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Patricia Reed, Mentor of Female Founder

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Patricia Reed has traveled the world and ended up in tech consulting quite by accident!

What’s your story?
I have been greatly influenced by living on four continents and working in IT. Originally from Texas, I moved to Oslo, Norway with my family as a child. Then again my junior year in college to the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1994, I moved to Belgium, and spent 12 years in Brussels, Belgium, with one amazing year in the middle in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, and now eleven years in Singapore.

My entry into tech happened in the early part of my career. I was job-searching for an entry-level position with a firm that would provide me with opportunities for professional growth. I interviewed for a temp job to replace a secretary during her maternity leave. My ‘career’ had not gone as I planned, and I was not at all interested in the role, but it was for a relative start-up called Cisco Systems, and my friend had insisted that I go. Reluctantly, I went, having sworn I would NEVER take another admin job, no matter HOW much I wanted to get into the company.
My luck changed when I sat down with the interviewer and he asked, “So, you’re here for the Sales role?” Pause. I glanced down and saw that it was indeed my CV in front of him. My heart skipped a beat, then, “Why yes, I’m very excited about it. Could you tell me more?” Instantly, my level of interest shifted. I listened intently to all of the details he shared.

I spent nine great years at Cisco, moved from Brussels to Singapore, and have been in Tech consulting and leadership ever since.

What excites you most about your industry?
The constant change! There’s no boredom or fat in tech. There’s always something new developing, building, and challenging the status quo. Organizations are in constant flux too, reflecting technology. AI, Cloud, IoT, the sharing economy technologies, driverless vehicles, robotics- what business is NOT impacted by technology today?

What’s your connection to Asia?
Our family actively pursued a move to Singapore eleven years ago. My husband and I were keen for a change of scenery but were determined to move BOTH of our careers. Neither one of us wanted the other to have to sacrifice, (and neither one of us wanted to bear the burden of being the sole breadwinner).

I thought the opportunity for my children to grow up learning Mandarin, and working in what we thought was the biggest geography for growth in the world was a very exciting prospect. Singapore offered opportunities for both of us that most places weren’t able to offer.

Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Tokyo. The richness of the culture, the level of professionalism and courtesy of Japanese colleagues, the amazing food, the different customs and their appreciation and care for their city.

My first trip there, I learned a lot about working hours in Japan. At our first formal meeting with our potential high-profile customer, my only meeting with a professional business translator, we had managed to get our company to agree to fly in a talented Russian engineer from London who had worked on a project they were supposedly very keen to hear from. Five minutes into Vladimir’s carefully prepared presentation, one of the five men from the client fell asleep, put his head back and slept! I could not believe my eyes. I elbowed my Japanese colleague and whispered, irritated, wanting to understand what was going on. My colleague explained in few words that it was ok. I learned that it is apparently customary for the most senior member of the meeting to snooze, as they work and stay out so late.

I made rookie mistakes I learned from – I think they must have thought I was an ogre at one point. I remember having a really bad cold and turning completely around to blow my nose while out at dinner. When I turned back around, five Japanese male colleagues were in shock. The blood had completely drained from their faces and were pie eyed. I was like ‘oops?’ I won’t do that again!
The business that I closed with Japanese companies remains some of my favourite work, in terms of meaningful relationships and richness and complexity of the projects.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Years ago, a boss I loved told me, “not everything is black and white, there are so many shades of gray.” It is obvious now, but at the time, it really helped me. It is sometimes hard to navigate the situations we can find ourselves in. Withholding judgement, and responding with curiosity to understand intentions behind actions serve well.

Who inspires you?
Entrepreneurs, Hillary Clinton, (she’s like the Energizer bunny- just keeps on going), and Elon Musk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
There are a few things, but I’ll choose the one related to my industry- the two female tech founders of “Witchsy” invented a male co-founder to combat sexism from investors, but also from their own employees. “Keith” had a much easier time giving direction to their employees than they did.

These female entrepreneurs found a brilliant way to fight sexism.

Posted by ATTN: Life on Sunday, 5 November 2017

Another, (if I’m permitted!) is related to global warming.

If Americans substituted beans for beef, the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009. EVEN if nothing about the energy or transportation system changed—and even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese—this one dietary change could achieve somewhere between 46 and 74 percent of the reductions needed to meet the target.
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/08/if-everyone-ate-beans-instead-of-beef/535536/

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
As I get older, I realize that there are so many things that I could have done differently, but ultimately, the choices I made were the best available choices I had at the time. They have made me who I am today.

However, as far as investments, I would have leveraged myself more in rental real estate. It’s fantastic passive income, and I enjoy having parallel active and passive strategies at work.

How do you unwind?
Talk to friends, social media, meditation, Audible books, a good Netflix series.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Anywhere that is without connectivity, in nature, with the sounds of nature all around. Hard to find. One of my favourite places was at Khao Sok National Park, near Phuket, on a paddle trip. It was a very rudimentary camp, bamboo bungalows floating on the lake.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters” by Richard Rumelt. I hardly ever meet a business leader with a clear understanding of strategy. It explains the critical components of a good strategy. A few takeaways: 1) too many companies mistakes goals for a strategy. $5 million in revenue by Dec. 2018 isn’t a strategy, it’s a goal. LOT of companies do this! 2) Strategies are not just what you WILL do, it’s also what you WON’T do. Great book.

Shameless plug for your business:
I excel at B2B leadership and consulting. Getting to the bottom of what is not working and how to fix it. I’m an excellent coach/advisor and love working to help businesses succeed.

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

Twitter handle?
Pareedus

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

Callum Connects

Sun Ho, Founder of LittleLives Inc

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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

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Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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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

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