Smart Technology for Faster Online Training and Employee Retention
What’s your story?
10 years ago I moved to China to learn Mandarin. Originally, I intended to stay for a year, but Asia was booming with opportunities and I could not resist. I’ve worked in many places, from fisheries all the way up to big corporations and have learned everything I know by surrounding myself with inspiring people and taking chances. Absorbing different perspectives and experiences have helped me stretch the limits and act boldly. It pushed me to quit my job and pursue a dream in building tools for continuous learning. My co-founder Devin is a super talented developer and specialised in gamification. Our experiences, skills and personality made a perfect match and we started ATIOM. Our mission is to make training fun, easy and accessible for everyone through smart technology solutions.
What excites you most about your industry?
Bringing people together and transforming organizations through online learning and development. While mobile technology is our sweet spot, it is also exciting to see how coaches, trainers and learning practitioners are evolving offline.
Obviously the trend to go online was already on a massive upswing, but with the recent events around China, we have seen many of our industry partners expediting the process of moving content online. Once the dust settles, I think in Asia we will see a majority of offline trainers offering some form of blended learning (a mix between online and offline learning).
What’s your connection to Asia?
The people, food, and diverse cultures are what attracted me here in the first place. Learning Mandarin and the exciting business opportunities are what continue to keep me here. It is getting easier to stay connected to my family and friends in the West and I love Asia too much to consider leaving right now.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. It is a real international city. The universities, government, corporations, and their booming start-up community work so closely together. The growth here is a reminder that we live in an economy that thrives on collaboration.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My grandmother said, “Spend time with people that lift you up, and everything will always be okay.”
Who inspires you?
I can’t say Tim Ferriss, but the people he interviews are very inspiring. Some of my favorite interviews that he did include Malcolm Gladwell, Edward Norton, Ester Perel, David Allen, and Greg McKeown. It inspires me to hear people’s stories and learn from them on a regular basis.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Learning that Octopuses can recognize different human faces blew me away. I don’t think we know enough about the ocean and whenever I am in the sea, it puts life into perspective.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
In February of 2019, we joined Chinaccelator, an incubator program built to accelerate start-ups inside and outside China. The program is based in Shanghai and sits under SOSV, one of the world’s largest seed stage investors. Chinaccelerator was invaluable for strengthening our business and we continue to gain a lot of resources from being plugged into the network. With all of this said, my one regret is that we didn’t join it much earlier.
How do you unwind?
Meditation, tennis, swimming, reading and time with friends.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The Philippines is my goto. While parts of the country have developed into major tourist traps, the people are super hospitable and they have some of the most beautiful places in the world. Surfers, divers and general adventure enthusiasts can always discover something new in the Philippines.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It is not a business book per se, but written as a self-reflection by Aurelius, as a Roman Emperor, it offers timeless wisdom and guidance on how to live a good life, reach higher purpose and tread lightly. I always have it in case I need a little refresh or reframe.
Shameless plug for your business:
ATIOM drives employees to learn quicker and smarter and helps employers better train and retain their people. We work with some of the largest companies in the world such as Porsche, Mandarin Oriental and Compass Group to transform their mobile training.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ 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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.