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Top 10 30-Somethings 2018: Christopher Y. Chan

Top Ten 30 Somethings
ACC's Top 10 30-Somethings program will begin receiving nominations for the 2019 honor on Monday, October 22. The program recognizes the world's best in-house counsel between the ages of 30 and 39. During the nomination period, which runs until Friday, December 7, ACCDocket.com will feature profiles of the 2018 honorees, who showcase the innovation, proactive approach to challenges, strong global perspective, in-house advocacy, and commitment to pro bono and community service that have been become hallmarks of the program. Visit our Top 30-Somethings nomination page for more information.

R eputations matter a lot in Southeast Asia. It's true for both companies and lawyers. RedMart Limited is a six-year-old e-grocer that has built a trusted reputation for customer service, freshness, and convenience with Singaporeans. Christopher Y. Chan, its first legal officer, has likewise, in three short years, developed a reputation as an attorney with an extensive network on whom he can call on to get things done.

Chan, as a former intellectual property litigator from Washington, DC, has been securing and enforcing intellectual property, domains, and social media accounts in the region. Chan also serves as RedMart's data protection officer and has helped the company gain trusted status with the Singapore government through innovative and unconventional means — such as acting in a nationally broadcasted primetime TV series depicting the dangers of lax data protection standards and how his company is a model for the country.

More impressively, Chan helped spearhead a cross-company lifestyle loyalty program called LiveUp. Unlike China or the United States, where a single company like Alibaba, Google, or Amazon can offer all kinds of services, the Southeast Asia market is still segmented by ecosystem (i.e., ride sharing, media, groceries, and e-commerce).

LiveUp combined the benefits and customer bases of Uber (now Grab), Netflix, RedMart, and Lazada (the parent of RedMart and an e-commerce company serving Southeast Asia), allowing each company to concentrate on their subject matter domain while also piggybacking o the strengths of the other companies' brands and products. While it is the smallest of the partners, RedMart's penetration into the local market and strong brand were essential factors that the global brands needed to gain better access to the region.

To date, this is still the first and only lifestyle loyalty program of its kind in the world. The complexity of the program incorporates cross-company collaborations, data sharing, complicated commercial terms, and no prior relationships. What's most impressive about this program is that LiveUp went from conception, brand protection, negotiations, tech integration, marketing, and official public launch in 90 days, far quicker than most companies' legal teams move for a single partnership agreement negotiation. The timing of the deal was critical as the partners had to act quickly before new entrants flooded the market. "The tough thing was getting it done very quickly, convincing the business leaders situated back in the States to do it, and then formulating these partnership agreements when there were no templates to begin with," Chan recalls.

A few factors were working in favor of the project. In Southeast Asia, most companies only have one or two in-house lawyers, at least one of whom sits at the executive table, which makes it easier to get buy-in. Chan drafted the contract with the counsel of other businesses, a level of cooperation between companies that is very rare.

"A modern in-house tech lawyer, especially if you're in Asia, values relationships because it's such a small community, and we all know each other," he explains. "You deal on good faith, and you go out of your way to manage the risk together in a trusting fashion." The speed and closing of this strategic partnership would not have happened without Chan's reputation and skill as a trusted and efficient partner, and his ability to share the greater vision to move others to his pace.

Just over a year after launch, LiveUp continues to be a resounding success for the partners in the program. It validated itself as a highly subscribed tool that drives engagement and spend, as members shop in higher amounts and more frequently than non-members.

The program continues to grow with new partners, such as Citibank (banking), ofo (bike sharing), Food Panda (food delivery), Chope (restaurant reservations), and others. RedMart, which currently only operates in Singapore and India, is now poised for rapid expansion into other areas of Southeast Asia, as is the LiveUp program.

Chan's focus on the future is positioning the company for its next phase. And that will undoubtedly only burnish the company's reputation — and his.

About the Author

Joshua H. Shields is the managing editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.


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