Work-Life Integration and Building A Company with Passion & Positivity

Mark Koh is the CEO and Co-founder of Supahands and the Head of Finance and Marketing for Pestle & Mortar, an established apparel brand in Malaysia. Supahands was founded upon the realisation that entrepreneurs and small companies often faced problems scaling their businesses quickly due to the lack of capital and manpower.

After launching in 2014, Supahands experienced measurable success as a virtual assistant service providing individuals and businesses with the headcount that they needed to fulfill and execute day-to-day work online.

However, by 2016, Mark and his co-founder realised the true speed and scalability that a crowdsourced manpower could provide to businesses – something traditional outsourcing companies could not offer or keep up with. In mid-2017, Mark and his team decided to switch focuses away from a virtual assistant model and Supahands had fully transitioned into a B2B service with a primary focus on content moderation and providing quality training data sets for machine learning and AI.

As the saying goes: ‘An organisation is the lengthened shadow of the leader’, Supahands is often an embodiment of Mark and his co-founder Susian’s best characteristics – of which an integral one is his ability to efficiently keep a healthy balance between his work and personal life.

Planning Ahead

As the founder of a startup in a tech industry, Mark is exposed to a dynamic and fast-paced environment. While some may be weighed down by the stresses, he is excited by the challenge and truly thrives in it.

A characteristic which allows Mark to keep on track is his high level of organisation. His week begins on a Sunday, as it’s usually a time for him to plan for the days that lie ahead. In preparation, he maps a weekly and daily checklist which he regularly consults to keep track of both personal goals and professional objectives for Supahands.

Mark firmly believes in making the most of his time, trying his best to make sure what he does during the day contributes to something important. As such, he is meticulous with his time, scheduling with detail on his Google calendar. Although, true to the flexible and scalable nature of the company that he built, it doubles as a flexible outline where deadlines and opportunities for growth are prioritised.

A Culture of Passion and Positivity

Ask anyone who knows him and you’ll see that a common way most will describe Mark is his positive and infectious energy. Mark unreservedly expresses how important it is for him to bring positivity and passion, the core values of Supahands, into the company as a founder. Having experienced draining negativity in a corporate industry before he decided to start something of his own, Mark sought a purpose in moulding an open, positive and vibrant company culture for Supahands that encouraged a deep passion for innovation.

He personally believes that ‘motion creates emotion’ – as such he turns to exercising to fuel his energy levels which he carries with him into the workplace. A testament to his work ethic, Mark is in constant pursuit of a good challenge: last year Supahands grew exponentially, exceeding the target of doubling the annual revenue. As for personal goals, Mark crushed a 5000 km cycling milestone and is currently training for a marathon amidst competing in social football leagues during the weekends.

Accordingly, to maintain a motivational state of mind, it’s no surprise that an ideal day for Mark begins and ends with sports – you can even catch him doing push-ups in the office sometimes!

Work-Life Integration

Mark gets up at 6:45AM on most mornings and as an avid biker, heads out for a ride with his biking group by 7:00AM. As he discovered, finding common interests with business associates and entrepreneurs often nurtured a close network as a by-product.

After a chat and an energising cup of coffee (first of many), Mark makes his way back home and is posted in front of his laptop working by 9:00AM. On mornings when he isn’t biking, he begins responding to emails and creating drafts by 8:00AM. Difficult tasks are also prioritised during the early hours of the day when Mark finds himself most active, and meetings are often scheduled for the afternoon.

While he undoubtedly thrives in a fast-paced lifestyle, he also understands the importance of taking a moment to recuperate. Usually, Mark self-reflects during his ‘me-time’ scheduled for Saturdays where he enjoys writing; although, sometimes he also takes the opportunity to do this on weekdays during his commute to the Supahands office on his Vespa.

Even a glimpse into a week in Mark’s life is revealing of a well balanced scale between work and personal life. Although, he does not necessarily see it as a balance, but rather as an integration – he enjoys the thrills and challenges of building a business, and as such work and leisure are rarely separate entities. Even on holidays, Mark is often thinking about solutions or opportunities to move forward.

The Supahands Company Culture

In this light, Supahands inevitably became a reflection of Mark’s personal beliefs and interest in growing businesses, and growing an innovative work culture.

This energy is especially evident the moment someone walks into the Supahands office and is immediately greeted by a large wall painted in the company’s signature purple. On it, in white bold words is the company’s ethos that serves as a constant reminder to every person within Supahands to keep a thirst for knowledge, and maintain the all-important passion and positivity for everything that they do.

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