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Merwin Chew, Practice Lead, Asia

It may not come as a surprise that Merwin is actually a scientist with honours in microbiology, given how he takes the time to understand all of his clients and candidates at an almost cellular level. Another thing about Merwin that is anything but micro is his smile. Merwin has, possibly, the largest smile in the recruitment business. Ask anyone you know – Merwin is always happy.

Merwin got into a career in advertising by ‘accident’. After his first scientific discovery – that people are more interesting than microscopic bacteria, Merwin was offered a role in account servicing at Eureka Advertising (now Publicis). He loved it. This became a career that spanned several agencies including Leo Burnett, JWT, McCann Erickson Beijing and MullenLowe, where Merwin left his mark on numerous regional brands.

Everything seemed set for Merwin in advertising, until James (of course) offered him the role of Practice Lead for the creative portfolio. Today, Merwin scours the globe sourcing the best candidates for his clients. He likens himself to a unicorn hunter (with a minor in mermaid fishing), and savours a difficult brief. The harder the ask, the harder he fights to fulfill it. Merwin himself is a bit of a unicorn, having always been a suit that creatives could relate to. His uncanny ability to understand creatives and what drives them, allows him to find the best candidate for the job, and the best jobs for the best candidates.

When Merwin isn’t out hunting unicorns and netting mermaids, you can find him at the gym, yoga centre, or just sleeping at home.


“Within a very tight timeframe, Merwin successfully placed two talented senior Singaporean creatives for the J&J Design Lab last year.”

Lillian Shieh, Senior Director and Head of Design, Johnson & Johnson APAC

“Imagine securing a job for a foreigner during a global pandemic. That’s how good Merwin and team are.”

Ronald Bunaidi, Senior Art Director, The Secret Little Agency

“Working with Merwin is a pleasure. Even without a brief, I get to see interesting candidates wouldn’t have thought of looking for.”

Sascha Kuntze, Chief Creative Officer, BBH Asia Pacific

“Merwin was an absolute pleasure to work with. He was very responsive and attentive to my needs.”

Jay Wee, Creative Lead, Instagram New York

“ I have known Merwin for some years now and what I appreciate most is his ability to really listen and understand our needs as a creative business.”

Toh Han Ming, Partner/Executive Creative Director, M&C Saatchi Singapore

People know me for being direct (it’s a nice way of saying being a bitch).

A job I’ve had that nobody knows about is gaffer boy for a dubious adult entertainment studio.

When I was 12, I wanted to be a Research Scientist saving the world from terminal diseases.

I start my day by looking in the mirror and telling myself today is going to be a great day.

My favourite time of day is sunset.

To keep up with the industry, and stay current, I talk to candidates / clients, read trade publications.

The last person I spoke to on the phone was a candidate!

The last text I sent was to my mum.

My biggest weakness is… can I say good looking intelligent nice guys?

My drink of choice is Kopi O Siu Tai.

The most interesting thing a candidate has ever said to me is “Why are you so happy all the time?”.

The best career advice I’ve ever received is be yourself. There are people who will like you, and there will be people who hate you. You can’t please everyone, and there is no point trying.

I’m currently reading the newspaper.

You’ll never see me without my mobile phone – my life is in there.

My work from home situation is comfortable. I don’t see what the big deal is?

When i’m not at work I’m at home or at the gym.

The one talent I wish I had is a mastery of the art of persuasion (in a good way), and Mind Control (in an evil way).

My pet peeve is people who are late for appointments!

Cat or dog? Both – ideally I would want one of each.

The biggest sign that a job isn’t suitable for a candidate is If they have to drag themselves to work every morning, are unhappy and forever complaining about it.

The top 3 things on my bucket list are live abroad (I have done it twice!) Watch a Madonna Concert (done!) Skydiving (in progress).

And because Merwin is such an overachiever, here’s 2 more:

My biggest fear is dying and having nothing to show for it in my life.

My favourite quote is “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.



My take on how creatives can turn challenges into opportunities.