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6 years on: CS Soong on finding purpose at Klook

He had just returned from a 6-month-long trip around the world when he ran into Klook’s co-founders, Ethan Lin and Eric Gnock Fah. They were looking for someone to expand their newly founded startup into Singapore… and CS said yes to the challenge. Now a Vice President, Corporate Development, CS Soong talks about how Klook has changed in the last 6 years and why he’s still committed to our mission of empowering people to discover, book and experience the best things to do.

No time to read? We asked CS some quickfire questions in the video above!

CS has been at Klook since the early days. Today he's a VP Corporate Development, based in Singapore

What are your responsibilities at the moment and what problems are you trying to solve?

I work with various partners to forge strategic partnerships or investments. I also oversee some of our other business lines, like Singapore and Malaysia business, helping with business expansion. The current focus is more from a domestic travel and leisure point of view but also ultimately gearing up for the return of international travel.

Speaking of business expansion, what is your vision for the Malaysian market? 

Malaysian market has been quite receptive to us as an international cross-border travel brand pre-COVID. But what we really want to do is to localize Klook’s brand further. To be a brand not just for the international visitors but for Malaysians as well, to empower them to explore their own backyard.

Our KL office is a looker! Take a tour

To achieve that, we're working with more local businesses on the ground and creating products that are tailor-made for the domestic customer. If you share our passion for expanding the leisure and travel offers in Malaysia, now is a very exciting time to join our Kuala Lumpur team. We’re hiring!

Join our Kuala Lumpur team

You’ve been at Klook for almost 6 years now! How have you changed as a professional in that time?

So much has happened over the past six years. Klook and the bigger travel industry are constantly evolving and I’ve had to keep up with these changes. I remember in the early days, I was working by myself from my bedroom. Then we opened our first office in Singapore. I started to manage a small team. Before you know it, we have over 1,000 colleagues worldwide and my team has grown to a total number of 200 Klookers.

On one hand, the company has changed a lot. Everyone is a lot more specialized, there are many more functions. But at the same time, the entrepreneurial spirit is still in our DNA, it just manifests in different shapes and forms over time. Pushing boundaries, aiming high, making sure that we always do the responsible thing for the company — those are still our fundamental values. 

Klookers pushing boundaries in and outside of work

What do you value most about your work at Klook?

I truly believe we are doing very meaningful work here. Even to this day, I think it’s very heartwarming to see how you can make a difference in a traveler's experience. 

A great example of that was 2016. A couple of travel agencies went out of business at that time and travelers who had booked on their tours were stranded with no refund and no alternatives. Through social media, we were able to locate one of those travelers, Madam Teo. We worked with our partners to send her on a trip to Hokkaido, Japan and help her realize her lifelong dream of seeing snow for the first time. 

Klook helped Madam Teo realize her lifelong dream of seeing snow. It's moments like these that make this job so meaningful to CS

She loved the trip! We even met up back in Singapore and she cooked a meal for the team as a thank you. It's moments like these that we work for. That’s when you know: this is not just a business, you're really bringing people joy through travel.

How do you see your role as a manager?

Over the years, as the teams that I manage grew larger and larger, a lot of my perspective on management has changed too. Being in a position of managing much larger teams today, it's really about being able to provide the right environment for people to thrive rather than to necessarily give specific instructions on every single situation.

I see my role as a manager as one that is about connecting my team to the right people, whether it's internally or externally, and to the right resources. Also being able to create an environment that can allow them to be inspired and excited to contribute and to go above and beyond. That’s what’s important to me.

What kind of people will thrive at Klook?

Never a dull moment at Klook! 

When we hire new Klookers, we look for skills but even more importantly, we look for the right mindset. Klookers are people who genuinely want to make a difference. We are willing to go above and beyond in different ways, whether it's going above and beyond to learn something new, to help your colleagues succeed, or to provide the best experience to our customers in terms of service, in terms of products, in terms of value. If that's the mindset that you have, then I think you would do well at Klook. 

CS is hiring for these roles:

General Manager, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Senior Business Development Manager - Hotel, F&B, Kuala Lumpur

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