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Our Remarkable Stories

The remarkable outlook of Derrick Chan – a story of adventure, curiosity and opportunity.

Remarkable stories

We wanted to share the experiences of our remarkable people. Their stories have helped shape our Employer Brand and we wanted to share their life at work with the world. In the second of this blog series, we caught up Derrick Chan who talked about his incredible globe-trotting story, which started with the Future Leaders Programme and still has many chapters to complete.

Always curious

"I was living in Canada working for a Brand Consultancy. I was a couple of years out of college, but my heart was at home in Hong Kong. I wanted to be nearer to my family, but I didn’t know what opportunities lay ahead, so I packed my bags and moved back. I’ve always been curious about learning new things, so when I saw an opportunity to be part of the leadership training at AS Watson, I jumped at the chance."

The Future Leaders Programme

"The main draw for me was the rotational approach to the Future Leaders Programme. Essentially, over 18 months you get to experience all aspects of the business. So after one of the most rigorous interview processes I’ve ever seen, I was so pleased to be offered a place. One of the best months was in the UK. I was seconded to Savers, a great brand across the UK. This is where I got to work in store and really understand the importance of customer empathy and knowledge. And how important every store colleague is in giving customers a great experience. I was made to feel so welcome by the team and I loved every second of it. The main thing I noticed was how accessible the leaders were. They took so much time to help everyone and this made a huge impression on me."

A difficult choice

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"One of the most difficult moments was choosing which area of the business I wanted to take on once I’d graduated from the Future Leaders Programme. I genuinely loved so many parts of the business, but Marketing was one where I really wanted to learn more. I focused on CRM marketing where there was a data aspect to it, which wasn't just qualitative brand marketing. And that's what I liked about it. So I said that was my interest and I ended up being stationed in Hong Kong  permanently for the next two to three years."

Should I stay, or should I go?

"The choice of which area to focus on was nothing compared to my next choice. I wanted to experience a different culture and I was drawn to China. I spoke to my manager and he went off and had a discussion with the AS Watson Group leaders. Watson Wines had a presence in Shanghai and they were about to go through a restructure, so I was offered a role looking at the sales and operational restructure, working with the Director of the Business. I’ll never forget what AS Watson did."

Always learning

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"I learnt so much from my time in Shanghai. It’s a unique culture. I had to learn Mandarin. I learnt about doing business in a more relationship style. And as people evolved in the digital age, the market dynamics were constantly changing. To be part of this was amazing. And I was very lucky. My boss at that time was a super good mentor and coach to me, so he really helped me a lot."

Seven years ago

"I came back about seven years ago. And again, it happened out of serendipity. There was a new boss heading up the Regional eCommerce Team in Hong Kong. They were a very small team that had started a few years earlier, but they were looking to grow. And so doors opened. I helped with starting up some of the eCommerce side of the business when I was in China. And the fact that my new manager had the faith in me to say, "Okay, you know what? I feel like you have the general skill sets, let’s bring you in and then grow together." That was very exciting for me. But I also think that attitude is AS Watson through and through."

The next chapter

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"I now head the entire online business. There's so many changes coming on with what we're doing here and how we can apply all these different things from a digital perspective. And if you look at just the size of the team, when I first joined, I was the fifth person on this eCommerce team. Now, I'm managing almost 40 people. I look back to when I first joined with real pride. And I always remember that moment when my life outside of work could have been so different had it not been for the support and trust of the people around me."