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Production Line: Sok Yin Sim on Being Bold and Driving Transformation


Dentsu Creative Singapore’s head of project management talks about the need to be ready to pivot and to embrace innovative practices

Production Line: Sok Yin Sim on Being Bold and Driving Transformation

Dentsu Creative Singapore’s head of project management Sok Yin Sim is a highly passionate, adaptive and collaborative team player with over eight years of extensive project management experience. 

In her role, Sok Yin is responsible for driving multiple facets of digital, experiential and events, as well as leading the project management practice for Dentsu Creative Singapore. She is a solutions-oriented, resourceful and playful individual who seeks to create the best experiences for all stakeholders while driving and delivering against a project.  

She has also helped form and drive experiential solutions and innovations forward for some of the largest brands in the region. 

LBB> Aside from Covid-19, what have been the most disruptive forces to hit agency production in the past few years?

Sok Yin> Technological innovation such as AI-enabled tools, the rapid advancement of 3D game engines and real-time processing would rank pretty high as being some of the most disruptive forces. It’s driving change rapidly, and we need to be bold and embrace that change.

Agency production is now about being nimble, ready to pivot and always on the lookout for innovative ways of doing things. You can see the adoption of these new technologies to create more engaging, personalised and interactive experiences. One of the most common examples would be the accessibility of augmented reality ads.

Clients are also demanding a lot more, looking for truly integrated horizontal creativity and brand-driven experiential solutions. It’s important to keep learning new skills and to understand that we can no longer think with a traditional approach when we are answering a brief. That is why we designed Dentsu VI, a new Virtual Identity solution for brands to engage with their consumers. This end-to-end solution allows brands to tap on new technologies while building human connection and brand intimacy.

LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why/why not?

Sok Yin> Most mediums require specialised knowledge in order to produce high-quality work, and a good producer would already have a good understanding of the core skills required to drive any production. I’d imagine they would always be ready for a new challenge. It’s more about the willingness to learn the ropes from relevant teams and to acknowledge that mistakes could potentially be made along the way. It’s all part of the learning process to expand a good producer’s portfolio. 

LBB> And leading on from that, when it comes to building up your team at the agency, what’s your view on the balance of specialists vs generalists?

Sok Yin> Both are equally important. Specialists are equipped with the technical knowledge that a generalist might lack. And a generalist can provide a wider perspective, with an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving. When you have both types of individuals on a project, it creates that space to foster innovation and create exciting work. 

LBB> What’s your own pathway to production? When you started out, what sort of work were you producing and what lessons have stayed with you in that time?

Sok Yin> I don’t think I realised it back then, but it really started while planning and executing many of the children’s camps in church. Since then, I have always enjoyed working on non-traditional pieces of production. While that might mean there are so many unknown factors, it also means that there are no fixed routes to take and it’s about creating my own experience.

Two lessons that have stayed with me throughout is to be humble, as there’s always so much to learn; and being open to new things.

LBB> There are so many models for the way production is organised in the advertising industry. What set-ups have you found to be the most successful and why?

Sok Yin> In terms of how dentsu Singapore is structured, the hybrid model makes the most sense. It’s a combination of the best of both worlds, having an internal team that is strong and focused on what they do, and also, finding the right skilled external partners to fit into the missing pieces of the puzzle which allows us to deliver extraordinary work. 

LBB> When working with a new partner or collaborator, how do you go about establishing trust?

Sok Yin> A huge factor in building trust boils down to building a personal relationship and bothering to take the time to understand people’s motivations and their interests. It’s always easier to work together once you have some form of mutual understanding and respect. It also makes work a lot more fun!

LBB> What are your thoughts on the involvement of procurement in production? 

Sok Yin> The involvement of procurement is a good reminder to ensure that our processes are cost-effective and adhere to industry standards. It challenges and trains producers to scope and negotiate efficiently with vendors and partners. While that does make the process a bit more tedious, you get to build stronger relationships with partners so there’s always a silver lining to it. 

LBB> Clients’ thirst for content seems to be unquenchable, and they need content that’s fast and responsive. What’s the key to creating LOTS of stuff at SPEED - without sacrificing production values? Is it even possible? 

Sok Yin> I don’t think it’s always going to be possible to create large volumes of high-quality work without sacrificing some production values. It’s about finding that sweet spot between speed and quality, re-looking and optimising current processes, and investing in technology that can make life a lot easier.

An example of that would be how our teams are always constantly looking at the use of automation to increase our creative efficiencies, such as automated content reviewing tools and AI-enabled project management tools that help with projects tracking and resource allocation.

Another approach is the agile methodology, so a project is further broken down into smaller and shorter tasks, for us to deliver in shorter iterations.

LBB> To what extent is production strategic? Traditionally, it’s the part that comes at the ‘end’ of the agency process, but it seems in many cases, production is a valuable voice to have right up top. What are your thoughts/experiences on this?

Sok Yin> Traditionally, I think the agency process has been quite similar to a waterfall approach, where one process is only started after the previous one concludes. It used to work when clients’ demands were less complex. Now, to keep up with the new demands of agency work, and to drive horizontal creativity, it’s about getting the right team into the room right from the initial brief.

Here in dentsu Singapore, we believe in delivering the extraordinary, and production is involved from the get-go. This helps with feasibility checks, and to identify any potential challenges across budgets and schedules. This also allows for better collaboration between teams, as everyone gets on the same page early and can work in sync. It’s a huge win for the agency, ensuring that the best work is produced right from the start.

Besides, great producers develop an instinct for recognising exciting ideas. Ideas that feel like it needs to be produced immediately for the world to experience. That gut feeling is valued feedback for our creative teams.

LBB> What’s the most exciting thing about working in production right now?

Sok Yin> The most exciting thing now would definitely have to be the sense of possibility. Technology has become so advanced and cool, and that means being able to create more engaging, interactive work that has never been done before. It’s a huge opportunity for growth, collaboration and cross-functional teamwork. Seeing the work go live at the end of the day is super rewarding. 

LBB> And what advice would you give to an aspiring agency producer?

Sok Yin> Be open to new possibilities! By doing that, you will be able to build a broad understanding of the various aspects of production and be able to adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Also, have a passion for creativity. When you have a passion for bringing ideas to life, it becomes extremely fulfilling knowing that you have made a difference through your work.

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Dentsu Asia Pacific, Thu, 02 Mar 2023 02:46:01 GMT