#FathersinTech: Men At Work

What are the men who work in the tech industry like?  More importantly, how are these men when it comes to fatherhood? We are lucky enough to interview three capable, intellectual men in our community. The current digital economy is not only fast-paced, it can also be unforgiving at times. Coupled with the rise of disruptors, one can say that the journey of managing work and balancing life (and kids), is never plain sailing. These fathers in tech are exemplary: being able to cope with the trials and tribulations of the tech world, embracing the twists and turns, interjecting it with EQ while ensuring family life is sane and engaging. Kudos to their finesse and their can-do attitude! Our 20-minute interview with these inspirational dads is a great way to stay empowered and driven.

Jon Sugihara, Managing Partner, Elev8tion

As a former founder of various successful startups and a product expert, his forte is human capital. The avid tennis fan hits the courts every week to ensure his “me time” is satisfied but as a family man of two kids aged 2 and 7, he’s adamant about bringing his children up well and staying up-to-date in the digital economy. We find out how he ticks…

What advice would you give your child if they told you that they want to be a tech entrepreneur?

  • Entrepreneurship is a long path that will have many highs and lows. To get through the tough times when you want to give up, you need two things. Surround yourself with people who support you and want to see you succeed. As a father of two kids, I'd make sure that my actions are positive and encouraging to inspire them every day. It is also important to find a purpose in what you are building or achieving so that you can devote 100 percent of yourself. If you do not believe in that purpose, you will struggle to get through the difficult times. Just wanting to be an entrepreneur is not enough of a purpose.

What is a lesson you learned from one of your parents that has served you well? 

  • To always be curious and know that the world is very different than what you know comfortably in your sphere. When I was 13, my parents sacrificed their savings to allow us to travel. My mom was adamant that we needed to be exposed to the rest of the world. I take this mindset and apply it to every business I build; conscious of what opportunities there are at a global and regional level. Too many people have a hard time conceptualizing big ideas because they have restricted their thinking to what is immediately around them.

What is your personal strategy to keeping your family close while making an impact in your career in start-ups? 

  • In business, time is your most precious resource. You need to constantly prioritize what you are going to spend your time on. Same goes for family. Running a startup will always have more to do and you're not going to have a lot of time to devote to family, but you have to make time for them. You can do this by prioritizing and saying no at work and during those times with your family, you focus on that family time. I'm still working on this, but I've gotten better at really focusing on my family during those moments. 

Bryan Long, Co-founder and CEO, Stacck

This music man – he plays the guitar and drums – takes the time to do long brisk walks in the morning to think and reflect about work and life. Under his youthful, bespectacled appearance is a dad who treasures family time with his three kids aged 13,8 and 3. His wife is very supportive of his other pursuits in life such as attending speaking events. We had a wonderful opportunity to discover how this amazing dad survives in the tech industry while keeping in check his family life.

What advice would you give your child if they told you that they want to be a tech entrepreneur?

  • I'll tell them that they don't have to wait until they have gotten their degrees to become a tech entrepreneur; they can start now by solving the problems around them. Once they start, they will get used to failing and picking themselves.  I will tell them that working in the tech world is not like school as there are no major exams to pass. In entrepreneurship, everything we do matters every day. Essentially, I'll tell them not to wait but to start now.

What is your personal strategy to keeping your family close while making an impact in your career in start-ups? 

  • Start-up people are constantly talking about growth strategies, financial numbers, agility and other serious issues. Unfortunately, for some entrepreneurs, the bring the “work tempo” when they get home and it may be difficult for their spouse and children to understand and identify it. Therefore, one strategy I take is to take a breather before I go home and reset my mind to focus on my family. Then when I'm home, I quickly greet each child and to my spouse and find out how their day was. It is important because it gives me a quick overview of the mental state of each person; how they react to my question also determines their mood. Then during dinner, through the conversations, I will then spend more time on the family member who needs my attention, love and support the most.

Cooper McGuire, Co-founder of Zalora & Current COO of Ensogo Limited

This affable, bearded dad makes no bones about barring his kids from any social media platform. He believes that a family should bond over physical interactions rather than digital distractions. Cooper has two bundles of joy – a 3-year-old daughter and a 10-month old baby – to keep him smiling when he comes home after a hard day’s work. To keep his mind sane and lucid, he enjoys taking long walks in the verdant compounds of the Botanic Gardens. We find out how he aces at work while being a dutiful, loving dad. 

What advice would you give your child if they told you that they want to be a tech entrepreneur?

  • My advice is more generic. Surround yourself with interesting people, challenging problems, and act with integrity. If you can do all of that, you can do it in any field you want.

What is a lesson you learned from one of your parents that has served you well?

  • My dad has been quite successful, but his career has been anything but linear. He is a former tugboat operator/bartender with a law degree who became a real estate developer. He provided the proof-of-concept that has given me the confidence to zig zag in my career.

What is your personal strategy to keeping your family close while making an impact in your career?

  • I don't believe in work/life balance, and I have not yet mastered work/life integration. The best I think you can hope for are periods of time where work comes first or when family matters come first. Start-ups by their nature are pretty all-consuming, but when the work comes in fits and starts and you just have to be really conscientious about getting out and going home when the opportunity presents itself."