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Women on Top in Tech – Grace Park, Co-Founder/President at DocDoc

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(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 Grace Park, Co-Founder and President at DocDoc. Grace Park is a professional with +19 years of experience, 12 of which have been spent in the Asia Pacific region leading pharmaceutical, medical device and digital health companies. She began her career as a Military Intelligence Officer after graduating with Honors from the US Military Academy at West Point and held various posts over her five years of military service. She left the Army with the rank of Captain. Grace has dual degrees from Harvard Business School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

 



What makes you do what you do?

“From pain, comes purpose.” This saying rings true to DocDoc’s mission. When the head liver surgeon at a respectable hospital in Singapore broke the news that our ‘healthy’ 3-month old daughter needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately for surgery because her liver was failing, my husband, Cole Sirucek, and I had so many questions. How many times did he do a liver transplant? How much will it cost? What were his outcomes? The doctor was visibly uncomfortable to answer any of these questions. My instinct – and having +10 years of experience of working closely with doctors from the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors – led me to believe that he was not the right doctor for our daughter. Our search for the right doctor began. We found a liver surgeon who is one of the pioneers of live liver transplants, and he had the highest volume worldwide as he did thousands of these procedures over decades. Plus, he was 40% less expensive than what the first surgeon was quoting us!

We had turned around from having the worst customer experience at a most vulnerable time in finding the right doctor. What we do at DocDoc is to help other patients in the doctor discovery process by providing meaningful data points so that they can make informed decisions.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I started on the corporate side of healthcare with my CEO of a top 10 global pharmaceutical company as a sponsor. He was a former military officer and hired me as a Marketing Manager. Unlike many others, he translated my five years of service as a military officer after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point as valuable operational experience to contribute and lead in his organization. That belief in me was incredibly motivating and kept me focused and disciplined throughout the years. In looking back, there are so many factors that contributed to my journey from Marketing Manager to Managing Director.

The short list would include:
1) Being in a sector in which there are tremendous opportunities to make a significant impact.
2) Working with talented colleagues to create high performing teams.
3) Aiming to set the example of never giving up.

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)

Firstly, I would say that there is no “usual” entrepreneur. The virtue of entrepreneurship is that anybody is welcomed to try.

The lack of transparency in healthcare is not a local issue but a universal problem. The world needed a solution and Cole, as DocDoc’s other co-founder, and I found us at a place and time to make it happen as he has a background in technology investments and I have a background in healthcare.

We could have just waited for someone else to do something about this problem. We were asking ourselves the questions, “If not now, when? If not us, who?”

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

There are many mentors whom I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to learn from throughout my professional life.

One of note is Bob McDonald, who was the Chairman and CEO of Proctor & Gamble. He most recently served as President Obama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, which arguably manages the world’s largest health system.

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

We met in Singapore several years ago as he served on the Singapore International Advisory Council.

There is some luck to it – being at the right place at the right time. Once there, it is about having the courage to speak to such a luminary!

We seem to have some commonalities that connected us: a belief in God which shapes our values; a personal mission to develop as leaders of character; and a hope to use our talents to the fullest to make a significant and positive impact in our societies. It’s been wonderful to call Bob a friend and a mentor.

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

There are many articles and books about each of these skill sets but I believe that the principles that I learned as a young 21-year-old platoon leader has applied well when I led teams in my corporate role and continues to do so in the start-up realm. As a leader, it is important to understand what makes your employees tick and what are their aspirations and to develop plans on how you can help them reach their goals.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I support diversity and thankfully without requiring a quota, DocDoc is evenly split between male and female employees based on merit. We are present in multiple countries throughout Asia so by default, we are diverse based not only on gender but also on many other dimensions. Healthcare is an attractive sector for women so it is wonderful to have a sizeable talent pool.

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

Distilling down to the top three, firstly it is about servant leadership. The leader’s primary role is to serve others – customers, employees, and any other stakeholders. The converse to this are those with overinflated egos and from what I’ve seen first-hand, they tend to blow up. Secondly, the great ones have more courage than fear in taking big risks especially in an industry that is highly entrenched in traditional and conservative ways. It does take guts to challenge the powerful groups that have kept the sector opaque and allergic to any transparency. Lastly, the digital health start-up world is equivalent to the “ultra” in ultramarathons so perseverance matters. Believe in your purpose, your team, and your good self.

Advice for others?

My belief is that when you fall in love with a mission that is far greater than yourself, you tap into a deeper, more profound source of motivation. There you will find what is worth fighting for!


To learn more about DocDoc, please see https://www.docdoc.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 – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist

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(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.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taravelis/

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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