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Women on Top in Tech – Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder/CEO at CXA Group.

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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 Rosaline Chow Koo, Founder and CEO of CXA GroupCXA’s vision is to unlock wellness in the workplace without firms spending more, by converting existing insurance and healthcare dollars into prevention and disease management. CXA empowers employees to become healthier and reduces HR’s administrative workload while controlling rising healthcare costs.

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What makes you do what you do? 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)?

After 5 years of repeatedly justifying business cases to NY HQ at my ex-firm, I was totally obsessed with solving my client’s pain points in Asia.  Since they never invested in Asia, I decided to build my dream on my own and ended up investing $5M of my own money and signing a personal guarantee for another $5M.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I was actually hired in at the top as the Asia Pacific leader after disintermediating the brokers since I didn’t think they added any value to me as an insurer. I signed my offer letter the day before they were sued by the Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and had to payout an $800M penalty. So I took over a firm that had only grown to $150M in premiums over 30 years and grew them 800% in 8 years to almost a billion. To achieve this, I changed our value proposition, launched new products and systems, got sibling companies to stop fighting and instead work together on a pan-regional solution and upgraded the talent by moving dozens of people to Asia.  We became the dominant firm in Asia with 50% more market share than the #2.

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 had a mentor who was also a fighter and workaholic, but he left to join a competitor mid-way after fighting for Asia with the global CEO in NYC.

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

He was the head of Asia and my boss.  Previously he was the head of Europe and also Canada.

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

Success in startups is all about having the very best talent. So my job is to aggregate the very best talent in my industry to work together to become the industry leader.  Since we invested heavily in technology and data analytics, we’re attracting those who want to move fast and make a difference.  We’re now investing heavily in the CXA Academy to develop our talent.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I consciously support diversity since there are so few women entrepreneurs and executive female leaders. We need more female role models in Asia so I try to speak at relevant events to touch as many people as I can.

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 can deliver radical change and results by galvanizing a team towards a different vision of the future and have the execution ability to transform a dream into reality.

Advice for others?

My varied experience across countries, companies and functions really helped me to understand business models and to envision a very different future in each industry I entered. My first 10 years gave me a good foundation in people leadership, new product development/product management, operations management and re-engineering, strategic planning and client service quality. Over the last 2 decades, I took on very difficult stretch roles launching new start-ups and transforming legacy businesses so have honed my ability to deliver results. All of these experiences led me to build my own tech start-up now valued at $US100M after launching 3 years ago.  So I encourage people to take on difficult roles outside of their comfort zone to grow their skills and confidence.


To learn more about CXA Group, please see http://www.cxagroup.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.

Callum Connects

Brad Adams, Managing Director of Ocean Grown Abalone

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Ocean Grown Abalone’s, Brad Adams is revolutionising abalone production in a clean, green and sustainable way off the south west coast of Australia.

What’s your story?
I grew up in the remote town of Augusta in the very south west of Western Australia where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.

My family have a long association with aquaculture and the fishing industry. I’m a 3rd generation fisherman and my father founded the commercial wild abalone diving industry in Flinders Bay in the 1960s.

I followed an aquaculture route, and after I completed my studies in Tasmania, I returned home to start the development of a new technique of growing abalone.

After close to 20 years researching, developing and inventing a new technology, OGA’s sea ranching technique was born and the ‘abitat’ was developed.

Sea ranching is an aquaculture technique where hatchery bred juvenile abalone are placed on OGA designed artificial reefs, ‘abitats’, which are placed in the ocean and left to nature to grow for 2-3 years until they reach a marketable size. They feed and survive in the wild.

The abalone produced from the sea ranch is identical to the highly sought after wild catch product, but has the competitive advantages that only aquaculture can provide. OGA can supply year round to meet market demands to whatever size or product specification the market requires.

Importantly, the sustainability of the abalone using the sea ranching technique is proven and monitored on an ongoing basis. Monitoring the ‘abitats’ and the sea ranching technology is paramount to OGA.

What excites you most about your industry?
That we can grow a premium seafood product which is highly revered in Asia, in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The sea life we are seeing in Flinders Bay now that the reefs are down is incredible. We are seeing many different types of fish which were no longer in the bay as well as plenty of sea grass creating an underwater sustainable ecosystem.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and bred in Augusta in WA. OGA exports premium greenlip abalone to Asian markets including Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. It has a strong seafood (especially abalone) culture developed with Australian exporters over many years. Also the buyers are great; relaxed people who enjoy having a good time showing you their amazing city.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only live once, so always follow your passions.

Who inspires you?
Andrew Forrest – his single minded purpose and determination, and how he uses his wealth to improve the lives of others.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories per hour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There are many things I would do differently if I had today’s hindsight as foresight, however all my mistakes, successes and decisions have made me the person I am today. I am comfortable with that.

How do you unwind?
I am a keen surfer. Being at one with the ocean is important to me.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Lembongan, Indonesia. Great waves, great food, great people

Everyone in business should read this book:
Grit – Angela Duckworth
“Success is the result of passion and persistence, not talent and luck.”

Shameless plug for your business:
OGA have developed the world’s first commercial greenlip abalone sea ranching facility. We build our own artificial abalone reefs (called abitats) on our leases in the pristine waters of Flinders Bay. We place hatchery reared juvenile abalone on them – then let nature (with a little help from our divers) do the rest to produce this marine delicacy. A totally natural, ‘wild-harvest’ product. Because we have some control of the process we can harvest to market demand to whatever size the market requires. We call this aquaculture technique sea ranching.

This video explains the business in 7 minutes: https://vimeo.com/225797022

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected] or
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oceangrownabalone/

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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Callum Connects

Lex Na, CEO of Bountie Pte Ltd

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Lex is the founder of a digital agency, a couple of e-commerce businesses and he has just started a gaming, tech, blockchain business, Bountie.io which is his main focus.

What’s your story?
I’m a workaholic, not because I’m forced to but I absolutely love the grind. I may be conditioned due to my previous gaming experience. We as gamers have to play long hours everyday to level up as the difficulty increases. Everything I do right now is a step towards the greater good.
I’m the founder of a boutique Digital Agency and a couple of e-Commerce businesses. I have been in tech for more than 10 years. Those businesses are currently automated to hand to my partners so I can solely focus on Bountie.io.

What excites you most about your industry?
Bountie is in the Gaming/eSports/Technology/Cryptocurrency/Blockchain industry. It’s a combination of all the things I love to do and have been doing since I was young. Right now it’s at the forefront of the world’s economy.
I love the crazy pace, the hype and the future of this industry and it’s drawing the best and the brightest, the upcoming generation that will be the leaders of our future.
Everyday there’s something new, different and revolutionary happening.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I have been to most parts of Asia and I have been learning and observing other cultures, languages and lifestyles. I have also been to Europe and America. I still love the diversity here.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s one of the many cities that’s truly efficient, meritocratic and frictionless. The only con is that it’s too small! Other than that, I love Singapore. We have great infrastructure and support. Low corporate taxes as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Live each day as if it’s my last. By Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech in Stanford. Although I didn’t receive it personally, I took it to heart. I listened to that speech multiple times, sometimes putting it on repeat whilst I was working. I really believe in giving everything I have every single moment of my life. Because life is so fragile, you’ll never know when your last day is. So I live everyday without regrets.

Who inspires you?
As above, Steve Jobs. He has an amazing story. I read his biography, watched a keynote presentation by him, saw the movie about him. His ideology and way of life inspires me. His attention to detail and perfectionist mindset, resulting in a legacy that’s still impacting our lives until now.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It was from someone whom I just knew for an hour. He told me that if I can find happiness in the same thing that makes me sad, that’s when I truly would be happy. I didn’t understand until he explained further.
An occurrence may result in a few reactions to a person. You can either look at the positive side or negative side, both are dependant on you personally. For example, a difficult boss may result in you becoming a more detailed employee, but you only think about how miserable your life is under him.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would do all this again, if not I wouldn’t be at the stage where I am at currently and where I will be in the future. I believe every single step of the way resulted in who and what I am presently. The tough times I have been through, regardless of how bad it was back then, made me stronger. If I could go back and change it, take the easy way out, I’ll be a softer person now.

How do you unwind?
I have been practicing yoga and meditation for about 3 years now. These two activities allow me to slow down and maintain a sane mind from my 14-16 hours of work, Monday to Sunday. I would strongly encourage anyone interested to try a “Calm” mobile app, it has free content for you to try before purchasing their premium content.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Langkawi Island in Malaysia. I unknowingly booked a flight there for my wife’s birthday about 2 years ago because it has a Starwood Hotel (I’m a platinum member). When I reached there I understood why it was one of the best islands to visit in Asia. The best experience I had was the island hopping on jet skis. We could ride fast and there weren’t caps like other touristy places and across huge distances with the guide. The waters were also clean and clear. A perfect getaway.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. One of the many books of our time that would remain as a timeless classic for entrepreneurs and business owners. Great interview questions which reveal deep insights into the inner workings of each and every one of his guests. He also asks some similar questions to multiple guests, from there the reader is able to distinguish that there isn’t one fixed method that the successful people follow, but each of them have a different path. So follow the ones that resonate with you and you’ll still be able to reach the point of success.

Shameless plug for your business:
1. Advisors and Mentors – Industry experts who have been there and done that. We need your wisdom and guidance through this challenging path.
2. Investors – In order to achieve what we aim to in our projected timeline and pace, we need more money to give us the runway and fuel to do it.
3. Team members – We are expanding at breakneck speed, from 2 guys to now 24 people working to make Bountie a success. But in order to increase the speed of growth, we need more “A” players who share our vision and are willing to work hard together to make this happen.

How can people connect with you?
It’s usually the case if you want to reach out to people in a company, by emailing [email protected] So make a guess, drinks on me for the right answer.

Twitter handle?
Unfortunately I do not have Twitter nor Instagram. I do have Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lexfromhotmail) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lexna/) if you wish to connect via social. From there we can connect and chat further!

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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