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Ruchira Hoon Philip, Journalist & Food Blogger

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For this foodie, the world is her oyster. Ruchira Hoon Philip loves cooking, eating and writing about food. She has turned her passion for food into her profession.

What’s your story?
I’m a glutton. But that’s only half my story. I cook. I feed. I blog. I write. I develop. I do all things with food. I started cooking when I was 9 and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped really. I have been a journalist for over 10 years, participated in Masterchef India four years ago and I started food blogging about 3 years ago. Since then I have started developing recipes for restaurants, curating food events, critiquing restaurants and now I head the content and marketing of a brand new recipe aggregator site called BetterButter.in

Oh and I collect cookbooks!

What excites you most about your industry?
I love the fact that there’s unlimited possibilities in the food industry. That there is space for all. What you really need is to have your food sensibilities about you and a developed palate and then the world is your oyster.

I think this is an amazing time to be in the food industry. People are so much more aware of what they put in their mouths now and where their food is coming from. More questions means more opportunities.

What’s your connection to Asia?
For starters, I live in India. Home to at least 120 different varieties of cuisine. How much more exciting can that get.

I love that being in India now, means being exposed to so many things from our neighbouring countries. From Pakistan to Thailand to Sri Lanka, food tastes different and being in India, it’s accessible within a few hours.

David Rocco With Masterchef

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’m torn here. My brain says Singapore but my heart says Bangkok. But to be fair, to be in Delhi or Mumbai at the moment, in the food industry, is a good place to be too. There’s a lot happening in these four cities – good food, great business acumen and an overall sense of excitement that’s almost infectious.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t worry about the money, do what you love and nurture your talent. I think I’ve always been afraid of taking that leap of faith, which is why I have always walked the fine line – to be a journalist or to cook. It took me a while to realise I could actually figure a middle path and do both. And here I am today, doing what I love, and not a day does it seem like “work”.

Who inspires you?
I think it’s more like what inspires me. Good food inspires me. Great food that knocks my socks off and that makes me want to hug it, inspires me. To be fair, I love watching people, love reading about the new trends, love looking at food pictures and then wait for a bit, and be filled with excitement.

Colours inspire me as do smells. Oh that smell of bacon frying, or cinnamon wafting through the kitchen – it’s all inspirational for me.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve been judged all my life. Too rebellious they said, too troubled. So when I recently learnt that people actually looked up to me and thought I was doing good in the world,  I felt very humbled. It was an emotional point for me and I didn’t see it coming. That blew me away.

But in terms of work, I had this meal, with my husband, which shut us both up, at Indian Accent. Oh the food, the food. Chef Manish Mehrotra is a magician. I wish I could have apprenticed under him.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t have listened to my father and gone with my gut! So the story is such – when I finished school, I wanted to go into a Hotel Management school, he coaxed me into doing my bachelors in English and then apply.

Post that, I was readying myself to go to the CIA – Culinary Institute of America – he convinced me into doing my masters, which I graduated with honors in Mass Communication. And the next thing, I knew I was a journalist.

I wish I had put my foot down, it would have opened windows of opportunity that would have changed my life.

How do you unwind?
I have two dogs that drive me completely insane but they are so much fun. They are super entertaining. I also entertain a lot, so I love designing menus and thinking of my next meal. I also love murder mysteries and watch a lot of these shows such as CSI, Unforgettable, True Detective. The more murders to solve, the happier I get. I also love Modern Family and can watch it all the time.

Oh but when I’m really bummed, I like to bake or swim or just sleep.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I have a few of them – Pondicherry for starters. Peace, quiet and general loveliness. Bangkok for it’s busy streets and awesome food and finally Bali, because it is just gorgeous.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Anything by James Beard, Ruth Reichl, Thomas Keller, Dorie Greenspan and even Ferran Adria is worth a dekko. Closer home I’d suggest we read up on Indian classics to learn about food.

Shameless plug for your business:
I blog because I love it. My blog is called www.thegreatcookaroo.com. But the truth is, I can’t stand still. I have to have my hands in many pies. And it’s through my blog I’ve got to do so many wonderful things such as; design menus for restaurants and now www.BetterButter.in, a site where we are collecting recipes, heirlooms, everyday or otherwise.

How can people connect with you?
Through email is great – [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@ruchirahoon

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

CallumConnects

Callum 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

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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Ray Ferguson, Founder of Caber Partners

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Ray Ferguson left the banking world and returned to Asia to explore exciting fintech opportunities.

What’s your story?
I am the Founder of Caber Partners, a Singapore based MAS Licensed Fund Manager and Financial Advisor investing and working with companies focused exclusively on the intersection of finance and technology. I work specifically in the areas of payments, insurance, wealth management, alternative lending and blockchain.

I am also Chairman of Singapore Life which was founded last year. It is the first new local life company in Singapore. Concurrently, I chair Youtap a business which is creating a cashless e-money processing backbone providing real-time interoperable settlements of all consumer e-money payments to the merchants, e-money providers, retail and FMCG distribution groups, and banks across emerging markets.

My 30 year journey as a banker had its main leg with Standard Chartered Bank, where I held multiple country chief executive and regional leadership roles across four continents. I spent 6 years as Regional CEO, South East Asia and Chief Executive, Singapore. After Standard Chartered, I moved to Bank ABC, Bahrain and assumed the role of Group Chief Banking Officer where I took care of the group’s banking businesses worldwide.
Last year, I decided to step down after 3 years from my role with Bank ABC to return to Asia to pursue interesting and exciting opportunities that fintech disruption was providing.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sheer pace of technological innovation in the financial sector, and how it is up-ending the traditional models and traditional players. There are huge implications and benefits for efficiency, transparency and importantly financial inclusion which will drive growth in emerging markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. I first came to Singapore in 1994 and today I am a proud Singapore citizen, and to me Singapore is home.

Its an invigorating environment. Asia is in the middle of an historic transformation. If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. This is a big deal and I’m excited to be part of it!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! Singapore is known for being a business-friendly country and it was crowned the best country in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business List” and ranks as the top 3 in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index.” Singapore is an attractive hub, for both businesses and has a great community to live in.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen intently and you will know what you don’t know.

Who inspires you?
Nelson Mandela

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the global mobile wallet market was valued at approximately USD 594 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 3,100 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 32% between 2017 and 2022.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learnt to code.

How do you unwind?
Exercise, golf and sailing large catamarans.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket. Easy to reach, Thai people and service, breadth of choice of locations/accomodation and great sailing weather.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great – Jim Collins. It’s about how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how and why most companies fail to make the transition.

Shameless plug for your business:
Caber Partners team is uniquely connected with our networks and experience in fintech markets, investing and banking and business growth solutions throughout Asia and across the emerging world.

How can people connect with you?
Come connect with me through my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayfergusonscb

Twitter handle?
Rayferguson888

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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