1st woman on our Board


For the first time ever, we appointed a woman to be one of Board of Directors.

I am impressed and overjoyed at the same time.

This marks the start (I hope) to increase further woman’s participation at Board and senior management level in our organization and our investee companies specifically the government-linked companies.

Slowly but surely.

A good book

My definition of a good book is when the book let your mind wanders off into the world of your own imagination full of ideas, dreams, visions, inspirations, for a good 5 to 10 minutes (or sometimes more) until you realize that you are still at the same page and yet you want to continue reading. And the cycle repeats at every other page.

Currently reading: Creative Capital, Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital.

I’m on chapter 4 now. Been reading since 5pm. 9 more chapters to go.


Ok I know a lot of people are so into big data analytics now, myself included. A lot of corporations want to jump into the bandwagon to adopt the more sophisticated data analytics techniques to help solve their business problems.

Students, practitioners are increasingly looking for short/weekend courses, online and offline for them to learn about data analytics specifically on predictive analytics. For the online courses, I would recommend Udacity, EdEx and Coursera.

However, I would also like to recommend Kaggle, a platform for predictive modelling and analytics. They host all kinds of datasets for you to explore and wrangle. After taking part in MIT’s Analytics Lab last Fall, I seriously encourage those who are interested in this space, to get dirty with actual big data. Hands-on application is always the best form of learning. You will also have the opportunity to understand the challenges underlying big data analytics.

What is wrong with Malaysia’s education system?

There has been a lot of talks about Malaysia’s education system, from the government (particularly the Ministry of Education, MoE), business leaders and executives, Malaysians who had the honour of studying overseas, journalist in the education sector, etc. Some highlighted the issues, some gave recommendations on how to improve our education system.

I recently read a forum piece on the Weekly Edge (my weekly read to keep up with Malaysia’s development) by Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, chairman of the Parent Action Group for Education. According to her, government should spend more on primary and secondary education. I was shocked to learn that a RM200,000 contract was awarded to a public school just to provide 2 coats of paint to the walls and another RM200,000 contract to replace a small metal roof. You have got to be kidding me. Do you know that with RM200,000 you can make a complete overhaul/renovation to your house/condominium/penthouse with modern to luxury furniture? For one, you don’t need that much of money just to replace a small metal roof (I wonder who gets this job and give such exorbitant price). Two, there is definitely more can be done for the school with RM200,000 such as investing in a Compute Science Lab for the students to learn and experiment, and you still have a balance to spend.

If the budget from the government is spent on just repairing, then I don’t see why increasing the budget would help our education system. Yes, you need to repair and maintain the public schools condition for the benefit of the students and teachers, but the cost can and should be managed more effectively. If that is our main issue, then increasing the budget is not the solution. Money will continue to be spent unwisely.

I doubt that is the only main issue. I think we Malaysians do not understand enough our education system and the issues surrounding it. Hence, we are not able to see the positive impact from the policies and initiatives made by the government or private sector. I suspect, one of the root causes is a high dropout rate at primary and secondary level and secondly, low literacy rate (which could be the cost of a high dropout rate).

What we need is to have better data so that we can perform better analysis. While I do think the government is responsible for this, citizens can also help collect the data and make it more publicly accessible. I believe the teachers, students, parents have a better knowledge on the education system and they need to be highly involved in this as well.


Ok I’m trying to find a plugin for surveys/polls but have some technical issues. Will be back.

Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital

I have decided to purchase this book (refer to the title of this post and image below), thanks to Fred Wilson for recommending it.

Screenshot of cover page of Creative Capital (source: Amazon)

Good thing I have Kindle, it is always cheaper than the hard copy version. I still have this dilemma whenever I am in a bookstore. I still have the urgency to buy a book that I immediately fall in love with, but I will always be torn between the pleasure of impulsive buying and the guilt of differences in price (in bookstore vs. Kindle) + convenience (adding an extra weight in your bag vs. the kindle which is super light).

I always find myself inching to read a book when I am inspired by the subject of the book. In this case, it is Georges Doriot. I work in a soverign wealth fund where to a certain extent we do operate like a PE firm. If not, we always have to connect with the PEs and VCs, especially now that we are increasing our investments in tech-oriented start-ups. So, what would be a better way to learn about VC than learning from the father of modern VC himself, where he founded the world’s first publicly owned venture capital firm called American Research and Development Corporation. Not only that, he is also the founder of INSEAD. When someone is so successful and so passionate about education and actually giving it back to the society, he/she has just blown me away.

Let me read and see how it goes. One of my bad habits is to read a new book before finishing the current book (or the ones before). But, a note to self, consistency is the game. Finishing the game is the end goal.

Fred Wilson Talk at MIT

One of the perks of being a student at MIT or a business school for that matter, is that you get to attend talks by prominent leaders, for free.

Today, I had the opportunity to meet the guy who inspired me to blog every single day, without fail. He is Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist. Read my 1st post and 2nd post about how he inspired me.

Now that I’m his avid blog reader (among many others), I figured that he must mention something about his talk at MIT today. And indeed he did. You can read about it here. He didn’t talk about what he said though, it was just a mention and he talked more about General Doriot, the father of modern VC. As usual, I read through all the comments. Most people got excited about him giving a talk at his alma meter and that they wished the talk had been recorded.

While it was recorded, I thought maybe I should just share his key lessons and takeaways here, for me to read back in a few years time and for those of you who didn’t get to attend his talk today.

He told us to bring back 4 key lessons:

  1. VC’s most important role is being a cheerleader (to their entrepreneurs)
  2. Everyone needs a cheerleader in their lives (for him, it’s Gotham Gal, his wife and she also has a blog and she is a VC too! I hope my husband thinks I’m his cheerleader)
  3. F*****g up is fruitful as long as you learn from it (business context)
  4. The best time to invest in something is when nobody believes in it besides you (but you must totally believe in it and know why)

When asked what does he look for in entrepreneurs:

  1. Charismatic – must be able to convince investors, customers, team etc
  2. Technical expertise – knowing how to make something, or rather owning the making of it, instead of outsourcing the making to somebody else
  3. Integrity – be honest, be good partners

Other key points which I thought are important:

  • Working with entrepreneurs are like parenting
  • Writing is super important to practice your thinking, a way of thinking out loud
  • Take risks for outsized returns, biggest capital gain mostly comes from funding companies from scratch/early-stage
  • Internalized all lessons learnt in failure late 90s to early 2000s
  • VCs are service providers to entrepreneurs (it’s a people business, must learn how to deal with a breed of people)
  • Build network with other angel investors and the more professional investors
  • Work in start ups first then only become VCs, so that it’s easier for you to make the difficult decisions as a VC/investor of the start up
  • Companies that optimize for sustainability that sacrifice short term returns for long term returns/objectives will perform better

Thank you Fred, it’s an honour.

Is blockchain a hype?

What is really blockchain? And is blockchain really a technological disruption to the financial industry? People are now even talking about the applications across other industries.

I am baffled when a proportion of the MIT students use the ‘blockchain’ word so eloquently in their daily conversations.

I for now, haven’t fully understood what the hype is all about. But, if it is just a hype, why are there many big players ramping up their investments in blockchain for their business use? And why are there many investors especially venture capitalist increasingly throwing money to the companies running blockchain? Are there just talks but no real implementation? At the end of the day, execution is key.

I’ve seen students exploring entrepreneurship with ideas of using the blockchain technology. But often times, when asked to explain about the technology, they couldn’t.

I’m starting to feel that it’s merely a hype although if implemented well, it can be a real deal. The next revolution.

Stop the bleeding 

I am currently taking “Managing in Adversity” class because I heard many excellent reviews. Basically if you are in Sloan, you MUST take this class. I’ve only been to 3 classes but oh man, it is definitely one of my favourites if not the best class I have taken.

It is extremely useful and applicable in real life.

You learn about actual crisis and you learn from the CEO himself/herself how he/she managed the adversity. But before he reveals it, we will have to read the case and come up with a recommendation to the Board on how to solve the crisis, imagine you are the CEO. So that includes laying out the situation, coming up with options, evaluating the options suggested and finally recommending the next course of action or a plan. Very very useful indeed, it helps you expand your horizon and put you in a spot where you will never imagine going through it. So for example, the first case we did was on the Boston Bombing. Imagine you have to come up with a plan on how to catch the terrorist. It’s terrifying.

Anyway, among all the 3 cases we have done, there is one learning that I find extremely useful and applicable in any types of crisis. Of course it brought me back to how I had to handle a crisis back at work.

In any crisis, the very first thing you need to do is to stop the bleeding to stabilize the company. Then only think and plan about the kind of analysis required, the next immediate steps for medium to long term impact, etc.

The mistake we always do is spend so much time doing analysis figuring what, why, and how the crisis happened. Often times, we will end up in an analysis paralysis situation.

Imagine how doctors treat their high-risk emergency type of patients. The concept is just as similar.

Stop the bleeding first. 

But guess what action do we normally have to take to stop the bleeding?

If a company is bleeding, it means the company is losing money. So the first thing we have to do is to cut cost. And the cost that can be cut immediately for an immediate impact is employee cost. Yes, laying off people is almost always the first thing to do to stop the bleeding, to stabilize the company.

The action is easy but the act of doing it is difficult. What a paradox. But such is life. Sometimes we have to make a difficult decision in order to survive.

Till my next post, which is tomorrow.

My 2nd post

I am still inspired by Fred Wilson. There are more than 50 blogs by VCs but I have not seen any other VCs who blogs every single day, without fail. Hence, I am here today, wanting to write something just to make sure I keep the momentum going.

I don’t think I have anything specific to write about today. But I thought I want to share what I have learned from writing my first post. It is honestly deliberating to read through again and it helped me understand and remember the subject better. I even felt more comfortable talking about it with other people. For this reason also, I will make sure that I continue to blog, just one post a day.

The more I know Fred (through reading his blog), the more I am inspired by him. And what a coincidence that I have received an email yesterday that he will be coming to MIT to give a talk. Of course I will go!

Today is also the first day of orientation week for the next batch of Sloan Fellows. I remember vividly how excited my husband and I were when we came for the orientation (albeit tired because we were jet-lagged!). Just imagine, going to classes and looking out, you can see the beautiful skyline and skyscrapers over Charles River. We thought, we are going to have such an amazing year and we certainly did. I will repeat myself 1000 times if I have to, but it has been the most memorable one-year experience I have had with my husband. We both had the time to ourselves more and the best part is we got to see over 30 states of America (definitely more than average of what Americans have been to even!). So for me, I definitely gained a lot personally and professionally. I will share some if not all of our experiences here and what I have learned from being a student at MIT. I will not promise when, but I hope I will be able to.

For now, I just wanted to say, how time flies! We are welcoming the new fellows and sharing our experiences which included frightening them about how intense the summer would be. But even so, I wish I could re-live my last summer. It was definitely one of the best!

Till my next post, which is tomorrow.

From NYT to AVC

What’s up with the acronyms? As if we don’t encounter enough acronyms in our daily lives. I was exposed to the world of acronyms when I joined my current organization. I was trying to read some of the reports just to get myself familiar with the work they do and oh boy, I felt like I have to learn a new language that I need a dictionary by my side! Anyway, it’s pretty common in the corporate world to use acronyms. We are so called very busy people and we don’t have time to write/type words in full. I think this culture got into most organizations that people sometimes tend to apply acronyms to almost all the words. Once Elon Musk told off his employees via email to not use acronyms unnecessarily.

Anyway, this post is not about acronyms. It just suddenly occurred in my mind given the title of the post.

Just to be clear, NYT means New York Times and AVC means a venture capitalist.

As usual, every Friday-Sunday morning, I would read the black and white NYT paper. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that the news on paper are less fake and the type of news I read are not influenced by (1) machine that ‘intelligently’ knows the kind of news I should read and (2) society based on the number of times the news are repost. I get to read a more widely-spread spectrum of news, although I have to admit I do not miss the word Trump in almost every page I turn in the main and business section. He is everywhere, dominating and consuming people’s lives. Seriously?

So as I was flipping the business section, I encountered an article about the co-founder of Lending Club (one of the pioneers in fintech world and the first to use Facebook applications back in 2006), Renaud Laplanche who was recently ousted by the board as he violated the company’s business practices. He has a lot of guts though, he rebounded back and started a new company, Upgrade which could potentially be the main competitor of Lending Club. What got me interested is the fact that the same venture capital which backed up Lending Club is also financing Upgrade, which shows that they have a lot of faith with Renaud Laplanche. Did they just forget and forgive the unethical act Renaud performed in Lending Club?

So I decided to dig up further about the venture capital. It’s called Union Square Ventures and the founder is Fred Wilson. I am honestly amazed by his accomplishments, both in work and life. The thing that I liked most about him is that despite his busy hectic schedule, he still has time to blog, every single day, without fail, since the birth of his blog in Sep 2003.  The blog is called AVC. I suppose he came out with the name as he planned to devote his writings about his life as a venture capitalist. I have read more than 30 of his posts.

It got me thinking, why can’t I do the same? He has more responsibilities than me and yet he can blog everyday. I have always wanted to blog, I used to during my undergrad, then it got less frequent as I started working and eventually stopped. Partly because I got caught up with work, partly also because I didn’t know what to write about. I didn’t want to just talk about my daily lives, I wanted to offer more. But my life then was mostly about work and I couldn’t talk about it specifically due to confidentiality reasons, so the idea just died, eventhough I had so many thoughts running in my mind.

However, after reading one of Fred’s post about the stuffs he writes on his blog, most of the time, he too wanted to talk about what consumed his mind such as his portfolios but couldn’t. Yet, he did blog everyday. How he managed to share his thoughts/ideas/experiences without relating explicitly to his work, inspires me.

Hence this very first post of mine. I am inspired. I hope I am able to write something everyday. There are so many things that I want to talk about actually. If only there is a machine that could read all the thoughts in my mind and pen it down here. Now that’s not going to appear anytime in the near future. So till then, I just have to force myself.

Till my next post, which is tomorrow.