CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Gerald Tan, CEO of Agridence

Gerald Tan is the CEO of Agridence, a company at the forefront of digitalising the agri-commodity supply chains across the globe to create a data-enriched, technology-powered ecosystem.

Learn about the daily routines from the most successful people in the world by signing up to our newsletter

1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have 11 years’ experience in the natural rubber industry and have been with Agridence since its inception in 2018. Prior to this, I was in my family business where we owned and operated a rubber processing mill, which has since been sold.

My family currently still owns a rubber plantation in Indonesia. I have experience in physical rubber trading, rubber futures trading, and FX trading. I am fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and am familiar with engaging the upstream supply chain from farm to factory gate, including dealers, agents, smallholder farmers and other intermediaries.

I am currently the CEO of Agridence, an agri-commodities trading platform that focuses on end-to-end supply chain management. We focus on acquisition of upstream production data to create transparency, enabling users to better understand their risks and transition into sustainable procurement.

At Agridence, we believe that accurate and reliable data differentiates a sustainable product from a non-sustainable product. To us, a sustainable product is something that has sufficient proof or data attached to the sourcing, production, and trading of the product.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

A typical day starts at 4:45am where I wake up to cycle between 35 to 50km, have a coffee at 7am before heading to work. My weekdays are typically packed with meetings; I have regular internal team meetings with each department to ensure everyone in the team gets direct time with me.

I am very involved and like to have first-hand knowledge on what is happening in the company at any given moment in time. This is key for me as I want to ensure the teams have the right strategic alignment and understand why we are doing the things we do and what is the larger goal we are working towards.

I am not a micromanager by nature but, being in a start-up with a relatively new team, I think it is important to be in constant dialogue with each and every team member to ensure the team gets the right context and motivation for their work.

I have at least 5 to 7 external meetings in a week that focus on business development or partnership opportunities; this could range from one to 4 external meetings a day. There is no routine for this as it varies based on the company’s growth and opportunities.

In addition to balancing my schedule between internal and external meetings, I also block time in my calendar to ensure I set aside time for myself to focus on the work I need to do and make sure it gets done.

My day in the office ends around 6pm and I try to make sure I have dinner at home with my wife and kids. Unless I have work dinners or urgent work, I try to keep the evenings light and sleep early (target: by 1030pm) especially if I am cycling the next day. I typically cycle 4 times a week and need to ensure I have sufficient sleep to ensure I can focus throughout my day.

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

My mantra in life is: Work hard, play hard; there is a season and time for everything. I am an all-or-nothing type of person, so when it’s time to do something, I will give it my best and ensure that I get the most out of the session.

Being a CEO or entrepreneur means work never stops, so it’s important that one enjoys one’s work and have fun doing it, if not burn out soon follows. The same applies for life: there are many aspects to life, family and personal.

For family time, meals with my wife, kids, parents and in-laws are my priority and I make sure I have sufficient time allocated for them. For my personal time, I use cycling as a time to de-stress and keep fit.

Being in a good social cycling club helps to keep things fun for me as well. To me, work-life balance is about priorities and time management. There will be seasons where one facet of life takes priority over another; it is constantly evolving, so we have to manage it wisely.

Elon Musk, Kobe Bryant, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, receive a new daily routine each week about some of the most successful people in the world.

4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

When the borders were closed, there was a nice routine to my life but once the borders started to open, I have been travelling a lot for work and no longer have a proper routine.

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  • Find Your Why by Simon Sinek
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I really like Ray Dalio’s principles where you can decide what it is you want in your life. I also like Simon Sinek’s start with why, once you understand why you are doing something, you can plan your life around your priorities.

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I will borrow a quote from Ray Dalio, “I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want.” Balance is highly subjective; we are all different so find what sits the best with your current lifestyle or change things to achieve the life you want.

Time is finite, every action you take reflects your priorities, when you are engaged in something, make sure you give your all and strive for excellence. Keep reflecting on your past actions and put in corrective actions for the future if you are not happy with your current course.

Before you go…

If you’d like to sponsor or advertise with Balance the Grind, let’s talk here

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.