The Wall Street Journal on our APAC 2020 Conference

The Wall Street Journal's Head of Media Sales & The Trust, Julia Clyne, reviews our first ever virtual APAC Brave Together Conference.

The Marketing Society's APAC Brave Together Conference was a moment for leaders to come together; to be inspired to continue to make a positive difference, not just in within their organisations, but on society and the world. At The Wall Street Journal, it was a moment we were proud to be part of. 

The afternoon was filled with conversations about things that truly matter to us as human beings. What struck me was how each speaker reinforced the power of storytelling:

  • Aline Santos revealed how the stories we tell through marketing can influence people’s perception of the world and the people around them. Breaking stereotypes and traditional conventions will make our brands more relevant and more successful.
  • Dean Aragon shared Shell’s brand story and how important brand purpose has been on their journey navigating the business through the crisis. He encouraged us to dare to be truly and compellingly differentiated, to brief our agencies with courage - not to ask what is expected. He said: big ideas still require shared meaning and huge societal conversations.
  • Simone Heng demonstrated the power of storytelling to us with her own moving, personal story. She revealed why human connection is so important in helping us through periods of adversity and that one of the best ways to connect with others is through stories—especially stories where we disclose ourselves as fully as possible (with the camera and mic on!).
  • Jeff Rotmeyer from ImpactHK shared anecdotes from his work supporting the homeless people of Hong Kong, and how they have taught him the true importance of friendship. These tales showed how stories can help to dismantle stereotypes and misperceptions and through gaining a real insight into people’s lives, we can see our shared reality as humans. Whether homeless or not, we all crave friendship, kindness and love.
  • Adventurer Rob Lilwall took us back to his solo expedition through the Taklamakan Desert known as “the desert of death”. He drew on his experience to demonstrate how with the right mindset, we can overcome challenges even when they seem insurmountable. The answer to the problem of exhaustion is simply to practice self-care. This year has been an opportunity to pause, to take time out and to become better leaders for it.
  • Karena Belin and Christina Lee, on the Founder’s Panel, discussed their experiences in 2020 as leaders of start-ups. The pandemic has been a health crisis, a social crisis and a business challenge. Yet a crisis is an opportunity for change. This is the time to reflect, reset and restart.

Without doubt, it has been a year that has demanded bravery across the world. The same is true in our industry. From pivoting and adapting the way we manage our businesses to finding the courage to stand up on your own to fight for things that you think are fair, it's when we listen to the stories of others and reflect upon our own that we can reach a successful and impactful future.

Aline summed it up best; the themes that were discussed at the APAC conference of courage, bravery and resilience are not disconnected from how we operate as business leaders. Instead they enable us to make the decisions we have to make every day in our jobs, in a way that is grounded in our convictions and values.



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