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Women on Top in Tech – Olatorera Oniru, CEO at Dressmeoutlet.com.

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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 Olatorera Oniru, an assiduous entrepreneur passionate about all things Africa. As CEO of Dressmeoutlet.com, she is currently leading initiatives to realize a pinnacle in Africa’s history whereby we would rely less on importation and innovate more with natural resources and citizenry capabilities. A member of The National Scholars Honor Society USA, Olatorera flourished her career working for two Fortune Top 5 companies namely Bank of America Merrill Lynch and General Electric. She also worked for one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, Lars Magnus Ericsson, as a global consultant and later as Head of Sales Governance. During the course of her employed years, she traveled to over 50 cities in over 10 countries in 4 continents.


What makes you do what you do?

I absolutely enjoy what I do. If it doesn’t make people happy or make the world a better place, it may not be worth pushing. But more importantly, results fuel my desire for more results. I love seeing great results. We measure our success day to day, month to month, by the growth numbers. Every new customer counts! Every new partnership counts! Customers in London being excited that they received their packages from Lagos within 3 days makes us want to figure out a way to get it to them within 2 days! The possibilities are endless, the results are exciting.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I founded Dressmeoutlet.com, an online retailer of fashion and beauty products with over 60% of products on Dressmeoutlet.com designed or manufactured within Africa.

The rise in the industry can be attributed to the growth in satisfied customers and this can be attributed to the quality of the products we retail and how important customer relationships are at Dressmeoutlet.com.

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 love fashion at great prices and I have a background in telecommunications and technology consulting. This, in addition to my passion for Africa’s development, led to the development of Dressmeoutlet.com, a company innovatively engineering the globalization of made in Africa fashion and beauty products.

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 one or two mentors who have excelled professionally and entrepreneurially that I have occasional conversations with and other times, I also learn indirectly from very successful people who I may not personally know but really like their story. I meet new people on a daily basis too – I enjoy connecting with people and building relationships.

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

I’m naturally big on networking. I enjoy meeting new people and making connections that work. From being a mentee to being a mentor to being a customer to being a leader. The connections we build daily are all part of our growth ecosystem.

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

By winning over and mentoring other people with great talent. Leaders cannot succeed alone – they must have the right mix of partners and supporters. At Dressmeoutlet.com, we are constantly recruiting great talent as we grow.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I support diversity consciously or unconsciously. Diversity is what makes us human. We are all different and differences should be embraced and not used as a tool for segregation. Not all Africans are…, not all Europeans are…, not all Muslims are…, not all women are…, not all surgeons are … Let’s appreciate and develop people for their individuality, their talent, their capabilities, their desires and not for their classification by gender, race, religion, geographic citizenship or other diversity classifications. Many people were born into a particular classification and that’s all they know or love. We must appreciate what makes others different. This is not to say that businesses should consciously focus on ensuring diversity but more so that businesses should focus on hiring the best person for the job regardless of their diversity.

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

Leaders must lead, leaders must care, and leaders must make things work. I’m very big on ensuring that the best man for the job gets the title. A great leader will mentor others and will always be ready to pass on the baton to someone even greater or better.

Advice for others?

My biggest advice is this “Push your desires. Don’t let anything stop you from doing anything great for the world.” I’m currently in the process of publishing a share all book titled “Push Your Desires”. I want to see more greatness being pushed out to the world especially emerging from the continent of Africa. A continent with massive potentials, great natural resources and amazing human talents.


To learn more about Dress Me Outlet, please see https://www.dressmeoutlet.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

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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.)

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.

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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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