisation. That requires working with and building teams'. At this stage in her career, she is driven by teams much more than by creating campaigns or the work itself. She sees the value in investing in people, such as fresh grads. She says, 'she’s very honest - it's liberating to be able to say to the team look, here's what I can tell you and what I can't.'

And as a senior executive, she is still motivated to still make a difference. Early in her career she saw a lot of people hanging on in corporate life to jobs they perhaps should have let go of. Throughout her career she has taken courses and actively found ways to always stay relevant. 

    Learnings from Nicole:

    • Put people where there is a need and where you can get the talent.
    • Don't feel you have to accept the 'big job' if it doesn't play to your strengths. Only move if you're really passionate about the next opportunity.
    • Control the narrative - articulate your motivations so people understand.
    • Don't be afraid of being vulnerable and speak your mind. A team is more responsive when you are more open.

    Many thanks to Guy Parsonage for moderating and the PWC Experience Center for hosting this event.


    By David Ketchum, CEO of Current Asia