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Shubhangi Faujdar Sahijani, Strategist & Trainer of JobS-ME

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Re-inventing job search to help individuals get results.

What’s your story?
JobS-ME – Job Search Made Easy. True to its name. I launched JobS-ME in August 2015 to help ambitious mid to senior professionals get their next ideal job fast.

With over 11 years of experience in the Singapore recruitment market (from student internships to executive level) and talking to job seekers on a daily basis, I realized that the majority of professionals put their careers on auto-pilot until an external event shakes them up. Throughout my recruitment experience, I came across professionals who are great at their work but don’t know about the changing recruitment landscape or managing their careers. I bring the expertise to re-invent job search, to help individuals get the desired results much faster.

What excites you most about your industry?
Honestly, I see myself at the cusp of a few industries – recruitment, coaching and training. With the changes happening in the economy and businesses, people are slowly but finally realising the importance of investing in themselves to reach their full potential. Being able to create impact and shifts in people’s lives, along with the privilege of witnessing the manifestation of these shifts is the most exciting aspect of my work. For example, when people progress to the next level in their career and get a role in which they feel fulfilled or get employed after taking a career break, that excites me the most.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in the city of Taj Mahal, Agra, in India and moved to Singapore at the age of 18 to study at NUS. So, I am an Asian through and through. My business is registered in Singapore and I have served clients across Asia. With one of my partners, I help companies do cultural induction training for expats to ensure that they understand the cultures across Asia – which gave me an opportunity to understand our cultures at an even greater depth.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. Can you believe that it took me a few hundred dollars and less than 3 hours to get my company set up in 2015? Where in the world can we get an efficiency like that?

There are so many other factors that make Singapore one of best cities in the world for business – meritocracy, accessibility, government support for businesses, opportunities, availability of high caliber talent, being a regional hub, infrastructure, safety and convenience. The list goes on.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To take genuine interest in people’s lives and in helping them. It may sound counter-intuitive to running a profitable business, however, if you focus on creating impact and a massive impact, that’s when the business does well too.

Who inspires you?
My mum and my husband. They have always encouraged me to do better in all aspects of life. They are my biggest critics and also my number one fans.

My clients. My work gives me the opportunity to know fantastic people across various walks of life and become a part of their lives. I am always inspired to be more, so I can support them better.

If you are looking at business icons – Gary Vaynerchuk. He just talks sense and comes with a truckload of energy. I listen to at least 1 video of him every morning to get the frame of mind correct.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
“Extreme self-care is the most selfless act.”

You may want to read it again as it may come across as a contradictory statement. One of my coaches asked me to practice it for 2 weeks and that totally shifted my perspective. I am able to ‘be’ and ‘give’ so much more when I take care of myself including my health, mental well-being, finances, emotions, everything. Even for clients, only when they take care of their careers and in which direction they are going, that’s when they produce the best results at work. However, I would like to differentiate self-interest and self-care. Self-interest would be just focusing on the salary hikes whereas self-care would be gaining new skills, and the salary hike would be a by-product

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learning to say ‘No’. Something I still struggle with from time to time. There are always signs when I meet clients initially but I tended to ignore them when I started the business. Now, I am upfront and tell the prospective clients that I would not like to ‘take their money and not create any impact.’ When people expect miracles, or have very strong notions of what they can or can’t do, or only blame others without taking responsibility, I know that we may not be a good fit. This is something with which I help my clients too. Not saying ‘yes’ to the first opportunity that comes up for them however, deliberating on their direction and making an informed choice especially when they have been in the market for a while.

How do you unwind?
Music. Cooking. Creating movement – biking, swimming, jogging and dancing. And, taking regular travel breaks.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan – love love love the food. Amazing culture. So much to offer.
For quick getaways, Bangkok. It has everything on offer – great culture, food, shopping, nightlife, massages.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris. I started my business after reading this book. In fact any professional can benefit from various aspects of this book.

Shameless plug for your business:
JobS-ME is a training, coaching and consulting company helping professionals in Singapore get their next ideal job fast. We provide one-to-one programmes for mid to senior level professionals with a promise to take them from career anxiety to career certainty, from seeking jobs to being sought after and from job frustration to satisfaction.

Apart from our individual programmes, we also train and coach at Workforce Singapore (formerly WDA), SMU, NetExpat, some polytechnics. Being passionate about all things related to career, I enjoy speaking at conferences and writing articles on this topic

How can people connect with you?
Website – www.jobs-me.com.sg
email – [email protected]
Facebook – @jobsme.sg
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/shubhangifaujdar

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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Andrew Schorr, Founder of Grata

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Taking a different route throughout his life, Andrew Schorr ended up in China and started several businesses.

What’s your story?
I moved to China after I graduated from college in 2004. English teaching was the easiest way to get there, so I looked on a map and picked a small town in Hubei, because it looked to be more or less in the middle of China. I was the only foreigner there.

Back then, everything was about the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, so I moved to the capital after my year of teaching. Pretty soon after arriving, I met the co-founder for all three of my companies. We decided to start a company together the first day we met. He has now moved back to the US and builds flight software at SpaceX.

Our first company, an online city guide, was re-purposed into our second company, GuestOps, a web concierge platform. We sold GuestOps to most of the major international hotel brands in China and still operate it. The genesis of our latest company, Grata came from looking at the intersection of hotels and WeChat in 2012, when WeChat was just starting to blow up. Grata expanded from hotels into a live-agent customer service console.

What excites you most about your industry?
Our thesis with Grata has always been that what is happening with WeChat in China is the future of messaging platforms globally, and as an international team building on WeChat, we would be well-placed to capitalize on that trend. It’s taken longer than we expected for the industry (and us, for that matter) to get there, but finally, we’re starting to see messaging as a platform to get better traction in other markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian. I grew up in Texas, where all my friends studied Spanish in school. I studied German for no reason in particular. I took a similar path in college: Chinese and Japanese seemed like languages that not a lot of people who look like me studied. I was one of only two students in my third-year Chinese class.

Concur conference in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (Photo by Paul Sakuma, Paul Sakuma Photography) www.paulsakuma.com

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai. I should live there, but Beijing has been home for so long. I take the night train down to Shanghai every two-three weeks to meet with clients. Domestic flights are way too unreliable here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t plan too far ahead; otherwise, you plan yourself out of good opportunities.

Who inspires you?
Has anyone said “Elon Musk” yet? Barack Obama would be another.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The gravitational waves recently detected from neutron stars colliding, were so subtle as to only affect the distance from earth to our closest star, Alpha Centauri (4.24 light years away) by the width of a human hair. Perhaps in another life or in the future, I’ll be an astronomer, but a telescope doesn’t do me much good in Beijing.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
When I give advice to students looking to get into entrepreneurship, I advise them to work for a post-Series A startup first and learn from a company that’s already doing things well. I learnt everything on my own, which is slower and you pay for your own education. If you work for a startup that’s small in the beginning, you risk learning bad habits.

How do you unwind?
I Hash! The Hash is a drinking club with a running problem. The Hash attracts good people from all walks of life and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a great way to meet fun-loving people all over the world. It’s also how I met my co-founder, our first lawyer, and my girlfriend.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia. A fantastic beach and where I first learned to scuba dive.

Everyone in business should read this book:
For business in China, Tim Clissold’s, Mr. China.

Shameless plug for your business:
Grata does WeChat contact centers for many top-tier brands in luxury retail, travel, financial services and hospitality. We started developing on WeChat before they even had an open platform. Grata provides the most value for large enterprises with complex routing and content demands for their contact centers.

How can people connect with you?
Check out www.grata.co or email me: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
My personal handle is @andrew_schorr and we tweet about messaging from the company handle @grata_co.

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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Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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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