Behind the scenes

Faktion Singapore: A Day in the Life of Jen

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Our Head of Business Development in Asia, Jenthe Van Gastel shares her experience of leading Faktion’s Asian office in one of the most advanced technological cities in the world, Singapore.

A typical working day

7.15 am. My alarm goes off and – after some snoozing – my morning routine begins; first a shower, then a small granola breakfast with “Kopi O” (Singlish for coffee without milk) while reading the news and checking my mailbox. Depending on my schedule, I work from home or go to the office. I’m most productive when my week is mixed with home and office days. Only working from home honestly drives me crazy. Being a naturally curious person, I get bored quickly, being in the same situation for an extended period. When the circuit breaker (lockdown) in Singapore surprisingly but finally ended after two months, I couldn’t stop myself from doing some happy dances. 🙂 Respect for all the people still working from home out there!

After a 30min commute on the MRT (metro), I usually arrive an the office around 9 am. First up is checking my to-do list. I tend to make a new to-do list every week, it structures my mind, and I like the blissful feeling of crossing off items. The contacts or deals that are closest to being won get priority to follow up and are highest on the list. If I have no meetings before noon, I usually plan more creative work in the morning; writing proposals, creating digital/marketing content, researching new BD tools, tweaking sales slide decks, etc. My Belgian colleagues are still sleeping when it’s morning in Singapore, so there are minimal notifications from channels like Slack that could distract me from being “in my flow”.

Lunchtime!

I became pretty close with some local people from my coworking space. They’re always proud to introduce me to typical Singaporean, Malay, or Chinese dishes, and I’m eager to try out new things. We’ll usually talk about cultural differences and similarities as well and teach each other our native language. “Wǒ jiào Jen”!

The afternoon mostly looks busier; introductory video calls, demos of Metamaze, internal status updates and/or stand-up meetings with current clients. For the Singapore Institute of Technology, for example, I’m participating in their weekly update calls since they value having a local SPOC for their project.

In between calls and meetings, I’ll spend time on more repetitive work like lead generation. By automating some of the lead generation steps, I’m able to reach a consistent volume and keep this process efficient. First “warm” introductions usually take place in a more casual manner; going for coffee, lunch, or after-work drinks – during the week and even at weekends. Such meetups for relationship-building are way more commonplace and important here. WhatsApp is, by the way, the key channel to keep in touch. I needed to get used to that in the beginning, but people are a lot more responsive and to the point, so it pays off. I’ll try to have at least 1 or 2 of such meetups every week, e.g. with someone I got recommended to through networking activities at BLBG (Belgium Luxembourg Business Group), FIT (Flanders Investment Trade), PAF (Prince Albert Fund) or with acquaintances from our founders who are based in Singapore.

Since Belgium is wide awake when my evening starts, I might have some alignment calls or work to follow up on. After that, I’ll try to go for a 5K run to clear my mind, listen to some music, or my favorite podcasts. But I must admit, watching Netflix with my boyfriend happens more frequently. 🙂 I’ve also started with 25min yoga sessions every evening, perfect for calming down before I go to sleep!

Starting up in Singapore

So how did I end up here in Singapore, you ask? Last year I got selected for a Prince Albert Fund scholarship, allowing me to do an international business development project outside of Europe for a Belgian company. I’ve always been intrigued by technology, and since Faktion had already established its first customers in Singapore, this was a perfect match. I became their Business Development Director for Singapore, responsible for developing the Singaporean and broader South-East Asian market.

I moved to Singapore mid-January and have been running and representing the office here since. Establishing Faktion as a leading data technology player in Asia is an important strategic pillar for the company, as the Asian market is huge, growing rapidly and still shows a lot of potential when it comes to applying artificial intelligence. The plan is to grow our local team here and make Singapore Faktion’s second headquarter for the Asian region.

Workplace culture

Despite the challenging COVID time, working in an innovative multi-cultural environment has been great. When working for an AI company like Faktion, you’re inevitably involved in new state-of-the-art technology projects and collaborating with companies and people that are willing to innovate or digitally transform.

What I love about business development at Faktion is that it is consultative and not just transactional. Customers often still need to be educated, inspired and/or consulted before they’re able to decide what AI solution fits best. At the same time, we might need to deep dive into some industry-specific content as well to fully understand the customer problem or opportunity. Together, we basically co-create solutions, where Faktion is the data expert and our client the industry/operations expert. Add some Asian spice to it, and believe me, such collaborations never get boring!

Do you still have some questions? Feel free to reach out!

Jen – Singaporeans like to keep it short, so I go by the name of “Jen” instead of Jenthe here ;)

Would you like to know more about our projects or jobs in Singapore?

Get in touch with Jenthe
j.vangastel@faktion.com
+65 909 906 31

jenthe_van_gastel
Jenthe Van Gastel
Business Development Director Asia
About the author

Jenthe helps organisations tackle their challenges & opportunities with solutions driven by Artificial Intelligence. With a background in Innovation & Design Thinking, she's able to facilitate corporates as well as start-ups in their innovation/digitalisation roadmaps, continuously aiming to create meaningful solutions.

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