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From Nomad To Digital Marketer: A Life-Changing Journey From Mongolia To Singapore

I started working at Peoplewave as an intern, building up my experience in a digital marketing role. This was my very first work experience as working professional.

In Singapore, one of the first things that happen when someone meets me is that they say I have a very unusual name. The second thing that happens is that they ask how to pronounce it! My name is unusual because I am from Mongolia (but it’s not an unusual name back home) but I’ve been living in Singapore for over 5 years. There are only now 3.121 million Mongolians and you don’t see that many of us outside of our country. In Singapore, there are only a few hundred Mongolians studying or working here.

So to set the record straight, I am Ariunaa and my name is pronounced as “Ari-uu-naah”.

What made you decide to pursue a career in Marketing? My story isn’t really about marketing but it’s about overcoming adversity and difficult challenges. Growing up in Mongolia was difficult. When I was young, I lived in the countryside in a yurt. A yurt is a traditional Mongolian home that is packed up and moved several times a year. We lived as nomads, moving when the weather started to turn cold and wintery. Winters in Mongolia are harsh. The temperature can drop down to -45 degrees with ice, wind and lots of snow. My family moved from the open plains to protected areas near the mountains to escape the winds and extreme temperatures.

Mongolia is still a developing country. Even though we have a proud history, the career opportunities of modern Mongolia are centred around mining, tourism, retail or government jobs. I felt trapped as I wasn’t passionate about working in any of these areas but have always had a strong motivation to improve myself and help my family.

I made the life-changing decision to move to Singapore when I was 18. It was incredibly difficult as I didn’t have any friends or family here and didn’t speak any English. My goal was to enrol in school here and learn English as quickly as possible. I had no idea where this would take me or what job this could lead to.

I completed my English course and at last, people in Singapore could understand me. I had reached at least an intermediary level of English but then had to make a choice – study further or go back to Mongolia.

Since I was still unclear on my future work direction, I decided to do more studies. My friends were interested in working in hospitality, as this industry is more open to employing foreign workers, so I started a Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism at SDH institute.

At this time I was a broke student and needed to find a way to make money. So I launched my own e-commerce store, Tengeriin Beleg (which means “gift from the heavens” in Mongolian). However, I quickly realised I had no idea what I was doing! I didn’t have the right skills, just the right motivation. This launched me into my passion for marketing. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Business and Marketing at Coventry University via PSB Academy in Singapore. I later completed a Digital Marketing Strategies course at Columbia Business School. I’m now a Google-trained digital marketer who has an honours degree from Coventry University and a certificate from Columbia Business School. All I then needed was a new full-time job…

What made you decide to venture into joining an awesome company like Peoplewave? During my study doing the Columbia Business School digital marketing certificate, I met Damien Cummings. He’s a recognised thought leader in marketing and I liked the idea of what Peoplewave was about and the opportunity to learn from him. I started working at Peoplewave as an intern, building up my experience in a digital marketing role. This was my very first work experience as working professional.

I completed my internship and started the process of applying for other roles but I found it a very frustrating process. I had several great opportunities presented to me but I decided that I wanted to stay and build my career at Peoplewave.

I believe in Peoplewave’s purpose of making work fair. I’ve experienced great difficulties and I’ve had to move countries, learn a new language and completely start over. The sad reality is that many companies didn’t want to hire me because they had preconceived notions about Mongolians or had concerns about my English language skills. I believe that work should be fair and that people should be given opportunities based on their skills and merits, not by where they come from or what accent they speak with. Peoplewave’s purpose is to put people first and make work fair through transparency and data. I believe in this.

How does your typical day at work go? As a Digital Marketing Executive at Peoplewave, I am responsible for email marketing, search marketing and analytics (Google Analytics). I also help out with some social media updates and run marketing events, organise corporate gifts and marketing collateral. Right now I’m heavily focused on our ICO project and I’m responsible for working with review websites, digital marketing for the blockchain solution and I do some community management.

In the morning I start by reviewing the key customer and marketing metrics from the previous day. This includes how many SME customers have signed up online for our SaaS HR software products, I review the Google Analytics and Google Adwords campaign data and spend time checking email and Slack for messages.

At lunchtime, I usually go out with one or more of my work colleagues for lunch. Lately, I love Mexican quesadillas!

In the afternoon I check Slack and email again to look for any updates or messages. Right now, I’m working on our next customer event so I am spending time working with partners like Econsultancy to arrange the venue and marketing gifts. I am also spending time updating content for our ICO. My most recent achievement is that I’ve just translated our one-page whitepaper from English into Mongolian for potential investors back home.

In the evening I go home and update my social media feeds – mainly LinkedIn and Twitter. I also love learning so I’m reading more business books and doing some online business courses.

What’s the best thing about working at Peoplewave? Peoplewave will always be my first professional job and has a special place in my heart. The company gave me a chance when many others wouldn’t and I’m very grateful for this. I believe in the company’s purpose and I really believe that we’ll change the world. It’s amazing to be a part of this.

The people are great here and it’s a pleasure to come into work every day. Peoplewave practices what it says. There’s flexibility of working hours, so if you have an agreement with your manager, you can come in and leave at whatever time suits you. It’s also a very convenient location near Bugis and City Hall. It’s very exciting to see the company grow so quickly and it will be incredible to see where the company is going to be in a few years. It’s humbling and exciting to be part of this journey.

What are your thoughts about our current ICO and for the future of HR on the blockchain? Learning about the blockchain is a lot like my move from Mongolia to Singapore and not knowing English. It’s difficult, exciting but this is the future. I really believe that blockchain will change and improve the world. Peoplewave’s Wavebase solution is very much needed to improve how people are recruited and managed.

My dream is that Peoplewave can help my home country, Mongolia, get better at fairly managing people and that it will make finding great candidates for Mongolia’s growing economy. I am personally contributing to the ICO and have asked my friends and family to get involved too!

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Written By

Ariunaa is the Marketing In Asia's Editor for Mongolia. She is also a Digital Marketing professional with various experience in the B2C and B2B environments. Connect with her via LinkedIn.

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