Canadian ice hockey legend Wayne Gretsky gave us one of the pithiest (and overused) quotes in business: skate to where the puck is going, not to where it has been.

The puck for The Ken was Southeast Asia and India. Taken separately, they’ve seen explosive innovation, disruption and growth over the last decade. Taken together, they represent a cross-pollinating ocean of opportunities, talent, ideas, business models and synergies.

That is why in early 2020 we expanded our reporting from India to 5 countries across Southeast Asia by bringing on board talented staff writers in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines.

We’re thrilled to add new colleagues into our newsroom, including from India.

Isabel Martinez

It didn’t take us long to agree (unanimously) to have Isabel join us as a full-time writer in the Philippines.

Known as Isa, she was most recently a reporter at global financial news publication MT Newswire and before that, she spent close to three years at S&P Intelligence producing spot news.

Throughout that time, Isa has followed our stories at The Ken and is very keen to write deeper stories about the Philippines. This gels well with our intention to expand our coverage of Philippines.

Isa Martinez

A country that is mostly known for its large Business Processing Outsource (BPO) industry, the Philippines startup ecosystem is waking up from a slumber, as we see more funding going into the local startup ecosystem.

You can expect Isa to be diving into this mix of stories for The Ken. But more importantly, we haven’t really come across anyone that is as lively and articulated as her. She has wide-ranging interests and impressed us with her unique story ideas (which you can read here soon!).

Before she began life as a journalist, she was a finance intern at The Senate of the Philippines in 2017. In those four months, she worked alongside senators by collecting and providing them the country’s macroeconomic data for national budget hearings.

We are very excited to welcome Isa to the team. Outside of work, she’s a big fan of sports and she’s especially into track, MMA and football. You can say hello to her at isa at the-ken dot com.

Michael Tatarski

Since The Ken Southeast Asia’s inception, we’ve wanted to have at least one reporter in every major Southeast Asian economy.

It took us a long time to find someone in Vietnam. A missed opportunity, because Vietnam, as a global manufacturing hub, has a unique role in the Southeast Asian economic landscape. Its new economy, with its set of unique, homegrown tech companies, is also severely under-reported. We knew we had to get creative to finally fill this role.

So today, Ho Chi Minh-City based Michael Tatarski joins us not as a full time staff writer, but as a part-time, regular contributor. A first at The Ken.

Mike Tatarski

It’s a flexible/dependable arrangement that suits Michael because he has other projects he wants to keep, like his own newsletter–Vietnam Weekly–and his editing role at Saigoneer.

We’re excited to expand the definition of what it means to work at The Ken, with Michael as an (entirely voluntary) guinea pig.

He’s an adventurous person to begin with, having left the US as a college graduate with vague plans to “live abroad.”

He landed in Vietnam in 2010, found his feet as an English teacher, and soon entered the world of publishing. He began writing for an expat-focused lifestyle magazine and editing for a Vietnamese news outlet before transitioning into real reporting in 2015.

He’s covered the environment, social issues, current affairs, development, and business in Vietnam for publications like The Atlantic, Washington Post, Vice, and Mongabay… and also The Ken.

That’s right, Mike isn’t a stranger to us, as we’ve worked with him as a freelancer in the past. Today, we’re bringing him one step closer to the team.

We’re always on the lookout for talent, so if you’re a reporter who is passionate about telling deep stories about Southeast Asia, please get in touch with us–nadine at the-ken.com and kakay at the-ken.com.

Soumyajit Saha

When we were looking for a reporter to cover big tech for The Ken we wanted a reporter who had the right mix of curiosity but would not be daunted by the FANG companies. Reporting and writing on Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google needs a special type of tenacity as these companies are notoriously media-averse and instruct their employees to not speak to the media.

We found this mix in Soumyajit when we first interviewed him. A lot of it is has got to do with the influences that shaped him. For a better part of his life, he was preparing for a career in the Indian Armed Forces. He studied at a Sainik School, in Imphal wanting to join the National Defence Academy. Sainik school, is under the Ministry of Defence which prepares boys for a life in the army and is known for having an authoritarian strain.

Soumyajit Saha

When the army aspiration didn’t work, Saha changed tracks to pursue media studies at Manipal Institute of Communication. “It was almost a culture shock when I came to college,” he says.

Having grown up in the North East of India at Agartala and Imphal, adjusting to a life outside meant a lot of changes, one of which was the accent. “My first month in college, my accent was so thick people didn’t understand me. I had to teach myself to talk a certain way,” he says

At college, his internships at The Wire led him to doing a story on a detention camp in Goalpara, a district in Assam and he was the first one to get access to the camp by convincing the Border police chief to give him access.” Some of my seniors were surprised that I was able to write that story,” he says. From there his first job was at Reuters, which taught him the ropes of journalism. He reported on equities and currencies in southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand for three years, before a short stint covering Indian equities.

And now he is keen to move from the 7 min way of reporting and writing to the 7 day form of journalism (the time it takes to produce a The Ken story). We are thrilled to welcome him into the team. When not reporting and writing, you can hit up Soumyajit to talk about politics, sports and movies. You can write to him at firstname at the-ken dot com.

If you’d like to work alongside some of the sharpest, friendliest, funniest and most ambitious people in India and Southeast Asia – whether journalists, engineers, podcasters or marketers – take a look at our Careers section.

AUTHOR

Rohin Dharmakumar

Rohin is co-founder and CEO at The Ken. He holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta and an engineering degree in Computer Sciences from the R.V.C.E., Bangalore.

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