Connect with us

Callum Connects

Dennis Heng, Founder of Chain Reaction

Published

on

After being faced with witnessing a serious workplace accident, Dennis Heng helps put quality and safety at the forefront of all businesses.

What’s your story?
I develop systems, processes and people, and embed a company culture in quality and safety that helps eliminate the pain in business operations.
Quality and safety co-exist in a system where any failures in either area would lead to serious consequences. A product or service that fails to meet basic customer requirements, and does not perform its intended function may potentially lead to loss of lives or customer retention. I witnessed this at first hand, in 1997 what this meant, when I was in the military. A catastrophic accident led to the loss of lives including my close friends during an overseas live artillery live firing. An investigation committee concluded that the most probable cause of the accident was due to a defective product supplied by a supplier to the military.
This accident deeply shaped my thinking in years to come and developed my drive towards quality and safety. Someone’s life could depend on it – or yours could.

Reference article of accident:
https://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/press_room/official_releases/nr/1997/jun/28jun97_nr.print.img.html

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me is that I believe that a career in quality assurance is a great choice in today’s world.
A poor economy makes consumers much pickier about where and how they are spending their money. Companies today are spending more and more money ensuring that consumers will not be disappointed with the products or services that they are receiving. It is much less expensive to catch faults and fix them before it hits the market than it is to release something defective and have to recall it, or worse yet, ruin the reputation of your company.
That is where you bring in a quality assurance professional, to help develop, train, and make sure that items not only meet but exceed expectations. Since 1997, I have dedicated my life to driving quality and safety, creating awareness, changing behaviours through different communication and management platforms.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born, educated and lived in Singapore for over 40 years. I’ve travelled extensively in Asia and the Middle East, for management systems development, auditing supply chains and conducting training. I’ve worked with companies in Rayong, Thailand, where it is also the centre of the chemical and automotive industries, and the ever growing China manufacturing sector, in Shenzhen and Shanghai. Competition is stiff but opportunities are in abundance for greater growth.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
You have got to just love my home country, Singapore – The ease in setting up businesses, partly due to the hassle-free way in which administrative matters are handled. Singapore helps simplify the process of setting up by making it simple to incorporate a company and register for taxes by using the same online form. In areas of human capital, Singapore has one of the most skilled labour pools in the region due to sound education policies, the ready availability of training programmes and attractive incentives for local and foreign talent. The mind-set of Singaporean talent is generally positive and makes for a productive working environment.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Stop focusing on results. Focus on getting better at executing the plan that will produce the desired outcome result.”
It might sound contrarian when I say stop focusing on results, especially because people regard it as a good thing to be results oriented. But, I believe the results will come if we stay focused on consistent execution and consistent improvement. The reason why this was such a hard lesson I think is because we live in a world where we are constantly marketing “overnight results” and “instant gratification.” You can all fall into the trap of expecting immediate results the first time you try to implement a new idea to grow your business. But, I’ve learned time and time again that’s not how it works.

Who inspires you?
Anyone can be a role model, and often, it’s the people in our everyday lives who inspire us and shape us like no one else can. In Singapore, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a legendary figure in Asia, widely respected for his strong leadership and statesmanship, our founding father of modern Singapore. His undying determination, commitment, character and ability made him a formidable leader who took a small island country of Singapore over 50 years ago, and transformed it to a country that is respected by Singaporeans and the international community alike. 1 man, 1 vision, turning into reality. We need more leaders like him.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The importance of making mistakes and learning from them. It is easy and human to hold on to past glories and what life could have been, and prevent yourself from letting go of the resentments and disappointments of the past. We get stuck in that moment. Well, Don’t! Loss is a gift, be it in business or your personal life. It taught me to be resilient, humble and made me better in countless ways.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would start immediately to focus on one passion to become a world expert on it.
Whether it’s photography or just learning to play the guitar, I would give a lot of hours through deliberate practice to become the best person in the world in my field. Thinking back, it was a real challenge when you are a teen to dedicate a lot of hours through practicing your passion. Many distractions are present to make your time less valuable. In the long run, people who accomplish a lot are the ones who follow that precious rule. Find your own way to success. There are no miracles besides true dedication. Now that I have my own family, I have my 2 daughters who embrace this.

How do you unwind?
To unwind personally, spending time with family and friends is absolutely key. I will make time for this part of my life. I love my work, but family is also what it is all about for me. I create new experiences and learning for the kids, through experiential play. Tell your kids you want to play house, but you’ll let them be in charge. Let them make the rules and not only is this a great way to let yourself be a kid again, but it also lets your little ones stand in your shoes and see things from your perspective. For some extra fun, act like they do and see how they like it.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I am a lover of countries where there are small communities, like Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Places that are focused on the preservation and appreciation of nature, and the general feeling is one of calm. I need that quiet time to recharge and have that sense of appreciation of life.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos. He is the winner of two Overseas Press Club awards and the Asia Society’s Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia.
I found it to be an engrossing description of modern China. It covers the period of China’s ascendancy. This book describes the buildup to what we see today. From a very acute observer who has been on the ground for long enough to figure it out, and who obviously has a gift for communicating directly with a people who are often characterised as inscrutable. An excellent book.

Shameless plug for your business:
Chain Reaction Partners – We are the preferred solutions partner in delivering Quality Assurance training, auditing and programs to maximize your business profitability. Your Suppliers create problems. We invent the solution. With potentially 70% of the total cost of your product/services outsourced to external suppliers, and the fact that you are only as good as your worst supplier, it is essential that all key suppliers are performing at optimum levels.

How can people connect with you?
E-mail is the most convenient. I can be reached at [email protected]
Drop us an email to discuss how we can assist you.
Or visit the company’s website at: http://www.consultchainreaction.com.sg/

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/hengdennis

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Callum Connects

Sun Ho, Founder of LittleLives Inc

Published

on

Sun Ho has an edtech business, LittleLives. She’s helping turn complex school operations into simple and enjoyable processes.

What’s your story?
I’m just a small town girl who won’t stop believing.
Someone recently told me that the curious little 10-year-old girl in me is still shining through with excitement for the world today. Although, now, instead of being curious about how things work, I am interested in how we can solve real world problems. Today, I get to learn and build everyday on our dream to turn complex school operations into simple and enjoyable processes.

What excites you most about your industry?
Have you been to a preschool lately? In our day-to-day, we get to hear the wonderful laughter of children. We see the innocent smiles of our little ones, who learn as they play. We meet the tirelessly loving educators, leaders and parents who give their best. These are the people we serve everyday at LittleLives. It excites us greatly to be in an industry that meaningfully impacts the future of our world. When we see a new feature we have implemented in our system helping to shave off minutes or hours of administrative work for schools (and put a smile on many faces), it is deeply satisfying.

What’s your connection to Asia?
LittleLives started in Singapore. We have since expanded to multiple cities in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Everywhere we go, we gain unique insights about different cultures. One thing that remains unchanged around the world is the passion to improve education. This includes the desire to refine school processes too. I absolutely love the people I work with, in schools and in my own team overseas. They have taught me so much about their cultures and countries.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It is so hard to choose one. We love Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Beijing and pretty much every city we have visited. Setting up in multiple Asian cities has really become faster and more transparent than ever before. What a time to be alive and working on a startup, and even more so for a young woman in Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be true to yourself.

As a woman and as the founder of a tech startup, I have heard the many ways in which people express their surprise that I do not fit into – for lack of a better word – the norm. I am my own mix of feminine and geeky. I have a computer science background that I am passionate about and, at the same time, I love fun aesthetics and product development. Technology is an industry in which venture capitalists traditionally favour white, male founders as the stats show a concentration of success in this small demographic. Despite this, I have found that the people around me will respect me for being me because I let my personality and passion take the stage.

Who inspires you?
Beth Fredericks, the Executive Director at Wheelock College. She is a wonderful educator, leader and orator. At 67, she is as active as any young teacher and as wise as the oldest, most experienced professor. She has inspired so many early childhood educators with her stories, her teaching and above all, her warmth and delightful personality. She has contributed so much to the early childhood field here in Asia, and all over the world, over the span of her illustrious career. Her charm and kind heart makes her one of the most sought-after collaborators in our industry today. Yet, she remains humble, approachable and personable. Her enthusiasm for education and children, coupled with her infectious humour, are what I aspire to.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
What continues to blow me away every time I witness it, is incredible potential that can be unlocked when a great team comes together. When you put together bright, experienced, communicative and open-minded people in a team, miracles can happen.

Creative ideas that were recently put forth in a small ad-hoc project team are now being turned into a new product that LittleLives will soon offer. When we first began discussions, we had no idea where they would take us; the only thing we knew definitively was that we wanted to help educators gain better access to resources to help them in their everyday classroom. It all fell into place when our team started brainstorming ideas that were based on the problems we knew were present in early childhood education.

Now, we have the trial version of a new module, LittleAcademy, and I am in awe of how all of this came together. I would like to quote Margaret Mead here, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
To be honest, I would not change a thing. We made so many mistakes when we started this journey, but the lessons we learnt from our failures are what make us stronger today.

On a related note, there is this beautiful quote from Batman Begins:
Thomas Wayne asked, “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

How do you unwind?
It is important for us to allow our body, mind and soul to unwind and recharge. Badminton is my go-to exercise. I play twice weekly to keep fit and nimble. Recently I have picked up Yoga Nidra with an excellent instructor who has opened my eyes to all the good that meditation does for our minds.

Beyond this, I find that spending time with my loved ones, friends and teammates helps me feel grounded and loved.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I travelled to China twice last year and truly fell in love with the country. It provides such a rich variety of experiences, from culture and art, to commerce and tech. I was in a constant state of amazement. It is a fast advancing nation that I really enjoy my time in, both learning and relaxing with the people I meet.

Everyone in business should read this book:
High Output Management by Andrew Grove, late CEO and Chairman of Intel. This is a book written in the 90s, but its ideas are still very much applicable to businesses today.

Andy lays out what you need to do to successfully manage your business in simple and concise terms. This does not mean that it is easy to grow as successfully as Intel did, but the book shows us that the path to greatness is apparent. What I personally love about this book is that it presents its ideas both logically and emotionally without judgement.

On the issue of an underperforming teammate, Andy offers a very simple explanation:
“When a person is not doing his job, there can only be two reasons for it. The person either can’t do it or won’t do it; he is either not capable or not motivated.”

And as a manager, all you can do is to train and motivate.

This is an excellent review of the book by Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz: https://a16z.com/2015/11/13/high-output-management/
I highly recommend this book to all entrepreneurs.

Shameless plug for your business:
LittleLives is a leading preschool edtech company with a strong presence in over 700 schools in Singapore, 20 in Vietnam, 130 in China and 100 in Malaysia. LittleLives develops and provides applications that allow preschools to record children’s administrative records digitally, from attendance-taking to portfolio management. In addition to reducing the hassle of physical filing and documentation, the LittleLives system allows parents to keep track of the progress of their children’s learning at school through LittleLives parents’ app.

As an edtech company, LittleLives does more than facilitate day-to-day school operations. In 2017, LittleLives hosted the first ever International Pre-school Conference in Kuala Lumpur, which was attended by educators representing 1200 preschools in the region. LittleLives has helped over 215,000 children, 430,000 parents and 23,000 teachers bring schools into the 21st century and we are hoping to continue empowering many more around the world.

Reach out to us if you are involved in education or entrepreneurship. We’re always happy to chat!

How can people connect with you?
Just drop me an email at [email protected].

Twitter handle?
With so much to say, 140 characters is not enough. Hence, it is best to follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/littlelivesbigdreams), Instagram (littlelives_inc), YouTube (youtube.com/user/hosunSG), and check out our LittleLives Blog (blog.littlelives.com) to get to know us better!

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

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

Published

on

Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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

Continue Reading

Trending