Three Years Old: Cogs Singapore

Cogs Singapore was established 3 years ago when Chris Frost, co-founder and director of Cogs Agency, moved to the region with his wife and children to…

Singapore

Cogs Singapore was established 3 years ago when Chris Frost, co-founder and director of Cogs Agency, moved to the region with his wife and children to expand Cogs further into Asia. Since then, the Singapore office has grown to a team of 6 consultants and built a solid reputation.

We spoke with Chris about the Singapore market, and what’s next for Cogs Singapore.

Hi Chris, what makes the Singapore market unique?

It’s a special market because it is three-tiered. There are several MNCs here running global strategy and operations.  There are big numbers of companies choosing Singapore as APAC or SEA HQ and finally, local or global business focused on the Singapore market.

This means that as a digital recruitment specialist, we have had to adapt to broad requirements and as a result, developed a diverse client base that includes consulting firms, tech businesses, tech vendors, brands, digital agencies and many more.

It’s not the largest market in the world – the total population is 5.5 million, but our clients are spread across a real range of areas, focused on many different countries and at different stages of sophistication in their uses of digital, which is as refreshing as it is challenging.

Great, it sounds exciting. How did you have the confidence to break into the market?

It was pretty exhilarating, but I had already been spending a lot of my time the three years before opening Singapore jetting between our London and our Hong Kong offices, helping to establish our Hong Kong office, so I knew what it would take from an operational perspective. I was also co-founder of our London office thirteen years ago but it’s fair to say that doing business in Asia is very different to Europe.

I’m fortunate to have an existing personal network that I could leverage and was able to expand on the network of our Hong Kong office who had already worked on Singapore briefs. It started out with just me in the office, but quite quickly we needed to build a team to keep up with the work we were bringing in and be able to cover all of our specialist disciplines.

Can you give us examples of a recent projects?

Sure. I could give a few. A good example was a project to build a multi-lingual content team of six people for an entertainment brand that would help produce and translate content to multiple countries in Asia.  Another was building the management team for a UX led digital agency. A final one would be work we’ve done with content businesses going through digital transformation where we’ve helped shape a team structure and JDs then delivered talent to fulfil the roles.

These examples are similar in that they aren’t as simple as one-off “locate and place”-style tasks. In all cases, we needed to really get under the skin of the business, understanding their objectives and then researching and placing the right team into the organisation.

Is a lot of the day-to-day work at Cogs Singapore that research-heavy?

I would say that this is becoming an increasingly important part of the job for us. Many of our clients trust us and see us as more than a standard recruiter who send CVs based on a pre-determined/ rigid brief, which is fantastic. Because of our knowledge, we can talk to people on a higher level, and offer services such as standalone consultancy in areas such as bench marking/market mapping competitors who are further along the journey of digital transformation.

So, yes – there’s a lot of research involved. And, a greater need on the consultancy/strategy side of things.

Are there any trends in the market and roles you’re filling?

Digital transformation projects kicked off in MNCs international HQs are now finding their way into the Asia markets and these companies’ local competitors are also transforming to stay relevant. This brings a growth in demand for digital skills in industry and expansion in the digital practices of management consultancies.

There’s also a lot of hiring in regional and global tech companies, whose new models often put them ahead of more traditional players whose industries that they have entered. This all translates to requirements in data, engineering and UX. The government here invest and support in tech business and digital transformation in industry, and industry has a close relationship with the local universities with recent graduates fulfilling a lot of the increasing demand in digital skills. What we see at Cogs are the middle management to executive roles in the newer areas that companies are looking to grow. The challenge being finding good people from a relatively small market.

Thanks Chris. Do you have a final message?

There are several companies in Singapore hiring aggressively, but in the most part companies are hiring in a more considered fashion taking their time to find the right people. We are confident in our ability to meet those requirements. Now that we’ve been here for three years, we’re looking to really establish our presence in Singapore. For businesses looking for a strategic partner, let’s talk.

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