Cole Sirucek Part 1 – Co-Founder & CEO – DocDoc Pte. Ltd.
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Many aspire to reach the upper echelon of the healthcare industry, but few are able to successfully navigate the corporate ladder. As Asia becomes the world epicenter of the healthcare industry, C-Suite Partners sits down with international healthcare executives asking the tough questions and unpacking the personalities of the top industry leaders.
Welcome to the boardroom.
Michael Murray 0:51
Cole, thank you very much for joining C-Suite Partners in the boardroom.
Cole Sirucek 0:54
Thank you. Well, good to be here.
Michael Murray 0:55
Very interested. The viewers will want to know what you’ve been doing the past 15-20 years Can you give us the Reader’s Digest version of your career
Cole Sirucek 1:03
15, 20 years is a long time.
Michael Murray 1:05
Cole Sirucek 1:06
My career in a nutshell, I graduated from the University of Hawaii. I majored in Economics, was going to go to law school but my professor, I was actually living on the North Shore of a Oahu surfing at the time, after grad school or after undergrad. My professor came to me and said, Hey, Cole and he, my professor was at the point at that point in time, was the chief economic adviser to the governor of Hawaii. Well, he was also he was Japanese man, he was the first Gold Glove boxing champion that was Japanese in the history of Golden Gloves and he also was a PhD and in economics from Wisconsin and he built ASEAN. So you’ve heard of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, that was first architected by Dr. Saginai. So he calls me and goes “Cole, I’m so disappointed in you, you cannot become a surfer. There’s too much talent, you will start work tomorrow” or like, and so the next thing I know, I’m working for the governor of Hawaii. No True story. And I show up at the governor’s mansion and there I am being a specialist system to the governor of why that was my first job. So I did that for about three years and then I went over to grad school. And I went to Harvard and MIT and then after that, I was actually going to go work in investment banking in New York. And my girlfriend at the time calls me and she says, Hey, I’m in Singapore, finishing my Fulbright she was she graduated, you’re ahead of me. And she says, I’ve taken this job at Bristol-Myers Squibb and tt’s amazing job, but I decided to take it and if you love me, you’ll come to Singapore. Well, so I literally take I literally move out here with $500 $500 in my bank account, $300,000 in student debt, I’ve turned down the job offer, I had to return the signing bonus and I get out here, and I literally open the newspaper to find a job. Well, I’ve got no idea what I’m gonna do. Now, a very good friend of mine, who was at Cambridge University was Singaporean. And he helped actually crack the human genome. And so he had some, you know, political clout or, you know, accolades in Singapore. And he said, I know this woman at Temasek Holdings and you need to go meet her, she really like you guys will get along fabulously. So I go over and it turns out her name is Madam Ho Ching. She’s the CEO of Temasek at the time, so I go in and I interview there, and I get home. And within six hours, they call me and said we’d like to offer you a job. Well, I did that for seven years. And then tragedy struck my daughter, I take her in and the pediatrician says, Cole. She’s jaundiced. And I’m I end up being surrounded in this tiny room with no windows with surgeons and they say, Look, your daughter’s liver is failing, we need to do a major operation is called the Kasai operation. And we need to do it right now. You know, and I said last to Doctor. So how many times have you done this? And then the physician says, I’m the head of the department, I’m good at my job. And I say, Wow, okay, what is this going to cost? They say, Are you insured? And I said, Yeah. And they said, don’t worry about it, it’s going to be very expensive. I’m like, Okay, well, what are the long term consequences, you don’t have a choice, we have to do it now. Just a complete brick wall of patient empowerment. Ultimately, our friend, the doctor, our doctor friend that came in who was a very well known surgeon, his first words, were don’t let anybody in that room touch your daughter. They’re not really qualified to do something like this. So we found a team in Japan. And the team that we found in Japan was the highest volume in the world. The founder and the gentleman that was leading that team was the inventor of the procedure. And he had done over 2000 as of the year 2000. And he quit counting them after but he was still doing, you know, several a week when it came to rent. And so there was he literally written a textbook and what was most amazing was with that level of expertise, they turned out to be about 60% cheaper than me 60% cheaper than what was quoted with the other group. And so, after the transplant, I was lying in the ICU. And I remember saying to my wife I, and it was weird how it hit me. I said, I know we have to do. Like, we have to solve this problem. We said, Hey, this is what we have to we have to found a company to solve this problem. And that’s, that’s where the world’s first patient intelligent company came from.
Michael Murray 5:24
So you started the company, what did you do on the first day?
Cole Sirucek 5:29
Well, when I started this company, everybody thought I was insane. Grace and I started this company, first thing, don’t ever start a company with your wife. Don’t do that terrible, bad on your marriage, it’ll financially the risk doesn’t make sense. And second, why are you leaving your careers to do this? That doesn’t make any sense. And then you can’t ever do that. It’s way too hard. You can’t do it because insurance doesn’t care about patients. You can’t do it because the healthcare system will never give you the data. You can’t do it because and all people do is tell you, you can’t. And what you realise is, is what they’re saying is they can’t. If you deem to actually accomplish anything of any way you have to assume that the herd mentality of humanity will always be against you. It has to be if it’s not, then by definition, you’re not doing something that’s contrary
Michael Murray 6:17
How many of those people have turned around and said “Oh, maybe you can now”. Because this is something that’s so common with entrepreneurs, they come into businesses and people, I suppose it’s a reflection sometimes of their missed opportunities when they’re projecting onto you that you can’t do it. Have you seen a bit of a turnaround for those people at the very start that said, You can’t?
Cole Sirucek 6:39
Yes, and no. There’s a bitterness that sin tends to set in after you start being successful. So if they moved from you can’t and I care about you to “Well, you know, there’s a lot of luck in there”. And so what I’ve learned is, is that none of that matters, don’t worry about the chatter, doesn’t matter. You go meet great investors, Warren Buffett, as an example, Charlie Munger, these guys, they’re not out there running around Wall Street and meeting with investment banking analysts, right, they’re making their own decisions up based on the factual data. So I think if you’re going to be a great entrepreneur, you got to have a vision, you got to take a call, and then you got to go, and you can’t be you can’t be bogged down with other people’s dogma. You just can’t even allow your life It doesn’t matter. I if you start getting cotton that you’re done.
Cole Sirucek 7:36
I hired one executive in particular, that had him was incredibly smooth. But everything this person did, it failed. Everything was always somebody else’s problem was never their problem and so bringing victims into your company is disastrous.