Connect with us

Callum Connects

Jade Gray, Co-Owner of Gung Ho Pizza

Published

on

Jade Gray is a gung-ho entrepreneur, recently being awarded the B Corp certification for his venture Gung Ho! Pizza.

What’s your story?
I’m a reluctant businessman. Graduating from University in New Zealand I was torn between a life of an environmental activist or that of an entrepreneur. I chose the latter and over the last 20 years of building businesses in China my team and I have aimed to use the power of business as a force for good in helping to resolve the world’s issues. Over the last 5 years we have been focused on building our pizza brand Gung Ho! Pizza which was recently awarded the B Corp certification – the world’s leading responsible business accreditation – becoming one of only three in China.

What excites you most about your industry?
Young migrant workers. 80%+ of my team are from this demographic. They have shown incredible courage to leave their homes with very little resources in an effort to better their lives in the big cities. Being millennial’s they expect much out of life and typically are willing to do the hard yards needed so long as the companies’ dreams are aligned with their own. If not aligned then they are demanding, disengaged and pretty much impossible to lead! I find it a rewarding challenge.

What’s your connection to Asia?
In the early 90’s whilst studying in the UK I was advised that New Zealand’s future was no longer tied to the West but rather the East. With this insight I came home and undertook a degree in Marketing and Mandarin. Upon graduation I flew to China with a backpack and a set of skis ending up as a ski instructor in Yabuli, Heilongjiang. I fell in love with the place and for the next 20 years I have gone with the flow, in constant amazement with how the East has challenged and grown me as a person.

IKEA2 B-Corp E-Signature

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Beijing! Being the capital of China the government keeps business on a pretty tight leash, trialling new policies and enforcing with a strength not seen in other parts of China. As challenging as this is for the business, it is the ultimate training ground for doing business in China. We know that if we can lead our industry in Beijing then we can lead any market in China, and if we can succeed in China we can succeed anywhere in Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The journey’s the destination.
As entrepreneurs we relentlessly chase our goals. Although persistence is possibly our greatest asset, when misguided it can be our greatest shortcoming. Moving to a life committed to the here and now rather than some future goal or accomplishment is where it’s at. It’s not reaching the summit that’s important, but rather how we grew and evolved as a result of climbing it.

Who inspires you?
Anybody who has the balls to risk it all to follow their life’s calling.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
250 billion+ paper coffee cups are thrown away every year. I’ve since acquired a keepcup, which also keeps it hotter for longer.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Asked that girl at my year 4 prom to a dance. Taken that role in the school theatre. Asked that question to the keynote speaker. Basically anything in life that I failed to do due to my fear of making a fool of myself.
Oh, and bought that VW Kombi camper at University…. That was one seriously cool ride.

How do you unwind?
Rock climb, hike, bodysurf. Anything that connects with the outdoors. And if I can’t get into nature then chilling with family and friends over a good meal….and if there’s a good music gig on, then busting some “embarrassing-for-my-partner” moves on the dance floor.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My farmhouse at the Great Wall of China. Myself and a mate restored a traditional courtyard house in a village at the foot of the breathtaking Jiankou Great Wall section about two hours north of Beijing. There’s something pretty special about the energy of the place, and having known the locals for the last 13 years I’ve become part of the village. Sitting around the fire with some mates under the stars with the Great Wall in the background is pretty surreal. All one’s worries slip away….or maybe it’s just the Single Malt.

Generallisimo2

Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Art of War”-Sun Zi. You can’t understand business strategy in Asia until you have read this book.

Shameless plug for your business:
Gung Ho! pizza is proud to be Beijing’s favourite pizza brand having won Beijing’s Pizza Cup for two of the last three years beating out 184 brands. We have recently been selected to expand with IKEA as they grow their Livat Mall concept across China. We opened our first store in their Beijing store in June 2016 and are currently fundraising $3million to fund our immanent expansion into their other stores. Get in touch if you are interested.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
In China?? No go.
But you can follow our We Chat feed at Jiaoban bisa, 叫板比萨

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

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Trending