Belina Tan| The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2020

Belina Tan

Head of Corporate Communications, Asia-Pacific



“The most innovative companies that have stood out for me this year have shown true leadership during this crisis.”

In 2018, Belina Tan established the Bloomberg Women's Buy-side Network, a community of senior female investment professionals, and a first in Singapore. The network connects top investors with the next generation of young female leaders — in the process enabling more women to join the world of investing — and has already launched Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Japan, with a growing community of over 200 female leaders in asset management. Tan also led Bloomberg Startup in Singapore, an education initiative targeting pre-university and university students on global finance, leadership and data, reaching thousands of students in Asia-Pacific. All of which helps explain Tan’s inclusion on this list as Bloomberg’s regional corporate communications head in Singapore, a position she has held for the past nine years. 

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is finding new, creative pathways or solutions tied to business goals that defy the impossible. It is usually a simple idea that addresses a complex problem.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
I love Nike’s “You can’t stop us” ad for its powerful message of inclusion and perseverance that resonated with millions of people during such a difficult year. The film was created from over 4,000 pieces of footage with 36 pairings of athletes and 24 sports represented. It was clever, bold and inspiring, and a great piece of storytelling.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
The most innovative companies that have stood out for me this year have shown true leadership during this crisis. They are the firms that have offered a unique and inspirational view during the pandemic, through effective CEO communications. A few who come to mind include: Satya Nadella’s (Microsoft) perspective on the three phases during the pandemic ‘Respond, Recover and Reimagine,’ and Vas Narasimhan’s (Novartis) early advice on leading oneself first to lead your organization. Several months back when we started managing crisis communications, he identified the importance of keeping perspective and taking care of one’s well-being and mindset so leaders can sustain through the year. Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global has also been really innovative across many social media channels in redefining what success is during the pandemic. These are just a few of the visionary leaders who offered me new inspiration as I led employee communications for Bloomberg this year. 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
Starting the Bloomberg Women’s Buy-side Network, a first of its kind community of women in asset management in 2018. We addressed a gap in the market and found new ways to connect top investors with the next generation of young female leaders – so more women can join the world of investing. In a short time, we’ve launched chapters in Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Japan, with a growing community of over 200 female leaders in asset management, and global interest from investors and colleagues in Europe and America.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Jacinda Ardern – who has proven to be such a source of inspiration through such authentic leadership communications. She has led the country’s pandemic response with such conviction, compassion and clarity. Her frequent video messages, dialogues with experts and social media communications have been so effective in engaging people, and I love how she even hosted a special presser for kids to understand the pandemic. That’s innovative communications!

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Bloomberg is a treasure trove of content, and just browsing through news on the Terminal, Bloomberg TV, a podcast or always offers new ideas and insights. My daily yoga practice usually rejuvenates me with many new ideas for the day.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Creativity has no limits, but has to be closely aligned with the business – that’s when we derive value and where true innovation resides.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
If I could have a secondary career, I would love to work in an auction house as it combines my passion for art and finance. There is something very exhilarating about live art auctions. After my corporate career and when my kids are grown up, it will be fun to be a docent at a museum or a professional storyteller.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I have read all of Peter Mayle’s crime fiction books over recent months, which has offered such great literary escape to the South of France, where we’ve spent many summers in past years. To take a break from all the screen time, and during commutes, I enjoy Suzy Menkes’ Creative Conversations for my fashion fix and Holly Rubenstein’s Travel Diaries for wanderlust ideas.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Sunsets. During the lockdown in Singapore, my family ended our days at our rooftop, enjoying the sunsets together, which was really special to watch and gave us new inspiration and joy. We’ve truly learnt to appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Today, this is usually a time that I bring the kids out for a walk and dinner before the evening calls with New York begin.