Guidance From a #GirlBoss: Tiziana Tan believes in the power of teamwork

By the SMU Social Media Team

Tiziana Tan, the founder and CEO at Brain Juice Collective launched her youth-run impact marketing education and venture ecosystem agency while she was still studying at SMU. Its mission: make social innovation and impact strategic, accessible and profitable.

Her team is staying true to this ethos during the COVID-19 circuit breaker, which has actually seen a surge in clients who are now seeing value in the services that Brain Juice Collective offers. “We are building on our online capabilities and service offerings to help our clients continue to innovate and engage their audience meaningfully through innovation and marketing strategies, online event programming and execution, training and more,” says Tiziana.

To engage their own audience, they have also launched their own campaigns and events. These include free “PowerTalks” for women on pertinent topics by a curated panel of experts, offered through Women of Influence Asia, a brand the company co-launched in 2019; as well as “Freshly Squeezed” workshops which are designed to incite participants’ creativity and expose them to new perspectives and learning mediums such as games and children’s books. To give creatives and freelancers a boost during this trying time, Brain Juice Collective is also offering free webinars to help them with ideas and skills they need to move their work online.



We find out from the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business alumna what her journey has been like going from university student to #GirlBoss.


What do you count as your proudest achievements as an entrepreneur?

Not giving up. Being an entrepreneur is definitely not easy. I am proud that we’ve been able to find creative ways to make our ideas happen. I definitely think it’s a great feat that we’re able to keep creating impact while ensuring our profitability. I’m very proud of the fact that we are able to anchor ourselves in the unique approach of empowering brands through impact marketing and social innovation.

We also operate as both a B2B and B2C company with ease. It keeps things exciting and ensures that we are able to reach different audiences and offer the best of both worlds!

Right now, I am really proud that despite the COVID-19 situation, we are continuing to engage our audience meaningfully and are able to help our clients do the same. The feedback we’ve been getting has been really positive and we are deeply encouraged.




What were the biggest challenges you faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you set about overcoming them?

I think finding the right people to fight alongside you is always challenging. I am proud of the team I have now and couldn’t be more fortunate that they have chosen to work with me.

In this respect, of the three things that I would say have helped me, the first is patience. Never rush into growing the team just because work needs to be done. At the same time, never put off hiring just because “there’s no work”. When I had the right people on the team, meaningful work naturally came. We were able to manage our client projects while launching our own initiatives.

Secondly, investing in my team. Not just saying, but also showing that the development of my team is important to me has really transformed my businesses. I spend a lot of time training my team and ensuring they have great learning experiences. Together, we are growing stronger and better. This investment also shows other great talents that joining us uncovers opportunities that they may not find elsewhere.

Finally, always stand up for your team. Sometimes, people may say negative things about your teammates. It’s important to let naysayers know that at the end of the day, you always have your team’s back. Even if a mistake has been made, it can be debriefed in private—never put your teammate down in front of others.


“My personal mantra:laugh at the odds.”


What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

For women, I think it’s very important to actively look for role models who are able to share their experiences and lift them up. It’s easy for us to list amazing women in the West who inspire us but when I ask women around me if they have any role models from Asia, they find it difficult to name them.

It is also important to contribute to the women entrepreneur community. Especially in Asia, we need access to relevant knowledge, resources and tools. Sometimes, I find that the resources out there tend to be quite westernised. So, the more you contribute, the richer the ecosystem will become! This could mean sharing your journey through content, joining different groups, and actively supporting others so they will support you too!

My personal mantra: laugh at the odds. To me, this carries two main lessons—one, to push through with what you believe in and with what excites or inspires you, even when the odds are not in your favour. Two, to not take yourself so seriously! It’s okay to laugh and have fun. The journey is not easy but it’s fulfilling and filled with adventure.


How do you think your time at SMU influenced the way you approach entrepreneurship?

Earning my business degree from SMU definitely formed a strong foundation for the work that I do. Whether it’s the services we offer or the education work I do through the businesses (or in my own capacity), the modules I picked help me to strengthen our service offering while building stronger curricula for my workshops and courses.

In my field, experience makes all the difference. Learning from projects that we take up is what has really allowed us to thrive, so I am glad I started Brain Juice Collective while I was still in university. It trained me in time management, and when I first started out, the rigour of the SMU programme helped me to hone important skills like giving presentations, critical thinking and working with others.

Of course, I wish I had paid more attention to the more technical classes, like Managerial Accounting and Computer as an Analysis Tool!

During my time at SMU, I was fortunate to connect with some great professors and staff who pushed me further and even invited me to run sessions at SMU after graduation. I’ve also had the opportunity of working with some SMU offices on awesome campaigns and initiatives. I am humbled that they’ve trusted us even after hearing some of our wacky and ambitious ideas. The whole community definitely encouraged me to continue on my journey!


Watch Tiziana’s #TalentsofSMU interview feature here:


Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our undergraduate programme today.