Wise Words with Pamela Yeo

Seeking to use war-time waste for social good, Saught was set up by Pamela Yeo, Adeline Heng and Ng Sook Zhen in December 2010. Based in Singapore, the company uses the metal from de-activated landmines to create pieces of jewellery. The organisation employs citizens from conflict-ravaged regions, offering a source of employment for those who may have lost as a result of the fighting in their nation.

Pamela originally trained as a lawyer, and graduated from the National University of Singapore last year. She was called to the Singapore Bar as an advocate and solicitor in June 2012, and left practice recently to pursue Saught as a full-time career. Still in its early stages of operation, we put some questions to Pamela to see how the business is coming along.

1. Where did the idea for Saught come from?

The idea for Saught is very much grounded in the idea of being able to get the message of peace out – when Sook Zhen, Adeline and I were conceptualising Saught at the beginning, it clicked when we realised there was a common thread for all our experiences. The fundamental key was that the use of metal from war remnants could be used as a platform for people to re-tell the story of countries that are re-building themselves, and also to advocate for those who are part of a big concerted effort for post-conflict peace-building.

2. Can you describe a typical working day?

Every day is atypical and incredibly exciting. My days differ when I’m travelling or when I’m back in Singapore. When I’m in Cambodia working with our various partners, each day can revolve around going to our partner workshop to work alongside the artisans, or meeting up with various international organisations. In Singapore, I regroup, plan marketing, and organise the back-end work of having our orders shipped out to customers around the world.

3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Saught?

These days, I’ve been learning how to fish! I find the grandeur of the sea very breathtaking.

4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

I don’t know if there is one particular ingredient… But from what I’ve noticed from all the experienced, and successful entrepreneurs I’ve met along the way, it’s an unwavering belief in the capacity of what you and I can do.

5. What drove you crazy when building your business?

Nothing really… I enjoyed/am enjoying every moment of it.

6. What motivates you to keep going?

It’s moving from a posture of fear to faith – and keeping my eyes focussed on the vision of what Saught can be and how much more it can do.

7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

We would definitely have hired a corporate secretary and accountant from the get-go!

8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

We see ourselves boosting our social impact in Cambodia, and also to expand our work to other countries: Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka, and Laos, to feature a wider range of products. We will get there by honing best practices with our current set-up in Cambodia, transplanting our model, and having a motivated, dedicated and passionate team to grow Saught’s work.

9. If you weren’t working on Saught, what would you be doing?

I can’t imagine doing anything else really – I’d probably be working on making Saught work. Otherwise, I’d be working in an organisation dedicated to public interest and development work.

10. Tell Springwise a secret…

I had the chance to blow up stuff at the Goldenwest Humanitarian Foundation operational grounds in Cambodia, and it was the coolest thing I have ever done. I blew up an antipersonnel mine, of course, with safety precautions in place! Also… I’ve fractured my rib from laughing.

11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

When I left legal practice to pursue Saught full-time, I found the following to be very true:
“Until one is commited, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too .
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Thanks Pamela!

You can read more about Saught here, or visit the Saught website here.

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