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Why PatSnap’s Jeffrey Tiong asks potential employees to create slide shows documenting their life

There’s method to the madness in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year’s unorthodox hiring test.

Jeffrey Tiong, EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Analytics Intelligence, is one of the lucky few who knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life before he even graduated – and hit the ground running once he did. The 35-year-old CEO of Patsnap, an online platform that makes IP analytics and patent searches a breeze, now manages a team of almost 800 employees, with outposts in the world’s leading R&D countries like the US, China and Japan.

I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT AN INCUBATOR WAS until I found out that one of my university professors had started one on campus. I asked if I could work at his start-up for my internship programme, and it eventually led me to the US where I was exposed to US entrepreneurship. At that time, Youtube, Google and Facebook were just starting to get big, and reading about how those companies started out in a garage, yet went on to change the world, planted the entrepreneurial seed in me.

It encompasses so many aspects but I see it as a journey of one’s self. Everything you do needs to come from the bottom of your heart, and your values need to reflect that. Once you have your vision, you need charisma to bring your team together.

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It was the 10th anniversary of Patsnap so I took my family to Australia. It was the first time on a vacation I didn’t use the Internet or my mobile phone. I just focused on having time for myself and my family.

WHEN I TRAVEL, I try not to check in any luggage. I make sure there’s no metal on me and even my belt buckle will be plastic. On the plane, I have Bose’s noise-cancelling headphones, an air ioniser I wear around my neck, a sleep mask and a good memory foam neck pillow. I sleep, and wake up refreshed.

Whenever I have pockets of empty time, like when I’m on the commute, I want to listen and learn. The last great book I read – The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav – was recommended on an Oprah Winfrey podcast. I recently started listening to “Oprah’s Master Class” and the life lessons shared by the celebrities she interviews are really cool. I also listen to Harvard Business Review and The Tim Ferriss Show.

THIS CHRISTMAS I just want good times with the family, and more time in general to pursue my other passions like hiking and night diving, and maybe learn to fly a plane or helicopter.

“We have a special tradition at Patsnap now called “lifeline”. Whenever we’re interviewing candidates for senior positions, we ask them to create a slide show documenting their entire life and to tell us their story through the slides. I will show them mine first, which includes a happiness index throughout the years, photographs of my childhood, the cubicle I lived and worked in, my first pay cheque and other key moments. This is to let them know what I’m about and how Patsnap came to be. And you can tell a lot about a person and what they value through their lifeline. My staff really enjoy putting one together, too. I originally introduced it internally as a team-building exercise but, because of how well it worked, I incorporated it into our interview process this year.”

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