Simon Wong is the Director of JAPAC Customer Success and Services at HubSpot, where he manages the JAPAC Customer and Partner Success teams across Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My background is actually in the creative field.
I graduated from the University of Washington, in Seattle, with a bachelors in communications and then moved to Vancouver to attend Emily Carr University of Art & Design (it was called Emily Carr institute of Art and Design back then) and eventually graduated with a Degree in Design and a Diploma in Graphic Design.
I had always thought I’d work in an Advertising Agency of some sort, but my first job after graduation was in Investor Relations. I worked in Vancouver for a local company called Neal Yanor Investor Relations together with a few of my graduating classmates.
The truth is, those early days taught me alot and the lessons I’ve learnt then are still relevant today. After a few more roles in Vancouver, I eventually moved back to Singapore (about 20 years ago now, scary how time flies) and started a company with a couple of my friends, which we eventually wound down.
I then worked in digital agencies such as XM Asia Pacific, had a 3 year stint in Bangkok with JWT, then back to Singapore to work at Ogilvy&Mather and eventually joined Marin Software as the Commercial Director.
About 5 years ago, I met Julie Hogan (who was, then, the VP of Customer Success at HubSpot) and was so impressed by the company and talent they had. When the opportunity arose, I threw my name in the hat, went through the interview process and today I’m the Director of Customer Success and Services for the JAPAC region.
It’s been over 4 years now and I remain excited about the continued growth of HubSpot in the region.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Lots and lots of meetings and connecting with different stakeholders, collaborating on plays, reviewing performances, identifying gaps, looking for improvement areas, reviewing customer feedback and sentiments, listening and coaching, just to name a few.
In all honesty, there’s not a set menu of tasks that needs to be done. On a high level, I guess you could say my work(day) is about listening, coaching and collaborating on solutions.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My manager is based in the US, and I’m part of her leadership team, so some days can be quite long for me. But we do have a flexible working culture and I really enjoy that.
Remote working is also an option, but I prefer the convenience of being in the office and like the energy on the floor.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance is always a tricky one as everyone’s perception of what “good” is can vary greatly. I try to look at it in a more simplistic way – am I productive, and am I in the right mental state to do my best work. And if the answer is yes, then, I’m in a good space when it comes to work-life balance.
Some days, I can power through hours and hours without taking a break, other days, I just need to step away, take a breather, spend time with the family, do things that only matter to me.
I’ve been fortunate (or some may say unfortunate) to have had the opportunity to work in other companies that do not have the same level of flexibility that HubSpot offers. So my perspective is slightly different and I’m thankful for companies with a flexible working culture.
Having said that, I think it’s important to be deliberate in making plans. For example, planning for family vacations or short breaks helps me ensure that I don’t forget these important “down times” as it helps me reflect, recharge and grow.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
Learn from others and always ask for feedback. I think sometimes I tend to put the blinders on way too early in the process, which is great for focus, but prevents me from seeing a wider picture and benefitting from the surround sound.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, and sometimes feedback can be difficult to accept, but I’ve learned over the years that if you are able to keep an open mind, it can be tremendously powerful.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I have two young school going kids, and have a personal fitness goal I’m trying to achieve by next year, which basically means, I don’t have a ton of free time to spare.
So apart from books or articles that I read for work, I haven’t put a lot of time into leisure reading. I do listen to the Joe Rogan Experience whenever I have some free time as he’s got some interesting guests and it can be entertaining.
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I keep my calendar up to date. And I’ll always try to read and respond to emails at the start of the day.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Any parent working in essential services. Like an ER doctor or nurse. It truly amazes me on how they can balance all that pressure, to be switched-on all the time, be on-call, working shifts and still manage a social life and their families.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Make yourself a priority. I think it’s easy to slip into that “work above everything else,” or “work comes first” operating rhythm, but it’s important to remember why we do what we do. And if doing well at work is important, then we owe it to ourselves to not forget the most important cast member – you.
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