Goodbye 2013, Welcome 2014

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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.

The theme for 2013 was focus, and hence the theme for 2014 is growth. For the year of 2013, I am glad that I have executed and focus on all three objectives. In the process, I have taken a step forward for my family, my career and my personal well being.

On my family, Eleanor has recovered well from the two major surgeries and reached her first year. From now on, we have to manage her condition all the way to her adult life. The person who she should be thankful for is my wife, Yuying, as she has sacrificed a year of what may lead her to a successful career into care for the child. In the process, my wife has done a lot for our household and helped me to navigate the challenges ahead. I am appreciative of her efforts and look forward to her building a new career for herself as an entrepreneur and hope that I can be supportive of her endeavours as much as she is to be. In the process of getting Eleanor from the surgeries to recovery, we are also grateful to Dr Vincent Yeow and his team of professionals (Dr Chng, Serene and Coleen and many others) in the Cleft and Cranofacial Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. In that journey, we have also learned to appreciate how fortunate we are in the grand scheme of things. As part of the giving back, both my wife and I have contributed to Operation Smile Singapore and hope that our donations can help making other children’s lives better.

On my career, I am thankful for the learnings that I have gained from Vistaprint Singapore. Yet, the journey to learn before going back to the startup world is far from over. I have the fortune to have two major offers, one that will take me to a horizontal role as a product manager in the US with a top technology company and one that will allow me to take a step further to general management in Singapore. In the end after a long and deliberate process in thinking through both opportunities, I decided to join Singapore Post as the Vice President, Digital Services. The role excites me because it offers challenges and opportunities for me to build and manage a business unit and be part of a team with strong aspirations to build a better company for the future. It has been a month since I join the SingPost family and it is a great and inspiring workplace with a group of entrepreneurial, professional and smart people who I can deliver value to, collaborate with and learn from every day. My corporate career remains as my central focus at least for the next two years ahead.

On the side note, I know deep in my heart that I have not left the startup world behind, except that my role has changed from an entrepreneur to an angel investor and a connector for people within the Southeast Asia technology entrepreneurial ecosystem. I have also managed to get one of the things ticked off my checklist “20 things that I want to contribute and help the Singapore entrepreneurial ecosystem” done. That is the project which I have started with Zeng Huifen, to produce a set of legal term sheets for the Singapore community. In business, I have learned to believe in virtuous cycles. I can only be grateful that one of the best things which has happened in 2013 is that SGE was acquired by Tech in Asia. If you think the team behind SGE have disappeared, I would say that we are still very much in touch with each other, spending our weekends hacking a side project and starting to look at potential investment opportunities together as a group. One thing I discovered after the acquisition is that it frees us up to think and work on side projects that deal with real problems that emerged from the last startup.

For the year ahead, I only want to focus and do three things well:

a. Focus on the objectives for the Digital Services team to accomplish and enjoy the collaboration and learnings in SingPost.

b. Be a good husband and father by spending time with my family and helping my wife in her entrepreneurial endeavours ahead.

c. Taking two side projects I am working on to fruition and striking off another item off my checklist: “20 things that I want to contribute and help the Singapore entrepreneurial ecosystem”.

In life, it is better to look forward than move backward. I have come to the realisation that I prefer to focus on what I am doing than thinking about the “what ifs”. The best days are always ahead and we can only do our best to deliver value and happiness to others. Nevertheless, I wish that my family, relatives, friends and colleagues to enjoy a great year ahead.

Photo Credit: purchased from iStockphoto

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist