(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.
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.