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Natalie Turner, Founder of Entheo

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For anyone sitting on the fence as to whether they should explore the business opportunities in Asia, Natalie and Carl have a great story of how they built up a contact base, made the leap and have been thriving in Singapore.

What’s your story?
in January 2009 I came to Singapore in the dark, cold days of the Global recession  to speak at a leadership conference at SMU. Within the space of four days I had set up 22 meetings and was overwhelmed by the interest and enthusiasm for innovation and creativity services. I thought, what am I doing in the UK,  packed up my bags, spent a year building up contacts, set up our company in Singapore and moved, with my husband and business partner, in February 2010. We have never looked back.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being on the evolving edge of the new and helping broaden people’s thinking to imagine great things. To see people light up when they realise they have untapped creative potential, and to see organisations change so that their culture’s support innovation as a way of working. To take innovation beyond the Research and Development labs and democratise it amongst the many. The fact that there is never time for boredom, always more to both learn and unlearn and to have our curiosity constantly fuelled with new ideas.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I originally came to Singapore in January 2008 to speak at a creativity conference and had been here on a couple of business trips whilst I was working for an international research company, prior to setting up my company in 2006.  I made some great friends and kept in touch and it was through these contacts that the opportunity to move to Singapore evolved a few years later.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s got to be Singapore really. Ease of setting up business, business friendly policies and regulations, a Government that invests heavily in helping grow local companies’ innovation capabilities.  As well as working with local SMEs through SPRING Singapore’s capability funds, we work a lot with multi nationals who have their Asian headquarters here.  This gives us great opportunities to travel across the region and work with the diversity of cultures in Asia which we love.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I had a great mentor in the UK who said to me, “Natalie, you have been working in the field of innovation for many years, you know a lot, go and create your own intellectual property.” So, I did.  Out of this The Six ‘I’s of Innovation ® was born and is now used as an innovation management and assessment tool all over the world.

Who inspires you?
There are a number of people that inspire us but what they all have in common are certain types of characteristics. Those who have grit, the ability to preserve against the odds, the passion to follow their heart as well as their mind and a willingness to be open to life and all that it can give.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We are both really interested in science and health and were recently introduced to an amazing company called Jeunesse Global, one of the fastest growing companies in the direct selling industry. Jeunesse are bringing cutting edge Nobel Prize winning research to a mass market.  One of their products, Finiti, blew our minds. It can actually reverse the aging process by growing the shortest telomeres in our cells (the parts of our chromosomes which protect our DNA). As a species we are only dipping our toes into these new discoveries. It is an exciting time to be alive.  

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
We don’t live with regrets. Never have. We are hugely optimistic and see the bright side of life in all things.  We could say that we wish we hadn’t made some business decisions that we made in the UK when economic times were really hard, but then we might never have come to Asia if we had done things differently. That doesn’t mean that we don’t go through the pain, we do, but we firmly believe, if you have strong relationships with people and a supportive family, you can turn what might be considered disastrous into something quite beautiful.

How do you unwind?
I have, what I call, rhythms in my life that help me keep anchored and balanced.  The practice of mindfulness and meditation, journal writing, Qi Gong and yoga.  I start my day, or most days anyway, with these rhythms and if I miss them for a few days I start to miss them. They keep my feet firmly on the ground, in the here and now. Carl likes to DJ and play soul, disco and funk music and staying healthy and fit with regular gym workouts. He also designs his own clothes and loves to look stylish. We both are epicurean in nature, and love the finer things of life, enjoying a glass of red wine or two and hanging out with friends as well as being keen fiction readers and travellers.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
There are many, but we would have to say Bali. We have been five times, over the last few years, and never tire of the beauty and uniqueness of the Island of the Gods. I went to the Ubud Writers festival a couple of years ago and stayed in a small guest house overlooking rolling rice paddy fields.  The sounds of the Gamelan fused with the scent of jasmine and frangipani transport me back to Bali, and in so doing, to a place of deep relaxation. We both love to hang out in Seminyak too, cool shops and great night life, sipping cocktails by the sea.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Unleashing Innovation by Nancy Snyder and Deborah Duarte.  There are very few books that document how a large company, with all the legacy systems and corporate culture that that entails, can be innovative.  This is a great story of how Whirlpool, the white goods manufacturer transformed not only itself but its industry.

Shameless plug for your business:
The Entheo Network is a leadership innovation company that provides consultancy and training services to help individuals and companies create new products and services whilst building innovation skills, capabilities and the right cultural environment to support and sustain innovation as a way of working. Our clients come from a range of industries, both big and small. We’d be delighted to explore with you how we could help you grow your business.

How can people connect with you?
www.entheo.com
[email protected]
[email protected]

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

CallumConnects

Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.

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

Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

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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

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Joel Tay, CEO of Soft Space

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With a desire to run his own business, Joel Tay wanted to tick two boxes first – trying his hand in the corporate world and knowing the business he wanted to end up in.

What’s your story?
I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Before that, I needed to fulfill two important things. The first thing, having a corporate foundation, and the second, knowing the business that I’m getting into. First of all, after gaining experience with Ernst and Young, I started a school in Jakarta with my mother, who used to be a teacher. Some of my ex-colleagues laughed at me for doing this instead of working towards partnership like everybody else.

While the school was running, I returned to the corporate world because I was given a chance to try out something I’ve always wanted to try, consulting in IT Security, and this time with PwC. In my second return to the business world, I never looked back. I started a mobile device distribution company with friends, and later on diversified into IT Consulting in Mobile Device Management, and subsequently ended up in the payments business.

Today I manage Soft Space – a company thriving in the payments industry with a group of talented colleagues and engineers. The school I mentioned earlier is now in 8 different locations across Jakarta serving more than one thousand students.

What excites you most about your industry?
Payments are evolving so quickly; there’s so much to learn. No one can really say that they know everything there is to know about payments. I have learnt so much going from one country to another learning each time how payments work uniquely in each society.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is Soft Space’s focus. We strongly believe that markets in Asia will be the primary drivers and innovators in the payments space for years to come.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Bangkok. I have a great business partner there, the banks are innovative, the market is huge and the people are creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My parents reading Matthew 6:33 to me: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This has taught me to prioritise the important things in life, and then everything else will fall into place according to God’s will.

Who inspires you?
My father and my Godfather. Both are men of principles who are very successful in their own trade, loving to their families and God-fearing.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The amount of money technology companies in the US lost in 2017. In Asia, and in particular SEA, investors won’t take two glances at your company if you’re not profitable to begin with.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn Mandarin. When I was young, my teacher gave a group of us a choice – attend Mandarin classes or wash school toilets. Every time I hear my colleagues laugh when I try to speak Mandarin, I think of that moment when we walked towards the toilet.

How do you unwind?
I watch movies with my wife. It takes us to another world and back to reality in two hours. No vacation can be so fast and effective.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. Friendly people, great resorts and good restaurants.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. There are many lessons to be learned from the man who had it all, lost it all, and earned it back again.

Shameless plug for your business:
No one can claim to have one solution that fits all in payments. Your needs are always different and unique to the market you’re operating in. I’d like to think that we’ve been around the industry long enough to be able to advise and customise something for you. https://www.softspace.com.my/about-us

How can people connect with you?
I’m always just an email away – [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@crusaderdotcom

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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