Dawn Chia | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2021

Dawn Chia

Head of Employee Communications, APAC & China (Internal Communications) 



"Adversity breeds innovation — some of the best innovations have come out of crisis, including the one we’re riding through right now"

Anyone requiring advice on how to deal with the 'great reshuffle', as LinkedIn describes it, could do worse than consult Dawn Chia, the company's employee communications head in Asia. Chia's insights into the defining work challenge of our time have seen her advise employers to think more carefully about such issues as the multi-generational workforce and DE&I. Chia joined LinkedIn in 2018, after several years in DHL's corporate communications team. 

How do you define innovation?
Always challenging the status quo, and coming up with new and unexpected ideas that ultimately enhance life. I also think adversity breeds innovation – some of the best innovations have come out of crisis, including the one we’re riding through right now.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
The whole WFH thing ad from Apple stood out for me. Relatable, funny, sympathetic with some dark undertones, and the natural showcase of products. Its length is pretty unconventional for an ad too. It’s like a mini film that you can’t stop watching until the end.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Apple, Samsung and Red Bull. The audience always comes first in Red Bull’s marketing efforts before their product. They’ve built such a strong and consistent brand identity by their associations with extreme sports events and stunts like the Stratos space diving project, cementing their tagline ‘Red Bull gives you wings’.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
When I was asked to launch a new fruit juice flavor of a household brand. To inject some excitement and convey how handy the new packaging was, we got base jumpers taking off the tallest building in Singapore, before parachuting down to hand out samples during a CBD lunchtime rush. It was an intelligent risk — the photo story made the cover page of the dailies and the evening news bulletin — and an adrenaline-filled day no less!

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Willis Carrier — the inventor of air conditioning.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I take a break and go for a run or swim. The need to focus on my breath takes my mind away from the rut and in return I’m given the free space to think and re-imagine things. I also find doing the laundry with really loud rock music somehow gives the mental system a jolt and breaks down the walls in my head.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Test and socialize ideas more – which are both equally important to seeing the ideas through. If you don’t test your ideas deep and wide enough, you can’t improve. And if you don’t socialize early and often, you may not get buy-in, even with the best ideas on the table.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I’d like to be a special education teacher or a job trainer for youths with disabilities. I believe that everyone should be given equal chances to succeed in life and inclusive education plays an important part in setting them up for success.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
The book 'Tribe of Mentors' offers really useful life advice in an easy-reading format. Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast has provided much needed inspiration for the blended work-life, as well as BBC's The Documentary podcast, a personal all-time favorite, which is a window to the different issues and perspectives in the world.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Morning — it’s a fresh start and another chance to do my best with this life!