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Dennis Heng, Founder of Chain Reaction

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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

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

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

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

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

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

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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