To many, Pat needs no introduction. The founder of social influence marketing agency GOODSTUPH has been racking up the years and awards in her career, and her company most recently won the coveted title of Social Media Agency of the Year—for a second consecutive year, no less. But at the heart of this driven, feisty professional is also a witty, passionate individual and a caring Boss Lady. “No amount of awards can surpass the level of satisfaction I get when I see my people grow in their careers,” she says. “My people are my Best of Show.” And although she likens herself to chef-from-hell Gordon Ramsay when she’s at work, we get a glimpse of her charismatic personality when we speak to her to find out more about what goes on in her ever-buzzing mind.
1. Describe a typical day at work.
The beauty of my job is such that the day is never typical. One moment, I’m proposing strip poker on board a ship’s casino, another moment I’m buried under a 50-page document on Big Data by Gartner. Some days I end my day with a whisky on the rocks at Bar Naked, a creative concept we conceived for FLY Entertainment, and some days I have espresso on drip trying to file my GST return on time. The unpredictability is not for everyone, but it’s oh so much fun. I’m not destined to churn out glamorous PowerPoint decks that do not see light.
2. What is your favourite part of your job, and your least favourite, and why?
When you’re a chef, you care only for your dishes. When you run the restaurant, you care about the dishes, the chef, the waiters, the colour of your napkins and whether your restrooms smell like a Balinese spa. It’s hard to pinpoint any love or hate of the job because every part plays an important role in the entirety in running a business. My ex-boss mentioned something that I hold close to my heart — when you’re part of Management you lose your right to complain, because you have the power to make the change.
3. What drives and inspires you to continue to do what you do, day in and out?
The 3 Fs – Fortune, Fulfilment and Fun, in that order. I make absolutely no apologies for placing Fortune upfront. If I wanted to be a struggling artist, I would be one. But I have a family to feed, and damn, I can’t seem to find authentic Paul Smith shoes on Taobao. While Fortune is my priority, I’m prone to denying myself of such if Fulfilment is missing. Money pays the bills, but the heart feeds on the higher purpose the body serves. Fun is important to me too — the kid in me is what keeps my curiosity alive, and without it, my work would be as bland as Gwyneth Paltrow’s personality.
4. What challenges do you face at work on a day-to-day basis? What challenges do you foresee in the long run?
Anyone who wants to start his or her own business needs to be mentally prepared for the isolation that comes along with the job. It does get lonely, but rightfully so. As the captain of the ship, you can’t show fear, even if you’re scared shitless inside. Your crew needs your confidence to sail the storm. I mean, it’s hard to expect them to battle the stormy weather if you’re the first to put on a life jacket, right? Having said that, it has never been about the destination as much as it has been about the journey, so I’m grateful for the crew on board with me. Our ship isn’t the Royal Caribbean, it’s a sampan without air-conditioning.
5. What do you think about entrepreneurship in Singapore? Eg. Are there more opportunities for entrepreneurs? Is it becoming easier or more difficult for people to start their own businesses?
Singapore is one of the best countries in the world for entrepreneurship. The support from the Government is excellent and the motherland offers a sound business infrastructure not many countries do. I speak of this in broad terms, of course. By virtue of our population, the labour crunch will be the entrepreneur’s biggest weakness. Our people aren’t cheap and let’s face it, if only our inflated sense of self-worth is always relative to the size of our talent.
6. If there’s one piece of advice you would like to give anyone who is just starting his/her career, or his/her own business, what would it be? Or, what is the one most important thing you’ve learnt in your years at work?
Success doesn’t come overnight, and your impatience and vanity are not justified reasons to setting up your own business. In your career, you’d fall and that’s normal. The falls are important for they provide lessons your Ivy League university can never teach. Fall, and fall hard and well. Fall at the expense of another. GOODSTUPH is only here today because I fell for a good ten years with the industry’s old guards behind me picking me up. I fell at the expense of my companies as an employee. I’m very thankful for that. Never estimate the power of grit. Sadly, I do think grit is severely underrated in Singapore’s culture. No one celebrates a person for being hard working or having a high threshold for pain. You’d hear stuff like “Why you work so hard? If the job too hard, quit lah, there’s always another job out there.” I say this back to them now, “Sweetheart, that’s why I’m here right now, and you’re still whining about how Singapore is such an expensive place to live in. Has it occurred to you to either earn your own luxuries, or migrate to a cheaper alternative?” You can’t have your cake and eat it too, unless your dad owns the damn bakery.
7. If you could wear a uniform of sorts to work for the rest of your life, what would that outfit consist of, and why?
Tough one — have you seen my wardrobe? I do have a must-have item: a good tailored jacket cut precisely to the shape of my body. I’m all about comfort so usually I’m in a tank-top and a pair of slim-cut jeans. A good jacket neutralises the casualness and calibrates it with a hint of professionalism.
8. Tell us something interesting about yourself. What do you do in your spare time? Any unusual hobbies? A childhood pastime? Favourite book/movie/music genre? Role model in life? Anything that you can come up with at the top of your head.
I had really geeky extra-curricular activities as a kid that make me sound more like I grew up in the Hamptons and not Marine Parade. I could play the violin at the age of 8 and the Four Seasons by Vivaldi was a piece of cake. I use past tense strictly, for the only instrument I play now is my iPod. I did my first oil painting at the age of 9. I was studying Art History by the age of 10. I taught myself basic web programming and sold my first e-commerce website (that didn’t work) when I was 14 to some Norwegian guy. It seems like a novelty these days, but I do read the newspapers (the physical copy) every morning. And consolidated news in an issue of Time weekly. And it’s hard to keep to it, given my schedule, but I try to learn something new on a regular basis. And oh, I don’t drink at all at home. My nightcap’s a game of Sid Meier’s Civilisation V. I love conquering countries and expanding my empire.
9. Do you have any philosophies, mottoes or quotes that you’re living by right now?
What you want written on your tombstone should be how you live your life now. Do you really want it to say “Here lies a Vice President, Bank, who has a Ferrari”?