Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Melissa C. Guzy, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Arbor Ventures

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.)

Melissa C. Guzy is the Co-Founder and the Managing Partner of Arbor Ventures, which is focused on investing in FinTech, Big Data, and Digital Commerce with offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Tel Aviv. Arbor invests in companies that have a regional or global reach. Melissa has more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and as a venture investor, across Asia and Silicon Valley, and has been recognized as one of the Top 200 FinTech Influencers in Asia 2018. She has been a guest lecturer on the Venture Capital Industry at the University of Florida, Hong Kong University, Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She serves on the Board of Directors of the HKVCA and is Co-Chair of the HKVCA Venture Committee.as well as on the Board of Innovation for the Hong Kong Securities and Commodities Commission. Melissa is a Hopkins Fellow and participated in the Women’s Leadership Program at Harvard University.

What makes you do what you do?
I get up every morning with an aspiration to change the world. At Arbor, we are fortunate to partner with some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, We get to participate in their journey, helping entrepreneurs build great companies. At Arbor, we have built Asia’s largest Financial strategic network to help our entrepreneurs and we are continuously driving forward to support entrepreneurs and maximise impact.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I’ve been in the Financial/Investment space for over 20 years, both as an entrepreneur and heading up a large SIlicon Valley firm in Asia. I’ve seen both sides of the coin – an entrepreneur who joined a venture firm – VantagePoint, I then started Arbor Ventures to return to my entrepreneurial roots as I wanted to help others pursue their dreams.

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 enjoy building things from the ground up and being part of the journey. At Arbor, I get the opportunity to invest in and engage with exceptional entrepreneurs who are looking at ways to change the FinTech landscape, whether they are aiming at being local leaders in Asia, or companies from across the globe with world-class technology applicable to the Asian market.

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 was very fortunate to have a few mentors and even now I reach out to them for advice, from a cross-section of the industries I’m involved in.  One never stops learning unless they choose to stop.

How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her? 
It was by circumstance, each one of them enables me to have a sounding board, and we have developed strong relationships over the years, and these relationships are invaluable in continuing to learn and develop.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Venture Capital is a mentoring business and I try to give the same feedback and challenges to our team. Natural curiosity is a key element of any VC. It is key to us to mentor both talent within the company and Arbor’s portfolio companies. It’s a key driver in building successful companies. Additionally, for anyone – whether man or woman, who have achieved success in any field, I believe it is essential to give back and nurture talent both in your own field and other areas.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
Diversity is important. The world is diverse and it just makes good business sense to have a diverse team. At Arbor, this is something which is a big part of who we are. In the company, there are seven nationalities, from a broad range of disciplines. By having a diverse team you get different skill sets and viewpoints, reflecting the complex global environment we live in today.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
To be humble with success and generous with your time to inspire others. I believe it’s key to understand both your strengths and weaknesses and work with your team and colleagues to push everyone forward and continue learning.

Advice for others?
Pursue a passion, expect to work incredibly hard, and when you succeed be generous with your time to mentor others.


If you’d like to get in touch with Melissa C. Guzy, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-guzy-52b86747/

To learn more about Arbor Ventures, please click here.

Continue Reading
Comments

Callum Connects

Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

Published

on

Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

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

Callum Connects

Joel Tay, CEO of Soft Space

Published

on

With a desire to run his own business, Joel Tay wanted to tick two boxes first – trying his hand in the corporate world and knowing the business he wanted to end up in.

What’s your story?
I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Before that, I needed to fulfill two important things. The first thing, having a corporate foundation, and the second, knowing the business that I’m getting into. First of all, after gaining experience with Ernst and Young, I started a school in Jakarta with my mother, who used to be a teacher. Some of my ex-colleagues laughed at me for doing this instead of working towards partnership like everybody else.

While the school was running, I returned to the corporate world because I was given a chance to try out something I’ve always wanted to try, consulting in IT Security, and this time with PwC. In my second return to the business world, I never looked back. I started a mobile device distribution company with friends, and later on diversified into IT Consulting in Mobile Device Management, and subsequently ended up in the payments business.

Today I manage Soft Space – a company thriving in the payments industry with a group of talented colleagues and engineers. The school I mentioned earlier is now in 8 different locations across Jakarta serving more than one thousand students.

What excites you most about your industry?
Payments are evolving so quickly; there’s so much to learn. No one can really say that they know everything there is to know about payments. I have learnt so much going from one country to another learning each time how payments work uniquely in each society.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is Soft Space’s focus. We strongly believe that markets in Asia will be the primary drivers and innovators in the payments space for years to come.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Bangkok. I have a great business partner there, the banks are innovative, the market is huge and the people are creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My parents reading Matthew 6:33 to me: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This has taught me to prioritise the important things in life, and then everything else will fall into place according to God’s will.

Who inspires you?
My father and my Godfather. Both are men of principles who are very successful in their own trade, loving to their families and God-fearing.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The amount of money technology companies in the US lost in 2017. In Asia, and in particular SEA, investors won’t take two glances at your company if you’re not profitable to begin with.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn Mandarin. When I was young, my teacher gave a group of us a choice – attend Mandarin classes or wash school toilets. Every time I hear my colleagues laugh when I try to speak Mandarin, I think of that moment when we walked towards the toilet.

How do you unwind?
I watch movies with my wife. It takes us to another world and back to reality in two hours. No vacation can be so fast and effective.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. Friendly people, great resorts and good restaurants.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. There are many lessons to be learned from the man who had it all, lost it all, and earned it back again.

Shameless plug for your business:
No one can claim to have one solution that fits all in payments. Your needs are always different and unique to the market you’re operating in. I’d like to think that we’ve been around the industry long enough to be able to advise and customise something for you. https://www.softspace.com.my/about-us

How can people connect with you?
I’m always just an email away – [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@crusaderdotcom

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