Balancing Real Estate and Motherhood.
We speak to real estate powerhouse mummy Race Wong on balancing the scales between managing a business and being mum to beautiful Cara.
Race Wong started Ohmyhome with sister Rhonda Wong back in 2015.
Ohmyhome is a Proptech Portal designed with the aim of simplifying housing transactions for home owners, buyers, landlords and tenants – and has successfully transacted a combined value of more than S$460 million to date.
The newly launched in-app feature, ShoutOut™, optimizes home-searching and home-selling through a two-sided marketplace; revolutionising the way home buyers and home owners streamline the buying and selling process.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a very positive person. I have amazing relationships with my family, colleagues and friends.
How many kids do you have and how old are they now?
I have a daughter, Cara, who turned 11 months old this past April.
Introduce us to Ohmyhome’s universe?
Ohmyhome is the one-stop solution for all housing transactions. Whether you want to buy, sell, rent, engage a professional fix-rate agent, mortgage or find a lawyer, you can find all these reliable solutions with us.
Ohmyhome is started by my sister Rhonda, and I. Both myself and Rhonda, had always been interested in real estate, having made our own investments and being real estate agents ourselves. We started our own real estate consultancy but always felt that there’s more we could do in this area.
When friends and family who had numerous difficulties in transacting their HDBs came to us for help, it made us realize that the mass market sector could very well transact by themselves in an efficient and productive manner, if only they had the option to. All they needed was an application that simplified the entire process and they were ready to start. Thus, we set out to simplify the process – make it simple, fast and transparent. To put the control back in the hands of the buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords. That’s how Ohmyhome was born!
What was your biggest challenge and what inspired you to carry on in spite of it?
When we first launched, we were welcomed by some customers but many were a little more sceptical. ‘Free platform? Really? What’s the catch?’. It wasn’t very easy to win consumer’s trust, especially because we were introducing something new to the real estate sector, where transactions are of great value to consumers, and have been transacted via traditional methods for the longest period of time.
This was definitely disheartening because we knew Ohmyhome had a humble impetus. I told myself ‘Hey, if we’re going to make a change that’s actually significant and worthwhile, its not going to be easy and neither are we going to see immediate results.’ In order to get things moving, we literally begun by explaining to consumers how our business model operates in order to gain their trust and confidence. Once they understood our business model and its sincere and honest intentions, we saw a steady increase in Ohmyhome users.
We’re very happy to share that till date, Ohmyhome has helped to simplify numerous housing transactions and have successfully transacted a combined value of more than half a billion dollars. Now that’s just one out of the many challenges conquered, with many more to come!
The value we create for others is what inspired me to charge on. We know that the more successful we are, the more people we benefit. This is very different from other businesses which measures their bottom line on purely revenue and profits.
How do you juggle being a mum and working on the different aspects of running a business?
I think the most important thing is to be mentally prepared to do your best to fulfil your duties as a mother and a businesswoman. To be honest, it’s like juggling two full-time jobs at one go. You’re ‘working’ from the moment you wake up and while you may not even have time for yourself, you really just have to find a way that works best for you.
Personally, what I do is to completely focus and give my 100% on a particular task at any point of time. For example, if I just have one hour with Cara in the morning, she has all my attention. When I’m at work, my to-do list is in front of me and I focus completely on finishing my tasks. I’m not going to lie – doing this everyday does get tiring and requires immense dedication. Nevertheless, this works for me because I know I’m making the best out of my time and it is rewarding.
What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
I have never thought I’m working for myself because I feel responsible towards our users, partners, team and investors. Therefore, I often tell my team ”Whatever you’re doing here is never to please me. Your work is visible to our end-users. So, please ensure that you have our users in mind and you work towards perfection to cater to their needs.” I myself am included in this team. We works towards a common goal within a structure and process.
One great thing about being a leader is to be able to grow and cultivate my team’s culture to be a one that is team spirited, goal oriented with kind intentions, which means that I won’t have to work at an office where I dislike the culture.
I’m in charge of hiring our technical team – from full-timers to freelancers, and even the consultants. Truth to be told, a company’s success is largely dependent on its people. Thus, it’s extremely crucial for you to choose the right people – who are passionate about what they do, share the company’s mission and vision and perhaps even inspire and motivate others to do their best.
If there was one piece of advice you’d give to mums who want to take a step towards venturing on their own, what would it be?
The time and commitment one needs towards starting and running their own business differs greatly from most full-time jobs. New mums who are planning to go down this path should take a few months to do some research and planning before jumping into it. It would be extremely challenging to cope with your baby and start a business simultaneously, and you wouldn’t want to be struggling with both. It is also important to find a team that can help you reach your goal.
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
When a woman becomes a mum, she should still remember she is a woman and not just a mum. As a women, we have many roles to fulfil, manage and grow into as we age. Primarily: work; kids and marriage. It is alright that you’re not a perfect new mum because we are all learning.
My mother has always been a working mum and I often lean on her to shed wisdom on my life and work challenges. My relationship with her has always been strong, our relationship is often stronger than friends with their stay-at-home mums. She’s really intelligent and I seek her advice often. She inspired me that a woman should be kind, smart and financially independent.
At the end of the day, we need to grow as a person, not just as a mum.
What are your favourite work outfit?
I love blazers – it’s the simplest way to look both fancy and professional at the same time. My go-to work outfit is usually a simple top and a blazer, paired with business pants/ skirts and some nice heels.
My favorite place to work is…
Definitely my office. Not because of the physical space but because of my teammates. Solving problems keep me going so I like to identify them and seeing them solved.
Ohmyhome in three words:
Simple, smart, fast.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Breakfast with my husband and baby where we are all together, fresh and bright, ready for the day ahead.
My one indulgence is …
Online shopping. I can hardly find time to visit the shops these days and so I destress by shopping online (dangerous indulgence).
I wish I had more ….
I’m happiest when …
I see my baby smile. I used to doubt that motherhood is overrated. But now I know that the joy and love from me to Cara is beyond any other joy I’ve experienced.
What is your go to outfit?
Short black dress with heels. It works for any occasion.
5 things you can’t live without.
My family, My phone (this keeps track of my to-do list for work as well as home), Water, Tissues, and Food.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The husband is the bomb clearly, but if you could choose one super hottie, who would it be?
I have had my eyeful of hot guys back in the Hong Kong entertainment industry, but in my eyes the hottest guy is still my husband. He’s a wonderful person.
What’s the one thing you LOVE doing as a family?
Going on vacations! We love travelling to different countries and exploring what each place has to offer and experience new things together as a family.
Favourite line of kids clothing.
The best family vacation destination and why?
Australia. The flight is short and there’s ample space for strollers and lots of family activities available.
Kids say the darndest things. What was yours?
She’s barely one and her first and only word is Baba. So cute.
Worst advice on parenting you ever received?
“To allow your kids do whatever makes them happy and to participate in the activities they enjoy and not force them to do things they dislike.”
I don’t agree with this because I believe in proper upbringing and grooming kids to build key qualities that will be crucial to their life. Qualities such as grit, manners and empathy. For one, grit cannot be developed if the kid is always doing something he likes to do and gets to choose to avoid things he dislikes.