Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Annette Muller, Founder at Flexy

Published

on

(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is my interview with Annette Muller, Founder at Flexy. She has an inquisitive analytical mind coupled with a very active imagination, experience varied within the technology and finance industry. She is a natural entrepreneur and learned from spending time in innovation agencies, corporates, start-ups to exiting my first business DOTNXT and moving on to founding and currently managing Flexy, South Africa’s first on-demand-working booking and payment platform.


What makes you do what you do?

I am deeply passionate about the world of work at large, and how companies and people work together every day. How value is created and rewarded. I have always been fascinated by this concept and am constantly observing humans go to work, spending the majority of their lives and time doing so actually. And yet, a lot of discontentment all round. Seeing people stuck in traffic. Seeing people in a cubicle in a corporate, never smiling. Seeing people in front of a computer for hours every day. Seeing people who are “unemployed” and all they strive for is that cubicle or the salary that comes with it. And on the other side seeing companies constantly complaining about their people, not able to find talent, not able to keep talent or motivate them. It makes me want to shake it up, and flip the concept of “Employment” on its head.

So I get up every morning, with a mission to impact and change, in whichever small way, the way companies and people work together. The way the world of employment and earning money, which is the source of so many parts of our lives work. I want to enable freedom of work, and empower people to choose what they want to do and how they do it whilst earning what they need to live the lives they want to live! And ofcourse I love creating things, especially businesses and testing business models, so knowing I get to create products, systems, processes, new markets, technology and test business models every day is what keeps me awake at night.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I think I am still rising! It is a never ending journey 🙂

I started my adventure into the world of Technology at a young age, and besides South Africa being a little “behind” the rest of the world which can be a tad frustrating, and so many of my previous start-ups and initiatives totally failed due to being premature, I am grateful being exactly where I am right now. Perseverance, learning to fail and let go quickly, trusting your intuition and a strong sense of adventure is what kept me going and still does every day.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you? (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)

I am not quite sure what that means, usual leadership demographics? I think women lead in many ways – perhaps not in business, but leadership is not just for business. So that didn’t really feel like a “stretch” to me. I took on this startup because it is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now, it was never a question in my mind, I was always going to build and scale a business. Female or not.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

Yes, I have mentors. And a big learning from my previous business was to have strong mentorship. Advisors. To really reach out and ask for help. No one can tell you what to do, or how to do it, but people with experience can tell you what is potentially coming around the corner and prepare you better to handle and deal with whatever comes your way. And that is the most valuable thing in having mentors. In terms of how it is a process, but for me it is all about the “trust spark” – I have to instinctively trust the person in front of me and feel a little spark to respect them as a mentor. But I have also learned, that gifts of wisdom comes in many shapes and forms, and it is really your own responsibility to extract value from every person crossing your path.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?

I like how you assume it is a “him” 🙂

I think my previous answer explains the “match” part, but one thing to add is that very practically – you have to reach out. No mentor is gonna find you. You have to reach out and say, “Hi, I would love to go for a coffee, I feel I can really learn from you and would love to meet up if you open to it”. You have to put yourself out there. And be okay with No, not everyone will have the time to give, but the right person will be inspired to help you along your journey.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

This is always a challenge, and definitely still a learning curve for me. But one thing I have learned is to surround myself with people way smarter than myself. And typically they are easier to spot than to develop, keep and grow! One of my key practices is freedom, right now we are really experimenting with how we run Flexy as a business. It is a full on-demand and remote team. With everyone working independently and carrying a lot of responsibility and individual accountability, where leadership becomes even more important. In my limited experience, I have seen that inspired, free and happy people generally perform the best. So we do what we need to at Flexy to ensure everyone is Inspired, free, happy and constantly connecting at a human level. A business is a lot like a family on a mission to me. So keeping it transparent and open is key for me. But as I said, this is definitely a part I am very much still learning about myself ever day.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Consciously support it! It has been proven that diverse thinking, backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, cultures together opens up opportunities and solutions to problems a lot faster and more effectively. And I personally enjoy variety, in all aspects of life, including the humans I surround myself with every day.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

I don’t think there is one general rule of thumb, and leadership again for me sits at a higher level than specific to an industry. But I do believe that one element specific to the technology industry is this concept of “Real-time and open source leadership”. For me that is something I consciously weave into my leadership style, everything happens in real time and the idea of “open source” transparency at all levels, no formalities in my camp! It is a new kind of leadership based on a new flat world we finding ourselves in, that isn’t the typical dictatorship style many of us have been exposed to over the years.

Advice for others?

Right now I am all about The Future of Work and trying to understand how companies of the future will manage their on-demand workforces. The world is changing very rapidly around us, and the next generation of people [ and machines! ;)] coming into the “workforce” will have very different expectations. Independence. Instant Everything. Flexibility. Variety. and most importantly a strong desire for Purpose.

My advice is to get up close and personal with your real skills, creativity, intuition, decision making, leadership skills because all the robotic jobs coming from the industrial revolution will be replaced with machines and robots moving forward. Previous industrial revolutions have shown us that if companies and industries don’t adapt with new technology, they struggle. Worse, they fail.

So Flexy2.0 is what we are hard at work behind the scenes right now, geared to launch in South Africa in late August – as the first on-demand workforce management tool that will make this transition for companies and individuals alike, from the industrial age to this new on-demand world we live in.


To learn more about Flexy, please see https://www.flexyskills.com.

I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
AMPLIFY Conscious Business Leadership with me.

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Daphne Ng, CEO of JEDTrade

Published

on

(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Daphne Ng is the CEO of JEDTrade, a blockchain technology company focused on trade, supply chain, and financial inclusion projects in ASEAN. She is also the Scretary-General at ACCESS and Exco. of Singapore Fintech Association

What makes you do what you do?
I was introduced to blockchain technology in 2016 after I left my corporate banking career after 10 years. It was my mentor who first got me interested in this technology, which I then went on to delve further into, on its potential applications in the lending and trade finance space – domains where I came from.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Being in the space for 2 years and actively involved in the ecosystem, I was able to bring on the projects, network and a good degree of thought leadership in this vertical. Early on in the startup journey, our team faced many challenges. And to me, the key to rising above failures are two essential factors – resilience and support. While resilience is innate, I received a lot of help be it in terms of connections or advice. ‘Nobody succeeds without help’ rings very true for me.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
From the start, I focused on my domain expertise in trade finance and the application construct of how blockchain and DLT can be applied to these use cases. Also, my strategy from the start was to build a technology company made up of 80% tech and engineers, which is also our key competitive advantage today. At the end of the day, deliverables are about strategy and execution, which includes building and leading an ‘A’ team.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have many mentors, which includes our company advisors (all of whom are well-known in this industry) and mostly informal mentors I meet via my connections, and on various occasions and circumstances. Creating opportunities also means putting myself in the right place, at the right time. And in my case, these were mostly organic and genuine friendships formed from the initial connection.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
To me, a match in values is very important. It also takes humility to ask for help and be willing to listen to advice, which is important in order for mentorships to be successful – be it formal or informal.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I love this question! I am passionate about building strong teams and helping my people grow. I abide by the 3Rs when identifying talents: resourcefulness, resilience and right values. And then I invest in the ‘potential’ and this means giving them room to lead, make decisions and take risks.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
My support of diverse talents, skillsets and characters can be seen in the make-up of our core team – all helming specific roles and each bringing their own value to the table. We need the sum of all parts to build a great company.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Great leaders emerge in times of failures and challenges, never abandoning the team, and always putting the team’s interests before her own. And I consciously live by these mottos every day.

Advice for others?
My advice to other entrepreneurs: be resolute and dare to be different. If you are going to follow others, then you will end up on the same path as them. No right or wrong; but I would rather chart my own path. This June, we are officially launching our blockchain project, Jupiter Chain (www.jupiterchain.tech), which have garnered much interest in the industry, even before we made it public. We believe this project is the epitome of marrying innovation with practical implementation, and we want to be the first to truly operationalize blockchain for our ecosystem projects in this region.


If you’d like to get in touch with Daphne Ng, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-ng-%E9%BB%84%E7%91%9E%E7%8E%B2/

To learn more about JEDTrade, please click here.

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Trending