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Get To Know Damien Cummings, CEO Of Peoplewave

Always look for a startup leader that loves marketing and is willing to teach you.

Hi Damien. Can you tell us about yourself a little?

My name is Damien Cummings and I run a startup called Peoplewave. Before I started Peoplewave I spent 25 years in marketing, and specifically digital marketing. I’ve held roles including Global Head of Digital Marketing at Standard Chartered Bank, Chief Marketing Officer at Philips and Regional Marketing Director, Digital at Samsung.

Wow, that’s quite a transition there. Evolving from a comfortable corporate life into something unknown like entrepreneurship is indeed a big decision. Why the switch?

Honestly, I didn’t have much of a choice. The idea of launching a startup had been brewing for a few years. It really started becoming a reality as I was completing my Masters in Digital Management at Hyper Island – where we were encouraged to do different things and really get entrepreneurial in our thinking. However, what really made me change is that my job was made redundant. I was out of work and really needed to rethink my career and my life. Instead of going back into a senior marketing role, I decided to jump right into an area I’m passionate about – making work fair and fixing many of the problems that are rife in modern people management.

By the way, what is Peoplewave actually?

Started in Singapore back in 2016, Peoplewave is now Asia’s leading HR software company powered by blockchain technology. It is revolutionising people management with data-driven, transparent feedback and verified performance data. Peoplewave has two key products – the “First 100 Days”​: a new hire onboarding tool; “Performance Wave”​: continuous 360-degree performance appraisals; And is currently building “HR Command Centre”​ analytics suite, which unlocks employee data and insights, and Wavebase”​ a revolutionary blockchain platform that provides ongoing verified employee performance information that will change the face of hiring and managing workplace talent.

Marketing team or a startup?

It doesn’t have to be an “or”. I believe in “and”. The great thing about being the CEO of a startup is that you need to be very hands-on. I’ve been very lucky to work with talented marketers who have worked at Peoplewave and I’ve also been heavily involved in the branding, marketing and communications in how we engage customers and the community. I love marketing and I am a digital native (and have been for 25 years). I bring this experience and talent to entrepreneurship. In fact, what I’ve found is that the most successful startups are the ones that are sales and marketing-centric. I see these two skills as complementary. But if you really had to make me choose – I love running Peoplewave. It’s not the work but the choices you make (good and bad). I’ve learned a hell of a lot over the past 2 years growing Peoplewave and I am very passionate about creating something that has a positive impact on the world.

Do you have any advice for marketers looking to join a startup?

My main advice is to just embrace the chaos. Startups are nowhere near as structured as big corporates and things tend to be “fast and loose”. This can be great if you’re in an agile learning environment but can be incredibly frustrating when you have no money and little resources. It’s also very nerve-wracking as it’s a daily fight for life in the startup world – sometimes money comes in, often it doesn’t. The downside of most startups is that they won’t give you comprehensive or rigorous training – you’re thrown in the deep end and it’s sink or swim. This isn’t good for someone early in their marketing career. I’d encourage new grads to look at working at an advertising agency or going through an internship program at an established company first. It’s important to learn the basics of marketing and what’s expected in any business (endless meetings, lots of attention to detail, great Excel and PowerPoint skills, etc.). After some big company experience, that’s the best time to jump into a startup. It can be amazingly rewarding but it is risky. Always look for a startup leader that loves marketing and is willing to teach you.

What’s next for you and Peoplewave?

I’m currently focused on closing our Series A investment and growing Peoplewave beyond Singapore and the Philippines, where our main offices are now. We’re on a growth fast track and are looking to build a strong brand in the HR tech space across Asia. With our investment closed, growing into new markets and getting established as the most audacious HR tech player in Asia is how I intend to start 2019.

How to contact you?

I’m happy to connect with marketers or those interested in HR tech via LinkedIn or Twitter. If you’re interested in finding out more about Peoplewave, our website is www.peoplewave.co

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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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