Amy Kao is the Co-Founder, President and Chief Marketing Officer at RxAll, an artificial intelligence platform to identify counterfeit medicines in emerging markets.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am co-founder and President/CMO of RxAll, an artificial intelligence platform to identify counterfeit medicines in emerging markets. Funny thing is, I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur. I sort of happened into it.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, I went into management consulting and developed go-to-market strategy for large pharmaceutical and healthcare companies.
I then embarked on my MBA journey at Yale University, where I met my co-founder – who was a pharmacist by training. Both of us were victims of counterfeit medicines in the past and decided that we wanted to put our skills and backgrounds to actually do something about the problem.
Today, 1 million people around the world still die from counterfeit medicine. We were victims, but we are also survivors, and as survivors, we felt compelled to speak up for those who couldn’t. I think it was ultimately our personal stories that fuelled our passion as entrepreneurs.
And so began my journey as an entrepreneur.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
The cool thing about entrepreneur life is that there is no routine or set schedule. The hustle never really stops and at any given moment, you must be prepared for a roller coaster journey.
To me, that’s what makes life very exciting. One hour you may be speaking with your sales team in Africa and the next hour, you could be on your way to the airport to catch a flight to Norway to meet investors (yes, speaking from personal experience in case you were wondering).
No two workdays are the same. Every hour you are learning something new. That is the life of an entrepreneur!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Given the global nature of our company, flexibility and remote working are two key components that’s baked into our core operating model.
At the end of the day, you work for yourself so you have to hold yourself accountable for setting boundaries and laying down the ground rules. To build my schedule into life, I find that structure and organization help tremendously with setting cadence and creating routines.
As much as I can, I try to plan out my days based on priorities (it’s a habit that is a blessing and a curse!) – and of course, intentionally leave some parts of the day unplanned for flexibility. I feel like those are the days I’m most productive.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, it means being able to prioritize the personal and professional activities in my life and being fully present during the activities I take part in.
Ideally, when I turn off my laptop – my mind should be removed from work. When I am eating dinner or watching TV, I am fully engaged and not thinking about work. Of course, the culture of your company and team have a lot to do with how you experience the impacts of work-life balance.
To achieve my work-life balance goals, I hold myself accountable to the goals I set for myself. For example, health is my number one priority. I believe that we must take care of ourselves in order to be our best selves, which translates to better productivity in the work environment.
Therefore, as a leader – when I make sure to be the role model in prioritising self/health, I see this behavior trickle down to my team members as well.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In this WFH era, it’s oftentimes hard to separate work from home. Because we are no longer in the office and able to see our team members face to face, we can often find ourselves in back to back meetings that could span for multiple hours.
Therefore, I’ve started to block random 30 minute breaks in my schedule throughout the day so I can leave my desk, go outside for a walk, or get up to eat a snack.
It gives my brain a break from the intense workday and allows me to focus my mind on something completely different and this has been very refreshing for me!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I really love Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and one of my favorite books is Reshma Saujani’s Brave, Not Perfect.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Not really – there is nothing material I cannot live without.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I don’t think there’s one specific interview about work-life balance that really speaks to me. I think work-life balance means something different for each individual person so it’s up to each one of us to define the kind of life and style we want for our lives.
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