Melanie Yap talks professional freedom, diversity in collaboration and doing 'Good' ahead of our Singapore Trend Event

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The list of speakers for our 2016 Consumer Trend Events just keeps getting stronger (and longer!). Each city will see leading innovators join our own trend gurus as we get to the heart of consumerism's most pressing topics - from AI to big data, demographics to Big Brand Redemption. 

Melanie Yap, partner at A Very Good Company — a boutique consultancy specialising in social innovation, research and design — is part of the all-star line-up at our sold-out Singapore event. We managed to catch up with her to discuss the values of Generation Z (and Singapore as a whole) ahead of her appearance on our Branded Infrastructure panel — looking at how smart brands are making Asia a better place to be.

Melanie Yap

Can you tell us a bit about your day-to-day life working for A Very Good Company? What do you enjoy the most, and what do you find the most challenging?

My days are never the same and that is why I love what I do. All days do start early though as I have two young children. I’m usually out the door by 8am and from there head into the Singapore’s Impact Hub, a co-working space I share with a great group of like-minded businesses.

I might start the morning with a coffee meeting and then spend the day head down developing new social impact programme for a business client. Other days, I hop from meeting to meeting, looking for collaborators to create innovative partnerships. What I really enjoy is coming into the room as an outside voice and helping organisations to see issues and in new ways. That’s how we create opportunities and innovate.

As someone that’s speaking at our Singapore event, what do you find about the region that make it such an important place for innovation?

Singapore has a natural geographical advantage, which places it at the centre of people, business and ideas. This heady mix creates an exciting platform for innovation.

I love the mix of people that I meet on a day to day basis — from young Singaporeans trying to initiate ground-up initiatives to global CSR professionals to groundbreaking social entrepreneurs.

Without giving too much away, what topics, issues, trends or challenges are you excited to share with our audience at the Singapore Consumer Trend Event?

I’m excited to share our new research on Singaporean Gen Zs and their changing values as they relate to business. I am also happy to share our work with supply chains in the region, in particular our pioneering service design led approach to improving health and wellbeing amongst factory workers.

You feature on our Branded Infrastructure panel, exploring how smart brands are making Asia a better place to be. Can you share a favourite innovation or initiative that you feel embodies this subject matter?

I love Uniqlo’s holistic and strategic approach to doing Good. Their initiatives span the entire business — from factories through their female empowerment programme to consumers in the form of their All-Product Recycling Initiative.

Uniqlo also has a great inclusive employment programme. And, if that’s not enough, the company has also established Grameen UNIQLO, a social business that aims to strengthen local communities and encourage economic development in Bangladesh. Its clothes are made and sold locally, and all profits go right back into the business.

Uniqlo-Grameen

What trends do you feel that your organization are pursuing in your work? They don’t have to be TrendWatching trends! They might be very broad trends such as ‘the sharing economy’ or ‘the rise of artificial intelligence’. How do you think those trends are set to evolve, and what challenges lie ahead for you?’

I see so many people now, particularly Millenials or Gen Zs who work in demanding full time jobs, while working or building not just 1 but sometimes 2 or 3 businesses or social initiatives.

In many ways, that’s why we founded A Very Good Company ourselves — we wanted the freedom to pursue our different interests under the umbrella of a single brand focused on doing Good. And we recognised that many of our peers also wanted the freedom to work on different projects at the same time and our working model enables them to do just that.

It’s not just about having multiple careers over a lifetime now, it’s about having multiple careers NOW. I think that this is something that businesses looking to recruit and retain talent really need to consider.

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TrendWatching's 2016 Consumer Trend Events head to Singapore (27 Oct), Sydney (3 Nov),Chicago (10 Nov), London (16 Nov) and Amsterdam (23 Nov). Ready to unlock and experience the trends set to shape 2017 (and beyond)? Find out more here.

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