EP 221 – Dr. Krystine Kua – co-Founder and Head at KSK City Labs – I Just Want to Be a Problem Solver

by | Aug 3, 2022

The Asia Tech Podcast was joined by Dr. Krystine Kua, a co-Founder and the Head at KSK City Labs.  KSK City Labs aims to revolutionize the real estate industry by building technology that contributes to a better quality of the communities and cities in which it operates.
Some of the topics that Krystine discussed:
  • Studying medicine and working as a doctor
  • Teamwork in the emergency room to teamwork in the boardroom
  • Switching career paths and ultimately deciding to join the family real estate business
  • Building technology to improve the lifestyle of tenants
  • The role of eCommerce
  • Optimizing for sustainability
  • The fun and challenge of working in a dynamic family business
  • Learning important leadership lessons from her father
Other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. It’s Almost Easier to Disrupt Ourselves
  2. We Didn’t Just Want to Build It and Walk Away
  3. The App Can Host Their Lives
This episode was produced by Isabelle Goh.

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:30
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Dr. Krystine Kua. Oh, I didn’t ask you Is it okay to say the Director of Strategy at KSK and the co-Founder and Head at KSK City Labs?

Dr. Krystine Kua 0:44
A mouthful? Sure. Yeah. You can say, Oh, that.

Michael Waitze 0:46
Well, that’s what I said. All right. Krystine, thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you doing today?

Dr. Krystine Kua 0:53
Firstly, Michael, thanks so much for having me. I’m doing well today. excited that we’ve gone past Wednesday. So we’re getting the weekend soon. So that’s something I always look forward to.

Michael Waitze 1:05
It’s so funny. You say that because this morning I really woke up and I had no idea what day it was like, I literally had to look at my calendar because I’m not at home. Right? Yeah. So I have no frame of reference. I woke up in a hotel room. And I was like, oh, no, today’s the day where I have to do that thing. It must be Thursday. You know that feeling, though? Right?

Dr. Krystine Kua 1:21
That’s why you need your phone calendar.

Michael Waitze 1:25
But what kind of sad life am I living? If the first thing I do when I wake up is grab my phone and look at what day? It is? I mean, that’s terrible, right. But I think that’s what I do. Anyway, thank you very much for doing this, before we jump into the main part of our conversation, get our listeners get some of your background for some context.

Dr. Krystine Kua 1:42
Sure. So my background was actually in medicine. So I started off, you know, obviously med school, worked as a doctor in the UK in the NHS, for really, yeah, and then, and then made a big jump, decided to pack my bags, moved back to Southeast Asia, and then change my career to management consulting. So during that time, I actually spent most of my time in Bangkok and Singapore actually. And then finally did the another pivot, moved into real estate, and then moved back to Malaysia. To join my my sister in that as well. So some would say it’s an extremely unconventional path in my career. But that’s, that’s what it is. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 2:31
in a way, right. I want to understand this, though. So when I was a little kid, right, there was a lot of pressure on me and my brother, and I can think I mentioned this to you offline online. Can’t remember anymore. When I hit the record button. My brother’s a doctor, everybody knew I wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor. But they didn’t want me to be a professional. They wanted me to be a lawyer when they figured if we got a doctor in the family and a lawyer in the family, everybody’s going to be okay. Was there pressure on you? Or was it something that you wanted to do? Do you know what I mean?

Dr. Krystine Kua 2:56
Okay. There wasn’t any direct pressure, if anything, actually, I think the suggestion of medicine did come through my parents. But then I think the realization that I wanted to study that was actually was actually my own. Funny thing is that when I decided to do medicine, that’s when my parents were like, maybe you shouldn’t, like maybe you should try something else. But but you know, like, I don’t think they ever forced us to do anything. Particularly, you know, conventional in an Asian family, but, but then, ironically, we did end up with an economics doctor and a lawyer in the family anyway, with the other three of you. So they’re actually four of us. So, three sisters, I’m the third. And then so the first one is economic. Second one’s a lawyer. Cindy, the one is Matt, myself a doctor. And then we have a younger brother who actually took the unconventional path. He went on to study political science. So there you go. He just being one.

Michael Waitze 4:00
Yeah, there are four of us as well in my family. So I know what that’s like growing up. I like it. I like it a lot. What was the like, what made you stop being a doctor and go into management consulting? I mean, it’s a gigantic change, right?

Dr. Krystine Kua 4:14
It’s a huge change. Um, so actually, I honestly I love my time, like as a doctor, right? I spent a lot of time in the emergency room in cardiac hospitals, which was just super fun. I think especially, especially when they were actually emergencies. And it was really fun. But I think there was a lot of noise and peripheral stuff that happened around being a doctor a lot of administrative work, and I just felt that that wasn’t really the lifestyle that I wanted for myself. So so I decided to pivot over to something else where I could still find the joy of you know, cracking puzzle solving problems. And at the time anyway, the family was exposed as a business was exposed to a A lot of management consulting work anyway. So that’s where I got the idea to kind of explore that conversation started happening. And one of the partners in the firm who is close to the family was literally like, Would you like to move over to Bangkok like now? Like right now? Caught my best friend, like, Should I do it? She’s like, Yeah, let’s do it. And then I went for it. That’s how it happened. Do you?

Michael Waitze 5:27
Do you think that people misunderstand? Like, what’s the right way to say this, like an emergency room doctor, particularly in the cardiac area, right. I mean, but in any area, really, if it’s an emergency room, because you said, I just wanted to do solve to be a problem solver, right? I think people don’t understand like, how much of a problem solver in real time emergency room doctors are. Does that make sense? Do you know what I mean? And then just how transferable that is to other things, because there’s no time to check the manual. Do you know what I mean?

Dr. Krystine Kua 5:56
Is that fair? It’s super fair to say and I wish Yeah, I wish more people understood that because you really have to think on your feet. They try in the emergency room. They try to have manuals, but like you said, like when someone is crashing in front of you, like there’s no time. So it’s really just seeing what’s in front of you solving that problem immediately. But I think the other thing that was really nice about working in, in the emergency room was the level of teamwork. Yeah. Because it’s it’s not it’s, it’s to the extent where everyone’s crowded around a patient around a bit. I’m really, really trying to work together. And the level of camaraderie that happens in that moment is kind of crazy. And it’s something that yeah, I always remember, the feeling is just something different.

Michael Waitze 6:44
You play sport as well. Sorry, do you play sport?

Dr. Krystine Kua 6:48
Do I play sport? Ah, now and again, not not competitively.

Michael Waitze 6:52
But can you see the analogy here? Yes, it like being a doctor in the emergency room is like playing championship level sports at all times. Right? It’s like constant, there is no time you’re constantly making decisions. And if you win, which in this case is like saving a patient’s life or helping somebody like not die? Yeah. That feeling you have with the people around you. Because again, the teamwork is so obvious. You can’t do it yourself. Yeah. And just like sport, right? The greatest sports players in the world will always say that, like, the game slows down. When they feel like they’re getting really good at it. Is it the same thing in an emergency room? You don’t I mean, we’re stuck, like seems to like move slower? Because you’re like, I got it. Do you know what I mean? When you get into a zone?

Dr. Krystine Kua 7:32
Yeah, um, I guess, I don’t know if I expect because things were honestly moving really fast. There are some some emergencies where like Bloods, bags of blood, which is like flying across, infuse the blood and throw it across the room, right. So I think things are always moving fast, I think for us, but I really love your analogy of it being like a championship sport, it makes it sound really, really,

Michael Waitze 7:57
it really is, though, I think at some level, though, a lot more dangerous. So I’m in a lot scarier. But the other thing I think to write is that I worked on a trading desk for years. Okay, and we were micro processing information on a constant basis. And I found that when I stopped doing that, but when I was in a situation where I had to do analysis, then because it wasn’t moving so fast, it just seemed like my brain could process things in a way that was faster than it might have been if I hadn’t had that experience. Does that make sense?

Dr. Krystine Kua 8:28
Got it. Yeah. Yeah. Because you’ve been, it’s almost like your brain has been pushed to a limit. Another limit? Yeah. Under limit. How fast can you process all these numbers and what you’re seeing in front of you, and then come up with a plan. And every single time you do something, you give a medication, or you get a scan? And like, things change? The circumstances change? Yeah. So then we’ll turn around of evaluation like what’s going on? Yeah, I think like the thrill of it is, is addictive.

Michael Waitze 9:02
Really, nobody, right? Because when I stopped being a trader, like the whole world seems to be moving really slowly. I’m like, I need a little bit of some kind of fix for speed, if that makes sense. Not I mean, drugs, speed or just mean like movement speed, if that’s fair, it’s

Dr. Krystine Kua 9:15
true. That and also, I found so when I moved from, from medicine to consulting, one of the things I had to really adjust was my expectations like, Okay, this, this thing that we’re doing now isn’t so bad, because nobody’s gonna die. But you can’t really Trump that, right. It’s like, well, obviously, no one’s going to die in this line of business. But that was something that I had to seriously adjust. In terms of my expectations. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 9:43
Yeah. And how did you get into the real estate business?

Dr. Krystine Kua 9:46
So real estate business is our family business. And so we’re in insurance and real estate, but we’re in real estate in Malaysia. And so after, you know, during the time when I was a consultant And, obviously live with my oldest sister, who is the CEO of goop, and also the MD of Cascade line, which is our real estate. So I mean, we talk a lot, right. And at one point, I think the stars aligned, I was kind of like looking for a bit more purpose to what I was doing a bit more ownership of the work of the time that I was putting into, I wanted to kind of own something that I built. And at the same time, she was also looking to, you know, like, hey, why not, we do something with tech, in real estate. And she thought that, you know, it will be great for me to join her as well. And I thought, yeah, that’d be great. That’d be amazing. So that’s how it all happened.

Michael Waitze 10:45
was Sunday, already active at the time? In other words, was your sister looking at the, at the experience that Cindy had looking at the existing family insurance business and and saying, You know what, we could take this and keep going like this, but the whole world is moving towards a technology based business. And that actually gives us scale. And if we could attach that to the real estate business as well, then we can super differentiate ourselves from the rest of the companies in Malaysia was this the thought process? At some level,

Dr. Krystine Kua 11:09
it was very much that I think we took a lot of inspiration from Sunday. So Sunday had already been running for at least three years at the time. Got it. And obviously super successful. So we were like, Okay, if we can do that, to ourselves disrupt ourselves in insurance, why not do it to real estate. And I think the beauty was that we hadn’t been in real estate as long as insurance. So it was almost easier to disrupt ourselves because the legacy of what we had done was not as, you know, big or built up yet. So it’s much easier to pivot, right?

Michael Waitze 11:44
Yeah. And to be fair, even though I’ve worked at big companies, inside big companies, they’re still legacy, right? And I was the guy who wanted to take technology, and make businesses way more productive. And there was so much resistance, even at a company like Goldman Sachs, I’m not kidding, like what you see on the outside, like, what your expectations are, what it’s like, on the inside are two completely different things. And getting all this tech embedded into the business, even inside a company that looks so progressive, like Goldman, which it is, and they do a super job, right. But I can imagine in a smaller business, just the people that have been there for a while to saying, and you’re lucky, right? Because like you said, the real estate business was newer than the insurance business. Yeah. But the challenge is still there to convince people like, the way you’ve been doing stuff is awesome. But let’s try something new. And different. Was that hard as well.

Dr. Krystine Kua 12:35
It was hard, because I think not only was it you know, something new for the company, like, hey, let’s do things differently lead to change the way that we price homes, which, you know, nobody else is doing in the market. Right. So on top of that, like I was new to the company as well. So it was like a double double whammy, essentially, hey, here’s a new face. And here’s something new that we’re going to totally do. I think and then maybe maybe a triple whammy is like she’s also a family members having to prove that credibility like I’m not coming in and just doing something that for fun. But so this

Michael Waitze 13:10
is this is a conversation I love having right. And I just mentioned it about Goldman Sachs. But I’m curious what it’s like in a family business as well. You know, from the outside, it looks like one thing. Yeah. And particularly when a family member joins when they’ve been a doctor or been in consulting, right. So the people that have been there, like, oh, here comes in a family member? Yeah. But from the outside, it looks like, there she goes, just doing the easy thing, but so much harder than that. Is that you don’t I mean? Yeah, I totally get it. Like you said the word wammy, I would have used a different word. I’ll let you talk in a second. But when you come in, you’re like, oh, no, everybody already has these preconceived notions about me and what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. But now I’m going to try to change everything. Using this thing. That’s going to be hard. Yeah.

Dr. Krystine Kua 13:52
Yeah. Yeah. really challenging. It took a while, I think. I think when I started off, I had to not pay my dues. But definitely spend time just learning the business, learning real estate, and really trying to understand it and not just come in and just make changes straight away. Because obviously, people are like, Why? Why are you doing that? You don’t know, what’s what we’ve been doing. You don’t know the industry. So so I really had to try and try and understand that and in a way, like kind of proof that, you know, the stuff that I’m introducing, there has been some thought and some intention put around it. Yeah. What was

Michael Waitze 14:32
the vision for you? Before you joined, right. In other words, what was the vision when you said I want to attach technology and implement technology to do this? And then over time, like, how long have you been doing this now?

Dr. Krystine Kua 14:46
A couple years now,

Michael Waitze 14:47
right? So now a couple of years in? How did things change from that original vision, which I’m very curious about into what you’re doing today.

Dr. Krystine Kua 14:57
The scope of work has definitely changed. Stop, don’t, I think one of our DNA I think, is to even in the company. But even as a family, it’s like, whatever is thrown away, just take it on and just do it. So I came in with the intention of leading prop tech, which I still am. But we now are also looking to build like a property management company with Prop tech embedded in. So this is like this company, essentially, is the direct equivalent of Sunday to in real estate. So essentially, that’s under my scope, now to lead and build. And then I also took on people and culture for the company, and sustainability, and some strategy work. So you see, the scope has just expanded, but it’s fun.

Michael Waitze 15:46
But this is really interesting, right? Because a real estate business is fundamentally a physical business, right? Yeah, I’m going to simplify it. So and again, you can tell me where I’m wrong. But I’m gonna simplified a little bit so that it’s easy for everybody to understand. You’re either building condominiums right? So a big building with a we’re a bunch of people live in different kinds of scenarios or groups of houses, right in little neighborhoods, but it’s a physical building. But there’s another side of that business, which is the management of those buildings. Yeah. And that’s because scaling using technology, a physical business or a construction business is also possible. There are ways to attach tech to that, too. Yeah. But on the property management side, that you could scale globally. The things you learn by doing that are applicable almost everywhere, right? Again, 100 people living in a building needs services, they need IoT devices, they need e commerce inside the building needed to replace their lights or get their air conditioners like all this property management stuff, which before was just run by a juristic. Office, downstairs. Yeah, is now can run in an app. Like I’m curious about how that’s developing? And even if I’m right, I don’t know, I’m not in the real estate business.

Dr. Krystine Kua 16:56
So I mean, that’s exactly right. Right. So I think for us, when we decided to go into real estate development, we didn’t want to just build the Shaolin car, and then walk away, right? You know, it’s more about what is the life that you create for the people who have bought your your flat lands and people who decide to live in there. I feel like we have a role a big role to play in crafting that life for them. And that’s the idea of where why we decided to build the app. I mean, the app essentially is a platform where you can host their lives. That’s the intention. And with the app, like you said, it means that we can host this, you know, if you have a property management company, it’s not just about you know, today, it’s about the upkeep of the property, making sure that the repairs happen the building, but what about crafting the residents lifestyles. So such that, for example, our property management company is called lemme so for its is born, the name is born of the phrase, let me help you hence, let me so essentially, you’re saying that if you if you live in ALEMI Managed Property, we can say, you know, welcome to the Lammi life. Because when you live the Lammi life, everything is seamless, everything is digitally integrated on the app, and you get all these perks and benefits to lifestyle brands. So part of the business is to form a lot of partnerships with with other lifestyle brands as well. How does that work? Sorry, how does that work? How does that work? So for example, I mean, even now with our retail lifestyle quarters, we have loads of lifestyle brands, we have platter, which is our culinary playground, we have made which is like a female lead inspired space. And then we have teamLab, which is like a digital art museum. So already that we can see like we can have partnerships with them and say, Okay, if you join, if you rent a place, managed by me, you get perks, and you get exclusive access to these areas, these lifestyle brands, for example. So it’s really kind of like pulling the whole ecosystem together.

Michael Waitze 18:59
What’s been the response? I mean, it’s only two years old, right? And this is something it’s a way that people have not lived prior right? There wasn’t an app running the building in which they were living. Is the uptake good? And is this also the way people get like package delivery? Right, I still walk into my condo. And if there’s a package on the monitor, and I live in a really nice building, yeah, you know, really nice brand new building, run by a fancy like real estate company. But there are people sitting at the front desk, and there’s a table there and it just says like room 455 or room 724 And a box. Please tell me.

Dr. Krystine Kua 19:34
Yeah, I mean, I think at the moment is like a chicken and egg situation. Because it’s like, do people want it? Because right now, I don’t think there’s any property management company in Malaysia that’s that’s really doing this yet. And it’s probably not. If you can’t, we’re not sure right? Is it because people don’t want it or because people haven’t been exposed to this type of service before hence haven’t had the chance to know that they want it. Right. Right, right. And I believe it’s probably the second. I mean, even looking over to the west, I know. And in the US, for example, there are already companies doing this. And so we really want to we want to bring that over to Southeast Asia as well.

Michael Waitze 20:14
There’s historical precedent for this right? In many industries, I mean, I think it was Henry Ford, who said, If I asked my customers what they’d wanted what they wanted, they just would have said a faster horse. Right? Exactly. And, and when I was a kid, you’re like, Yeah, back in the 1930s. You know, cars just started getting automatic windows. And nobody knew that they needed a button to roll the window up. And nobody was complaining about it right. And even to today, like if, if you’re driving in a car next to somebody, you want to talk to them, you don’t go like this. Yeah, mostly, you just go like this, because everyone knows that means roll down the window. But once you have it, you can’t get rid of it. And I think this is the same thing with the property management stuff you’re doing with technologies, nobody really knows they need it, because they don’t have it. But boy, if they’re in the office, like two hours later than they should be, and they get a notification on their app, that there’s a package there and that they can make some kind of decision with either somebody else in the building, or somebody else in their family to tell them to go pick it up? Because it’s technologized. Yeah, that changes their lives. Right.

Dr. Krystine Kua 21:15
Exactly, exactly. So it’s almost like similar to you know, we never knew we needed ride hailing apps, but now like, literally can’t live without them. So essentially, that’s kind of like the same level we’re trying to get to. Yeah, so super exciting.

Michael Waitze 21:32
Are you surprised by like some of the things that you’ve learned during the past couple of weeks, during the past couple of years, in the way technology affects the way people live, like on a day to day basis, you don’t I mean, outside of the ride hailing thing, but inside of the four walls, where they live, how technology can change it. In other words, like the E commerce thing is a really big deal. To me, everybody’s apartment has light bulbs, and everybody needs to replace them. But there’s a way actually in a brand new buildings to put IoT devices in there. And as the bulbs and maybe the bulbs aren’t a great example, because they last for so long now. But like, if there’s any kind of electrical problem, the app can actually get identified through an IoT device to tell them wirelessly that then they can just like schedule with the juristic office to get replaced. That’s super useful. No,

Dr. Krystine Kua 22:17
yeah, exactly. And I think another thing that maybe people will eventually find that it’s amazing to have is, for example, like home automation. Now, you don’t even have the fact that you don’t even have to think about it, and it’s done for you. So for example, you know, the moment you walk out of the condo, your robot cleaner starts moving and cleaning your house, but the moment you come back home, it ducks itself, because you don’t want to see anything being when you’re around, you know, little things like that. I think it’s also many will really change change our lives or like, when it’s 6pm, your water heater turns on so that you always have hot water. You never have to have a cold shower. Things like that are pretty simple actually to do, but just not widely adopted or not as widely adopted. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 23:04
In your mind, is there a sustainability and an ESG angle to this as well? And the reason why I asked is because you just said this thing about the water heater, right? When I’m at when I’m not home all day. Yeah, if I’m working in an office, you know, 20 minutes from my house, there’s no reason for my water heater to be on particularly in Malaysia where it doesn’t get like it’s not like Boston where it gets, you know, zero degrees. Exactly. But there is a sustainability aspect to that too. Because if it’s not on, it’s not using energy, and then it just better for the environment. Is that true as well?

Dr. Krystine Kua 23:31
For sure. I think water heater is one but I think the big guzzler of energy here is probably air conditioning.

Michael Waitze 23:38
Yeah, no, but you’re right, though. I’d love to be able to turn on my air come when I’m not there. It’s so simple. When I’m on my way home, like 15 minutes before kind of thing. Yeah,

Dr. Krystine Kua 23:45
yeah. So you don’t come home to a really hot room. But at the same time, like even when you’re home, you know, you don’t have to have your temperature at 21. It can fluctuate based on the temperature in the room, right? And all you need is a few simple sensors. And you can find out like what’s your comfortable optimum temperature? It’s getting a bit geeky, but you know, like,

Michael Waitze 24:06
what? I love it. I guess my real question here was 21. Is that really worse? You’ve said

Dr. Krystine Kua 24:14
mine’s always 21. But I always know it’s too cold. So it ends up being like, switch it off. And then five minutes later, and now it’s too hot. Switch it on. That’s okay.

Michael Waitze 24:22
This is really hilarious, because I’m 22. Not my age. But But you’re right, though it does get too cold sometimes. But even the switching it lower and then switching it higher to jeweler. It’s also bad for the environment, right? Because it’s taxing the machine which is then working too hard. Exactly. And if it’s automated if you can find the optimal temperature based on your behavior. It’ll just be better for everything. Yeah,

Dr. Krystine Kua 24:46
exactly. Or even if you’re in if you’re if you’ve left the room for a certain amount of time, you can just switch off. So things like that. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 24:54
this is so much fun. Do you do you try to build places if you’re building places from scratch, do you do do that as well. new constructions

Dr. Krystine Kua 25:02
do we do we install IoT?

Michael Waitze 25:04
No. Does your family build like new builders from scratch? Like buy a piece of land build a whole building from scratch that you do? Right? So do you try to build a place that you would also like to live? Do you know what I mean? If it’s from scratch?

Dr. Krystine Kua 25:17
Definitely, you could do anything. For sure. I mean, like, you know, with the first with this our made on development economy. So I mean, I wasn’t here from the start, but my sister was, and of course, she, she built it with the stuff she loves. She’s, we’ve all got a unit. So we’re all living that. So we’re just moving ourselves from the family home and everyone’s moving to the new development.

Michael Waitze 25:39
Okay, but that’s a real taste of it’s got to work, right? Because if you’re living there as well, yes, you’re not going to put up with suboptimal situations?

Dr. Krystine Kua 25:46
No, no. So quality is definitely something that we’re looking at. And essentially, yeah, even when I’m sitting with the team, the tech team to design the app, I’m thinking about myself, right? Putting myself in the shoes and like, Hey, I’m going to be living there. Is this really what I want?

Michael Waitze 26:02
This is how I want to do this thing. Did you have any reservations? So we went to did you go to medical school? In the UK as well? Yeah. So you did right. So you went and when you were there, you were there by yourself? Like your family wasn’t with you. But

Dr. Krystine Kua 26:17
for certain periods of time, Cindy was there with me as well.

Michael Waitze 26:20
Okay, fair enough. Yeah, yeah. But were there reservations in not just coming back to the region, but in working with like your brothers and sisters? Like, I don’t know if I love my brother like crazy. Yeah, I really do. Yeah, but I don’t even think I can live with him. But working is very tricky, right? Because I would even say if you were working, not with family members, but like with people that were close to you, it’s like almost worse than getting married, right? Because there’s this whole financial relationship as well. Were there any reservations from you, or from the other family members about like, because if it doesn’t work, we’re still family kind of thing. Do you don’t I mean, I think

Dr. Krystine Kua 26:59
we all know that that’s definitely a challenge to work as a family and as siblings. My oldest sister, Joanne, Joanne, and Cindy have worked together for a long time. And Joanna and my father has have worked for more than a decade together, right. So they are the veterans like, they know, they know how to do this song and dance around each other on social works. So definitely, when I when I decided to join the family business, this was definitely one of the things that that they gave a lot of support to me. And you know, it’s like, it’s down to the little things were even in the office, you don’t like at home, I call my sisters. Yeah, you know, like when the Chinese way of calling sister by, I know that I have to call her by name. I can’t call my dad that in the office, I have to call him by his title. So but these little things matters, though, that matters. And it shifts a shift the mindset. So it’s trying to like put, we try and put a wall between professional and personal and family. But it’s always it’s not always that simple. Like, there’s no such thing as like, Okay, I’m now transitioning into the professional mode, it doesn’t work like that, like it’s a lot more fluid, even conversations shift between being personal and professional, within a sentence. But it’s just knowing that, you know, I think is knowing when to put some things aside like, Yeah,

Michael Waitze 28:20
but the flip side of this, and, you know, we talked a little bit about the camaraderie of being in the emergency room, and also just, you know, operating at a world class sport level. On the flip side, there must be this inherent joy when something goes well, knowing that your teammates are also your family like that high five is a different kind of high five, when it’s your sister and your dad or your mom. And even if it’s a really close colleague. No.

Dr. Krystine Kua 28:47
Yeah, definitely, I think, because previously, you know, I had only seen my sisters or sisters, right. And even when they had professional achievements, I was very happy for them. But I wasn’t around to see the level of effort and work that was put in, right, of course, now that I’m part of the family business as well. Then you see the other side, you see the whole picture, and you’re like, Okay, this took a lot of work. I’m extra happy for you and feel that camaraderie and definitely, you know, in the past couple of years, you’re in COVID, as well, obviously, things have been challenging. So, so knowing that we’re all in this together, right, as a team, similar to the emergency room, like we’re all here, because we’re trying to help this patient. So having that level of camaraderie is really good.

Michael Waitze 29:34
Did your dad start this business? Or did his family like, I’m just wondering who the founder of the KSK business was? Oh,

Dr. Krystine Kua 29:40
that was my dad.

Michael Waitze 29:41
It was your dad. Right?

Dr. Krystine Kua 29:42

Michael Waitze 29:43
But when you were a little girl, you probably didn’t understand as much as you do today about just how hard it was for him to start that business from scratch. And you know, to be fair cascades of big business. Yeah. But now do you even have a deeper appreciation for just how hard it was for him to be An entrepreneur and build it into what it is, do you know? Because before you were just like, Yeah, you know, my dad has a business kind of thing. But now, do you feel differently about that too? For sure,

Dr. Krystine Kua 30:10
I think, I mean, obviously we learn, we learn a lot from him and you hear the stories as well. Definitely, I think we have a greater appreciation of, you know, what it took down to like he’s saying, you know, you should always have a crazy idea. Because if you don’t have one, you won’t, you won’t achieve anything great. So and then, you know, even like learning how to manage and bring people with you, and grow and nurture everyone around you, I think that led to his success, and what he was able to achieve with KSK. So I think I think being around him now, and learning that side of him, definitely is inspiring,

Michael Waitze 30:50
you make a really good point. There’s this myth of the solo entrepreneur, right, somebody toiling away late at night, solving all the problems. And just this idea that, you know, I have this thing theory that I call no one succeeds alone. Yeah. And this idea that you said that your dad’s success, or at least the way he explained it to you is also based on just gathering a bunch of people together and pointing them in the same direction or convincing them to go in the same direction, and being able to pass that down on to your kids so that they can learn that that’s important, too, that no matter how good they are, at their job, even being entrepreneurs that without the support of the team, it’s not gonna work. Is that fair?

Dr. Krystine Kua 31:32
It’s fair enough. He always tells us like, and we believe this. A great leader is someone who can make everyone around them do their best Yeah. Together, we then achieve what we have to as a business. It’s not about you as a leader and what you are doing only right. It’s what about it’s about what how you move the pieces together, you know, around the chessboard, and how you make everything come together. So we always live by kind of that, that value and that advice that he’s given to us.

Michael Waitze 32:02
I think that is the exact thought on which we will end this conversation. Dr. Krystine Kua, the Director of Strategy at cascade and the co founder and the head at Cascais. City labs. That was awesome. I really hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

Dr. Krystine Kua 32:16
Yeah, it was great. I would love to have this in person one day.

Michael Waitze 32:21
We definitely will.

Dr. Krystine Kua 32:22


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