Staff Reporters
Aug 18, 2020

Women to Watch 2020: Sze Hunn Yap, Japan Airlines

Sze Hunn Yap oversaw some major events for Japan Airlines as the youngest, only female and only non-Japanese person in the communications team, and has been continuously promoted since.

Women to Watch 2020: Sze Hunn Yap, Japan Airlines
Exceptional female talent from the APAC marcomms industry 

Sze Hunn Yap

Regional manager APAC, Global Marketing
Japan Airlines

Sze Hunn Yap is a unique talent within Japan Airlines. Over a nearly 14-year stint she has overseen the communications strategy of several major events, including the airline’s emergence from bankruptcy and its response to the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. At the time of the latter, she was the youngest, only female and only non-Japanese person on the team. She convinced the company’s head office to allow her to organise a press event on the business’ turnaround with its then-CEO, and her story has been one of continuous growth ever since.

After four years in the press department, Yap shifted to marketing in 2013, and after a short break while she completed an MBA, rejoined the airline in 2016 to oversee brand advertising across 11 offices in the Asia and Oceania Region. Yap was promoted in June last year to regional marketing manager, where she takes a creative approach to helping the airline to solve complex and nuanced challenges in the region.

It’s been an especially tricky year for the airline industry, which is among the hardest-hit during Covid-19 as travel has ground to a halt. Yap’s notable accomplishments in the past 12 months has included navigating Japan Airlines’ Covid-19 communications strategy, focusing on ensuring the airline’s messaging aligns with consumer sentiment and is empathetic to service workers. She also managed a ‘Fly Once Fly Always’ programmatic campaign that was personalised to different markets in APAC, achieved 409 million impressions and resulted in positive brand uplift across all markets.

Beyond her business acumen, Yap, who is fluent in English, Chinese and Japanese, is noted with possessing a very high level of cultural intelligence. Yap’s manager jokes that her proficiency in Japanese language as well as her understanding of tacit knowledge makes her “more a Japanese than I am”. Always willing to help others and going beyond the call of duty, Yap has created a workplace in which “sectionalism diminishes and collaboration thrives”, her manager notes.

Exceptional female talent from the APAC marcomms industry 


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