Stefanie Ng, CEO of Audemars Piguet Southeast Asia, offers a glimpse into her leadership style and professional journey with the Swiss watchmaker.
Resilient, efficient, and always on the move – Stefanie Ng, CEO of Audemars Piguet in Southeast Asia, is a remarkable leader, reflecting both brilliance and sophistication. Like the timepieces created by the company, her business style upholds consistency, ingenuity, and attention to detail in line with the principles of the only watch brand to remain in the hands of its pioneers.
“Being independent and owned by the founding families means the ethos of the brand is consistent. This consistency is always present in the strategy and direction of wherever the brand goes,” she explains. However, this parity is no obstacle to Audemars Piguet’s strong sense of innovation in product design, marketing, and vision, ingrained in the brand’s DNA from its inception.
No stranger to the luxury watch industry, Stefanie began her career under The Swatch Group at Breguet, Blancpain and CK Calvin Klein. “What drew me to Audemars Piguet was the company and its people. Its values and direction have given me interesting perspectives on the watch industry while helping expand my horizons, first as a marketer and then as a leader. AP is where I feel at home,” reveals the Singaporean native.
She joined Audemars Piguet in 2012, honing an already impressive talent for effective communication by taking charge of the brand’s marketing efforts across nine countries around Southeast Asia. In that role, she flourished under transformational leaders while observing that the tight margin between commercial and brand goals was crucial to the company’s success.
In October 2019, Stefanie took the helm as the company’s first female CEO of the region, including India and Australia. “My approach naturally centres on inspiration, motivation and mobilisation. That said, I think that as leaders, we need to adapt and be flexible in how we administer our leadership methods, and that’s what I practice in my position,” she shares.
Promoted by merit, her ascent underscores Audemars Piguet’s belief in diversity and helps prove that the watch industry is no longer a male-dominated world. “Our President of the Board of Directors is Jasmine Audemars. Our Chief Brand Officer and head of product are both women. It is not about gender but the suitability of the talent,” she asserts.
“Good leadership is not defined by gender constructs. Part of what it means to lead is the ability to work together with your team. It is never about one mastermind finding the solution to everything; it is about an ability to communicate,” Stefanie elaborates. She believes that good leaders can emotionally align themselves with their audience through conversations and the policies that they roll out.
Four months into her stewardship, Stefanie’s ability to lead was put to the test by a two-month-long lockdown that forced all retail businesses to pause. Though restrictions have lifted, Singaporean borders have remained shut for over 16 months, cutting her off from meeting with teams in Malaysia and Thailand – a hurdle for any leader. “Covid-19 is like a hurricane sweeping across the entire world, disrupting the norm,” she remarks.
Yet, under enormous pressure diamonds are formed, and in the same way Stefanie propels her workforce forward with positivity, finding mutual support and encouragement within a united dynamic. “Although I call the team regularly, the connection differs from informal face-to-face interactions. But I realise I have a great team of co-workers willing to weather the uncertainties and challenges together, and this is the greatest reward for me.”
The challenge continues as she and her team continue to push boundaries, finding new ways to connect with and captivate clients remotely. “We had to look for innovative ways to share updates regarding our novelties. Notably, we learned and implemented new technologies to make this an unforgettable experience, like our live broadcasts from Le Brassus.”
While Stefanie celebrates success, she looks forward to returning normality to continue nurturing relationships with clients. “It remains key to engage with each other in real life as soon as conditions allow. Building true relationships goes beyond the digital world.”
2021 is an exciting year for the Swiss watchmaker, reflecting a desire to extract lessons from the solid foundation of the past to forge a focused path for the future. “This year, we will be presenting a variety of product launches as a testament to the uncompromising blend of tradition and forward-thinking at the very heart of Audemars Piguet,” the CEO explains. Around 60 new models are being released throughout the year, thoughtfully catered toward client needs.
The charismatic executive makes no secret of her taste for boldly complex, modern masterpieces. “Some of my personal favourites from the 2021 novelties include the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet featuring a ceramic middle case, the 34mm Royal Oak in black ceramic and the interchangeable strap system for the new Royal Oak Offshore models that I have been waiting for.” She also notes the theme for ladies’ timepieces, effortlessly encapsulating the spirit of the contemporary woman who “evades traditional notions to follow her own path.”
Asked about the future, Stefanie leaves us with a tantalising hint on exciting things to come. “2022 will certainly be a special year for Audemars Piguet as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Oak collection.”
This story first appeared in the September 2021 issue of Prestige Thailand.