Goodbye 2013, Welcome 2014

2014 As the year 2013 comes to a close, it is a time for reflection on what has passed and look forward to the challenges ahead for the year ahead. I am thankful to my wife, Yuying Deng who has braved through tough moments together and sacrificed a year of career to take care of our daughter Eleanor after two major surgeries in her first year. Of course, we are both thankful to our family, relatives and friends for their support to us over the course of the year. Nevertheless, we see it as part of the process that will make us better people for the future. We should focus on the future because we will be spending the rest of our lives there. Here are some thoughts ahead for 2014. [Read more...]

The Next Step: Singapore Post

steps For those who are curious about my next step after Vistaprint, I am joining Singapore Post as Vice President, Digital Services. Before starting on my new role, I have enjoyed my time working and learning from a group of interesting colleagues in Vistaprint. As it was my first job in the corporate world, I am grateful for the lessons learnt and the friendship built with every team I have worked with during my time here and the experience (I believe) would someday help me in my future endeavours. The role in Singapore Post offers a different set of challenges and learning opportunities and switches my perspective towards general management, focusing on digital products and business. Like every challenge before, I look forward to learn and collaborate with my colleagues in Singapore Post.

Goodbye 2012, Welcome 2013

2013 and 2012 written in sand with waves2012 represented a year of change in my life, from closing down one chapter of my life in the startup world to starting up a family. I am thankful to the support and friendship from many who have shown me during those tough days this year. Yet, life is about moving forward and not looking backward despite that new problems and challenges present themselves at me from time to time. [Read more...]

The Next Step: Vistaprint

Ever since the news of Chalkboard’s shutdown came, I am appreciative and thankful to many people (and even former competitors) who have dropped me a note and came forward to provide their support and help towards where my next steps would be. I enjoyed those conversations and shared with them the lessons learnt from Chalkboard. As for my next steps, I have joined as a Technology Manager, Most of Worlds Business Unit, Vistaprint starting from July 2012. My role is focused on building and managing an engineering team to develop products in the emerging market. Although Vistaprint is a multi-national corporation, the role I am undertaking has an entrepreneurial component that resembles a start-up. For me, it’s a brave new world and I look forward to learn and develop myself for future challenges ahead.

Reflections: Circumstances, Luck & Execution

In the past three months, reading the biography of “Steve Jobs” and Jim Collins’ “Great by Choice” made me think hard on my own shortcomings. Coupled with two exhausting trips to both Silicon Valley (San Francisco, US) and Zhong Guan Cun (Beijing, China) where anyone including myself looked at the groundbreaking successes of many technology companies with envy. While fighting hard against my own belief that success may be made easier being in another environment, I have come to a different conclusion towards something that was bothering me for a while. [Read more...]

2010: A Year Worth Remembering

Other than 1994, the year 2010 is the year that is worth remembering. After two lost years, 2010 has reignited my drive in life with many interesting times. The year was fraught with struggles, obstacles and challenges that took the most of me and yet brought out the courage to make a difference. Here are the top ten things which I know why this is a year worth remembering (in no order of preference except the last one which is the most important event): [Read more...]

The Tempest Epilogue by Shakespeare

The Tempest” is the last play written by William Shakespeare. Something recently got me to read the entire play particularly, the monologue by Prospero in the epilogue of the play. In fact, when I put part of the epilogue on my Facebook status, the quote caught the interest of Calvin and Tudor, founders of a new project called 8Squirrels. I hope that this part of you will help to provide some thoughts for those who search and live for passions in your lives. [Read more...]

Thoughts on my SCS IT Young Professional of the Year Award

Probably, you have heard by now that I have clinched the Singapore Computer Society IT Leaders Award for the category “Young Professional of the Year”. I am deeply humbled to be bestowed the award given that its prestige and the honor to stand beside the giants before me who have won it. It came as a surprise to me when I was notified about the award. Here are some of my thoughts post receiving the award yesterday in the SCS Gala Dinner 2010. [Read more...]

A Foundation to Fund Thinkers

Last Monday, through a last minute call from Daniel Cerventus, I met up with Mark Surman in Loof, together with Andrew and Heidi (Ford Foundation).  We have an interesting discussion on an idea or passion which I have for sometime. Not many people really know why my real passion in life is all about. The idea is to build a foundation to fund thinkers (or academics) in theoretical sciences or humanities similar to how the Medici family have funded the best thinkers in the Renaissance during the 15th century. While chatting with Mark, I thought that I should sketch out some of my ideas on the blog. Of course, I may not make the money to build it, but I hope to continue pursue the idea into reality. Even if it is within my lifetime to achieve it, I hope that the idea can spread far enough until someone can help fund and create the foundation.

The problem of today is that the Universities today do not encourage creative thinking between different discipines. Most academics are locked in their silos and with the universities becoming more and more like an educational institutions, it becomes harder for people to pursue original and interesting ideas taking a multi-disciplinary approach. One interesting model which is similar to this idea is the TED Foundation, where they bring in people from various disciplines for a conference and they have made it open for everyone to access the talks. The fellowship I have in mind is for longer term and gives the thinkers the affluence to continue pursuing their ideas.

The idea is to create a virtual institute that will fund an academic after his or her PhD for seven years. The academic will be able to pick the university of choice, or choose to move between places over the years. Once the funding ends in seven years, the academic will no longer gets another round of fellowship. The aim of this fellowship is to encourage new and original ideas in innovation and give the academic the best times of his or her years to do original and exciting research. The funding only applies to people in theoretical sciences and not in applied sciences. Why theoretical sciences? The best example to support my case is the development of quantum theory in physics during the 1920-1930s. If quantum theory did not happen, we won’t get the engineering innovation of transistors that power the computers today. Through my interaction with fellow academics in the humanities, the funding should apply to the social sciences such as psychology, economics and philosophy where new ideas can emerge that brings in the scientific approach.

Of course, there is some differences in my proposed model as compared to the type of fellowships offered in other foundations. In order to stop inbreeding or create silos by various PhDs in certain areas, particularly, nowadays it is easier for students under famous supervisors to get jobs in academia. For the application, I have set a different criteria for the fellowship: the academic’s recommendation must be made by someone from another discipline. For example, if you are a physicist, you cannot solicit a senior physicist to write your recommendation for the fellowship. It has to be someone from a totally different discipline who sees the spark in you to generate new knowledge.

I have made my pitch and will consolidate my ideas into a full proposal on this foundation from time to time. Hopefully one day, we will see it happening.

Acknowledgments: The original idea of the virtual institute came from Professor William Saslaw from University of Virginia (one of my collaborators in both papers of physics and economics) but I have made a lot of modifications to the idea to be more reflective of the current times.