Top firms to give tips at seminar on thriving in digital age

Executives from leading companies like Unilever and entrepreneurs from a range of start-ups will be speaking at a seminar next week, aimed at helping companies prosper in the digital revolution.

The CEO Exchange, as the gathering is called, will tackle such topics as digitisation, social marketing and e-commerce.

It will feature executives from digital start-ups and large conglomerates such as Unilever, Grab, Foodpanda, Lazada and Zalora.

One of the speakers at the event to be held at the NTUC Auditorium next Thursday will be Mr Lim Kell Jay, head of ride-hailing app Grab Singapore.

He will discuss the key factors that can make a company successful in the online market.

He told The Straits Times that Grab is the top ride-hailing app in South-east Asia, crediting its secret sauce to its "hyperlocal approach".

  • Win tickets to CEO Exchange

  • The Straits Times, a media partner of the seminar, is giving away 30 tickets to readers. The event will be held on Thursday (Sept 22) at NTUC Auditorium, NTUC Centre, 1 Marina Boulevard.

    To win a ticket, simply answer this question: "The Future of Digital in Asia" covers business transformation and innovation in the digital age. True or false?

    • SMS your answer to 146077877 by Sept 19, noon, in the following format: STCEOanswer NRIC (last four digits and alphabet only)e-mail name (e.g. STCEO TRUE 4567H Mary Tan)

    • Please note that each SMS costs 21 cents (with GST), and will be charged to the customer's prepaid or mobile phone bill.

    • Participants below the age of 18 must seek parental consent.

    • Please call 6319-8912 for inquiries.

    • SMS entries sent via automated applications on or from computers, mobile apps or any kind of device are ineligible.

    • All correct entries will be eligible for a lucky draw on Sept 19, 4pm, at SPH News Centre.

    • Winners will be notified by e-mail on ticket collection details by Sept 20.

    • Terms and conditions apply.

    Discounted tickets to the seminar are also available for ST readers.

    Enter promotional code "SPHST" and get the ticket for only $98 (usual price $300). Go to

"At Grab, we tailor our approach to every city to ensure it is relevant and meaningful to societies. By being local and listening to our customers, we have been able to respond to people's needs quickly and effectively."

Mr Lim cited the Flash feature, which finds commuters the closest available taxi or private hire car."This feature was developed out of Singapore because we knew that people here care most about speed and reliability, and view taxis and cars as similar services."

Ms Emma Heap, managing director of food delivery service Foodpanda, will discuss strategies for long-term survival.

She said being customer-centric is crucial and advised would-be entrepreneurs to "obsess over the customer". "That starts from understanding who your customers are, what their needs and desires are, and then obsessing over how you can make their experience better."

Ms Heap said that this "customer is king" approach has helped Foodpanda achieve an average monthly growth of 25 per cent in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Another speaker, Mr Andrea Baronchelli, chief marketing officer at online retailer Lazada Singapore, said that to sustain the attention of digital consumers, companies need to be "constantly innovative and forward-thinking in terms of what we can provide". He cited the company's partnerships with local retailers that allow customers to shop brands usually available only in brick-and-mortar stores on the Lazada platform.

The CEO Exchange is organised by Influential Brands, a marketing think-tank, Young NTUC and Safra Entrepreneurs' Club. The Straits Times is the official media partner. Tickets are $300 but there are 200 discounted tickets up for grabs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Top firms to give tips at seminar on thriving in digital age'. Print Edition | Subscribe