Andrew Tan, Country Manager of Wantedly and co-founder of Makan for Hope, is passionate about building ecosystems to help people help others. Speaking to Meet Insights, he revealed some of the lessons he learnt and how he is fulfilling his passion, purpose and ambition.
Andrew has mostly been an entrepreneur or helped set up businesses throughout his career. He revealed that he benefited greatly from mentorship during his journey and with that in mind, he co-founded Makan For Hope as a launchpad to give back during the pandemic. The initiative is a mentoring and charity fundraising community for startups and entrepreneurs to network with one another and give back to charitable causes at the same time. It is supported by various venture capital firms in ASEAN and tech industry leaders.
You must feed yourself first, then you can feed others.
This was the best piece of advice Andrew received. He was just a fresh graduate when he co-founded The Shiok Collective as a social enterprise. The team was so engrossed on solving problems, they failed to consider any viable business model. "Our mentor told us that no matter how much good we want to do, we must first consider if it is sustainable for ourselves. If we cannot survive, how do we help people?" This advice resonated with Andrew, and is a principle he lives by while on his journey of discovery for a sustainable and impactful model to help people. "To me, the answer for impact is to build an ecosystem where the sum is greater than its parts and the answer for sustainability lies in a multiplier effect where we pay it forward on and on."
The kind leader.
Being an entrepreneur meant that effective leadership was a quality Andrew had to have, and being a kind leader was his work philosophy. "I firmly believe that kindness is not a leadership trait that is widely celebrated." Andrew laments that it is not easy to find business leader role models who are known for being kind. His sentiment established an important aspect that distinguishes a great leader from a good one. "Leaders manage people, not machines or data and what not, and kindness plays a key role in building that heartware."
Generalisation vs Specialisation.
There are two avenues one can go down when developing their careers. On the topic of generalisation vs specialisation, Andrew believes that the hunger to continuously learn and never be satisfied with status quo is a quality that we should all think about. Be flexible and push boundaries. Be great at a few things and very good at a couple more. "That way, when it comes to the smallest detail or the biggest picture, daily tasks or long-term strategy, you can help others and also help others help you," the big-hearted co-founder shares.
"He is the reason why I have entrepreneurship in my blood."
The factors contributing to Andrew's career commitment to the startup and technology ecosystem stemmed from his father. "It always fills me with great pride when family, friends, and even strangers comment that I am a carbon copy of my dad. I look like him (more and more so with my receding hairline now)," Andrew jokes.
"In his era where there wasn't an "occupation" or career for entrepreneur, VC, angel, founder, and the likes, my father was my first mentor in doing business, in making investments." Andrew aspired to be a successful businessman just like his father, and gave him the credit for sparking his entrepreneurial aspirations. Through the ups and downs, lessons from his father have proved to be invaluable. "He is the reason why I have entrepreneurship in my blood."
Looking back on his momentous journey, Andrew shares his favourite quote with us: The purpose of Life, is a life of Purpose. "It is always on my mind that wherever I go, whatever I do, whoever I meet, I should create a positive impact. My advice is for you to try your best to apply that in your daily life, relationships, as well as short-term and long-term endeavours."