With over 30 years’ experience, Elim Chew, 51, is no stranger to having to keep up with a fast-changing world. When her streetwear fashion chain 77th Street folded, the unyielding entrepreneur turned to other industries, opening a slew of successful Korean restaurants and developing an express delivery app, FASTFAST.
Apart from her businesses, Elim is also known for her social entrepreneurship with her Youtube series “Changemakers”, which features people from different fields making social impact through their work.
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So naturally, we had to pick her brain on how she continually adapts to a fast-moving world. She shares three key ways:
1. Be sensitive to what needs to change.
“Knowing how to adapt to the times becomes natural instinct when I’ve been in business for this long, but it’s become even more important now, especially with the current digital transformation,” she shares.
Beyond reacting with your senses, Elim stresses the importance of soft skills, which she terms the sensitivity quotient (SQ). “This means being sensitive to problems out there (whether in your family life, work environment or others), being able to provide a solution and taking action to improve or change things.”
Routine or repetitive work can be replaced by technology, but what cannot be replaced is our response to new things and situations. – Elim Chew
Watch her TEDx Talk here:
“The human touch is crucial. We can leverage on technology and artificial intelligence to improve things, but it takes the person to know how to respond. All jobs will be disrupted. Routine or repetitive work can be replaced by technology, but what cannot be replaced is our response to new things and situations.”
For instance, the food and beverage business was something completely unfamiliar to Elim and her team, who had spent more than two decades in the fashion industry.
“All my senior management team from 77th Street are still running with us today. We had to transfer what we know from fashion to the food business, based on the same values we had for 77th Street where we give people good quality and value.”
“And back then, everything was done by word of mouth but today we communicate with customers through social media, so we had to learn how to go digital. With FASTFAST delivery app, I had to learn about the tech business too. It’s more than just learning how to use technology; it’s about being flexible to change that is the key.”