5 Minutes with Ricki Mulia, Executive Producer (MSN Southeast Asia)

Ricki is the Executive Producer at MSN Southeast Asia, and manages the business of operating and monetising the MSN web portals for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines. MSN is a subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.

Over the course of his career in the web industry, he has worked on various online communication and community tools, search, portal homepages and content areas. His roles have provided him with insight into markets across Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia.

In this interview with Brainmates, Ricki discusses his role in Product Management and how he started out. He also shares his insight into what makes a good product manager and how Product Management is different in SE Asian countries.

How did you get into Product Management?

I started out as an Account Executive in a local web consultancy working on multi-national accounts like Tiger Beer and Singapore Tourism Board. A quick stint in a global interactive agency as an Account Manager made me realize that my real passion was in product management. I then quickly made the transition to Yahoo!, starting off in Ad Operations but then moved to Product Management, managing some of their first localized services in Singapore such as Yahoo! Photos, GeoCities, Mail and Messenger. I moved up to take more responsibility of products, managing teams to eventually head up production and engineering for Southeast Asia. I made the move to return to Australia with Yahoo! managing products such as Search, Homepage, Mail and Messenger. My last year in Australia and with Yahoo! was to help in the transition to the joint venture with Channel Seven Networks to form Yahoo!7. In 2007 I made my latest transition from Yahoo! to MSN in Southeast Asia, based in Singapore.

Tell us about your role as Executive Producer at MSN, SE Asia?

My role covers the markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philipines. I am the business owner for the MSN group of products which includes the homepage and content channels such as MSN Entertainment, Lifestyle and Sport. I have responsibility for revenue and audience growth of MSN in each market.

What sort of challenges do you face in your role as Executive Producer?

The biggest challenge I have in my role is managing a wide and varied set of markets with their own unique strengths and challenges. This makes things such as coming up with scalable solutions on content delivery, sales execution or operational processes more difficult.

What qualities do you think make the best Product Managers?

A maniacal attention to detail, someone who can put themselves in the user’s show and someone who can think of alternative solutions on the fly. And someone who can articulate and sell this back to project team members and stakeholders.

What are the differences in Product Management in the countries you have worked in?

Product management can be quite prescriptive in some markets like Singapore and Indonesia whilst in some markets it is a more collaborative and iterative process, such as Malaysia. Product Management in markets where you are not a native speaker, like Thailand, has its own challenges where you must rely more on your processes and systems to ensure you deliver a quality and timely product. A high level of trust and consultation is necessary in these kind of markets.