In Conversation with Phebe Cho
The founder of Accelus, a movement to help young people create futures they want to run into, touches on the unique giftings we each have and taking small steps to achieve big dreams.
Hi, I’m Phebe Cho. A passionate Asian Between Cultures who believes that when we apply our unique gifting’s, our experience and stories to create a better world, we find meaning and purpose in life. I’m a mum to a beautiful 7-year-old girl who constantly inspires me and a wife to a Korean hottie!
Professionally I’m an Executive Recruiter, running Perth & Singapore businesses for Tardis Group and leading the Diversity & Inclusion Practice globally. I’m also the founder of Accelus a movement to help young people create futures they want to run into. I’m a Singaporean by birth, I came to Perth from Singapore 33 years ago and spent my childhood bouncing between two cities. It helped shape me as a person and also developed my passion for the thing that unites all of Singapore… food!
What are you most looking forward to in the next six months? — I’m sitting in the airport about to board a flight to Singapore and right now… I’ve gotta say I’m looking forward to a bowl of noodles at my favorite hawker store! But seriously…. I’m excited about the work I’m doing and the opportunities before me. As a futurist I have a clear vision of the world I want to live in and raise my daughter in. I’m driven to activate momentum and truly open up the boxes that has kept us in for so long. In my role with Tardis Group, I have an opportunity to partner with global institutions and government bodies to advance and promote women at work. We are building unique programs centered around recapturing and relaunching talent; looking holistically at unique talents, experiences and stories and reimagining how we can bring it into work. With Accelus, I’m excited about our next season. We’ve built an awesome team of passionate graduates/ penultimates who are empowering the next generation with their personal stories – helping high schoolers make strengths based career decisions. It’s a brilliant training ground where the crew develop real life skills to bring into the world of work.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and why? — I would be sitting eating my bowl of noodles with my daughter & husband!
What does it mean to you to be an Asian Between Cultures? — Nothing is ever wasted in life and we all have our own unique stories. As an Asian Between Cultures I’ve had the amazing privilege to experience both the east and the west. I love the diversity it brings to my life and the richness of culture & history. To me, diversity is more than the color of our skin, the gender we are but really it’s the story of who we are. Celebrating the unique gifting’s we have, our life experiences, our story. No one else in this world, who lives today or walked the face of the earth is the same as you. That is pretty cool.
What are some of the blessings that come with being an ABC? — When I came to Australia I could speak mandarin, Hainanese and Hokkein. Within a few short months, my PoPo (Grandmother) came to visit me. I couldn’t speak a word to her! For the rest of her life, we communicated in a mixture of broken tongue, hand gestures and mime. In my eagerness to settle into my new country, I was so quick to forget who I was. Safe to say, that lesson I learnt at the tender age of 6 has helped me to never to forget who I am, and where I have come from. Unfortunately, I am still unable to speak any other language fluently although I have had years of language schooling.
What are some of the challenges? — As a young recruiter, I once had a client, call me to tell her how much she disliked a temporary receptionist I had placed in her firm. “She has such an Asian accent… you know how it is. You know how they are” I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to say but spent the next twenty minutes in the bathroom crying. When I met her face to face, I think she had the shock of her life. She assumed, from my “Aussie accent” I was a tall blonde aka Phoebe from Friends. It was an opportunity to really break down the walls and have a real honest discussion. I think it would have been easy to go into that with anger, but when you take the time to get to know the why, you have an opportunity to show love. She became one of my best clients after that!
How does being an ABC shape your relationships? — I think it’s really opened my eyes that I cannot take things for face value. That there is always a deeper story, the why people do the things they do.
Why do you think most people engage or disengage with topics about cultural identity and upbringing? — I was the annoying kid that always always asked a million questions and my Mum laughs now and says payback as my daughter is wired the same way! I enjoy peeling back the layers and finding out the why. I think the more I do so the more I realize how many biases there are and assumptions that people go by. Take the time, to dig a little deeper and find out the why, I think you’ll find a unique story if you listen.
How do you empower others and why is this important to you? — All the talented people I work with will say this is our jam! Empowerment is what we do. Whether its connecting talent or empowering people in their careers, this is the stuff that gets me out of bed! And for me, it’s not about our rights as Asians, Women, or whatever label you would like to put on, it’s about seeing the potential within, understanding the unique offering people have and bringing that voice to the world. Empowerment is to me, to use what we have, to help create a better futures for everyone.
What are your motivations for helping others and doing purpose driven work. — I grew up a PK (Pastors kid) and spent my whole life running away God. Then one day I suddenly stopped running. I realised there was no one else on earth like me. That I had been blessed with gifts that had been there my whole life and my experiences helped shape my story. I began to open my eyes to see how I could use all that I am, to make a difference in this world and how I could use it to help others. And as things usually do, it starts small and you’ll be amazed what happens when you start. I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded with amazing people and opportunities which have allowed me to express this.
What is your favorite quote? Where is it from and what does it mean to you? — “All things work together according to his purposes.” Romans 8:28. Nothing is ever wasted. You look at the created order, the ecosystem and how everything in nature has a specific purpose, and in it, nothing is ever wasted. The leaf, which once past it’s time on the tree, falls to the ground, and then returns back into the earth to feed the tree. That’s the story with our lives. That nothing is ever wasted. The wrong turns, the disappointments, the set backs can actually be a source of new beginnings, opportunities, perspectives. This quote inspires me, every single time.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your past self? — Dream big, start small. With my vivid imagination I’ve never been one to dream small but I’ve certainly held back from chasing big dreams. There have been times I’ve waited thinking the timing has to be perfect, or waited till there is just enough wind. What I’ve come to realize there are seeds of potential just waiting to bust out BUT we need to start somewhere. And its usually one small step which leads to another, which leads to another. We just need to take the first small step. If we are diligent with what is in our hand, the opportunities right in-front of us, I’m convinced it will surely open up the limitless. We just need to take the first step.