AlphaStory Logo

Laid Off As A Top Exec, This Ex-Marketing Lead Now Battles Social Stigma Against Displaced Workers Through A New Approach to Talent

This story was put together by the AI tools of Alpha Story.

Picture of the author

Image: Cassandra Ong, who was affected by the tech layoffs last year, which persists to this day

“How did this happen? Did I do something wrong? Am I just… lousy?

This is definitely not something you would expect to hear from a person who has been marketing lead and country manager at some of the region’s leading hyper-growth tech startups — the likes of which include Foodpanda, Tripadvisor, and Chope.

But this was precisely what went through Cassandra Ong’s mind when she and her entire team were let go in a cost-cutting operation.

When the news broke, Cassandra was adamant about keeping it a secret from her closest friends and family. She didn’t know how to express that even someone with her experience and positivity could feel crippling self-doubt when being let go, what more when she had always been a headstrong hustler who feared nothing.

She didn’t bat an eye when she first challenged marketing as a career, despite hailing from a background in HR and economics. Even when she faced fierce concerns for taking a leap of faith — going from an established giant like L’Oreal to rocket internet-backed Foodpanda when it was still only in its infancy — Cassandra had always stood by her own abilities.

The layoff delivered a big blow to this confidence, as Cassandra self-questioned her abilities.

But what Cassandra didn’t realise after being delivered the layoff news was that most of her team members in the marketing function were affected by the layoff as well.

Her team’s wealth of collective experience and complementary skill sets in niche tech made an old dream possible again: starting a company that would be a pioneer of something in Singapore. She pitched to her fellow laid-off team members the idea for a hybrid HR marketing consultancy that would complement B2C and DTC brands with highly specialised, remote marketing expertise on an on-demand basis.

In just under two months, they went live as one of the first firms in Singapore to offer fractional marketing services. And they wrapped up 2023, 8 months into operation, with a six-figure revenue!

For Cassandra, in hindsight, this venture was about more than just bouncing back from a layoff. It was a responsibility to do more impactful work with the right culture, one where the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. Though ‘we are stronger together’ is the crux of her team, it is now also so much more — the bedrock of her efforts not to overwrite existing marketing talents but to complstrongent thstrong, just as her team did for her.

On that note, we would like to invite you to speak with Cassandra Ong, founder of OtterHalf, on more of her story at length, including the pointers below:

  • Overcoming the social stigma and insecurities that plague layoffs at work
  • Small businesses for small businesses — her belief that even small ventures can help each other positively impact the world’s business ecosystem
  • Takeaways from 12+ years of marketing and partnerships experience with startups
  • Ground-level understanding of pain points faced by early-stage startups
  • Defining culture (or the lack of one) and its impact on morale, happiness, and capabilities
  • Finding entrepreneurial identity in acknowledging what you can’t do
  • Her focus on fractional marketing and how OtterHalf aims to impact approaches to tech talents in the long run

About Cassandra Ong

Cassandra brings with her 12 years of experience in strategic marketing and partnerships for some of the world’s largest tech-driven brands, including pivotal roles as Growth and Marketing Lead at the likes of Tripadvisor, Foodpanda, and Chope. Prior to founding OtterHalf, she was most recently Head of Marketing at a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, where she was part of a mass layoff that changed the trajectory of her career.

About OtterHalf

Established in April 2023, OtterHalf is a remote-based global marketing consulting firm that specialises in online marketing and strategic partnerships. Companies engage with OtterHalf through two primary methods: by undertaking specific projects or utilising fractional services, where they access specialised marketing skills flexibly and as required. In 2023, OtterHalf achieved a string of successes — most notably closing the year with a six-figure revenue, and also being amongst the 33 startups to be accepted into the Singapore Management University (SMU) Business Innovations Generator Programme by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE).

For more on how OtterHalf is shaking up the marketing space in Singapore and the region, please visit

Browse more stories