Cheryl Goh | Influence 100

Cheryl Goh

Group VP Marketing



As marketing and communications chief at one of the world’s fastest-growing startups, Cheryl Goh has played a pivotal role in driving Grab’s remarkable user growth, country expansion and service diversification. Goh’s deep experience in digital engagement has helped to underpin this approach, helping Grab see off the challenge from Uber and consolidate its new positioning that includes offering far more services than just rides.

Goh has spent a decade in leadership roles in the digital space, mostly in technology companies such as MOL Global and Friendster. She also headed The New Straits Times Press Group’s digital arm and served as group digital GM at Nissan Malaysia.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
The supply of Transport Network Vehicles (TNVs), which offer ride-hailing services, dwindled after the exit of Uber in the Philippines last March. The crunch worsened after the land transport regulator tightened its quota on these vehicles. As a result, it became harder in the Philippines than anywhere else in Southeast Asia to get a ride. We launched the #ENDTHEWAIT campaign across all platforms to address misperceptions on the issue, galvanising the media, drivers and riding public to urge regulators to solve the vehicle supply crunch. The call for action reversed the entire conversation around TNVs and within two to three months, the regulator reversed its policy and announced that it would open 10,000 new TNV slots; Grab’s success rate in fulfilling rides tripled.

What do you love about this industry?
Witnessing the power of stories and content to build or break brands. Every day, I see amazingly talented people combine ever-evolving technology, with the nexus of data, facts and even human emotions, to move people to action.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
This isn't about the industry, but I get frustrated by people who don’t, or even try to, understand what communications is about.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
Consumers are bombarded with so much content every day, so our messages can easily get lost in the information fog. To cut through the clutter, PR professionals are challenged to think out-of-the-box, sharpen the message and tailor stories that are relevant, relatable and generate positive word-of-mouth. The ultimate test of a great story is the shareability it generates on social. Today, a communicator has to be multidimensional and agile enough to know what tools to use (harnessing technology and data analytics), when is the best moment, and who can bring the words, pictures, videos and infographics to life.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
I rock climb and scuba dive. Both require focus and take my mind off work.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
I love this quote in "Building A Story Brand" by Donald Miller: ''So what’s your message? Can you say it easily? Is it simple, relevant, and repeatable? Can your entire team repeat your company’s message in such a way that it is compelling? Have new hires been given talking points they can use to describe what the company offers and why every potential customer should buy it?''

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Running a company.