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Jessica May, Founder of Enabled Employment

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Jessica May started Enabled Employment providing job opportunities for people affected by discrimination. There unique model doesn’t accept government funding.

What’s your story?
Unfortunately I experienced discrimination in the workplace after disclosing my disability which led me to research what is available to assist people facing disadvantages to get employment without government support. I thought of the idea for Enabled Employment, providing job opportunities to all people affected by discrimination in trying to land a job. We built a company which I’m really proud of. Unlike other disability employment providers , we don’t accept government funding. We operate on the premise that skills and qualifications come first, and then we negotiate reasonable adjustments as needed on the job after a candidate is successful in applying.

What excites you most about your industry?
I think the recruitment industry in general is really ripe for disruption. We’re not only providing job opportunities to people who are disadvantaged, we’ve built an automated system of our own to turn the industry on its head. Using machine learning and automation, our system saves at least half of our operating costs by cutting down the hours spent on administrative tasks. We have automated invoicing, payroll, candidate matching, references and we are able to implement changes to our website instantly, putting our technology ahead of the field.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have always loved Asia, and I’d love to live there! I have travelled through Asia extensively, and I have been able to continue to conduct business from anywhere in the world. I was honoured to be named Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia and New Zealand at the Stevie Awards in New York in 2016, which I was surprised to win as there are so many amazing startups in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Anywhere that has internet access – which is better in Asia than we have in Australia a lot of the time. I can work from anywhere, as our website and the technology we’re building is entirely cloud based, which means I can work from my laptop or my phone. I think my dream would be to work from Bali, which is a beautiful place with wonderful people.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I’ve been lucky enough to have great mentors, both at the GRIFFIN Accelerator where we were fostered as a startup, and by the female founders mentoring organisation Heads over Heels. I think the best piece of advice I received was to listen to every suggestion or piece of advice you are given but not necessarily follow it if it doesn’t feel right for you.

I think in the startup world you are constantly bombarded with people trying to help you along the way but you often know what is best for your business, so trust your gut and go with what you know will work for you.

Who inspires you?
Former Australian Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, who was never afraid to speak out in her role to protect human rights in Australia. I also look up to Graeme Innes AM, who is now Chair of the Attitude Foundation, and also a former Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner. Their courage to speak out about disability discrimination, and on human rights, is inspirational to me. They are changing attitudes, which needs to happen if we are to have a more inclusive world.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I have been studying artificial intelligence and machine learning to complement and extend my diploma in software development. I have been blown away by how much of these capabilities we already have built into the system and also the areas we can do more. Recruitment is very much an area where applying machine learning and artificial intelligence can remove the conscious and unconscious bias we see towards our candidates and hopefully remove discrimination in the future.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Not a lot, actually. I’m happy that we’ve established a new technology which is my passion, and that we are standing up for human rights in employment. It may have been a long road, but it all adds up to make me more determined to change the way we think about employment, and employment conditions as part of reasonable measures to enable people to work.

How do you unwind?
I unwind by spending time with my kids, and having a glass of red wine. I make sure I take my breaks, and I love to travel. I remind myself to only check in once a day with the business though – otherwise I’d be looking at my phone and not at the beautiful things around me!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Definitely Bali! I have had some amazing holidays there, and met some lovely people. My kids love it there, and it is so peaceful and the culture is beautiful. I can sit by the pool and watch my kids, stay in a beautiful hotel, and eat amazing food and see the beautiful culture and countryside. I love the lifestyle in Indonesia, and I’d love to live there one day.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Eight Steps to Happiness” by Alison Leigh and Dr Anthony M Grant
Keeping on top of your mental health in business is so important and this book takes you through steps to understand who you really are and what’s important to you.

Shameless plug for your business:
Enabled Employment is a unique recruitment company, presenting candidates that represent true diversity. Every hire you make through Enabled Employment increases your diversity and inclusion rate, leading to better business outcomes and driving innovation. We represent skilled candidates who are people with a disability, former Australian Defence Force members and their families, carers, senior Australians 55 years of age or over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, refugees and members of the LGBTI community.

How can people connect with you?
Our website is www.enabledemployment.com where you can get more information about why we do what we do and how we are breaking down barriers to employment. We also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EnabledEmployment/

Twitter handle?
@EnabledEmploy

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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Jonathan Oh, CEO & Co-founder of Supplycart

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Jonathan Oh’s enquiring mind and love for learning has led him on an entrepreneurial journey, with him starting Supplycart which helps businesses manage their offices better.

What’s your story?
I am a person that just can’t sit still. I was always intrigued by how the world spins and how people connect. Spending a lot of time outdoors, I had an affinity with exploring new paths, thus leading me to become a serial entrepreneur with experience in creating, operating and building new companies. I am a firm believer there is so much to learn in the world and I love talking to people about ideas, what they are passionate about and what drives them.
Starting off my career in the medical industry, I realised I had a flare to create something that mattered, something that impacted other people’s lives. After exiting my first company in 2014, I continued my journey with two other ventures with a purpose to look towards impacting businesses in the region together with like minded individuals, and here I am.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being able to part of the SME tech industry and seeing how technology is moving SMEs to go digital to improve workflows and efficiencies is an exciting space to be in. Users are consumers. More and more, they are familiarising themselves with using technology in their everyday lives. We foresee the SME space to be the next area where adopting new technology would become vital for any organisation to remain relevant. As I have dabbled in this industry for close to nine years now, I am really looking forward to working with more people in the business community to make a change.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to go abroad and I realised there was so much to do back home. Spending time in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of years and recently Silicon Valley, it has provided me with experiences and insights into the difference a multicultural community can make. It also made me aware that Asia is still a very culture driven economy, as each country has its unique differences. I believe that the time is right to be in Asia now. We are a growing economy and a lot of exciting stuff is happening in this region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Malaysia. I believe Malaysia is still a very attractive destination for business as it’s close to other neighbouring countries within the region and travelling between the countries is easy. There is also proper infrastructure in place, an affordable cost of living and a sizeable pool of talent. The government also has numerous initiatives for technology companies to apply for MSC status that permits companies to hire foreign companies without restrictions. Malaysia is the perfect launchpad to start growing businesses regionally. From a culture perspective, we are multicultural, which promotes diversity in business and language is never a barrier here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur; one does a markup and the other creates value.”

Who inspires you?
I would say the people around me inspire me. I wouldn’t narrow it down to a particular person but lump it up with family, workmates, entrepreneurs and friends. From my eyes, everyone has a certain drive, a certain glow and strengths that sometimes they do not see, and that inspires me. I believe the journey to success is never alone, it’s with people.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Something recently that blew me away, made me realise, visually about how much time I have left. I was reading and stumbled upon the writer doing this. This might sound morbid but I drew a horizontal line and started plotting the year I was born all the way up to when I think I might go. It showed me that I have spent 25% of my life growing up, I am going to spend another 55% of my life working and the final 20%, maybe retirement. It got me remembering all the milestones I have achieved and to be thankful for and above all, how I want to spend the 55% of my life doing what matters the most.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that I am exactly where I need to be because of the experiences I have had before. Thank god for the journey so far. It has been filled with ups and downs, new experiences and people along the way these have moulded me. I guess a small thing, if I had my time again, would be to pick up playing a musical instrument which I think still possible now. You are never too old to learn anything.

How do you unwind?
Unwinding for me would be spending time with my family and my two little boys. The little ones are such a bundle of joy. Reminding myself to have balance in terms of not missing the early years with them. Other than that, having coffee with other entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and learning from them is also another way I unwind.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
A term I would use would be “cuti cuti Malaysia.” This means heading to a local destination for some R&R to save on the cost of going on overseas to travel. Top of my the list would be heading to a farm or the jungle with clear river waters and a waterfall all to myself. Staying the night, out in the open under the stars, with a campfire and heading back to nature. The other option would be taking a boat to one of the furthest islands in Malaysia, just before the border of Indonesia, to get away from civilization.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I would actually recommend two books that everyone in business in the early years should read. ‘Founder’s Dilemma’ and ‘Start with Why.’ After being in a couple of businesses and many mistakes later, I came to realise the importance of starting it right. Both these books address the whole mind-set on what founders need to have from selecting who is it we start a business with to why are we starting the business. The business foundation is built from the founders and moving forward everything is built from there. Sometimes we are so into the business that we forget we need to be on the business as well. I would have definitely avoided a couple of bumps if I came across these much earlier on.

Shameless plug for your business:
Manage your office better, that’s our motto. We are always on the lookout to work with organisations, suppliers and partners in this field for partnerships and collaborations.
Supplycart is a B2B procurement platform addressing a need for a change in the way companies manage their office supplies, products and services. We enable suppliers and companies to adopt digital technology when selling and procuring for their business, resulting in a more efficient and productive workforce.
Supplycart provides an easy to use, convenient platform that streamlines the whole procurement process by allowing users to quickly order and reorder, receive instant quotations, obtain quick approvals from necessary approvers and fulfilment items are coordinated/planned to ensure a timely a speedy delivery.
Businesses can now focus on the more important matters in growing and sustaining their business while leaving managing the office to Supplycart. Our vision is to be the number 1 office platform for businesses across South East Asia. “Your office will never be the same again.”

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ohjonathan/
e : [email protected]
w : www.supplycart.my

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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Trung Nguyen, Founder & Managing Director of Advertising Vietnam

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Having initial success with his first start up in the ad industry, Trung Nguyen went on to start other ventures in the ad world in Vietnam. He now has the largest agency community in Vietnam.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I got my first job in the advertising industry. I worked for a local agency in town, and I fell in love with the creative industry. In June 2015, I founded Agency Life Community in Vietnam. It quickly became the most engaging community in the ad industry. The main content focuses on entertainment. After six months we had over 30,000 organic followers, now we have 120,000 followers.

Because the industry had been good to me, I decided I had to something for the industry to help the industry be better. So, I opened http://AdvertisingVietnam.com – a creative industry ad site which keeps advertising informative, creative and inspiring.

After more than a year in the ads industry in Vietnam, I figured the industry needed a better solution for the recruitment of good staff. Given I own the largest advertising community platform, why don’t I utilise Agency Life to help connect talent with ad agencies. So, I founded job site, AdJob.Asia in January 2017.

What excites you most about your industry?
The ad industry is a creative one with very passionate people who are always challenging themselves. The exciting part for creatives, in the morning they might be working on a baby brand and in the afternoon they are answering a beer brief. There is so much diversity. Every day is the new journey.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Vietnamese.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Thailand. The Thais are the kings of the creative industry in SEA. Thai ads are very smart and creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love.

Who inspires you?
My friend, mentor and partner Mr Nghi Nguyen, founder of BrandsVietnam.com. We started our businesses at a similar time. He doesn’t see us as a competitor but rather, he believes that we share the same passion and we are working to provide better knowledge for the ad community.
Mr Nghi also guided me a lot when I first opened the business. I am inspired by his vision to make our marketing industry better.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Our business is a startup company and as a founder I do everything from operations, business development, planning and strategy. However, this is not the good way grow our business. You have to share the workload – find a co-founder or hire a great employee to help share the workload. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Quit my full time job sooner.
During the first year of running my business, I was still working as an ad manager for an agency. However I lacked focus at work due to the overload of work and it affected the company I used to work for. I strongly recommend people who have an idea to start their own business, quit their job early on and focus 100% on it from the get go!

How do you unwind?
Play with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love to travel throughout all of Asia. I enjoy new places and meeting new people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Carpenter: A story about the greatest success strategies of all.

Shameless plug for your business:
AdvertisingVietnam.com is a site where you can quickly update yourself on the advertising news in Vietnam. We have 15,000 unique monthly readers who are professional people in the advertising and communications industries.

The Agency Life, https://www.facebook.com/agencylife is largest agency community in Vietnam. This is the right place for ad agencies to share their creative work.

AdJob.Asia now has more than 160 agencies in Vietnam who use our services. We are a leading recruitment service for the advertising industry in Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trungnx26
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trungnx26/

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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