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Driving with Franklin Tang: Leading technovations of the future

The CEO of Philip Tang & Sons Pte Ltd aims to positively impact people’s quality of lives through his technological innovations. Find out what drives this second generation boss to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel of life.

In a VUCA world - volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous -- the only certain thing that leaders and managers know they are dealing with is unpredictability. And the unknown is what keeps CEO of Singapore-based software company Philip Tang & Sons Pte Ltd driven.

The business owner, husband, father and son is keenly aware he must have a firm grip on the steering wheel of life to be sufficiently prepared for a future that is full of uncertainty. He muses: “Some fear is always good because it keeps you on your toes. But you should never be crippled by it. Carefully evaluate them, contain them and deal with them appropriately.”

“Whatever I do will determine the outcome of my family’s future,” he says. “It’s a heavy responsibility but that’s expected of the man of the house. Doing it well will be my greatest achievement,” shared the 40-year-old.

BUILDING A BETTER FUTURE WITH TECHNOLOGY

Growing up, Mr Tang saw first-hand his father’s role in shaping the future through his innovations in the business. This has inspired him to continue improving lives via technology for one reason: a better future.

Mr Tang’s smart home control application, Habitap – installed in the prestigious private housing project, Corals at Keppel Bay condominium – was launched in July 2016, which has since attracted at least five major property developers this year as he moves into the commercial sector to offer smart office management for businesses.

Rolling out the app has kept him busy, and even more so now as Mr Tang prepares Habitap to enter the smart office realm in overseas markets. He shuttles between Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau and Myanmar where the app is gaining traction.

Mr Tang has a vision for Habitap to impact people’s quality of lives positively. Picture a day when you can hold “conversations" with your property through a home automation and voice command system so you can remotely control your living environment without being housebound - that’s where Mr Tang continues to push the boundaries of technological advancement in Singapore.

“Technology will be even more embedded in our lives in the future. It will continue to make our world smaller, more accessible, more convenient, safer and more effective. And I hope it leads us to having more time to spend with our loved ones, to build better relationships.”

He believes that Singapore is a great place for technovation and hopes those who have expressed interest in delving into the tech industry will not be fazed by the obstacles. He explains: “Contrary to popular belief, the tech scene in Singapore is rapidly evolving with really high adoption rates for products that have gained critical mass. It is a great place to create and test your technology and business model. But because of a relatively open and efficient market, you either gain traction fast or get overtaken. When that happens, you have to go back to the drawing board.”

Habitap is gaining traction among developers not just for residential and commercial projects, but also for existing buildings undergoing refurbishment. Mr Tang has plans to expand across Southeast Asia in the next year, and is conducting feasibility studies locally and abroad. “We set our sights on eventually working on entire townships after we have connected more buildings.”

With such exciting developments, his days pass by in a flash. By 8.30am, he’s already attending to at least five client meetings and appointments, in between managing the operations and his team back in the office.

BALANCING BUSINESS AND FAMILY

As a deliberate commitment to his wife and child, he arranges his meetings in the morning and minimises social gatherings so he can get home by 7pm with the sole aim of having dinner with wife Astrid, 38, and bond with their 18-month-old son, Lukas. On days when work is not so taxing, he gets home earlier to take evening walks at the Botanic Gardens with his young family.

“Marriage requires time and constant communication,” he says. “Spending time is about nurturing an emotional connection. Time is about listening with an open heart. So I spend each evening catching up with Astrid and we make it a point to connect. No phones during dinner.”

“Giving time to my family is my language of love.”

He is obviously a family man at heart. And that includes his extended family too. Working with family means that an office day is punctuated with a daily coffee break with his father, and weekends are spent bonding with everyone else from both sides. “We make it a point to include our families in our activities and we see them at least once a week.”

That sense of closeness and loyalty is part of the Tang family DNA. As a child, Mr Tang watched his dad grow the business and nurture the family without compromising on either duty. Those same values embodied by the senior Mr Tang are apparent in the younger Mr Tang. “I am really glad I have my dad alongside with me to make this transition. It gives me great comfort to tap on his wisdom versus having to transit on my own. So I count my blessings.”

As the second generation for Phillip Tang & Sons, he wants the company to embrace challenges beyond Singapore’s shores and create successful products with international appeal. Building a better future via technology is an aspiration that is close to his heart and he hopes that the younger generation will continue to strive towards a more connected world.

#WhatDrivesYou? This series highlights individuals who embody a mix of ambition, boldness and audacity - the same values expressed in the Drive de Cartier watch. Watch the first installment as we ask Yung Ong what drives him in work and play.