As the head of a company, Pann Lim has seen plenty of people come and go. ''I've become semi-numb to it. I've accepted it, but it is not something I'm used to,'' says the co-founder and creative director of branding and design agency, Kinetic Singapore.
The firm began in 1999 as Kinetic Interactive. Mr Lim, 46, joined in 2001, when it started a design and advertising entity. In 2009, it became known as Kinetic Singapore.
He says it is painful whenever anyone leaves the firm, not because he has to find a replacement, but because he reminisces about the good times they shared. He is now the last man standing, since Carolyn Teo, one of the original founders, left a year ago.
Having fun, and ''not having a normal office'' are just some of the things that Mr Lim is proud to share about Kinetic's 20-year journey. He talks about how he and his team can ''talk rubbish'' and he's even allowed a married couple to bring their baby to work, when they couldn't find help.
He treasures the moments when his staff invite him to join them for lunch. ''When you are at the top, it can be a very lonely place,'' he says.
The man is all about simple pleasures. To celebrate the firm's 20th year, the Kinetic team went kayaking, and at one point, they all had to hold onto each other's kayak to stay in line. ''That was a beautiful moment, the true meaning of working together as a team,'' says Mr Lim.
Teamwork, he adds, is something that money can't buy, and it is also why the firm has a low turnover rate. ''Twenty years of business has taught me that it is not just about the money, but about the heart. The heart will eventually prove that you are worthwhile,'' he says.
Perhaps it explains how the firm ha garnered almost 500 awards since Day One. ''We congratulate each other on a job well done, but we aren't the sort to polish our trophies. We have deadlines to meet, and also we aren't show-offs,'' he says.
Kinetic is known for building strong brands. One of their early works was to create branding for Maki-san, a takeaway sushi joint. The team came up with the idea of cute takeaway boxes that could have been easily thrown away after use, but instead, customers started collecting them.
The [Not-So] Convenience Store was an exhibition which aimed to raise awareness on how we take items of convenience for granted.
More recently, they worked on an exhibition on sustainability for Temasek Shophouse. Instead of the usual route of putting up posters about excessive plastic wastage, they came up with the ''ridiculous'' idea of creating a store that is inconvenient, as opposed to the convenience store. Instead of food and drinks on-the-go, The (Not- So) Convenient Store displayed items such as bamboo toothbrushes, compost buckets and menstrual cups – all eco-friendly products that are sustainable alternatives to seemingly convenient everyday products.
The team created the ''store'', filled the shelves and designed posters that encouraged anti-buying. ''It was a fun project. We had a positive response as the people who came understood the message better,'' he says.
Pop-up exhibit for Poh Heng Jewellery to mark its 70th anniversary.
He says that since taking over the company about a year ago, nothing much has changed, except that he now has to meet clients as part of his business development role.
Is there extra pressure on him though? ''My responsibility has increased two-fold, but it is always at the back of my mind to do the best for my team,'' he says. ''There is pressure to fill the shoes of someone like Carolyn, but I will find my own way. I won't let go without a proper challenge.''
Written by Tay Suan Chiang for The Business Times. Click here to read the original story.