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Subrata Ghosh, Founder of Redstone Learning.

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Subrata Ghosh started Redstone Learning in US with an Indian offshore center in early 2014. Prior to Redstone, Subrata founded and ran an Ed-tech startup in India from 2007-2013, and it was recognised as the youngest company among the top 5 in ‘Project Management’ training in India in the year 2012. Before embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, Subrata spent over a decade in strategic technology roles at US companies like First Consulting Group, Itron Inc, and Nationwide Insurance.

He shares his story with The Asian Entrepreneur today.

In your own words what is Redstone Learning?

Redstone Learning Inc is a global Ed-tech company that is headquartered in New York with an offshore center in Bangalore. It provides an Online and On-demand Learning Platform for Organizations and Individuals – focused on business functions like Regulatory Compliance, Strategy and Operations, HR, Project and IT/Quality Management.

Redstone currently has over 300 empanelled experts across the globe. Professionals from companies including some of the world’s largest research organizations, the world’s largest payments platforms and the world’s largest pharma companies, among others, leverage Redstone Learning to keep themselves ahead of the curve.

Redstone has over 200+ business skilling courses and 30 professional certifications. It trains around over 10,000 people a year.

How did you come up with the idea of Redstone Learning?

We are living in an age of unprecedented change. Digitization, AI and globalization are disrupting the status quo at a rapid pace in every industry. If one looks at what is happening with Transportation (on-demand, electric, driver-less), Commerce (online, on-demand, personalized), Healthcare (AI assisted diagnosis), etc – the future is very uncertain, and yet full of opportunities for those who can adapt.

During my business exploration phase, I realized that there was a huge crisis building up for businesses and knowledge workers. Most professionals that I met across industry were concerned about the drastic changes in industry around them. They were worried that they would wake up one day and find themselves irrelevant. And most businesses, large and small, were worried about not having access to the right expertise to help them stay agile and ahead of the curve.

I felt what was needed was a platform for real-time, relevant expertise – through a combination of top-notch experts, high quality and constantly evolving learning content, and delivery formats that follow the learner. That is the only way that business and individuals can cope.  That is the problem that Redstone Learning is solving.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Redstone Learning?

Redstone Learning was incorporated in the US in late 2013 and started business operations in Jan 2014. The Indian offshore center was set up by taking over an existing domestic-focused professional learning company.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

Being a first-generation entrepreneur, there are many mistakes made – however, we managed to stay focused and continued to learn from them.

How have you been developing Redstone Learning since startup?

Redstone started with online and on-demand courses for professional certifications, targeted at mid-career professionals in the US. After consolidating its position in this area and adding the top 10 most popular global certifications to its portfolio, Redstone Learning launched another vertical in the area of GRC courses (Governance, Risk Management and Compliance). In the latter, Redstone Learning has quickly scaled up to become one of the top 5 global players in this niche. Within a year, it has reached a size that has taken its competitors 10+ years to achieve.

What kind of feedback did you get for Redstone Learning so far?

Redstone has been able to achieve high customer ratings for its quality and price points. In parallel, it has been able to sign up over 300 US trainers in the areas of certifications and compliance, who serve as Redstone’s speaker panel. These trainers are experts with decades of experience, and they are at par with what established older US players have to offer.

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?

Any business worth doing will have competition. However, Redstone has been able to leverage a globalized and digital model from the get go with the right experts sourced in US for our clients, while the marketing engine is run cost-effectively from India, and the courses are delivered online.  Most US competitors are struggling to move from brick-n-mortar to a digital and global model and we have a significant lead in this model.

Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Globally, reskilling has become a more rapidly iterating process and online and on-demand delivery formats are catching on. However, the online experience will have to be richer since classroom is still a high value-addition play.  Technology will play a key role and things like VR and Analytics will change how people learn in future.

In Asia, professional learning is beginning to see more investment and businesses and individuals are looking at it as key to their growth and success. The days of getting through one’s entire career with one set of skills is gone. Individuals will have to constantly stay ahead of the curve, and on-demand skilling will be key to this.

What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

Real-time, relevant expertise through a combination of top-notch experts, high quality and constantly evolving content, with relevant delivery formats is the only way that business and individuals will cope.  This is what Redstone Learning is focused on.

Our larger and long-term agenda is to be the one-stop platform for growth expertise – and we’re currently focusing on a few critical pieces of it.

We are already bringing expertise to professionals at cos like the world’s largest space research org, the world’s largest payments platform, the world’s largest pharma company among others. And the journey has just begun!

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

We did would wish that developing markets adapted faster to changes that seemed obvious. However, we realised that the markets were not wrong, we had to be nimble and navigate smartly under tough circumstances.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

Within Asia, one has different countries that are at different stages of development. A place like Singapore is ranked as among the easiest places to do business, while India is far below in the list. We had the advantage of serving a mature market like the US, while leveraging the low cost offshore center in India.

Culture, society and economies have a significant impact on entrepreneurship in different geographies. Asian entrepreneurs rely much more on their families and personal networks for support and resources, than in the West. In India for example, small businesses have to struggle within a very tough regulatory and financial environment – and the long term vision gets sacrificed very early in order to survive.

What is your definition of success?

Success is, when you become the person you believe you were meant to be!

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

During my working career across the globe, I met a lot of brilliant people with dreams and ideas but who were inhibited within the wrong environment. I realized that the only way to realize your vision is to go out there and create it yourself, and also create an environment to bring in others who share the same vision. This was only possible as an entrepreneur.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

  • The ability to separate noise from data
  • The ability to inspire others and take them along
  • The ability to persist despite challenges

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Make your work relevant to the world, and good things will start happening.

Connect

http://www.redstonelearning.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RedstoneLearning/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/redstone-learning

Callum Connects

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

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Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space.

What’s your story?
I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!”

Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache.

How do you unwind?
I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Shameless plug for your business:
Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

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Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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