AHEAD OF THE GAME

Sandra Yeow

MANAGING DIRECTOR

NUCLEO CONSULTING PTE LTD

(Pulsar Category Winner 2017)

"Offering full-fledged services has allowed Nucleo Consulting to set itself apart in the IT industry"

One can trace Sandra Yeow’s passion for technology to when she was just 12 years old. This was when she received her first computer as a gift from her father. That sparked in her an interest in IT. “Since I was little, I have enjoyed taking things apart and putting them together,” Yeow reminisces. “I enjoyed setting things up, getting my hands dirty and even putting computers together for relatives and friends. That’s what got me started.”

Yeow is the managing director of Nucleo Consulting, an IT firm that provides services mainly to SMEs in Singapore. As a one-stop provider, the company offers various services ranging from the purchasing of equipment to deployment and managing IT outsourcing and even cloud solutions.

It may come as a surprise to some that Yeow doesn’t have a formal background in IT. After graduating from Nanyang Polytechnic in mechatronics engineering, she pursued a degree from Australia’s Curtin University, partly in IT and partly in business. After eight years, She left her first job as an in-house regional IT manager when she realised that she could do a lot more to help the SME market in Singapore. “I enjoy seeing how people can be more efficient and productive with IT, so that drove me to start my own company,” she relates.

As Nucleo’s managing director, Yeow oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, while ensuring that every employee is well taken care of. “I see to it that the staff enjoy what they do,” she shares. “Our guys are also constantly trained, and I also want to be sure that everyone fits in with the corporate culture. It’s a huge responsibility knowing that someone’s livelihood is in your hands.”

Nucleo’s goal from the outset was more than just becoming a trusted and reliable one-stop IT solutions provider for Singapore’s SME market. It also strives to be at the forefront of the industry. “It can be challenging at times, as the IT market is constantly changing and people don’t always know whose advice to listen to,” says Yeow.

But the seven-year-old company has carved a niche by distinguishing itself from its peers through the scope and depth of services and solutions it offers. “We do consulting and provide solutions based on our clients’ business processes,” Yeow asserts. “Others in the industry generally only provide one part or another but don’t offer full-fledged services. Most of the time, they are just people who come in and solve problems in a client’s network but aren’t necessarily capable of offering anything beyond that. For us, we plan and set a client’s IT strategy by focusing on our customer’s needs, which is our key success factor. A lot of small companies don’t have financial capability to have big IT teams, but there are smaller ways to do things, and we can make it more affordable for them to do so.”

Nucleo is also one of the first companies to offer security as a service in partnership with SonicWall, affording cutting-edge security systems that can block ransomware, for instance.

Nucleo’s competitive edge is all the more impressive when one considers that it runs on a very lean team — Yeow oversees fewer than 10 employees, which is a remarkable feat given the company’s achievements. For her, it boils down to ruthless efficiency, focus and productivity. “We don’t actually need a lot of people,” she explains. “A lot of our system is on the cloud. It’s something I spent close to two years putting together, and it’s paying off because it allows everyone to work anywhere. As a result, our staff have a lot of work-life balance and flexibility. I don’t like to put restrictions on them, they can work anywhere in the world as long as it’s office hours.”
Nucleo enjoys a strong customer base and Yeow is adding more to her portfolio through word-of-mouth referrals, which she believes is a clear indication that the business is on the right track. “It’s one of our most successful ways of growing the business,” she says. “We have not done any marketing or advertising, but we have gained customers through referrals, such as when medical software partners refer other medical clients to us.”

Yeow says she has given thought to putting some resources into marketing the company, but the team is hesitant for one reason: the quality of customer service. “We all agree that we need to grow steadily. My guys are worried that if we grow too big, our customer service standards will drop, but I think we should be OK if we are able to systemize everything.

Yeow runs a tight ship with teams that also provide service to customers in Indonesia and Thailand. It is paramount that Nucleo remains based in Singapore as it is one of the most developed nations in the IT sector. The Singapore government is also helping the industry with grants to make it easier for SMEs and companies to become more IT-savvy. Yeow has now sets her sights abroad, particularly in Cambodia and Vietnam where the IT know-how is still relatively weak. Emphasis is placed on IT security in an age of growing threats. “It’s a critical concern because companies have lost significant amounts of money to scams,” she reveals.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Yeow supports ACRES’ efforts in animal welfare. “They are doing something most people wouldn’t, and I feel they should be recognised for it,” she says. “We sponsor and participate in their gala dinners, which is a great way to create awareness for ACRES among our clients and to let our clients know that here is an organisation that they, too, can help.” Nucleo also adopts green measures by dealing with e-waste properly, recycling whenever possible. “We also help clients clear their IT junk in eco-friendly ways.”

Although a successful entrepreneur in her own right, Yeow remains firmly grounded with her eyes set on her goals. “Determination is something that is very, very important,” she says. “As an entrepreneur, you will be taken out of your comfort zone and you will meet a lot of challenges, but being determined allows you to push through all that.” To give back to society, Yeow will be launching her book Obstinacy Power, in which she shares her strategies on achieving goals and getting a business off the ground based on her six-step strategy. The book marks a milestone in her life and career and she hopes that it will be useful for entrepreneurs and across all fields. “It isn’t a question of what you know,” she adds, “It’s also about what you do, especially in darker moments.”

AWARD JUDGE

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai

Director

Seed Global Investment

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai spent 29 years in the Singapore Armed Forces as a military officer. He rose up to the Army’s top leadership and held numerous key appointments.

The years in the Armed Forces provided him a strong foundation in leadership, human capital management, operational planning, training development and critical diplomatic skills.

He retired from active military service in 2016 and is currently a Director with SEED Global Investment, a real estate investment firm. He oversees the company’s portfolio and business development in the US and UK. He holds a MSc in Applied Finance from the Singapore Management University, and is no stranger to corporate finance, portfolio management, equities, bonds and derivatives.

AWARD JUDGE

TIN PEI LING

Member of Parliament
CEO

Business China

Ms Tin Pei Ling is the Chief Executive Officer of Business China, a non-profit organisation that harnesses the support of the public sector & private enterprises to strengthen the ties between Singapore and China. Prior to joining Business China, Pei Ling was the Group Director of Corporate Strategy for Jing King Group.

Pei Ling is an elected Member of Parliament in Singapore since 2011 and currently serves on the Public Accounts Committee. She also serves on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications & Information (from 2018, Dy Chairperson) and Health (2011 – present) and previously for Law/Home Affairs (2011-2015) and Social & Family Development (2015 – 2018, Dy Chairperson).

AWARD JUDGE

RYAN CHIOH

Managing Director

Faseastflora.com

Mr Ryan Chioh joined FEF.com in 1998 as Executive Director of Far East Flora Holdings Pte Ltd.

Always a firm advocator for technology, Ryan identified the direction for e-commerce development and saw a business opportunity to offer FEF.com’s extensive range of flowers and gifts online in 2001. Ryan blended his IT savviness and prudent business sense to steer the company’s website to become the leading portal for flowers and gifts. Ryan also brought the company to another level by spearheading the development of a CRM and ERP business solution, integrating the front-end and back-end operations so that there would be easier identification of customer base.

AWARD JUDGE

NEO SING HWEE

Asia Pacific, Asean and Singapore Internal Audit Leader, Risk Advisory Services

Ernst & Young

Mr Neo Sing Hwee sits in the EY Asean Partner Governance Council and leads the Advisory (Risk) Internal Audit Practice in Ernst & Young Asia Pacific, Asean and Singapore.

He has more than 20 years of experience in providing risk management, performance improvement, internal controls and business advisory services to clients in various industries, including organisations in the government and public sector such as ministries and statutory boards. He provides advice to Boards and Management on leading practices, insights as well as issues relating to corporate governance, risk management and internal controls.

AWARD JUDGE

DR LIM WEE KIAK, PBM

Member of Parliament
CEO

Eagle Eye Centre

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, is an elected Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC since 2015 and serves as chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth. An Ophthalmologist, Dr Lim is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Eagle Eye Centre.

Dr Lim joined the Singapore Armed Forces as a medical officer in 1994 and completed subspecialty training in Ophthalmology in 1998, with a Master’s degree in Medicine and two post-graduate specialist qualifications in Ophthalmology. During his service in SAF, he led numerous humanitarian missions to neighbouring countries. He joined Singapore National Eye Centre and was awarded the MOH HMDP fellowship in 2003, doing one year of clinical and research Fellowship at the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Dr Lim had been an active grassroots leader since 1998 before joining politics in 2006. For his active community involvement, he was awarded the Young Executive of the Year in 2000 and Public Service Medal (PBM) in 2003.

AWARD JUDGE

Chew Mok Lee

Assistant Chief Executive
ICM & Digitalisation
Enterprise Services & New Industries

Enterprise Singapore

Ms Chew Mok Lee is the Assistant Chief Executive in charge of ICM & Digitalisation, Enterprise Services & New Industries in Enterprise Singapore, a government agency spearheading enterprise and industry development, reporting to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore. Enterprise Singapore is also the national Standards body in Singapore.

Prior to Enterprise Singapore, Mok Lee was with National Productivity Board (NPB), PSB and SPRING Singapore. She graduated from National University of Singapore, majoring in Economics and Statistics. She has a double Masters and is well versed in the area of enterprise promotion, industry development and partnership building, having been involved in various aspects of capability development, support for local enterprises, enabling a viable enterprise eco-system and entrepreneurship for 29 years. She also served as Secretariat to the Action Community for Entrepreneurship and was responsible for working with the Minister in Charge of Entrepreneurship and private sector members to foster entrepreneurship and support start-ups in Singapore.

AWARD JUDGE

CHIA KIM HUAT

Regional Head
Corporate and Transactional Practice

Rajah & Tann Singapore

Mr Chia Kim Huat has extensive experience in capital market, public and private mergers and acquisitions, cross-border joint ventures and private equity investments, both in Singapore and the region. He travels regularly in the Asia-Pacific region advising clients on a wide range of matters, including direct investments and infrastructure projects in China, major acquisitions in Korea, joint ventures in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and cross-border mergers and acquisitions transactions. Kim Huat also advises foreign investors on their investments in Singapore, including listings on the Singapore Exchange, privatisations, secondary and dual listings.

He has been recognised as a leading lawyer in his field by International Financial Law Review 1000, Chambers Global “Leaders in their Field”, Asia Pacific Legal 500, “Eminent Practitioner” in Chambers Asia Pacific, Who’s Who Legal: Corporate – Merger & Acquisition/Capital Markets – Debt and Equity and Merger & Acquisition, ‘Leading Lawyer’ in Asialaw Profiles and Best Lawyers, 2017 Edition.

AWARD JUDGE

TAN WEE BENG

Deputy Chief Executive (Operations)
SkillsFuture Singapore

Wee Beng is the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). He leads the Business Technology Group (Operations Planning Division, Capability Development Division, Operations & Support Division, Security & Infrastructure Division), the Training, Manpower & Infrastructure Group (Manpower & Infrastructure Planning Division, Office of Lifelong Learning, and Institute of Adult Learning which comprises Learning and Professional Development Division, Research and Innovation Division, Learning Services and Support Division ) as well as the Business Services Group (Shared Services Management, Integrated Business Services Division &, Corporate Services Division).

Prior to joining SSG, Wee Beng was an officer with the Singapore Armed Forces, leading both large and small teams. His last appointment was Chief-of-Staff, Republic of Singapore Navy, overseeing a range of staff departments and ground commands. Other key appointments held were Head Naval Operations, Commander of Maritime Security Task Force and Commander, Naval Diving Unit. Wee Beng holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Physics from Oxford University, UK, and a Master of Science in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.