Consumer Discretionary

iCar Asia (ASX:ICQ) – Hamish Stone



The CEO Mindset - Hamish Stone, CEO of iCar Asia (ASX:ICQ)

Hamish Stone is the CEO of iCar Asia (ASX:ICQ), a platform that has a potential to connect more than 600 million car buyers and sellers throughout ASEAN. iCar’s website network currently enjoys more than 12 million visits from car buyers and enthusiasts each month.

What’s your journey in becoming a CEO?
I started at iCar Asia (ASX: ICQ) as the CEO in June 2016 at a point where the business was looking to take the next steps of growing the company towards its full potential. I first started working in digital businesses in 2006, when I joined eBay in my home town of Sydney, Australia. Over the course of 10 years working at eBay I was able to get a lot of great experiences across eBay’s portfolio of businesses, including across three global markets and three different brands. These experiences included leading the automotive verticals for the eBay classified businesses of in the U.K., and in The Netherlands and I was also the Head of Marketing for eBay Australia and New Zealand based in eBay’s Sydney office. This experience and background led to the opportunity for me to relocate to Malaysia to take up the CEO role at iCar Asia.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercialising?
iCar Asia owns and operates the ASEAN’s Number 1 network of digital automotive marketplaces operating in the three largest automotive markets in the region – Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Currently over 12 million people visit an iCar Asia website every month to research, buy, or sell a car. Our company vision is to be the catalyst that drives the digital transformation of the ASEAN automotive industry, and by doing so empower 600m ASEAN people to have the mobility solution they need through the region’s largest and most trusted digital automotive marketplaces.

iCar Asia provides a full ecosystem to support the automotive industry, including the New Car and Used Car sectors of the industry. Through our platforms we provide solutions to the New Car sector including advertising solutions (digital advertising and paid content), events, and lead generation services for Car Brands and New Car Dealers. On the Used Car side, we provide a full classified marketplace solution. This encompasses subscription payments, listing fees and feature fees. We also provide an auction service, auctioning private cars and fleet cars to dealers and taking a margin on each successful auction.

How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the automotive industry in South East Asia. During March 2020, all three countries that the Group operates in imposed movement control measures starting from the middle of March 2020, causing businesses for both used cars and new cars to be completely shut down (or work from home) in Malaysia and to operate under partial restrictions in Thailand and Indonesia.

At iCar Asia we have implemented material initiatives to reduce Group expenses and cash outflows, whilst maximizing revenue and cash receipts. These leverage the digital nature of the business, so we can still support our key customers during this time, coupled with iCar Asia operations teams being able to continue at full capacity via our work from home programs.

On expenses and cash outflows, a number of initiatives have been implemented to reduce expenses and cash outflows including scaling back marketing and infrastructure. On the revenue side, The Company has rolled out a number of initiatives to support New and Used Car customers. For the New Car segment, these include new digital advertising products to drive car bookings through a new product called “Book From Home”, discounted promotions on advertising products, and increased incentives for car manufactures to continue to advertise during this period. For the Used Car segment, we are also providing Group wide support to our dealers through incentives and discounts for account renewals and credit purchases. During this period, videos are also able to be added to listings for free, resulting in a rapid increase in the volume of live video listings now over 7,500 in Malaysia, and over 1,500 in Thailand, with Indonesia also launching this program in the coming weeks.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
Working on a market leading digital business in a region, that’s also in the middle of a digital transformation certainly brings an exciting atmosphere into the business. The previously traditional marketing focused automotive industry is continuing to gather momentum in their adoption of digital channels for their marketing and operational strategies. At iCar Asia, we are lucky to be able to partner with many players across the industry to help influence and educate or clients on how the effective use of digital products can successfully grow a business. Based on these interactions and the feedback received, we’ve needed to be agile and adaptable to the emerging needs of our customers, supporting as a close partner in their digital transformation. Having a great team at iCar Asia that can respond to this opportunity and take on this challenge makes it a great place to work.

How do you measure success?
At iCar we measure the impact of all activities and investment, from small things like a change in the website user experience through to large things like the financial performance of the businesses.

Overall our key measure of success is a balanced scorecard of:
1) Customer and employee feedback and satisfaction;
2) Operational metrics across the consumer and client side of our business; and
3) The financial performance overall of the business

Successfully progressing all of these areas ultimately results in the overall success of the business, and value of the company, which is then reflected in our share price.

What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
Dedication and passion for making a difference. Every day you have an opportunity to provide leadership to support the team members, end consumers, business partners and external shareholders. Having the privilege to lead a listed company gives you the influence and accountability to make a difference to a very wide net of individuals and businesses all aligned to a common outcome.

What is your favourite book?
One of my favourite books is “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I was lucky enough to see Jim Collins speak at an eBay Directors Conference when I worked there. Both in person and in his books, he delivers some great insights into how companies can successfully adapt, grow and last through changing and challenging times.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
I’ve been based in Kuala Lumpur since June 2016 and personally it has been the best experience of my career, in particular to have the opportunity to lead a business in such a dynamic region. As we all come together to face the challenges of COVID19, it has been great to see ASEAN communities, businesses and governments support each other through these difficult times. I believe the ASEAN economies will accelerate strongly out of this crisis, and digital business are very well positioned to support the economic recovery. Einstein famously said: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” We all have the opportunity to assess how we can adapt and change through these challenges and at iCar we are challenging ourselves to come out of this stronger, and with the ability to be an instrument of digital change in a changed world.

How can people connect with you?

iCar Asia Website:

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