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Women on Top in Tech – Sandra Yeow, Managing Director/Founder at Nucleo Consulting Pte Ltd.

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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 Sandra Yeow, Managing Director and Founder of Nucleo Consulting Pte Ltd. As an entrepreneur, author and performer, She believe in creating value in everything she do including the fabulous service she provide to her clients. She enjoy building businesses but according to her views, life is not just about working. It’s about pursuing passion so that we can achieve our goals and dreams.

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What makes you do what you do?

It’s fun. And I guess that’s what everyone calls passion. But I feel there are more to it other than passion. I’m always a very curious person and like to get to the bottom of things. The constant change in IT keeps me curious and excited. I think you need that kind of energy to fuel your passion. I also enjoy helping people so seeing how people can work more efficiently and knowing that my work has impacted them, gives me a sense of satisfaction. Starting up Nucleo made me realised that I actually enjoy working with people and starting up businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

Determination, a heart to serve and a listening ear. I have a great team backing me up too, so that’s one of the key success factors. Of course, I never let the fact that I will be judged as a woman during meetings to get me down. I have to fight many times to make sure my voice is heard and they get it clear that I am a technical and not a sales person. Yes, it means I have to lose the feminine side of myself at times.

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 was a Regional IT Manager and saw the gap in the market and decided to give it a shot. I always wanted to have my own IT company because then I can have all the freedom to bring in any interesting IT solution. But before getting to that part, it was a struggle to work 16 hours a day during the startup, handling all the administrative and operations work. Determination helps to eliminate all those challenges.  After all, YOLO right?

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 had a few. I read up on the tech giants’ founders – why and what they did, the kind of attitude needed. I also have a few friends who started businesses earlier than me, whom I look up to, even though they are all in different industries. They do share some valuable insights on the market, their industries, and their challenges as well. As my business grow, I met many other business owners who are very inspiring and more experienced. Some also offered their insights when they understood what we are doing for their business. So, I must say I have been quite lucky in this entrepreneurship path with guidance. In my opinion, having a mentor is like getting shortcuts and valuable advice that are not on books. It is so priceless. You can avoid pricy mistakes and avoid banging your head against the wall too.

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

As mentioned, I don’t have a permanent mentor per say. I learnt from various mentors from different industries.

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

My mantra is to make sure my staff gets work-life balance. We do profiling to spot the talent that would fit our corporate culture. We have a flexible work arrangement. The team gets to work from home most of the time. I see the team being more productive this way. None of them visit the office except the admin staff and even so the admin staff too get the flexibility. We work hard but we play hard too. Every year we will vote for a place to visit for company trip and the staff also undergoes training every 6 months to refresh their knowledge. I believe that as an organisation the more we groom our staff, the more we will benefit in long run and be a more sustainable organisation.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I consciously support diversity because I feel that with the globalisation of markets, it makes it even more possible to extend and reach out to talents, customers and solutions all over the world. It also allows us to bring good solutions to our customer if we identify that there is a good fit for our target market. Same goes for talents, I don’t see why we should be restricted to a particular gender, race or nationality.

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 a good leader, you need to be someone who can make a firm decision on the direction. There are too many new developments in IT. You need to be decisive and be well informed to gear the team forward. A bad decision is better than no decision! And be a fair leader.

Advice for others?

I’m writing my 1st book “Obstinacy Power – How Determination can Empower You and Make You a Winner”. It is based on my 6-step strategy to achieve any goals in life, a mantra that I have been following for years and achieved various milestones in my life. The book also marks the 10th year anniversary of my Subaru Challenge winning. Half of the book proceeds will also go to a charity that is close to my heart. There will also be an online portal following the book launch to provide some useful information for those who wish to startup. Just hope to share my experience and make others have a less painful path with lesser mistakes.


To learn more about Nucleo Consulting Pte Ltd, please see http://www.nucleoconsulting.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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