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27 Singaporean Entrepreneurs Win Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2016

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Twenty-seven prominent entrepreneurs and business leaders from Singapore were named awardees of the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2016 at a glittering gala dinner at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.

Over 300 attendees were present at the by-invitation only event, comprising of industry leaders, leading entrepreneurs and dignitaries including Mr. Seah Kian Peng, Member of Parliament, His Excellency Mr. Nimal Weeraratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore, Mr. Victorio Mario M Dimagiba, Jr., Consul General of the Philippines, Tan Sri Dr. Fong Chan Onn, Chairman of Enterprise Asia, and Dato’ William Ng, President of Enterprise Asia.

The Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards, or APEA, is a regional recognition program organized by Enterprise Asia, the region’s foremost association and think-tank for entrepreneurship. The Awards are presented to a handful of entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific each year, with award ceremonies held in over twelve countries every year.

The Awards are often compared to the Olympics for the stringent entry criteria and highly competitive judging parameters. Nominations of the Awards itself is by invitation, either by past and current awardees, a supporting trade association or the executive committee of Enterprise Asia. Nominees are then subjected to a series of rigorous tests, including financial verification by an appointed audit firm and a compulsory physical site audit and interview, culminating in a secret balloting process by Enterprise Asia’s executive committee.

Awardees are expected to be torchbearers of entrepreneurship and business leaders in their representing industries of respective countries, and adhere to a strict standard of personal and business ethics.

“We can say with certainty that the recipients of the APEA are like none others. Not only do they have to prove their entrepreneurial skills and experience in one of the toughest contests in the world, they also subject themselves to a pledge to uphold the highest standards of entrepreneurship, which includes allegiance to the two founding pillars of Enterprise Asia, namely Investment in People and Responsible Entrepreneurship”, says Dato’ William Ng, President of Enterprise Asia.

Recipients join over a thousand other alumni from across Asia Pacific, including Indonesia’s Ciputra, Chairul Tanjung and Mochtar Riady, Singapore’s Sam Goi and Yao Hsiao-Tung, Malaysia’s Teh Hong Piow and Yeoh Tiong Lay, Hong Kong’s Lui Che-woo and Lawrence Ho, China’s Jiang Xipei, Thailand’s Rit Thirakomen and India’s Adi Godrej, Rahul Bajaj and Brijmohan Lall Munjal.

Mr Joselito D. Campos, Jr. of Del Monte Pacific, who was named Entrepreneur Of The Year, said, “I am very honoured to be bestowed the APEA in recognition of our efforts in entrepreneurship and nation building. To harvest good fruit, we need to sow good seed and nurture it.”

“Receiving the APEA award is a recognition of our past efforts; a sign for trying even harder in the future”, said Mr Su Chung Jye, Executive Chairman, Regal International Group Limited.

“APEA lights the path to a healthy entrepreneurial spirit in Asia”, shared by Dr Jau- Fei Chen, Founder of E.Excel International Group.

“To take the company to another level, you need a bold vision, an ambition or even a dream. The dream has to be big and exciting enough and requires your full commitment. Then you will put your whole heart into achieving it”, said Dr Andy Adhiwana, Group CEO of Auric Pacific Group Limited.

“Success is not final. For continued success, a successful company must innovate everyday”, said Ms Shalini Kamal Sharma, Group MD of Formula One Furniche Pte Ltd.

The recipients in Singapore were selected from among 100 shortlisted candidates, ranging from talented young entrepreneurs to experienced industrialists.

Ng explained, “The APEA is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship. Beyond recognizing the efforts of these entrepreneurs, we hope to encourage them to continue taking their businesses to the next level, and in the process, providing more job opportunities to the people in the region, and help to drive the economy forward”.

RECIPIENT LIST OF ASIA PACIFIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARDS 2016 SINGAPORE:

Consumer Goods

  • Dr. Andy Adhiwana, Group CEO, Auric Pacific Group Limited

Education & Training

  • Dr. Jau-Fei Chen, Founder, E.Excel International Group
  • David Kwee, Chief Executive Director, Training Vision Institute Pte Ltd
  • Png Bee Hin, Chief Executive Officer/ Founder, LDR Technology Pte Ltd

Engineering

  • Eric Phua, Managing Director, TEE International Limited

Financial Services

  • Dr. Tan Chong Koay, Founder/CEO/Chief Strategist, Pheim Asset Management (Asia) Pte Ltd
  • Andrew Au, Founder & CEO, AG Delta Pte Ltd

Food & Beverage

  • Entrepreneur Of The Year
    Joselito D. Campos, Jr., Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director, Del Monte Pacific Limited
  • Aillyn Ang, Director, 320 Below Pte Ltd

Healthcare & Pharmaceutical

  • Anuj Khosla, Founder/ Chief Strategy Officer, KK Labs Pte Ltd

Hospitality, Food Service & Tourism Industry

  • Arun Madhok, Chief Executive Officer, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre

Industrial & Commercial Products

  • Shalini Kamal Sharma, Group Managing Director, Formula One Furniche Pte Ltd
  • Philip Lee Tze Yong, Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director, RAM SMAG Lifting Technologies Pte Ltd
  • Kenny Liu ZhenQi, Managing Director, The Super Group

IT. Internet & Telecommunications

  • Johnny Huang Shih Chia, Group MD, MAKA GPS Technologies Pte Ltd
  • Shashank Dixit, Chief Executive Officer, Deskera Holdings Ltd

Media & Entertainment

  • Giulio Dorrucci, Founder and Group CEO, PGK Media Group Pte Ltd Oil & Gas
  • Jonathan Lee, Managing Director, McPEC Marine and Offshore Engineering Pte Ltd

Professional & Business Services

  • Teo Jin Lee, Managing Director, ODE Consulting Pte Ltd
  • Ravi Arumugam, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner, RT LLP & RT Group of Companies

Property Development

  • Su Chung Jye, Chief Executive Officer/ Founder/ Executive Chairman, Regal International Group Limited
  • Dato’ Colin Tan, Group Managing Director, Hatten International Pte Ltd

Retail

  • Dr. Michael Tien, Founder & Chairman, Atlas Sound & Vision Pte Ltd

Trading & Wholesaling

  • Shu Setogawa, Director, MTG Pacific Pte Ltd
  • Doris Wee Hui Cheen, Chief Executive Officer, Wendell Trading Company
  • Peh Yeng Yok, Chairman, Yok Impex Pte Ltd

Transportation & Logistic

  • Danny Lo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Watt Wah Petroleum Haulage Pte Ltd

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taravelis/

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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