Christine Khor, CEO, Peeplcoach

Chris Khor, CEO and Co-Founder of Peeplcoach is a straight talking dynamo, and serial entrepreneur whose executive recruitment business led her to follow her passion of helping all people to flourish in their careers, and establish Peeplcoach, an on-demand career and leadership development coaching platform.

With an enviable list of blue chip corporate clients, Peeplcoach were awarded Silver in HRD Magazine Australia 2020 HR Services Awards for Learning and Development. 

How does your experience as a Board Director of The Hunger Project Australia shape your perspective of the corporate world?

Since my trip to Uganda with The Hunger Project in 2012 I have a very different perspective of what is “good” or “bad” or “risky”, particularly when it comes to making decisions and feeling stress. Whilst I still get annoyed and frustrated about many things I rarely feel “overwhelming stress”. Overwhelming stress, a feeling of hopelessness, of literally being faced with life and death situations and decisions, is what I saw in Uganda and Malawi and many of the countries The Hunger Project partners. 

In Australia, my business and success may be impacted by circumstances such as COVID or things may not go to plan but these issues will rarely have a long lasting impact or cost a life. Revenue or profitability may drop, but my children will still have a warm bed to sleep in, a healthy meal to eat (whether they want it or not) and I wont be at risk of being assaulted gathering water or going to the “bathroom” in the night.

Business problems can be complex. How to raise capital, increase employee engagement or combat an aggressive competitor but they are not as critical or urgent as the problem of “how do I feed my three children once or twice this week when there has been drought, the crops have all died and there is no job keeper, job seeker or Medicare?!”.  When I compare these two types of problems, I find the business ones much easier to deal with and solve! My approach is literally “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

How have you built Peeplcoach’s team and culture?

Cultures are like a disease – they are created to protect themselves and they are very hard to change or get rid of. When starting Peeplcoach I decided that I wanted to work with people that have the same values as me. We can learn skills but it is nearly impossible to “learn” new values. Cultures and values are tested when we are under pressure – as we all have been during 2020. When you put pressure or squeeze a great culture, greatness comes out. When you put pressure on poor cultures (or poor leaders), poor behaviours come out. I am sure we have all seen both of these over the last few months. 

Like many businesses, especially HR businesses, we were put under pressure. One of my values – both personally and for Peeplcoach – is generosity of spirit. When COVID hit there were clients who could not continue and many individuals who needed assistance but did not have the resources or budget to allocate to coaching. I offered my services for free coaching and then I asked my coaches who would be willing to volunteer and offer free coaching and consulting sessions. Within 24 hours my team had volunteered over 50 free coaching sessions. This is what I call great culture and great team spirit.

We continue to build and nurture our culture by being very particularly about the people we bring onto the team. For us technical expertise is the easy part, the hard part is finding individuals with the right values, who fit with us and who will present themselves and Peeplcoach the way we want to be presented.

How do you help other women in business?

One of the key reasons I started Peeplcoach was because I believe in equal opportunity and equal access to resources for all irrespective of age, race, religion and, of course, gender.  As an executive coach I had the opportunity to work with amazing leaders to help them develop their leadership capacity, their business performance and ultimately drive their career.  I love what I do and I can make impact, but I realised that the majority of the people I was coaching were white, Anglo-Saxon men.  I am proud to day that, as of November 2020, 47.4%  of the participants registered on our system are women. Imagine if our boards or executive teams could claim the same statistic?

One of the programs we have developed focuses on diversity and inclusion and we approach the question of diversity with a lens of the “gatekeeper” as well as from the point of view of the “diverse” themselves. Here are two examples of how to think about diversity.

As a gatekeeper of diversity: Are you equally promoting/referring the “diverse” – in this case women? I find many women get frustrated with “the boys club” and I challenge that. I think that the boys club is great. Men talk to men about their businesses, they refer each other and they work together. Women – why don’t we do this? Too often, women choose not to work with their female friends because they do not want to blur the lines on business and friendship. Stop it! If we want equality and to build our networks we need to start referring and supporting our female friends and colleagues.

As someone in the “diverse” category, what are you doing to restrict your opportunities? Do you stop yourself asking for help because you don’t want to appear pushy? Do you wait to be approached because “good girls” wait to be asked and are never too pushy or intense? Do you shy away from “dropping in” someone’s name because you don’t want to seem that you are “using” them. Again, I challenge this. 

Recently I met with someone in the US to discuss the VC industry and I asked for his advice. He suggested that I apply for an accelerator called Launch.io  and to tell them that he sent me. I completed the application and at the end I received the standard response saying “thank you very much for your application but we only respond to <1% of applications so don’t be offended if you do not hear from us”. There was nowhere for me to name drop but there was a contact email. 

So I replied to this contact email saying “Thanks for the opportunity to apply. Chuck (my huge name drop) told me to apply so I hope I am one of the 1%. All the best.” Within 60 seconds I got a reply and a Calendly invite to book a 17 minute meeting! At the time of writing this I haven’t had the meeting yet, but fingers crossed. At best I will have been accepted, at worst I will have gotten some great insight and another opportunity to get feedback on my business. I had nothing to lose from trying. A 1% chance is still a chance!

What are some of the ways you lead by example? 

Well I don’t really try to lead by example I just try to lead myself. My latest internal mantra is “stop trying to impress others, focus on impressing myself”. I am focused on doing what I think is right, what is going to make me happy, what I am going to be proud talking about, what is going to move me forward in the way I want to be moved and what is going to help me achieve my goals. The only people I need to be proud of me are me, my husband  and my children! Everyone else is a bonus.

What is the best way for people to try Peeplcoach?

If you would like to find out more about Peeplcoach you can go to our website and register for our free version including a free coaching session. Feel free to email me directly at chris@peeplcoach.com  and I would like to offer a 10% discount to anyone who mentions Femeconomy. 

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