20 Questions with Jacqui Lim, CEO of Havas Group – Media Agency Interviews

Jessica Lai Media Agency Interviews

Jacqui Lim Havas media

Name: Jacqui Lim
Role: CEO of Havas Media
Age: 44

Jacqui Lim is CEO of Havas Media Group & Chief Integration Officer of Havas Group, having held the role for over 7 years. Previously, she held directorial roles at ZenithOptimedia and OMD Singapore. 

  1. What are your hobbies? 

I am a collector of antique and vintage items, as I particularly love the history, possible stories and artistry that go into creating these items from long ago. It has an inexplicable sense of mystery and hand-crafted magic that we rarely find in today’s times. 

Jacqui antique ring
A few of Jacqui’s unique antique rings.

I have a dedicated IG account just for my antique and vintage collection that keeps my creative juices going outside of work.  

  1. What is your favourite quote? 

“Practice like you’ve never won and play like you’ve never lost.” It really sums things up nicely especially in the advertising and media industry where we are constantly sharpening our skills to “play like a pro” when it’s time to present our best selves to others.  

“Play like you’ve never lost” alludes to having no regrets and leaving no stone unturned, regardless of the outcome. 

  1. What is your favourite movie?

The Greatest Showman. My kids loved it so much that I watched it multiple times over, till the songs got stuck in my head for a long time!

  1. What is your favourite song?

“Love, Me” by Collin Raye.

  1. Where’s your top foodie spot?

PokPokKeh – they sell the most amazing herbal chicken. My favourite is the Original Pink Salt Chicken with Dang Gui – heavenly. 

  1. Three words people use to describe you: 

Calm, objective, understanding. 

  1. Three words you’d use to describe yourself: 

Rational, empathetic, decisive.

  1. Last good Netflix show you watched?

Manifest.

  1. Celebrity crush?

Ji Jin-hee. He did a great job in his role as Park Mu-Jin in Designated Survivor: 60 Days (Korean remake) by exuding quiet intelligence & charm while being in the hot seat of a very challenging situation. He truly defies public opinion on what it takes to lead.  

  1. People who inspire and influence you?

My family had a huge influence in shaping my values and beliefs from a young age, and they remind me to keep my feet on the ground, uplift and help people whenever I am in the position to do so. I feel the most fulfilled and purposeful when supporting people around me to become the best version of themselves. 

Haven’t quite cracked how to best do this at scale but within the realms of what I can control and influence, I want to make a difference by supporting those around me first and foremost. Every bit counts and goes a long way. We just need to start. 

I am also inspired by people who’ve stepped up during difficult and uncertain times, because being in the position to help others is a privilege in itself.  

  1. Campaign (done by others) that most inspired you:

When I first took on the Group role overseeing the various disciplines across media and creative, a PR crisis hit us due to a piece of controversial work that went out in the market.  

Everything came fast and furious and it was a huge learning for all parties involved but it also gave us the chance to review our approach, rebuild market confidence and reconnect with our people in our commitment to do better.  

So yes, not every memorable moment is always positive. Sometimes, setbacks and challenges sharpen us and humble us more, while keeping our feet on the ground.  

  1. Campaign that most inspired you:

Palau Pledge campaign done by HostHavas in Australia a few years ago. It won multiple awards of the highest order in internationally acclaimed award shows and emerged as the winner after rigorous evaluation by top jury panelists.

It was also highly meaningful and one could not tell if the idea was a creative, a media or a PR idea, because it flourished across all categories. A true breakthrough that couldn’t be easily matched by another campaign over the years. 

  1. Campaign that you’re most proud of: 

Interestingly, it wasn’t an award-winning campaign or one that raked in the most sales. But one led by our social unit with the support of media (via our Havas Village model), to support local artistes, musicians and comedians whose live shows were all impacted by the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. 

comedians star charityImage credit: Havas Village Singapore 

In 2021, our team came together to bring Comedian’s Star Charity virtual show that was livestreamed in the week leading up to National Day.  It was purpose-driven to show support for our wider advertising, media and performing arts industry while also benefiting multiple charities in the course of this initiative. 

  1. What do you look for in employees when hiring?

Eagerness to contribute, grounded values and a ‘can do’ and ‘will make it work’ attitude that shine through. While there is no perfect place or candidate, it’s about the willingness to make a mutual commitment as employer and employee for a win-win experience. 

  1. Advice for people to become more creative?

To think outside of the box, we must first ensure we are not stuck in the box ourselves. Take time out of work to immerse yourself in non-work experiences, and bring inspiration back to your lives. Flowers bloom most beautifully when they’re well nourished. Same for the human mind. 

  1. Advice for students thinking of starting a career in an agency?

Always ask what your career path and development plan will be like before you jump in.  A company that invests in its people will always have a plan to grow their biggest assets.  Agencies are one of the best training grounds, so have the resilience to go through the training as one doesn’t become battle-ready without discipline and sacrifice, too. Put in all you’ve got, but be sure to ask for what you deserve too. 

  1. Anything you’d like to tell and encourage female leaders? 

That we can define success in our own terms because we don’t have to be like male leaders in how we juggle our work-life integration and our personal vs work priorities. Sometimes our vulnerabilities make us more empathetic too. It’s a strength!  So let’s build the support system to spur other female leaders to continue on their journey.  

  1. Any shout-outs you want to give (to people, side-projects, clients, etc)?

During the pandemic, there’ve been quite a bit of awareness and appreciation being put out for all the amazing people from the healthcare industry.  I think another group that is very deserving of recognition are the talent and HR folks as well as those who have given their time to counsel and support people who are emotionally and mentally distressed during this tough time.  

They are the ones who have seen the most dramatic paradigm shift in their career lifetime when it comes to the talent crisis. So, as we double down on our talent strategies in the coming time ahead, it’s important to give a shout-out to those who have gone above and beyond during this time to keep everyone safe, engaged and connected during this time.  Even those who care for others need to be cared for too. 

  1. What are your plans as CEO & CIO respectively?

The most important plan is to be able to attract and retain the most talented individuals out there from within and also outside of the advertising world who can chart the future growth of our agency group together. With the right skills, spirit and synergies in our people, it will power our journey as an agency for the years ahead. 

While the roles might be dual, I’ve always seen it as being one and the same role – as integrated solutions under the Village banner is something Havas Group has been known for and pioneered since years before. 

The ability to be vertical experts in the various specialisations across media, data, tech, creative, social and PR are just as important as being able to harness the collective synergies across various disciplines, with our client’s needs at the centre.  So I must say it’s been rewarding and fruitful seeing these efforts pay off. 

  1. What do you hope to accomplish at Havas within the next year or so?

Definitely, the North Star is to create an even stronger sense of fulfillment and purpose for our people through more custom-built talent initiatives, meaningful brand and business results for our clients through our integration across disciplines ,and greater positive impact on the wider community with more genuine efforts to pay it forward. 

It sounds like a lot! But one should always aim for the stars.

Related links: 
Havas Group
Jacqui Lim’s LinkedIn


This post is part of our Media Industry Leaders series. If you’d like to be featured, or have a nominee in mind, please drop us a note at [email protected]

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