Y.C. says that he “just fell into” his current job as a director of The Bamboo Group, a real estate investment and development company. “It was a very organic process,” he says. “I’ve always liked working with spaces—architecture, construction, experience design—and it was natural that I continued.” At the same time, however, Y.C. knows that being an entrepreneur is a very deliberate choice. “It’s never easy, but I wanted to have control, autonomy, and the thrill of directly dialoguing with market forces,” he says. “There is a certain joy in that kind of dialogue, but also the brutality of failure.” Next up on his plate is a project that he’s “pretty excited about”: a hybrid co-working, private office business called The Working Capitol. Founded by Y.C. and the other members of his company, he hopes that this new space will be able to bring interesting businesses together and promote a cross-pollination of ideas, across different industries, to add value to the business landscape here in Singapore. “It’s going to be a fun, organic community,” he says. “I get to meet so many interesting people every day — from our consultants and contractors, to our tenants and potential collaborators. It keeps me pumped.” We learn more from Y.C. as he shares about himself and his work.
1. Describe a typical day at work.
A typical day at work consists of me going in to the office in the morning to touch base with the team, to find out what’s happening, and what needs to be done. The later part of the day consists of actually getting things done—meetings, site visits, more meetings, and working with our various consultants and vendors.
2. What drives and inspires you to continue to do what you do, day in and out?
The quest for knowledge, wisdom through learning, and experimenting with ideas through the market place. It’s an endless pursuit.
3. What challenges do you face at work on a day-to-day basis? What challenges do you foresee in the long run?
Challenges abound! Dealing with market forces, people, understanding new trends and acting on them.
4. 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?
We shouldn’t put entrepreneurship on a pedestal. The spirit of entrepreneurship boils down to a certain propensity to take risks, seek thrills, and enjoy the process of conversing with people in the market. If someone enjoys that, that someone is an entrepreneur. I think the ease of starting a business today is the same as it was a thousand years ago.
5. 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?
It’s important to have honesty in believing in the product or service you are putting out. One has to also be unreasonably stubborn, moving against the tide of people who don’t yet see what your vision is. And of course, re-looking at failure as something key and integral to the process of growth and maturity.
6. Describe your usual workplace style in three words.
Community. Organic. Fun.
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?
Definitely something more utilitarian and site/context specific. I’m extremely rugged with the objects around me!
8. Do you have any philosophies, mottoes or quotes that you’re living by right now?
Thinking needs to be balanced out by doing.