Profiles, Stories

Donald Lim: The Introverted Digital Marketing Guru Who Found His Voice

“Five minutes ago, I had to run across the street to buy glasses, only because I’ve always used this an anchor whenever I give a presentation, especially a major presentation, or when I grant interviews,” says Dr. Donald Lim, despite not having an eye grade. Glasses and black outfits are always necessities for him when speaking in large gatherings and engagements as one of the most prominent figures in Digital Marketing in the Philippines and as a former head of several marketing-related companies in the Philippines. Confidently speaking to crowds and being well-versed in digital, however, was not always the case for Lim.


“Since I was young, I don’t like speaking in front of people, in front of cameras. You can ask my elementary, high school [and] college teachers. They are always astounded by the fact that today, I speak in front of a lot of people,” Lim shared. The Hope Christian alumnus admitted he was shy and introverted as a child, especially he would always mix up the languages he learned when speaking to others. As he got older, he learned the concept of “anchoring” – he feels more confident in public speaking only when wearing glasses and donning black clothes. 

Describing his younger years as a “typical Divisoria lifestyle,” Lim’s family distributed several branded lighting products to smaller distributors around Divisoria. Lim and his siblings would be trained around the business since childhood, and his father would let them help out in their company after school hours, from counting inventory to guarding supplies. As the eldest among his siblings, he was expected to take over the family company, but life had other plans for him.


Lim graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1998 in the midst of a financial crisis, so he had difficulty finding employment. Believing in hard work, he printed and photocopied a hundred copies of his resumé and walked around Ortigas, Buendia, and Ayala to hand them all out to all the companies he could find, ultimately landing a job as a management trainee in Burger King. 

 In the following years, he took up graduate studies, where he became classmates with future Philippine Daily Inquirer COO Rene Reinoso, then a Senior Vice President for Marketing. Reinoso recruited Lim to Inquirer, where he learned marketing and distribution techniques for four years. Following that, he was brought on to become the CEO of Even if he lacked knowledge in the digital world, he knew digital was “the future,” and he was put in an unlikely position to learn about digital from the top position. “What more to learn than just go in and try it, so I started as a CEO already. I didn’t even know much, but I told myself, ‘Fine,’” he shared. His initial plan was to go corporate and work on an MBA before returning to the family business, but his diverse work experience and advanced credentials led to his father telling him not to return to the business anymore so as to not waste his advancement up the corporate ladder. 


Lim acknowledged that he was blessed with many mentors who guided him to rise up the ranks of the corporate sector. He advises people to find their place in the corporate setting, saying “When you’re starting out, you don’t know what you’re good at,” he states, “One of the biggest challenges in any job, he says, will always be managing people.”

 “Get the best people, and have them work together. For me, that’s [what is] most important,” he advises, “When you walk into a meeting room, surrounded by good and skilled people, imagine how exponential that entire group can take you.” Hence, his main strategy in business is: “I take care of my people.” This led to several of his mentees and workers joining him in his moves to different companies – which spanned from ABS-CBN to MRM Manila to Dentsu Aegis Philippines.

Taken from Rappler  


As someone well-versed in the digital world as Lim is, resulting in several speaking engagements about digital marketing, he admittedly is far from being “techie.” “I come in as an observer. The more I observe, the more I get a sense of what’s happening,” he explains, describing himself as “a marketing person and a businessman who understands the digital world.”

Aside from digital marketing advice, his speaking engagements vary from giving students much-needed career advice, to giving parents more digital awareness, to sharing awareness of cyberbullying. He balanced his work life with teaching stints as well, and he has taught students from De La Salle University, University of Asia and the Pacific, and San Beda University.

 Lim has built an impressive portfolio filled with accomplishments and prominent roles in various companies, with his current role being the Chief Operating Officer at Dito CME Holdings and Chief Innovation Officer at Udenna Group. Despite this, he’s still the same introvert he was when he was younger. “I don’t like speaking in front of people, so every time I have to speak in front of people, I take a deep breath, suck it up, go, and just talk,” he shares, saying, “I speak my heart out. They feel that they’d get the sense of the real me. I never have any speechwriters. Every slide I make [is] my own. And that’s why I speak passionately about them.” When he speaks to businesspeople, to mentees, or to students, he’s always ready to share his experiences and lessons learned over the years, black outfit and glasses in tow.

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