Influenced by a health care professional-mother and entrepreneur-father, this London native is now involved in a job that combines their ambitions and his own commitment to empowering people to make more informed decisions to live happier and healthier lives
“Never think that despite a title or position that you are too big for any task. Spending time in the trenches with the team has been one of the most rewarding and valuable times spent.”
For many 20-somethings, their third decade is one of youthful abandon, adventure and exploration. It’s also a time to discover who they are and what they want to do with their life. Chris Clarke has been there and done that. And at 28, he is the chief operating officer (COO) of dynamic regional startup Hello Health Group.
In his role that cuts across the whole business — from technology, data, IT and product development to organizational effectiveness — Chris has become vital in the growth and expansion of the company.
Accessible health news
Founded by young visionary James Miles-Lambert, the Hello Health Group launched its first website, Hello Bacsi, in Vietnam in 2015. Since then, it has expanded to eight other markets, serving over 32 million unique users every month.
“Our vision is to lead Asia in the democratization of health and wellness knowledge and advice,” Chris explains, “and empower millions of people to make more informed decisions to live healthier and happier lives. We do this by making relevant, engaging and reliable health information accessible for all.”
It’s certainly exciting times for the group, having recently launched the website Hello Doctor Philippines (hellodoctor.com.ph) in May, the ninth in Asia and the first predominantly English platform for them. And the timing — though initially risky, given the unprecedented coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic — has proven to be quite opportune.
Interestingly, aside from the expected surge on searches about the baffling disease, Chris observes: “We have seen that mental health among millennials is a big topic and driver of engagement. This is even more pronounced with the stresses that are brought to daily life by Covid-19. In addition, we’ve seen a large proportion of our female audience concerned with reproductive health and pregnancy.”
As an enterprise driven by data and information, it is these unique insights of the different markets that make it exciting and interesting for Chris. So far, this COO’s stimulating career has been spent entirely in technology startups across Asia, where the working environment has always appealed to him due to its “competitive and extremely ambitious” nature.
Chris is certainly competitive, if not determined.
Born in London, Chris grew up with two siblings, who were just as high performing as he was. His mother is a nurse, whom he says is the probable source of his “interest in health and helping people because I always loved visiting her at the hospital.” His father, meanwhile, is an entrepreneur — “and so this is where my commitment to building something and hard work came from.”
“As a child, I was always quite reserved and always focused on school or sport. I spent most of my childhood competing,” he adds. He describes his job ambitions then to be “as changeable as the weather… every few months, I wanted to be a doctor, then an astronaut and everything in between!”
Based in Vietnam, the London School of Economics and Political Science mathematics and economics honors graduate is no stranger to life on the road, visiting various Asian hubs while raising the Hello Health Group’s profile.
“I would say that this, in part, is where I have learned that nothing worth having comes easy, especially in business, and that you have to work harder than the next person if you want to win,” he says.
His experience in this part of the world has molded him to become a leader who adopts a more fluid management approach. “No two individuals are the same, and so no one approach works for both. I believe it is important to always lead by example. Never think that despite a title or position that you are too big for any task. Spending time in the trenches with the team has been one of the most rewarding and valuable times spent,” he adds.
While other executives his age seek ways to find a sense of work-life balance, Chris is happy with how his association with the Hello Health Group is keeping him grounded and centered.
“Honestly, I don’t consider this as ‘work,’ and so, in a sense, this is my passion project. I find great meaning in my job because of two things. First, through my work, I have the ability to impact millions of people in a positive way. Second, it’s the opportunity to do this while working with some of the smartest and hardest working people that I can both help develop and learn from at the same time,”he says.
“Last year, I would have said that my typical day involved an early wake-up call, an airplane and a hotel, as I would visit our teams and key clients across the region. However, given Covid-19, I am a little more grounded these days,” he adds.
With the new work conditions, Chris hours are still packed with meetings and calls to his country heads to discuss their strategies and plans for their respective markets.
On a personal and more immediate note, he hopes to complete an Ironman marathon in Danang, Vietnam next year, and has kickstarted training for the event.
For the Hello Health Group’s ambitious COO, Covid-19 may continue to loom and prove to be a challenge, but he still believes that opportunities emerge from tough times. He shares the guiding philosophy that lights his daily path: “I always say that I have to go to sleep smarter, stronger and wiser than when I woke up.
“And if I don’t, then I feel like I am not growing or moving forward. Live with purpose and never stand still.”
Phil Knight, founder of Nike; philantophist Elon Musk; and my dad.
We are always working on a lot of new and exciting projects as we strive to foster an innovative culture. I would argue a lot of the thinking and approaches utilizing our data, insights and AI (artificial intelligence) are industry leading and have not been done before in our space. I aim to complete an Ironman competition next year, and training for that is underway and would most likely consume me in the months ahead.
FIRST PAYING JOB
Handing out leaflets on the street in London for an education company
I have quite a strict health routine I like to follow. My day starts at 6 a.m. with iced lemon water. Then I take some vitamins and antioxidants and exercise in the form of swimming, running or crossfit. I make sure I have a healthy breakfast to give me energy for the day.
Making babies laugh and Sudoku!
TIME SPENT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
I limit myself to about 30 minutes a day (unless it’s for work).