“What have you got to lose?” This was a question and a mantra for Trish Thomson, International Marketing Strategist.
I met Trish Thomson during the meet the founders event at CRIB. When Trish introduced herself and mentioned about mentoring startups, my interest was piqued. I haven’t met a lot of women in startups, much less in technology, so having this lady in front of me was a god send.
I asked if I could interview her for my Succeeding in Singapore series.
Our interview got off to an awkward start when I sent my questions to Trish Thompson. Trish gently pointed out that her last name didn’t have a ‘p’ in it. It was Trish Thomson, which I should have noticed since I was staring at her LinkedIn profile for days. On the day of the interview, I thought I was going to be 35 minutes early. Time enough to set up. Then, I received a message. Trish was already at the venue – 1 hour early!
That told me two things: First, Trish took my interview seriously. I don’t have a large audience (yet!). I was unknown; however, she was treating me with respect. I was humbled by it. Second, Trish was somebody who prepares. She wasn’t preparing to look good on camera; she prepared to be able to articulate and deliver her message clearly. As the interview progressed, I realized why: Trish Thomson had a giving nature.
She was open about how she ended up in different companies in different countries and offered the same advice. Get a sponsor – somebody who would open doors for you.
She gives her time to charity, having sat at housing boards, is active in women’s non profit organizations, and mentors others in their careers. “Having a sense of purpose and giving back is very important,” Trish said.
Giving is risky as you might give too much of yourself. For Trish, risk is part of her makeup. It was that nature that brought her to France as an au pair, the first among 9 countries she worked in and 11 international moves she had made. She specialized in Marketing when it was still new (mainly to prove to her father that she could) and never looked back.
Language barriers did not deter her from working in China, Germany, Italy, or India. Instead, she soaked up the culture.
“The more you understand the people, the local, the more you get into their community, the richer the experience is,” she explained. It was that belief that enabled her to develop strategies suitable to the local market. For instance when they were trying to launch Windows Surface in India, her team found that parents buy computers or laptops for their children. In the Philippines, they attached an Intel promotional voucher to business registration forms.
“Understanding what the differences are in my career in Japan and China and India and being able to appreciate those differences…and understand the drivers of the different people and different culture…for me, that’s part and parcel of Marketing. It’s understanding your customer and you’ve got to get into the culture to do that.”
The importance of cultural differences was brought home on personal level when she first arrived in China. Her staff was presenting to her to get her up to speed. During the presentation, she kept pushing challenging one guy. “Because I know he was good.” Instead, a staff, tasked in assisting her navigate the cultural divide, informed her that the guy felt she made him lose face in front of people.
Trish learned quickly and adapted accordingly. Adaptability, according to her, is one of the three pillars to career advancement. The first is being clear about where you want to go. The other is being open.
“You need to be open to different opportunities that may not have been on your roadmap.”
Watch the interview here: