Bringing Empowerment To The Classroom
As I marked the students’ mid-term papers, I reflected on one of the questions which quizzed them on growth strategy.
The last question of a 3-hour paper read, “If you were recruited to join The New Savvy, what would be your recommendations to further appeal to women of the next-generation i.e. younger readership? (15 marks)”
I was intrigued by the creativity of the answers. Some suggested re-shaping blogs into vlogs and skits; Some suggested influencers – because next-generation just seems to be synonymous with that.
But a consistent theme emerged: hit the secondary schools, JCs and colleges because that is when habits form and The New Savvy has the opportunity to play a mentorship role to journey with the women of tomorrow. Anna did just that on an early Saturday morning, fresh off a late night, and right before a long flight. No big deal for entrepreneurs and CEOs packing such tight schedules.
But as I stood by the side to take in the adventures of The New Savvy, I was struck by two thoughts:
1. Women in the Digital Age
Singapore is nestled in a high-growth ASEAN region. This is a “robust economy generating GDP of $2.5 trillion and growing at 6% each year, a literate population of more than 600 million with 40% below 30 years old, with smartphone penetration at 35% and growing rapidly” (The ASEAN Digital Revolution, A.T. Kearney 2016) Yet traditionally, these emerging markets see men bringing home the dollars, women as a caregiver. This can change now with Digital de-centralizing commerce, payments, loans etc.
We can only fully unlock this potential when we empower women to embrace all of this. While one may argue that speaking to some of the brightest minds in Asia isn’t addressing the relevant target, I am hopeful that change starts with a mindset. These students are going to take on regional roles in the near future and one day as they hit a traffic jam along the streets of Jakarta, they will seed the idea with their (possibly, male) Go-Jek driver that more can be done from home.
2. Graduates and their Goals
In the middle of Anna’s sharing, I realised that we had graduated for about 10 years now. It’s funny how some of us chased a huge paycheck, a big brand name, the miles and the points. There seemed to be a mid-life awakening (or a mid-life crisis depending on how you look at it) for most working professionals 5-7 years into the job.
For Anna, she quit a comfortable role at a bank to create The New Savvy; For me, I negotiated a flexible work arrangement with a progressive management consulting firm that allows me to spend more time at home.
I often ask the students “so what” in class. In our most recent session on pricing:
(a) Why are you slashing prices for Brand A? Because demand elasticity assumes more revenue… so what? You need to assemble a market research team to test the hypothesis!
(b) Why are you cutting prices for Brand A below Brand B? Because switching costs are low and we will take market share… so what?
You need to make sure price perception is well communicated, not just absolute price references! And as I step away from class.
Why are you chasing this specific job when you graduate… so what?
Because we are used to a measure of success, and we need to continue tracking on a journey to find purpose.
But is that so? Embrace the glorious mess that you are! —Keep rocking on Anna and The New Savvy team!