Meet the CEOs: Kingdom Digital's Ryan Ong – Marketing Interactive

Lead Marketing & Automation Services > Blog > Uncategorized > Meet the CEOs: Kingdom Digital's Ryan Ong – Marketing Interactive

From taking design courses while working as a clown, to entering the advertising industry as a junior designer, Ryan Ong (pictured) told A+M that he has always been a creative guy since young. His deep passion for art and design drove him to actively equip himself with the necessary knowledge and skillsets to pursue a career in this industry.
His efforts to upskill himself paid off as aspirations soon turned into reality, and Ong founded ad agency Branded3 Malaysia and assumed the role of managing partner for seven years, according to his LinkedIn. Branded3 Malaysia later rebranded to Kingdom Digital. Over the years, he was slowly exposed to the tips and tricks of the industry, he also experienced “many sleepless nights” at the same time.
However, Ong also explained that the sense of achievement he experiences makes all his hard work worthwhile. Learn more about his journey here!
A+M: What was your first role in advertising?
Ong: I first stepped foot in this industry by working as a junior designer in a consultancy firm. For me, that was the best place to learn as it is where all the magic happens. I was exposed to the tips and tricks of the working industry, how to manage and juggle clients’ expectations, as well as how to keep a cool head while working under pressure.
We’re so used to having everything at our fingertips now thanks to the advancement of technology and the internet. But back in those days, the digital world was still a foreign concept. We had to work with slow machines (which we thought were already the best at the time) and the Internet was non-existent. We would frequent the bookstores and look at design books to get creative inspiration.
A+M: What was your first impression of advertising?
Ong: That there were going to be many sleepless nights, and it was true. Having said that, the sense of achievement and the satisfaction we get when we’ve successfully delivered the work on time without compromising on quality makes it all worth it.
A+M: Who was the mentor who influenced you the most and how?
Ong: The person that has influenced me the most would be my business partner Vin. Vin and I have been friends since we were kids. We shared the same understanding and vision on how we’d like to drive the business forward, so it has been a wonderful experience running the agency with him for the past 15 years.
ryan ong with mentor vin
He has a sharp business sense and is quite the visionary, whereas I’m more of a whiz at execution. Therefore, we’re quite the perfect match where our skills and synergy complement each other.
That said, I believe we can learn from anyone, even from a child.
So, breaking away from the traditional mentor concept, I’d have to say working with my team has influenced me as well. They have shown me pure dedication and are constantly outdoing themselves with their problem-solving skills. I know this will sound like I’m humble bragging, but I do think that I have the strongest agency team and I’m proud of that.
A+M: What’s the harshest criticism you’ve received and how did you cope with it?
Ong: A client once screamed at me “Did you use your brain?”. It was harsh, but to be fair, I did make a mistake at the time. Since that incident, it has taught me to think ahead and be more focused. I learned to always be prepared and be more diligent in everything I do so there’s no opportunity to be scrutinised. Most importantly, we should always own up to our mistakes and offer a solution when there are hiccups.
A+M: Describe your own management style now as a leader.
Ong: My management style is a cross between visionary and democratic. Rather than dictating decisions and controlling every small detail, I leave it to my team to run the day-to-day.
I believe people will learn and grow faster by entrusting and empowering them to do what they do best.
There’s nothing like learning from their own experience.
kingdom digital team buildingkingdom digital team photo
A+M: What’s one thing you wished employees understood about being a leader?
Ong: The importance of setting expectations – that we will not overpromise or underdeliver. We are all problem solvers in an organisation, regardless of hierarchy. Hence, I appreciate it when someone comes forward with a problem and offers a plausible solution.
A+M: What do you do during your free time?
Ong: I wouldn’t say I’m a hardcore gamer but I do like to wind down and destress by playing football-related games sometimes. I must admit though, gaming can be frustrating and occasionally it adds on more stress instead.
A+M: Where do you find your inspiration?
Ong: As cliché as it sounds, social media is where I tend to find inspiration these days. There is so much information available (an overload even) on these platforms. I often find myself getting inspired by the most random thing while scrolling and catching up on my social feed.
A+M: If not in advertising, where would you be?
Ong: Honestly, this question has not crossed my mind before. I think I’ll probably still be doing something that allows me to flex my creative muscle since that’s my core passion.
A+M: What advice do you have for someone looking to start a career in the industry?
Ong: Don’t be deterred by how stressful it can get at times, it’s not all that bad. Every job has its share of stress and challenges, and advertising is no different. What is more important is that you enjoy what you are doing.
As digital advertising is a fast-paced industry, take advantage of the opportunities to grow and learn new things. It’s the satisfaction that you get at the end of the day that counts.
These will help you in not just your career growth, but personal development as well.
kingdom digital aoty winner
A+M: What issue would you like to see the industry change in 2022?
Ong: Tech and digital have become an integral part of our lives.
When it comes to tailoring content for your audiences, it is no longer a choice but a necessity in order to be relevant and elicit engagement.
I hope to see more marketers leverage personalisation tools or platforms such as creative automation to help them go to market faster with hyper-personalised campaigns. In our experiences, many marketers are still unfamiliar and unsure how creative automation can be beneficial to them. Contrary to the belief that it takes away jobs and whatnot, the human touch is still very much needed for automation to work. In fact, it frees up the team to focus on what matters – the idea and the messaging, rather than focusing on the menial, repetitive task of creative adaptation.
Wong Yee Ching contributed to the story.
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