Hi Steven, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with us!
First of all, can you tell us a little about your day-to-day activities at Equiem and how long you’ve been in your role?
I started with Equiem back in July 2015, almost a year ago, and I can tell you it’s never a boring day here! My day-to-day activities include looking after the finances, payroll, procurement, investor and shareholder relations, human resources, legal and contract negotiations.
Prior to joining the Equiem team, where has your career path taken you?
I started my professional career in Malaysia working for one of the big 4 accounting firms. Over the last 15+ years, I have been lucky to have worked across a variety of industries including not-for-profit, government bodies, corporate and start-ups. I have also been involved in capital raising and M&A activities. Whilst finance has always been my core competency, technology - especially SaaS is where my passion lies. What I enjoy the most is helping companies grow and improving their value!
I did my Bachelor of Commerce and Postgraduate Diploma with Monash University. I recently completed my EMBA with RMIT and the experience was fulfilling as you are able to work with great talents.
In your opinion, what makes a great CFO?
People have this perception that CFOs are hard-nose, numbers people who drive a hard bargain. Whilst it is necessary to be firm and practical, having good people skills and being able to connect with the market are important too.
In my view, a great CFO not only needs to be excellent on the traditional controllership, treasury and forecasting duties, but also needs to understand the company’s capability, business drivers and market conditions. These can be achieved by knowing your people, understanding the customer needs and having a support network that will provide valuable market insights. Once equipped with these hindsight, insight and foresight knowledge, a great CFO is then able to prepare the business to meet its short, medium, long term needs.
However you’re not just Equiem’s CFO, you’re also Head of Corporate Services. How do you manage such diverse roles?
First of all, keep calm!
Secondly, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask for help or engage the right experts. I do get a lot of help from other teams. The culture here is amazing and people are always willing to take time out of their busy schedules to listen and provide assistance. Knowing when and what to outsource is also important.
A lot of my time is spent on planning and prioritising as it helps me to focus on getting the most important things done.
Is an entrepreneurial spirit and innovation integral to working at Equiem?
Absolutely! It’s the core value of Equiem.
What we do here at Equiem is pretty disruptive as we are developing a technology that transforms workplaces and changes the ways people connect. Whilst it may sound cool, it actually requires a lot of courage and thinking outside the box to go against the norm, to create something that is unique and effective and to convince people to adopt it by changing their behaviours and habits. There is constant experimenting and learning in order to get the right results.
I like to use the quote from Henry Ford when describing our entrepreneurial spirit and innovation - ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’ After all, we are changing the world one sqm at a time.
What makes Equiem such a great place to work?
It has to be the great culture and passionate team. You feel great coming to work knowing that everyone is committed in making a great product and providing excellent services that add new level of convenience to people’s lives and help connect the community.
The results are tangible and it’s satisfying to see our customers enjoying the benefits and pleasant experiences that our Portals and Onsite Team bring.
You have previously defined your role as adding ‘value by linking technology to business outcomes’ - How does Equiem fit into this?
Great companies know how to drive greater profitability, efficiency and innovation by leveraging technology.
At Equiem, we help facilitate these outcomes by providing valuable data that help guide investment decisions and measure tenant satisfaction, streamlining and automating the management of building facilities and services and building an effective online marketplace for retailers to connect with their customers.
Equiem has recently been experiencing ambitious growth. What are the challenges of this? How are you future-proofing Equiem and what are your strategies for sustainable growth?
As a fast-growing company, one of our biggest challenges is recruiting the right talent in order to grow and execute on our strategies. We have been able to build up demand for our product and services, but ensuring that we have the right people to continually deliver quality work to our customers is a real challenge. Additionally for my role, the challenge is also to manage the cash flow and working capital requirement.
To future-proof Equiem, we must never lose sight of what the market and our customers need. At the same time, challenge the status quo and develop innovative solutions that will address the need and ultimately, building brand equity that our customers can be proud of.
I believe we can achieve this by keeping our employees motivated and inspire them to innovate, diversifying our offerings and taking a longer term view in developing solutions that are scalable.
Jobs, Gates, Bezos – who’s your personal tech hero?
Jobs - relentlessly focused with Bezos closely followed.
Outside of #equiemlyf, what do you look forward to most on weekends and in your spare time?
Spending time with my family, especially the kids. I also enjoy playing basketball, bike riding with my mates and upkeeping my saltwater aquarium!
Let’s finish up with some rapid-fire questions:
Next destination on your travel itinerary? Hong Kong
Apple or Microsoft? Apple
Favourite sports team? Los Angeles Lakers
Favourite song: Bruno Mars - ‘Uptown Funk’
Favourite inspirational quote: “If you're afraid to fail, then you're probably going to fail.”
Thanks for your time Steven!
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