Share on:

3 millennial business leaders in Singapore share what the term means to them

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW

Mae Tan, 22, marketing creative at Surrender

Mae Tan, 22, marketing creative at Surrender

For Mae Tan, being a millennial means being bold enough to act on impulse – in a productive way, no less. “Taking full control of the here and the now, being in the present, and making sure you make a difference is what it’s all about. It means having the confidence and power to change what’s happening now,” she says.

The advent of technology means that access to unlimited information and a wealth of other resources is now more readily available than ever before, making it fair game for one and all. According to Tan, the only way for millennials to make their mark in times like these is to think fast and work smart.


“I want to travel to places where I can feel something – it’s not so much the destination, as the experiences I have there.”

– Mae Tan


The Surrender boutique, an undisputed pioneer in Singapore’s street fashion scene, is very much like Tan herself – edgy, chic and unpretentiously street. At just 22 years old, the marketing creative has etched herself firmly as one of the leading movers and shakers in the local fashion scene.

As someone who prefers to traverse the unknown, it comes as no surprise then that Tan’s idea of a perfect holiday involves strolling down the streets of Pyongyang, North Korea – not so much to jump on the sensationalist bandwagon, as to observe life in a wholly different light.

“Visiting places that tend to be off the beaten track gives you a different perspective in life. I want to travel to places where I can feel something – it’s not so much the destination, as the experiences I have there,” she adds.

(RELATED: We break down the millennial trends here.)

With close to 70,000 followers on Instagram, Tan feels that social media has redefined what it means to be relevant in this day and age. Despite where life may take her, she hopes that her efforts today will leave a mark for generations to come.

“At the end of the day, I want to make an impact in this lifetime, be it through fashion or otherwise.”

PHOTOGRAPHY VERNON WONG ART DIRECTION CHELZA POK PHOTO (CUBA & LUXURY VILLA) EVA BLUE & DESIGN HOTELS

REINVENTING THE FUTURE

Justin Chow, 31, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Fundnel

Justin Chow, 31, Co-founder and chief marketing officer at Fundnel

Justin Chow’s definition of the perfect workplace is one without the rigidity of
hierarchy and mind-numbing red tape that typically pervade big corporations, a safe space not unlike an incubation pod where people are encouraged to speak their minds and voice ideas freely.

So, when the time came to set up Fundnel – a collaborative investment platform he co-founded with three friends: Khai Lin Chua, Benjamin Twoon and Kelvin Lee – there couldn’t have been a more perfect time to bring this idea to life.


“Doing away with the usual hierarchical barriers at work has made things more efficient and helped generate more ideas.”

– Justin Chow


“Doing away with the usual hierarchical barriers at work has made things more efficient and helped generate more ideas. In fact, most of the time, the co-founders learn more from the team than the other way around,” he says.

The self-professed Star Wars fanatic who meticulously collects Lego Star Wars memorabilia says part of his obsession stems from the millennial generation’s fascination with ownership. “Being part of a tribe or part of a collective is very appealing in this day and age. It has a strong intrinsic value that words can’t describe.”

Contrary to popular belief, the millennial entrepreneur and his predecessor are not that different. “Technology might be light years ahead of what it used to be in the past, but, in terms of fundamentals, not much has changed. Without grit and tenacity, all the technology in the world isn’t going to help you be No. 1,” says Chow.

These qualities have paved the way for his success thus far. While setting up Manicurious, a manicure and nail art bar and cafe, and Jekyll and Hyde, a cocktail bar, he discovered a dearth of platforms in the market linking start-ups and investors. Thus paving the way for the birth of Fundnel. “Call it guts or naivete but following my heart has always led me to the right place. I think that’s very important in this day and age.”

PHOTOGRAPHY VERNON WONG ART DIRECTION JEAN YAP

(RELATED: Stay tuned for our breakdown on millennial trends.)

THE QUEST FOR MEANING

Renyung Ho, 31, co-founder of Matter and assistant vice-president/director of spa and gallery at Banyan Tree Group

Renyung Ho, 31, Co-founder of Matter and assistant vice-president:director of spa and gallery at Banyan Tree Group

Renyung Ho chooses to make nostalgia her business. The co-founder and managing director of apparel brand Matter delves deep into traditions and age-old practices of yesteryear to produce timeless clothing that juxtaposes the old with the new, and that is not just trendy but carries with it a socially conscious motif.

Disenchanted by the phenomenon of instant gratification and mass-produced goods, millennials are now drawn to ideals and beliefs that stand for a cause, explains Ho. At the end of the day, the key is to create a sense of timelessness.

“As humans, we tend to lean towards things that have stood the test of time. And things that last are both timeless and timely now,” she adds.


“The idea of working till you’re 50 before taking a long break or retiring no longer applies to this generation.”

– Renyung Ho


For Ho, not having to plan for days off is much more liberating than actually having them. “My week is structured in a certain way but I’m always open to opportunities. Ideas can come to you anytime and at any place – there’s no defined formula so I prefer to listen to myself and work accordingly.”

(RELATED: From coffeeshop stall to funeral service, these millennials now run their family businesses.)

She adds that the line between work and life has become much less distinct. “I think freedom and autonomy is what millennials are looking for. They seek the time and space to just be.”

According to her, taking sabbaticals and embarking on gap years in between major life stages have become fundamental in enabling people to recalibrate and realign their interests. Rather than save up for a long-term retirement in their twilight years, she sees her peers planning mini-breaks across their careers.

“The idea of working till you’re 50 before taking a long break or retiring no longer applies to this generation. No one knows what the future holds so we want to experience life in all its beauty now and not postpone it,” she says.

PHOTOGRAPHY ZAPHS ZHANG ART DIRECTION JEAN YAP