Experiencing understated luxury with Elaine Lek in a BMW 7 Series

SPH Content Lab rode along with the businesswoman for two days in her new drive to see whether the pairing worked. The following diary is a logbook of how our day went.


When a BMW 7 series whizzes past you, what’s your first thought?

For 53-year-old Elaine Lek, the Head of Global Brand Team & Corporate Development for Luzerne, the car’s aesthetics sit well with her. When she first set eyes on it, she exclaimed: "What a handsome car! It’s very classy with an air of understated luxury, which looks perfect for executives like me.”

But at 1.51m, she is petite. Although her current drive is a BMW 4 Series, she is unsure if her frame is suited to handling the BMW 7 Series. However she is well-versed with the advanced technology that goes into a BMW and was game to road-test it during one of her typical workdays.

Despite being initially intimidated by the BMW 7 Series’ sheer size, Ms Lek was game enough to try out the white knight, to test if it fits with her current lifestyle.


SPH Content Lab rode along with the businesswoman for two days in her new drive to see whether the pairing worked. The following diary is a logbook of how our day went.

Day 1: Monday

8am: Time to head out for a workshop

Ms Lek leaves home to attend an innovation workshop in Eunos.

Ms Lek relaxes in the spacious backseat as she works from her phone. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

On other days, she drives to work. But attending the workshop today leaves her with less time to catch up at the office, so she chooses to be chauffeured. When a busy executive has an out-of-office event, time-saving hacks such as these allows one to work on the go.

Trying out the massage function with the touch of a button. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

But drawn to the luxe interior of the car, she takes some time to try out some of its features. The hand-crafted Nappa leather seats, including the driver seat, offer passengers a mobile massage. Passengers activate this with a touch of a button.

What a treat! Ms Lek enjoys a gentle back and lower back massage, she sets the mood of the car via the BMW Touch Command, a 7” tablet that provides controls to a host of functions and settings when you are comfortably ensconced in the rear seat. It is conveniently integrated into the rear centre armrest. From the BMW Touch Command, Ms Lek arranges her own music library and releases her preferred scent for the car, then activates the roller sunblinds for her window as the morning sunrays are bright and glaring.

After giving these functions a go, Ms Lek looks pleased and satisfied. A woman of few words, she whispered with a twinkle in her eye: “The BMW 4 Series is a sporty drive, but the BMW 7 Series is truly the epitome of luxe and class.”

Using the BMW Touch Command to sync her music library to the car’s sound system and deploy a scent that puts her in the right mood for the day. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

8.40am: Ms Lek reaches the innovation workshop

Participants of the workshop having a discussion. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

Ms Lek heads the global branding for Luzerne. It is a family-run local tableware company that boasts a long list of clients including the ritzy Shangri-La Hotel and the Las Vegas Sands Group, and she is on keen to explore ways for the brand to innovate.

As part of her learning journey, Ms Lek embarked on the Design Thinking for Retail Innovation workshop led by Singapore Productivity Centre and Spring Singapore, which included a study mission trip to Netherlands back in October. There, she worked with brands like Heineken to incorporate design thinking into some of the brand’s future products.

Applying design thinking into product innovation. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

This workshop is a wrap-up of the entire course as Ms Lek re-joins other participants, mostly business leaders, C-Level executives and managers from the retail sector. She spends three hours exploring the concept of design thinking and understanding how to apply it in order to raise productivity, unlock new business opportunities for growth, and improve the quality of everyday life within her own business.

As Luzerne has been established since 2004, Ms Lek is looking to really switch things up. She says: “Today, what I’m really working towards is to successfully rebrand Luzerne from a purportedly “Made in China” brand to an accessible world-class global brand selling to over 50 countries worldwide today. The next exciting pipeline will be taking the brand alive with the launch of Luzerne World, an integrated destination and experience in the heart of Dehua, China. We are blurring the boundary between a hotel and a factory with a Luzerne Hotel, The Studio, The Space, The Teahouse, The Hideout and The Shop - all in one location.”

Screengrabs of the BMW ConnectedDrive app. PHOTO: BMW

With 10 minutes left before the workshop ends, Ms Lek gets prompted by the BMW Connected app to leave for her next appointment. While walking towards the car, she use the app via her mobile phone to activate the auxiliary ventilation to cool down the car. The BMW ConnectedDrive is one of the brand’s most sophisticated feature, and is popular with fans and advocates alike.

Ms Lek says: “The BMW ConnectedDrive function is so meaningful and useful to me, because it allows a busy executive like me to take and make calls at the touch of a button without handling my phone, which allows for safe driving." She added: "It notifies me of recommended departure times via my phone to ensure I get to my next scheduled destination on time, based on real-time traffic data. It is like having my personal assistant on the go!”

With the BMW Connected (available in App Store and Google Play Store), one gets access to various functions, such as fuel status and a detecting function to help drivers locate where their cars are parked.

Day 2: Tuesday

The second day starts with Ms Lek  heading to her daily yoga session before the busy workday sets in.

8am: Ms Lek takes the BMW 7 Series for a spin and gets ready for her daily yoga session

Her daily routine involves a session of hot yoga. It helps her to stay fit and melt away stress.

Ms Lek gets into the BMW 7 Series. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

She drops her backpack in the car boot. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

Waving her foot under the bottom of the car boot, she activates the sensor to open the trunk without using buttons or keys. Very handy when you are juggling multiple items - handbag, yoga bag with extra change of clothes and smartphone or other miscellaneous items.

She explains: “It lets you open and close the trunk easily without having to fumble for your keys.”

Ms Lek sets the ambient lightning in the car and settles into her seat. Surprisingly, the 7’s size did not hamper her drive. This is because the Integral Active Steering reduces the turning circle and she can still make turns comfortably.

The 3D Surround View lets a driver park easily as well. If all else fails, simply engage the Remote Control Parking function. The Surround View feature assists drivers when parking and manoeuvring in tight situations. Using multiple cameras and parking sensors around the car, drivers get a bird’s eye view of the car and its surroundings in the Central Information Display.

Ms Lek sets the ambient lighting of the car. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

Ms Lek also tries out the BMW Gesture Control before driving off and she loves how this function makes for safer driving when on the road as she does not have to fumble for the buttons on the touch screen.

10.30am: Back to the office

Ms Lek working in her office. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

She arranges one of her dishware collections in the office's gallery. PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

Ms Lek has plenty of catching up to do. In between touching base with her Global Brand Associates and managing external stakeholders, she attends to tenant issues and sits in board meetings with the Directors.

As she wears many hats and travels regularly for work, a typical day in the office could sometimes be a mad rush. Some nights, Ms Lek has to rush out for either social or business events.

After her experience with the White Knight, Ms Lek concludes that the BMW 7 Series might just be that extra jazz that she needs, which fits her lifestyle perfectly. On the functional and aesthetic fronts, the car met all her expectations. More importantly, its timeless elegance provides her with a five-star experience.

Ms Lek says: “You don’t need a special occasion to drive the BMW 7 Series. It should be an everyday car that can be self-driven and yet, chauffeur-driven when you are rushing from place to place. The BMW 7 Series is luxury at its best, and it drives as good as it looks!”