Katherine Ng is currently taking psychology classes on weekends. Her aim: to eventually provide counselling services for those battling with mental health issues.
The 36-year-old and Melbourne Law School graduate also practises Olympic lifting, dancing and yoga while fulfilling her responsibilities as a board member for the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Start-ups Singapore (ACCESS) and a volunteer carer at Assisi Hospice. And we’re not even at her day job yet. Ng is currently head of marketing, Asia-Pacific at TZ APAC supporting Tezos, a flexible and decentralised, open-source blockchain network similar to Ethereum. “I don’t have a work-life balance. I have work-life integration,” Ng laughs.
The plunge into deep tech and fintech isn’t surprising for the former beauty queen. The Kuala Lumpur native has always had an interest in start-ups, having held senior marketing roles in Grab Indonesia and Luxola Indonesia before it was acquired by Sephora. Then, in 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore publicly announced that it was committing $225 million over five years to develop the fintech ecosystem. Ng knew she had to take advantage of this and rolled the dice.
“I decided to base myself here and interact with the different ecosystem builders. One of the verticals that caught my eye was blockchain. It was quite niche at that time; Bitcoin was only about US$500. But it helped me to position myself as a player in the ecosystem today,” Ng says. For three years, she spearheaded the marketing efforts of Liquid.com, a global institutional-grade cryptocurrency exchange.
The blockchain world, with its technical jargon and obtuse language, can be extremely confusing for a person on the street. As a marketing professional, Ng loves blending and translating that story into a tale that can be understood. Unfortunately, even though blockchain purports itself to be a futuristic foundation of tomorrow’s world, sexism occasionally rears its ugly head. Ng has been a victim more than once.
She’s often typecast as just another marketing person without any technical know-how. Ng bristles: “I’ve completed an Introduction to Python Fundamentals course and a lot of the women I know in this space are software programmers themselves or have basic coding experience. I need to understand the developmental side of things to better tell the story.”
And while she hates to say it, Ng feels like there is a glass ceiling in the industry that she’s working hard to break. But she likes that Singapore has many vocal allies in the fight for gender equality.
One battle that she’s taking up arms for is deploying technology to help the vulnerable. She achieves this under the non-profit Ministry For Good banner, which she co-founded during Covid-19 with two others. The social impact start-up has already worked on multiple campaigns. Maxis commissioned its parent company Ministry XR to create a spatial computing experience that allowed deaf Malaysians to feel the auditory prayers during Hari Raya. In Singapore, it worked with IPG Mediabrands to educate children and parents about myopia using virtual reality.
While many might baulk at her workload, Ng takes it all in her stride and approaches life with an infectious, youthful zest we would all do well to emulate.
Blue is a common colour in the tech world, which is why Ng chose this monochromatic number from Ferragamo. “Princess Diana and Meaghan Markle are my style icons because they can transition between elegance and eclecticism. This minimalist outfit straddles both of those worlds too. It was calling out to me,” says Ng.