About Poi Hierro:
Poi hails from Sillay City, Philippines and has a brilliant career track record spanning 15 years in Digital, from the very early days of its emergence. As such Poi has witnessed many of the transformative developments in Digital during this time, most notably as one of the first hires on the ground for Expedia’s Singapore operation back in 2012. During this time, he has progressed through the ranks from Front-End Engineer to Software Development Manager. He is soon to embark on his next career adventure as CTO for one of the most exciting developments in eCommerce platform delivery in the region back in his home country.
What sets Poi apart is that he is a rare breed of candidate that is both hands on technologist and leader in one. Poi is truly as comfortable burning the midnight oil cracking a coding issue as he is leading a town-hall session or sitting with the board setting strategy…
…A really remarkable guy and we were, therefore, delighted he was willing to put some time aside for our latest ‘spotlight session’.
What value do you put on self-study and what is the best way for emerging talent to make the most of this aspect of their learning?
Studying by myself is the sole biggest reason why I was able to progress towards my career. Learning is single the best investment of our time that we can make. Being on the Knowledge Economy, this insight is fundamental in order to succeed. It has never been a perfect time to learn something new - information is available on the web: from YouTube videos to Open Source to White papers, all just one needs to do is to dedicate time for learning. We spend our lives collecting, spending, lusting after, and worrying about money — in fact, when we say we “don’t have time” to learn something new, it’s usually because we are feverishly devoting our time to earning money, but something is happening right now that’s changing the relationship between money and knowledge. Knowledge is the new money.
What are the most notable changes you have seen in the industry between your early career and the current day for aspiring technology professionals?
The smartphone has changed the way on how we keep up with the technology - 15 years ago, the focus on software development is on the desktop browser. Now one has to be aware of Mobile Software development - be it on native app or on progressive web app development.
The smartphone has completely changed not only the technology industry but also the general economic landscape too. Gone are the days where we rely solely on the desktop computer. It has also changed the way we develop software - applications need to be connected all the time, have to be optimized on mobile devices. There are a couple of successful companies that have entirely built their business as mobile first and once they gained enough users, only then that they started to cater to desktop users. According to TechCrunch, South East Asia is poised to reach 480 Million internet users by 2020 and smartphones make up the lion’s share of the internet population - roughly 90% of internet users are smartphone users.
What inspires you to want to keep building new systems and platforms?
Being able to see the delight that a user would experience when using your product gives me great satisfaction. The reason why a product or platform is so good is because their emphasis is on their users, not the product itself. This means fulfilling a need or problem users never realized was a problem to begin with until they provide a solution that transcends current product offerings.
I am also fascinated by disruptive innovation and the factors that determine whether a particular innovation will succeed or fail. Established market leaders are extremely good at dealing with, and exploiting sustaining innovations in order to fuel the short-term growth of their companies. Disruptive innovations, however, pose a challenge to market leaders that many fail to overcome.
How do you measure success in what you do? Is it more about innovation, customer satisfaction or simply commercial success?
Being Customer Centric. Customer centricity is not just about offering great customer service and satisfaction, it means offering a great experience from the awareness stage, through the pre-purchase process and finally through the post-purchase process. It’s a strategy that’s based on putting your customer first, and at the core of your business. Being a customer-centric company is the golden bullet towards unlocking the true potential of customer value. Always put yourself in the shoes of the customer and minimize customer effort and maximize customer value. Being customer-centric will bring about more revenues to the company and also drives innovation. Various case studies on the Innovator’s Dilemma comes to mind.
What do you think are the most impactful trends in the market currently in terms of business and technology related transformation
Data-Driven Personalization. The One-to-one personalization is something markets have been dreaming for 25 years - to be able to connect with our customers as individuals and provide truly unique experiences to each of them. As the volume of customer communications across touchpoints and channels grows exponentially plus users’ attention spans shrink by the day, delivering individually relevant experiences has become a need for all organizations. With the use of big data, analytics, blockchain technologies, machine learning, and real-time processing, it has made it possible today.
What does the future hold for you and what are your goals in the next 10 years?
Honestly, I don’t know! I would definitely be in the technology space, leading teams and definitely digging deeper into logistics, especially with Entrego - logistics is something that has been at the back of my mind during my Uni days before I fell in love with travel tech. I would also like to go back and teach on a local university, hopefully, impart and influence young people with the experience and learnings that I had through the years - now that I am back on home soil - I can someday pay it forward.
Who are your sources of inspiration or mentors and what is it about them you look up to?
It’s a mix of historical and tech figures - I am a bit of a history buff and try to learn from great figures like Gandhi, Turing, Madiba - on their struggles and rising from it. They have timeless wisdom that can be applied even today. More presently, I have also been very fortunate to have exceptional mentors at work who were able to mold me to what I am today - especially incorporating the growth mindset, the value of hard work and continuous learning.
Jiro Ono, from Jiro Dreams of Sushi, also had an impact on me - "Once you decide on your occupation...you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success...and is the key to being regarded honorably.”
Finally what advice do you have for young aspiring digital talent looking to get their big break?
Hard Work. It all really comes down to hard work. I have no talent. What I do have is a lot of practice. And I am not talking about occasionally dabbling in coding, or anything related to tech on the weekends. I am talking about the kind of practice where you spend sleepless nights, in the solitude of your apartment, in your dorm room. The kind of practice where all of a sudden you realize that it is 2 AM and you're exhausted physically so you should go to bed, but mentally you feel on fire so you let the code have me for another hour or two (I imagine this state to be like a marathon runner or ironman near the end of their race).
Always find ways to improve yourself incrementally - to be better today than yesterday, and always be a learn-it-all, than a know-it-all.