What items in your bag would you say best represent the person you are?
I think my phone is one of them – since it is biggest co-ordination tool –both for work related activities and managing my personal life. I like to be always connected and keep up to speed with e mails and messages as well as putting together fun things for the kids to do as well as for us as a family to catch up and stay in touch with those who matter to us. I also find myself regularly googling things that make me curious, getting information that can help others and looking for motivation. I also constantly jot down my ideas and thoughts, make note of things that inspire me and even keep my to-do list on my phone. I also don’t like driving and so it my lifeline to getting around – either for booking an Uber or finding out how much time I need to get to the bus stop by to get the next bus home! I think the next item is my shawl or a warm wrap that I always carry with me – both for situations where the air-conditioning can get too cold and also as a stylish accessory that can add a splash of colour or fluidity to what I am wearing. And then there is my water bottle – which I never leave home without and carry everywhere with me since it helps to remind me to stay hydrated and healthy.
Tell us about the work you did at Impact Hub. What makes work meaningful for you?
At The Hub, I had been leading the Incubation and the Mentoring Programs for the last two years. Within Incubation, we have had two programs called PACT Incubator and StartUp Lab.
PACT Incubator was in partnership with DBS Foundation and National Youth Council and focused on early to mid stage social entrepreneurs. StartUp Lab has been in partnership with JP Morgan and this program focused on Singaporean youth who are at ideation stage of their startup venture.
Both the programs were delivered through a mix of content workshops, coaching and connections and are designed in a way to ensure that the participants have a rich learning experience and leave with management tools and an abundance of self confidence that they can continuously apply to improve their ventures. In addition, I had also been leading The Hub’s Mentoring Program through which we match and makes meaningful connections between the Hubbers and the organisation’s extensive mentor network.
My work at The Hub, in one way or another has been focused on helping entrepreneurs to get their next stage of growth – both for their business as well as personally since I believe that they are very closely inter-related and one cannot happen without the other. Through our programmes, I work with entrepreneurs to shape their business model and help them turn their ideas and passions into sustainable ventures and also help them to believe in themselves. Work for me is not about “doing a job” but needs to be fulfilling at a deeper level. As a result, the kind of programs that I now devise at The Hub are very hands on and involved in truly helping the participants achieve their goals and scale their business. The joy on the entrepreneurs face when they achieve milestones and see the dreams turn into reality is what makes the work most meaningful to me.
In your experience, what are the ingredients to building a successful, sustainable business today?
It all comes down to sheer hard work and grit – sorry there are just no short cuts here. Having a business idea is a great starting point – but turning that to a reality comes only by building on that idea steadily, learning from mistakes along the way and staying resilient during moments when it feels like nothing is going to work. An entrepreneur’s journey is definitely a roller coaster and one can chose to either feel fearful along the way or enjoy it.
How would you characterise the entrepreneurship landscape in Singapore? It seems like an exciting time to be innovating and creating.
The entrepreneurship landscape has been really evolving over the last few years and yes it is a very exciting time for the start up ecosystem in Singapore. One of the the things that has been great to see is the number of ways through which entrepreneurs are able to connect, collaborate and learn from each other. There is a shift to a more open and sharing culture which has been supported through the presence of spaces such as The Impact Hub which intrinsically has a culture of collaboration and supports their members through the programs and events that they run. Due to developments in technology, easier availability of information and greater ability to travel – the time that in takes to get an idea off the ground has shortened tremendously and as a result it makes it easier for people to embark on the entrepreneurship journey and gain access to their customers.
What are qualities typical to entrepreneurs that you think people working in creative spaces could benefit from?
Entrepreneurs are constantly looking to solve a problem, address a gap in society or business and to build solutions that will have a valid demand. The process starts with an idea and a blank canvas and then they build on it further based on the feedback that they get from customers and stakeholders. I think the ability to be able to honestly listen to the feedback and be open to what might seem at times as criticism is important for everyone – because through this collaborative and iterative process comes a solution that is truly relevant.
What’s next for you? Any interesting projects on the cards?
I have been on the advisory board at UWCSEA Dover, for an initiative that they embarked on last year which is to set up a centre for entrepreneurship and creativity for students. It is a place where students, parents and alumni can come together to work on ideas and grow them through collaboration with each other. The centre is due to open later this year and I am excited to see it take shape further. I have also been working an initiative to grow the management capabilities of non – profits in India through a training program that I am co-designing with a group of volunteers in Singapore and hope to have the pilot of that in Mumbai in the last quarter of this year.