Kelvin Tan: Leadership That Is Grounded In Passion For Innovation

Kelvin Tan: Leadership That Is Grounded In Passion For Innovation

Kelvin Tan, CMO

Kelvin Tan


Kelvin Tan, the CMO of Trust Bank, is a passionate brand advocate who enjoys the dynamic process of transforming an enterprise into a brand in the spotlight. With Agility, Accountability, and Authenticity at the core of his leadership style, he worked with some of the best companies like FairPrice Group to champion customer-centric marketing transformation for its retail business brands- FairPrice, FairPrice Finest, FairPrice Xtra, Unity Pharmacy, coupled with its convenience network FairPrice Xpress and Cheers. Some of the brands he has spearheaded regionally in the Asia Pacific include A&W Restaurants, Subway Restaurants, Long John Silver’s, Starbucks, Sun Microsystems, SAP Asia, Parkroyal Hotels & Resorts, and Parmalat. He is one of the pioneers who set up the financial communication agency Magnet Partnership Singapore, working on financial institutions such as UBS, RBS, ABN AMRO, LGT, Macquarie, AMP Capital, MF Global, NTUC Income, and AIA.

In more than 15 years of his professional journey, Kelvin built marketing strategies tailored for each of the markets and consumer segments (QSR, automotive, hospitality, retail, education, tourism, FMCG, technology, and financial communications) to engage customers to deliver brand metrics. He orchestrated cross-functional teams to deliver innovations and meet customers' changing aspirations. With hands-on experience in marketing, product development, branding, communication design, advertising, media, consumer research, direct marketing, and channel planning, he could build strategies that led to the profitable growth of brands through impeccable customer experience design and engagement.

Recognizing Kelvin's accomplishments, CEO Insights Asia engages in an exclusive interview with him.

What is the driving force that pushes you to do something big?

At this juncture of my career, my biggest motivations are two-fold. Focusing on making the impossible, possible, when everyone else is thinking it is not. And focusing on how to enable that possibility with the talented team I have on hand that’s beyond just marketing. The future of marketing isn’t just marketing itself, marketing needs to be the ingredient catalyst as well as the pot-carrier where all these talents in the company can percolate in and design the solutions that can be exceptional for the customers we serve.

Leadership is about recognizing that there's greatness in everyone, and as CMOs, it is our job to create an environment where that greatness can emerge

How has been your path to success and what is your success mantra?

I look at myself as a problem solver with a pool of passion to empower everyone (customers and colleagues alike) with their experiences to design the solutions we will build for the market.

The path to success will never be a smooth one. For me, it is about keeping an open mind to changes and challenges that will certainly come your way, while at the same time, not being afraid to accept assistance that I might not be best suited to solve. In fact, that’s what agility is about – a melting pot of talents who will be there to support each other and solve challenges as it arises. A final point would be to never be too impassioned about your ideas – be agile to completely iterate to a new idea altogether if the situation calls for it. Going forward, the role of the CMO must evolve. It’s no longer about just brand awareness but about exceptional customer experience. It’s no longer about just marketing but about the unity of the company’s vision and commitment to a common customer- centric culture. Progressive CMOs should facilitate this co-creation and collaboration and make it an integral part of every marketing initiative.

Could you tell us the fundamental factors you take into consideration while suggesting your digital services to the clients?

As a bank meant for everyday use, it is important to have every customer segment on-boarded including the silver generation. While some tech companies will generally focus on early digital adopters, I see it as a great challenge when even the digital inept will find delight in the simple and seamless digital solutions we will create that will help challenge the mindsets one would have of a digital bank.

What are the future market opportunities that you look forward to investing your time to reach your goals?

Customer Experience Over Branding- CX, will be the key to successful marketing for brands as we head into the future. Marketing must work towards facilitating every individual in the organization to strive to provide an exceptional experience to customers, the shift from company-centered to customer-centered marketing, is no longer just about bringing in more leads or generating more usage. CMOs need to be ask ing, 'How can we provide a better experience to customers at every stage of their relationship with us?' We should focus on Iterative Storytelling instead of Campaigns Planning, Discard the traditional 'marketing campaign' model following planning, marketing, reporting, and reviewing to adopt an iteration of continuous processes that are constantly being optimized. Content can be changed in real-time based on feedback, results, or changing trends. Ask, 'What brand stories can we share?'

Customer Co-creation & Collaboration over PaidBrand Content, Focus on co-creating content together with customers, and having ongoing conversations with those customers to understand their needs and aspirations, and the kind of content that can meet those needs. The rise of social media influencers and brand ambassadors will replace traditional brand advertising. Rather than thinking just about 'brand voice', ask, 'How customer voice can be more relat able and engaging?'

Kelvin Tan, CMO, Trust Bank

• Favourite Travel Destination: The remote islands in Indonesia or any tribal villages in any part of South-East Asia, Top bucket list- To go to Nagaland, north-eastern India, to visit the Naga tribes in 2022

• Hobbies: Love travel & cultures, arts, antiques, pottery & plants– find something you love to distract yourself besides just work, work, and work!

Current Issue