Rosaline Chow Koo Part 1 - Founder and Chief Executive Officer - CXA Group
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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 0:31
Rosaline, thank you very much. I’m with the C suite partners in the boardroom? Sure. Can you just talk me through your current situation in terms of your business and your position,
Rosaline Chow 0:44
I’m in a startup. I am the founder and CEO. We’ve grown over the last five years from one person in my living room to about 250 people right now in four cities. And what we do is we actually give a wallet to each employee in each workplace, so that they can actually decide how to spend their insurance and healthcare money. So we’ve built an ecosystem of the entire value chain, everyone from hospitals and insurers to clinics to health screeners. The next stage is where we’re actually scaling and going through rapid growth.
Michael Murray 1:27
Where did the idea come from?
Rosaline Chow 1:29
I used to run Mercer and Marsh in the 14 countries. Okay, so it’s, we were insurance brokers. For everyone from, the mainly to fortune 500. During my time there, I was there for eight years, we actually grew 800% to about a billion dollars in premium. But what we found out was that the clients were complaining about the entire industry and then there were several complaints. One is that insurance premiums are rising and yet our employees are not getting healthier. But the other thing is that because of the multi-generational workforce in each workplace, we were not meeting their needs with one-size-fits-all insurance. I tried to convince Mercer to give me $10 million, okay to build this ecosystem because I finally figured out how to do this to actually address all the pain points. But Mercer for five years in a row never said yes. So once the CEO was fired, and my global boss was fired, I knew I was next. So I left. But little did I realize that the $10 million would come from me to build my dream on my own. So I signed a personal guarantee, took out 5 million from the bank and then I took all of my money, my husband’s money, my children’s money, everything. Got the $10 million to build this. We knew we could build something to solve these issues but it required technology to actually build the entire ecosystem. And also to build the AI engine to capture the data.
Michael Murray 3:22
One thing I really picked up in that answer was five times No, where’s the resilience come from? How do you keep moving forward when people keep saying five no’s. What do you do then?
Rosaline Chow 3:35
I guess I was obsessed with this issue. Because if we’re not solving the client’s pain point, despite the fact that we were the fastest-growing firm in Asia and the whole company, and dominant in the region, we’re 50% bigger than the number two. But yet, if we’re not solving our client’s problems, what good are we? If there is a better solution, we should do it and I wanted the firm to do it, but they didn’t. So I’m doing it myself. But I, I have a history of resilience. I grew up in the streets of Watts during the riots. So had to run away where we fought a lot, but I learned to run so I didn’t fight anymore. We were the one non-black family where we grew up yes for. And I’ve had very, very hard jobs. Over the last 34 years. So all I do are turnarounds corporate turnarounds or startups.
Michael Murray 4:39
And what about Mercer it had all of the backing of a large corporate HR? Yes. Did you find that a challenge coming into on starting us from my living room, I’ve got nothing. What did you What did you prioritise?
Rosaline Chow 4:53
So my first three months, let’s focus on more mocking up a prototype on PowerPoint, and going back to my largest ex-clients, the most demanding ones and asking them, I built this, would you buy it, even if I’m no longer at Mercer?. So I would get feedback from them about the idea and also over time, after my one year was over, that was my non-compete period, the three clients I went to actually bought.
Michael Murray 5:33
Wow. What I really like to understand is the skillset of someone who sees an idea, but actually puts it into practice, because that’s where they know that the difference isn’t everyone’s really got these great ideas. Yes. What do you think is that is the skill set or mindset?
Rosaline Chow 5:50
I personally believe that talk is cheap. So it’s three skill sets that I learned from startups and turn around. One is the ability to walk into an industry and I’ve been in different industries, and envision and articulate a very, very different future, but that’s really based on what our client’s pain points and how do you solve that in an unconventional way. Second skill set is the ability to take a vision and transform it into reality. So it’s execution skills, the third ability, it’s leadership skills to be able to convince and compel a large group of people to follow you to execute your vision. But shit happens every day and every hour, so how do you get the team to adapt to all the changes that you’re going to go through and each one of these journeys.
Rosaline Chow 7:03
I believe that there is a valid excuse for every failure. You have to find the people who can overcome those valid excuses.