FanRu Meng believes business is an endurance sport
The intrepid boss sees strong parallels between triathlons and his e-commerce work.
by Shamilee Vellu / April 29, 2022
It’s no wonder so many C-level executives enjoy endurance sports like triathlons. Their high-powered careers require the same commitment, drive, and grit that would quickly break the less resilient.
Intrepid Singapore CEO FanRu Meng, 36, has juggled climbing the corporate ladder while completing 30 triathlons and marathons across Asia.
“As I watched my colleagues participating in triathlons, I began to join them out of curiosity and competitive spirit,” says Meng of his mates at Procter & Gamble, where he worked for over a decade at its Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong offices, handling travel retail and then e-commerce before becoming sales director of P&G’s hair care business in Hong Kong.
While he was initially surprised to find that his colleagues excelled both in the professional arena and in competitive sports, he soon got into the routine of training in the early mornings before a full day of work and for longer sessions at weekends.
“Competing in triathlons pushes you out of your comfort zone,” says Meng. “It wasn’t easy when I first started training with a triathlon group. But I kept on pushing myself to take on the challenge and, eventually, I reached a point where it became second nature to me. In a way, this signalled a stage of self-growth where I improved and levelled up to the next challenge.”
This ability to push forward has been essential to his work at Intrepid Singapore, where he was named CEO last October.
Intrepid Singapore is part of Intrepid Group Asia, an organisation founded in Vietnam in 2017 that offers brands comprehensive omnichannel e-commerce management, digital marketing, and insights and analytics powered by in-house technology. It has offices in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, each led by a country CEO.
Intrepid’s unique selling proposition is its marketplace platform model, says Meng, who relocated from Taiwan to Singapore for the role.
“The marketplace platform model in Asia is more brand-friendly than at Amazon,” he says. “Brands have more control over flagship stores, product placement and overall commercial strategy. The sense of ownership provides ample opportunity for both brands and e-commerce enablers to work closer together to unlock the various e-commerce opportunities and meet emerging trends and market demands.”
Intrepid’s regional hubs also offer local expertise. Intrepid Vietnam, for example, serves as the group’s regional tech hub, with an in-house tech team that builds powerful internal and external solutions ranging from customer service tools to omnichannel integrations.
As a result of the pandemic, Intrepid has also seen its fortunes improve.
“The pandemic accelerated the evolution of e-commerce in South-east Asia, creating new opportunities both now and in the future,” Meng says. In this regard, he is tasked with expanding the capabilities of Intrepid concerning, he says, “Full-funnel digital marketing services, and our insights and analytics platform” to enable brand partners to succeed in the e-commerce ecosystem.
He notes that his transition from Taiwan to Singapore has been relatively smooth, despite observing that the local business culture is very “diverse, straightforward and structured”. The ease with which he deals with remote work can also be attributed to his mostly millennial team, which has no problem working remotely post-Covid, as well as his belief that his employees are the company’s greatest asset.
No surprise then that Meng’s leadership best practice is to “always be respectful of others”.
“Each of us has a unique nature and opinion. By creating a safe environment for team members to share their ideas effectively helps us resolve even the most ambiguous problems effectively.”