Sarita Singh: technology is powering growth and development

Sarita Singh has lived in Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai and now calls Singapore home. This global Aussie describes the Lion City as “a fantastic place” and her favourite city to live and work.

Her overseas experience is made even more exciting through her work in the technology industry in a city that is hailed as the global hub for innovation. She’s the Director, Global Business Group, Southeast Asia & South Asia at Facebook.

We caught up with the technology leader to talk about tech in Asia, innovation and the incredible things she has encountered in Singapore.

Interview by Tammy Lee, Marketing & Communications & Digital Manager, Advance.

How long have you been in Singapore?

This is my second time living in Singapore and cumulatively, I’ve been here for 18 years. 

What made you move there?

I originally moved to Singapore for a few years to gain some regional experience, grow my career and travel. What I found was a region which has completely captured my imagination and specifically in Singapore, a country which has provided me a platform to accelerate my career in ways I could have never  have dreamed of. Along the way, I’ve met incredible people, made marvellous friends and experienced things I would not have been able to without living in this wonderful country and in the fastest growing region in the world.

What’s it like to be a woman working in the tech industry?

What I love about the technology industry is that ideas power innovation. And whilst it would be naive to say women do not face challenges in this industry, more often than not, I’ve seen the best ideas surface, irrespective of from whom the idea has originated. Tech is a fantastic place for women to work as we can use a wide variety of skills: problem-solving, analytics, strategic thinking, creativity, collaboration, etc. 

What more can enterprises do to boost innovation in tech?

Hire for diversity of thought/experience, provide psychological safety, encourage curiosity and inquiry, remove fear by celebrating both success as well as failures when in pursuit of something new.

What can Australia learn from the digital revolution in Asia and vice versa?

A Deloitte report I recently read said Australia is now a net exporter of ICT services which I believe comes from being strong at problem-solving and being creative. Where I think Asia is leading is in the speed and depth of innovation, educating the workforce in high-demand digital skills and adoption of new technologies – from IoT and digital payments to blockchain and smart cities. Institutional support for digital development  is also a key differentiator across Asia. It is incredibly exciting to be living in a region where technology is powering growth and development.

How important is social media for SMB? 

Social media is incredibly important for SMBs – it can help smaller companies drive revenue, build their brands, find new customers, diversify marketing efforts, engage in conversations with their customer base and optimise marketing spend for measurable results.

Can you share some interesting facts about social media marketing campaigns?

a) Mobile-first creative – Video is one of the most effective ways to connect with customers on mobile and drives higher brand lift and message association than videos which are not optimised for mobile.

b) Measurement, Measurement, Measurement! – Measuring the efficacy of your campaigns will help you optimise your budget effectively, help you adjust your campaigns to meet your objectives, allow you to make better decisions and improve your ROI.

Do you think your background, upbringing and education in Australia give you an advantage to advance your career?

I certainly think the ‘give it a go’ attitude we grow up with in Australia means we have a higher risk tolerance and we’re less afraid of failure. I also think the multi-cultural and highly-integrated communities we grow up in give us an advantage – we’re used to diverse ideas and approaches. I love Australia’s culture of inquiry – we are not afraid to challenge norms or the opinions of anyone!

You lived in Melbourne, Sydney and Shanghai before relocating to Singapore, what’s your favourite city to live and work and why?

I LOVE  living in Singapore – the weather, food, geographic location and ease of living make this a fantastic place to be. I also love it because it is the gateway to the rest of the region – trips to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Siem Riep and Koh Samui are regular occurrences for me.  I am fortunate to have a regional job which allows me to work in amazing cities such as Bangkok, Karachi, Ho Chi Minh City and many more.

What are the most unforgettable experiences as an Australian expat in Singapore?

I’ve been here so long now that I don’t really consider myself an ‘expat’. I consider myself lucky to be able to live in Singapore and really put down roots here. My most memorable moments are always tied to the people I meet and I’ve met some incredible people here including artists, authors, ‘Captains of Industry’ and people who are changing the world through NGOs and community work.

What do you enjoy most about living overseas? What’s the hardest part?

Certainly missing my family and friends is the hardest part about living overseas. But the opportunities to indulge my wanderlust, learn new skills and grow into a more global citizen balance these out.

What do you miss most about Australia?

The seasons, the sense of humour and cream-filled lamingtons!