Hi Damien. Can you tell us about yourself a little?
My name is Damien Cummings and I run a startup called Peoplewave. Before I started Peoplewave I spent 25 years in marketing, and specifically digital marketing. I’ve held roles including Global Head of Digital Marketing at Standard Chartered Bank, Chief Marketing Officer at Philips and Regional Marketing Director, Digital at Samsung.
Wow, that’s quite a transition there. Evolving from a comfortable corporate life into something unknown like entrepreneurship is indeed a big decision. Why the switch?
Honestly, I didn’t have much of a choice. The idea of launching a startup had been brewing for a few years. It really started becoming a reality as I was completing my Masters in Digital Management at Hyper Island – where we were encouraged to do different things and really get entrepreneurial in our thinking. However, what really made me change is that my job was made redundant. I was out of work and really needed to rethink my career and my life. Instead of going back into a senior marketing role, I decided to jump right into an area I’m passionate about – making work fair and fixing many of the problems that are rife in modern people management.
By the way, what is Peoplewave actually?
Started in Singapore back in 2016,
Marketing team or a startup?
It doesn’t have to be an “or”. I believe in “and”. The great thing about being the CEO of a startup is that you need to be very hands-on. I’ve been very lucky to work with talented marketers who have worked at
Do you have any advice for marketers looking to join a startup?
My main advice is to just embrace the chaos. Startups are nowhere near as structured as big corporates and things tend to be “fast and loose”. This can be great if you’re in an agile learning environment but can be incredibly frustrating when you have no money and little resources. It’s also very nerve-wracking as it’s a daily fight for life in the startup world – sometimes money comes in, often it doesn’t. The downside of most startups is that they won’t give you comprehensive or rigorous training – you’re thrown in the deep end and it’s sink or swim. This isn’t good for someone early in their marketing career. I’d encourage new grads to look at working at an advertising agency or going through an internship program at an established company first. It’s important to learn the basics of marketing and what’s expected in any business (endless meetings, lots of attention to detail, great Excel and PowerPoint skills, etc.). After some big company experience, that’s the best time to jump into a startup. It can be amazingly rewarding but it is risky. Always look for a startup leader that loves marketing and is willing to teach you.
What’s next for you and Peoplewave?
I’m currently focused on closing our Series A investment and growing Peoplewave beyond Singapore and the Philippines, where our main offices are now. We’re on a growth fast track and are looking to build a strong brand in the HR tech space across Asia. With our investment closed, growing into new markets and getting established as the most audacious HR tech player in Asia is how I intend to start 2019.