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Dr. Maren Schweizer, CEO of Schweizer World

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Dr Maren Schweizer is revolutionsing the automotive industry and believes Singapore is at the forefront of automotive innovation.

What’s your story?
From an early age I was fascinated with aviation and eventually decided to follow my dream of earning a pilot’s license while pursuing my engineering degree. I joined private jet company Dassault Falcon Service in Paris after my studies as a sales director and as an aviation captain. I learned so much working for Dassault: Understanding the differences and needs of our target markets, restructuring and growing a company. In 2005, I joined the family business. Success didn’t come easy, and we had to adapt quickly to change and evolve our business mindset to survive. Since then, the company has grown into a global tech company focused on revolutionising the automotive industry.

What excites you most about your industry?
Disruptive, technology-driven trends that are already on the horizon, creating new challenges and opportunities for the automotive industry. The industry is working furiously to adapt to these changes and it’s definitely going to be an interesting ride.

What’s your connection to Asia?
As a child my parents brought me to Singapore, where my father had started his joint venture Pentex-Schweizer. I will never forget my first shopping mall experience in Singapore. We visited a Chinese pharmacy in People’s Park, Chinatown to buy a tub of Tiger Balm. For many years thereafter, I was in Singapore twice a year and fell in love with the fast-paced, exciting environment which has inspired many aspects of my life. I really couldn’t get Singapore out of my head and moved here four years ago with my children.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, obviously!

It maintains its edge as an innovation-driven economy. Singapore will slowly but surely become the Silicon Valley of Asia.

Autonomous cars will transform the passenger experience. Passengers will get to kick back while vehicles drive them to their destinations. Singapore is at the forefront of the move to driverless cars primarily because it has a strong ecosystem needed for these type of innovations to thrive.

To sustain this momentum and retain pole position as an innovation hub, the city-state needs to continually ramp up its efforts in:
IoT – the future of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies
R&D – on elements, devices and functions required to support self-driving capabilities
AI ecosystem – large corporations have in-house Artificial Intelligence departments, SMEs can use crowdsourcing platforms to get secure, customised AI solutions.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My father and grandfather told me as a kid that it is important to focus on a win-win for everybody in a company. Focus on the people that work with you. Make employees and their families happy and they will contribute to making our customers happy and the company successful. I believe in the importance of working for a company also benefits your private life as well.

Who inspires you?
Winston Churchill. He once said; “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” He was a great leader and managed to bridge the gap and reconcile the differences between communities in conflict. Also, Oscar Wilde who said; “Be yourself, everybody else is taken.” We need to have the courage and commitment to be our authentic self – to stay in alignment with who and what we really are.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
My unexpected “promotion” from CEO to DEO in February this year and joining the club of “Dismissed Executive Officers.” I’ve embraced it as just another test of character and see it as life offering me a new path of possibilities and choices.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have focussed on finding myself earlier and adjusting my choices and decisions accordingly.

How do you unwind?
I look for inspiration. I love going for walks, people-watching, discovering new places. I also read a lot and love creating mashups of electronic songs during long-haul flights.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The Maldives. I have wonderful memories as a teenager. It was here that I started scuba diving at the age of 15 and where I experienced feeding the sharks. Little did I know I would be in a corporate shark tank later in my life.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert

Shameless plug for your business:
Trading as family-run businesses with a long tradition since 1849, we are geared towards sustainable, long-term success. Our expertise is in restructuring, corporate finance, International M&A and Succession. Our services connect the world and will help you change the way you do business.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://sg.linkedin.com/in/dr-schweizer
http://www.schweizer.world

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

Callum Connects

Cassiopea Yap, Founder of Ashleigh Ivory

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Cassiopea Yap founded Ashleigh Ivory a health and skincare business in 2007.

What’s your story?
Ashleigh Ivory is a key business venture that I began way back in 2007. Since it has been 10 years, some may be inclined to think that we have a whole repertoire of fine skincare items.

This is not the case. In fact, we don’t have a plethora of products because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Instead of common focus on the finished item, my journey begins from the backend. This is where products undergo QC, stringent tests and personal use to determine if First Impressions Last Forever.

A product may be subject to 600 tests in three years before being released to purveyors and consumers.

What excites you most about your industry?
The Health and Skincare aspects of it. I am excited even though the industry is filled to the brim with products and solutions, a fact that challenged me to come up with something totally new.
The result? Ashleigh Ivory’s Black Diamond Beauty Roller and Fuji Shiitake Age-Defying Serum set.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is dynamic and happening. What is more, in several countries, there is a niche for bespoke, handcrafted and anti-ageing products and services. Hence, my connection to Asia and within Asia lies in my travels to various countries in search of these special items.

One example is how I found my sensei in Japan, and the result is my Made in Japan Roller in combination with the Fuji Shiitake Age-Dying Serum. The specially formulated Serum has eight amino acids as well as a high content of Vitamin C. It is also rich in Kojic acid that helps in brightening skin, fading pigmentation and reducing acne scars.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. Because the infrastructure of the city supports the employment of reliable staff for a personalised, face-to-face shopping experience.What is more, technology thrives in Singapore so this supports our omni-channel shopping experience as well, whether it is for B2C or B2B business models.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
We need not pursue beauty under the knife.

Who inspires you?
Princess Diana. Like she said: “People think that, at the end of the day, a man is the only answer.”

To me, a fulfilling business is better for me and yes, I am going to own it myself and be true to myself. I no longer want to live someone else’s idea or life. I just want to build my own legacy before I leave this Planet Earth for my next generation to come.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Lip Service Providers out there who lie without blinking when offering their services.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Not marry my present husband.

How do you unwind?
By listening to music. Music sets the tone right in the hustle and bustle of city-dwelling. I wouldn’t say no to a glass of wine or chocolates either.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It’d have to be Japan. I love the scenery, and how the Japanese respect aesthetics indoors as well as outdoors. Even with functional items, they tend to make them beautiful as well. I love their onsen too, with great hygiene practices and rejuvenating soaks in hot springs. Guess this is a way to unwind too.

Everyone in business should read this book:
God is my CEO, Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-line World by Larry S Julian. It contains real-life accounts of business leaders and other people in authority. When reading these real stories about how ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ I can fully empathise with how important work takes time.

Shameless plug for your business:
Don’t get addicted to my Black Diamond Beauty Roller & Fuji Shiitake Age-Defying Serum set because its effects are so so good. In a way, this is true, because you’ll only need to use it twice a day, 5-10 minutes each time.
Alright, I succumb. You can use it three times a day.
Ashleigh Ivory’s Black Diamond Beauty Roller and Fuji Shiitake Age-Defying Serum set. We can all apply well concocted creams and serums on our skin, but how do we maximise its penetration?
The Black Diamond Beauty Roller is designed to penetrate deep into skin, acting directly on the cell level for optimum results.
Each Roller is handcrafted from terahertz ore in a diamond cut of 48 facets to reduce crow’s feet, diminish fine lines, tightenpores and lots more.

How can people connect with you?
I am just a text or phone call away

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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Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Morris Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

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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