*APAC Heritage Month* We are Cloudflare
Interviews with the people behind the scenes that make Cloudflare what it is. Join Chaat as he interviews people from across all teams and offices. Get to know what they do and the kind of people we are.
Good morning Singapore. This is Chaat Butsunturn, host of We Are Cloudflare and today we have a special edition of We Are Cloudflare as part of our AAPI month here in America at Cloudflare.
So today I have the great pleasure of welcoming guests from our Singapore office and I'm reporting from Oakland, California where currently it is the sun's going down and these guys are just starting their day tomorrow.
So I'm a blast from the past. I have Virginia Tea with me and hi Virginia. Hello, morning, evening.
Right, yes and you're a CSM, correct? Yes, okay. I'm CSM with the APEC team.
CSM on the APEC team, okay. I also have Marina Jeong and did I pronounce that correctly, Marina?
Technically it's Hyeyeon. Hyeyeon, okay, thank you for correcting me and Marina is in the marketing team, the demand gen team.
We actually met here in San Francisco where she worked in the San Francisco office before taking a temporary transfer to Singapore, correct?
Yes, I'm part of the demand gen team and I am still working with the North America team from Singapore.
Yeah, so still working with Caitlyn but yeah I've been here for, I will be here for a total of a year before I go back to San Francisco.
Okay and are you operating on California hours or?
Hybrid, hybrid. There's days that I start at 6 a.m but then I would finish earlier so combination of both, yeah.
And then Alex, Alex Tiang, how are you Alex?
Hi Chet, I'm good, yeah. Alex, likewise, likewise.
So when I first started at Cloudflare, you were on the BDR team as well in APEC and we've met several times over the years but then you moved to being a BDR team lead in the Singapore office but now you've switched roles.
I understand you're in the accounts team now?
Yeah, I've actually moved to several different roles.
So I started off as a BDR and then a BDR team lead and after which I moved into the expansion team.
So working with existing customers on new solutions and new products and all that we launch and then this year itself I moved to the AE team.
So all different roles in Cloudflare, yeah. So hopping around, that's great.
So what prompted the move from the expansion team to the AE team? Were you working expansion as on the BDR side or on the accounts?
So on the account side, so it's the same goal, like we have the same kind of KPI in terms of revenue targets and all.
What prompted the move? I think it's something that it's always been in a pipeline, just that at a point of time we needed somebody for the expansion role.
So I always say that in an office in Singapore, you kind of take on multiple roles in Cloudflare itself and whatever is needed, you just move there and then do it and then do it well hopefully.
You're like our Swiss army knife of roles over there, just whatever we need, let's call Alex, right?
Hopefully. And are the accounts that you are servicing or prospecting into, they're all APAC based?
Yeah, they're mostly based in Singapore.
So that's where I'll be focusing on. Got it. Okay.
All right. And when did you make that move actually to the account? Yeah, it actually started in January this year.
Oh, really soon? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Congratulations.
A lot of people know, I think, because I always say it's still the same thing.
You still talk to customers, you still talk about solutions of Cloudflare, is that instead of working with existing customers, you'll be working with new customers, all types of customers, whether is it like digital native customers or customer looking to move into the cloud and then find out their pinpoints, it's still the same process and then make the right recommendation.
Right. And Virginia, you work with obviously customers on the customer side.
So these are currently engaged customers and are they also based in Singapore or do you have a region that's more broad than that?
I think my customers are mainly in the APAC region.
They could be, they're not in Singapore, mainly Indonesia, Philippines, they could be anywhere, but mainly in APAC.
And so with their current customers, do you find that is working with these countries or customers from different countries, is it pretty much, does it feel culturally the same the way you connect with them or are there, do you have to localize how you engage with the customer?
I think generally they are probably from different countries, but mainly Asians.
So I think managing them, the culture is not that far off.
I think the basic fundamentals are the same. So it's not that far off, but coming to Cloudflare was relatively new to me because back then I was with hospitality industry for quite a while.
So I think it takes a bit of getting used to, but once you are used to the customers, you sort of know how to manage them.
So you came from hospitality before CSM at Cloudflare? Yes, I was in hospitality for quite a number of years.
So what drew you to move to technology? I think generally I wanted to try something new.
It was a big change, but I wanted to learn more.
I wanted to go into something new, something that is relevant. So there I go, I just jump in and try a totally new industry.
Wow. All right. That's interesting.
I think it came at the right time as well because it was probably in 2019 before COVID hit.
So yeah, it was a good time. And the hospitality industry clearly got really hit hard.
But I imagine you get to use some of the same, I don't know if it's skill sets or at least that empathy that you must have in hospitality is very important in a CSM role.
Yes, it is. I think generally, like I mentioned earlier, basic fundamentals are the same.
And a lot of times in order to be able to have a good relationship with the customer, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes to understand their challenges and pain before you're able to help them.
And it gives me great satisfaction if let's say I do have customers who really appreciate us and I do have a couple who are really nice customers and that's what keeps me going.
That's great when you have that kind of relationship.
And I suppose that's what you do as a CSM is also nurture the long -term relationship because we hope to work with them for many years, right?
Yes. So Marina, you're in DemandGen and that's it.
I know we've worked directly together when you were in San Francisco.
And you just mentioned that you're actually doing the same thing just from a different location.
Is that right? Correct. Yes. What is DemandGen?
What are you doing? Yeah. So some things have changed since the last time we worked together back in 2019.
So now my team is structured in a different way where I'm currently focusing on Kloffler for networks solely.
So that includes Magic Transit, Juan.
So I'm focusing on acquiring that new business for that sector and still working with the Latam Legion for lead generation.
So Spanish speaking countries, Portuguese speaking countries, just working with them to help them grow with digital campaigns.
Right. And actually that was an interesting, I don't know if it's your fun fact or not, but that was an interesting thing I learned from you is that you grew up south of the equator.
Is that right? I mean, Singapore, south of the equator, right?
Is it actually, is Singapore south of the equator or no?
Singapore, I'm not quite sure. Okay. I'm going to tell, ask the locals.
Don't ask us such questions. No geography questions. This is not geography.
Marina, yeah, you're from... Is it, I'm going to get it wrong. If I say Argentina, it's going to be Brazil.
If I say Brazil, it's going to be Argentina. You are right.
It was Argentina. Buenos Aires. Okay. All right. All right. So you are, what languages do you speak?
Yeah. So my first language is Spanish. This is a language that I think in, that I dream in.
The second one is English. And then the third one is Korean.
So my parents moved from Korea around 50 years ago to Argentina.
So I was born and raised there. And do they similarly speak all three languages?
They don't speak English. So we can only speak a mix of Korean and Spanish.
Yeah. Wow. And, and, and so is that, are you using language in your, in your role at all?
I know you work with the LATAM team, so. Yeah, definitely. I am. So most of the vendors that I work with in Latin America speak Spanish.
So all of our calls are in Spanish.
For example, when I have to work on display ads or search ads for the LATAM team, I basically just write the copy in Spanish, which is easy, but then the harder part is Portuguese.
But I don't know if you know, Portuguese is very similar to Spanish, but it's still different.
So I can finesse my way through it, but I still go through the localization team for Portuguese.
So, cause you, you didn't mention Portuguese as one of your languages.
I learned it in school, but very basic.
Like if you throw me in Brazil, I'll probably survive, but not for work purposes.
No. Right. Okay. Yeah. Virginia, what, what other languages do you speak?
Singapore, probably first language will be English followed by Mandarin, Chinese.
And then I know a bit of Cantonese, which is widely used mainly Hong Kong.
I think that's, a mixture of a bit of like Malay and all, which is the APEC languages.
So yeah, just a bit of here and there. Like Marina, if I go to Hong Kong, I can survive.
If you need me to use it for work, no, you want me to go shopping, bargaining and all, yeah, that's fine.
Yeah. But not for work. How about you, Alex?
Do you speak other languages? Well, for me, it will be English and Mandarin.
And then in Singapore, we have dialects as well. So I speak Hokkien at home with my parents.
Yeah. But it's not really a language. It's more of a dialect. Got it.
And you grew up in Singapore. Is that right? Yeah. I grew up in Singapore. Right.
So, you know, I don't often talk too much about myself, but given that it's a PI month here and I'm an Asian at Cloudflare, I represent an Asian American experience.
I grew up in Buffalo, New York, and there aren't a lot of Asians there.
My father is Thai, my mom is Filipino, and they only spoke English to me, which is a not atypical American story, actually, where parents, be they, you know, from Italy or Poland or Thailand, they don't want to pass on what they consider a handicap because, you know, it's struggling with a second language.
They want their child to not have that clutter of language. And of course, you know, as I got older, I feel like I've been culturally robbed of the opportunity to learn something really deep about my culture.
So I envy your multiple languages.
I guess I think the term is polyglots, and I know Cloudflare has many of them.
So in terms of language then, Virginia, do you use English exclusively in the office environment, or do you actually conduct business in other languages?
With my customers, it's usually in Chinese, because most of my customers are Chinese, and in the office itself, it's a mixture.
It could be English, it could be Chinese.
Sometimes, yeah, it could be any of these languages. It really depends on the customer.
I had one customer recently in Cantonese. If it's between Virginia and myself, then we'll be in Singlish, so it's our own.
You have your own code.
That's funny. So Alex, how about you for what you're doing? I mean, I often think of, you know, English as a global language, but in APAC, you know, there are other, you know, what's your point of reference there when you're working?
It will still be primarily in English, and then, you know, sometimes we speak in Mandarin, but when we are communicating, it will be in English with some of our customers.
And in the office itself, like I say, with Virginia, and sometimes we just have what we call Singlish in Singapore.
So it's a mix of English, Mandarin, and Malay, and so on, in how we communicate.
So it's quite interesting, because last time when I was in exchange in Europe, I was actually speaking with my Singaporean friend in English, and then they couldn't understand what we were saying.
Oh, really? Yeah, yeah. So which is why when there are people, like the other people around, we tend to be more conscious about, you know, using English, proper English, and not mixing with all our other lingos and all.
So what did you do pre-Cloudflare, Alex? Yeah, so before Cloudflare, I was actually a product manager in a telecommunications company.
So working on pricing, packaging of Internet services for enterprise businesses, and so on.
That's why I always have some empathy for product managers or people who are in the backend where decisions are not always easy to be made.
Whatever decision you make, it's always going to be, you know, maybe not favorable to a certain departments, right?
Whether it's in marketing, sales, CSOP, and so on. Right, huh.
Right. So, and then, Marina, what did you do in your previous life? Yeah, so my previous life before Cloudflare, I was actually part of the marketing team at Amazon Alexa's team, basically the speaker.
So I was helping, my goal was to just drive like a specific number of apps or skills, as they call them for the voice assistant.
So I did that for six months. And then I actually joined as an intern at Cloudflare before joining in San Francisco in 2019.
So in 2018, I worked in the APAC office for six months.
And that's when I worked with Alex. Yeah, yeah, that was when back then when we didn't really have a marketing team there.
So we were just starting to figure it out from there.
And what was your fun fact? Regrets.
It's not that fun. I wish I could change it, but it's been two years and I still can't think of a fun fact.
But mine was that I did a rollerblading race, which was like 16K, which now looking back at it, it's not that much.
But yeah, it was on wheels.
Yeah, like a race on wheels in Argentina. So and I got super tired. So I actually didn't fully finish it.
I left at 13K. But yeah, it was, it was okay. I'll think of a better one for next time.
Okay. Well, that was, I warned you, I was going to ask you that question.
I know, I know. So for the one that I want, I want it to be my new fun fact, if I can update it.
Yeah, do it. Is that Singapore has this biking where you can bike like the perimeter of Singapore, which is 150 kilometers.
So I am training for that. The most I've done in my life is 65 so far. So I'm hoping to be able to do that by the end of my time here in Singapore.
That's a great goal.
I love it. Yeah. So you can actually circumnavigate the whole island in a continuous loop without like having to, I don't know, hop on a boat or, you know?
Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That's pretty cool. Okay, Virginia, what was your fun fact? Um, I think many years back, I did this fire walking on coal, on hot coal, uh, during a seminar with Tony Robbins when he was in Singapore.
Other than that, I do have another one, which, um, which is, uh, I actually call into the radio station and I spoke to, uh, Sly Stallone before.
Oh, really? Huh? Yeah. I was really nervous. He was in Singapore for, uh, I think for a movie or opening or something.
And all I could, I can't remember.
All I could recall was his deep voice. I think he was, uh, during that time he was having this, it's either demolition man or cliffhangers.
I don't know if I'm dating you or dating me.
Right. So I, uh, but I remember when those movies come out.
Okay. Alex, your turn. Fun fact. Yeah. So when, so the fun fact was something that I share, I think most of us share, um, during like our orientation, I was just trying to think of something because I have nothing fun.
Like people who know me know that, you know, usually I'm quite boring.
So my was that I'm a superhero.
I was a superhero. Um, so the context behind that is that, um, like, like, um, actually used to wear mascots for my work.
So I wear different costumes to entertain kids.
And so, so that was why I was a superhero. Got it. So do you, do you have like a big S underneath that shirt there?
No, we, we, we can't say what we were wearing because then it will actually spoil the experience for the kids.
Right. If somebody got it. Oh, it's totally fair. Totally fair. Yeah. We got it.
Yeah. Keep the magic alive. My fun fact, my, my fun fact was that I, I, I am a mountain biker.
I'm an avid mountain biker, but I do most of my writing at night.
So, uh, with lights and everything. Um, and it's a tradition I started with friends like 20 years ago.
And, uh, it was, it's nice because it doesn't interrupt the rest of your day.
You know, I can put the kid to bed and then, you know, my wife will watch Netflix and I can go out and I'll ride.
So that's my fun fact.
It's funny. Cause like when I delivered that fun fact, I had, uh, uh, at my first day at Klaffler, I had a splint on my finger cause I'd broken a finger, uh, in a little crash that happened during the day, ironically.
So, yeah. Um, so in terms of the office environment now, Marina, you've been in both offices.
So I'm going to start with you.
Um, what do you miss about the San Francisco office? And what do you, uh, how would you compare that to like what you like about the, the Singapore office, which I'd never been to?
Yeah. So I did. So they're definitely different.
I think one thing that I loved about the San Francisco office is that you had people who had interest in common.
So one thing that I was remembering last time was that we had, do you remember the Argo run club?
Yes. Yeah. Uh, I remember, uh, Jimmy and Pablo, uh, were running that.
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So I joined it in, uh, 2019 because I was training for a race.
And then I was like, I need someone to keep me accountable.
So I got Dave who was in the product marketing team to run it with me every Monday.
Um, so I love that. And then we also had a group chat of everyone going to the same various bootcamp in Klaffler.
So just a group chat on G chat.
Uh, so we were like 10 people from different teams, just all running next to each other.
So I found that really nice. Um, and then obviously the meals like going to the same restaurant and then eating together, even though you've never met them before, but you saw their badge.
Um, I really miss that. Um, the new Singapore, I was in the old Singapore office a lot before they moved to the new one.
Um, yeah, but basically the old one was smaller. So we all shared two desks for four people.
So they're right next to each other, screen to screen. Um, and I know I used to work right behind Alex.
So we're all cramped marketing ourselves in the same cubicle.
Um, so I, I actually really enjoyed that, but now in the new Singapore office, we were four people the day I went because of COVID.
Um, so I'm sure Alex or Virginia can tell you more, but basically we still have to abide by regulations.
So take your temperature twice a day, get wear a mask at all times. Um, so those things are still there.
Right. So Alex, what about you? You've been to both offices, but I'm going to ask you about, you know, the Singapore experience.
I didn't, I'd forgotten that you guys had moved offices. So, but you're probably in neither of them now.
So what, what do you miss about like the office environment or the new, what's your, I mean, the office, the new one's probably just bigger, but I don't know what you want.
What do you want? What do you have to share about that?
Yeah. Like, like I said, we've, I think we moved to the new office close to, I can remember two years now or something.
Yeah. So, so I think that, um, what we miss over there as a, now that we can't go back is the fact that, um, we, you know, most of the people we have not met, we have mostly speak behind the screen.
Right. So, um, it's, and, and it's always interesting when you first see each other, like, Hey, and, and when, so, so I went back to office recently a couple of times and it's like, you're not sure if this person, you know, who's this person and so on.
And then you're like, hi. And then, because when everyone has a mask on, you can't really tell who's who sometimes, that's hard as well.
And, um, you know, sometimes you just realize that you have been talking to this person for the last one year, that person has been helping you with a lot of conversation with customers.
It's that this is the first time you see, um, see that person.
Um, I, I think that that's sort of the things that we miss, the interaction that we can have.
And it, it actually helps a lot when the going gets tough, right.
You need people to help to encourage each other, help to motivate each other.
I think that's what is difficult working remotely. And, and it's always interesting how, when you first see people again in office, they always have like new experience to share new things that they have tried, or it just feels like people has began to experience a new side of themselves, you know, like trying to do something.
So if someone asks, what would be the new thing that you would, that you would share?
I, I knew you were going to ask me. Yeah. I, I, I don't think this, I mean, I've been busy with a lot of stuff.
Okay. I'll, I'll buy that.
I'll meet with Virginia for a second here. Virginia. So how about you? What are you, what are you going to, what do you look forward to returning to?
What do you, what do you, I guess that's really the same question.
It's like, what do you miss and what do you look forward to?
Right. I think generally when we were back in office back then, I would probably hop on to some of their desks and then do some chit-chatting here and there.
Yeah. I think that's where you, you get to build rapport over there.
Right now with working remotely, we, we sort of adjusted with meetings and we, we, my team, we have like daily check-ins every day so that we get to know what's happening to each other.
So we will chit-chat. In a way, I think we, we make time for each other at the end of the day.
So it's something different in compared to the office and that's where I see the difference.
But of course, having face-to-face definitely is better.
You feel closer and then, yeah, it's a different experience.
Right. Right. Yeah. You know, as we come in the last three minutes and 40 seconds of the show, I just wanted to ask one other thing.
So in America, it's AAPI Heritage Month.
And when you're in Singapore, I mean, every day is AAPI day, right?
So is there any kind of cultural equivalent of an appreciation for an otherness?
I don't know if there is an otherness that exists, but I was just curious if like, they have these, these ways of, or these, these ideas of, of raising awareness for, for, for something.
Sometimes I wonder about, is that a uniquely American phenomena?
Like, all right.
I think we do have the, like on a yearly basis, not with us, but with the younger kids, like in school, they will have a racial harmony day.
They will dress up in different costumes of the other race.
Like probably I will be in, someone will be in Indian costume.
Someone will be in Chinese costume. There are Korean costumes, Hanbok and all as well.
So it is, yeah, we, we do have that for the younger children, but as you get older, it's like, they don't do that, but in schools they do it.
They just want to teach the children to embrace the different races out there.
Yeah. Yeah. That, that, that was actually something that I wanted to share as well.
Like when we were younger, I still remember all the times where we have to wear different costumes and so on.
And, and I think it's, it's actually good, right?
Because it just sort of create that sort of awareness right at a young age.
And then as it grows older, it kind of becomes natural. Like it just feels so natural with us where we have different people around us of different backgrounds, diversity and all.
Yeah. Right. Well, that's great. That's really interesting.
You know, at Cloudflare, we have many, as you know ERGs, employee resource groups, and a lot of them, I think provide those spaces for those groups and their allies.
And so, you know, we're, there's, there's Asian flair, Desi flair, you know, Afro flair, vet flair, proud flair, so on and so forth.
And so I think that that's created a it's nice to have that as part of the culture that you can find a safe space at, you know, at Cloudflare.
And it's, it's great to, to connect with other, you know, AAPI from across the sea.
I want to thank everyone, each one of you for joining me today.
Again, this is a Virginia T. Marina Tian.
Heyon. Heyon. How'd I, how'd I do? Okay. What's that? You should teach us how we pronounce your last name as well.
My last name. Right. Okay. That's a good one. Yeah.
Chat butts in turn. And that's, that's really kind of the Americanized version of it.
You know, in Thai would be more like chat butts in turn, which would sound, you know, but Hey, that's, this is chat butts in turn signing off for we are Cloudflare.
Thanks again, everyone. And have a great rest of your day for me. I'm signing off.
I'm getting ready for dinner. Thank you for having us. My pleasure guys. We'll see you later.
Ciao. Have a great day.