Mac Ling (MBA ’06) has founded businesses and worked in leadership positions in companies both large and small. His diverse professional experience and Darden education have also made him a sought-after executive coach for clients ranging from The Nature Conservancy to private equity firms.
Ling says he has always been drawn to projects and positions that serve a societal purpose. Whether working for corporations, nonprofits or startups, Ling seeks roles that create benefit and value for the world.
His latest position as managing director, Asia, of Bucket Technologies, has been such an exercise. As part of the team developing a platform for digitizing coins, Ling is helping to make the next logical step toward a cashless society by eliminating hard currency’s most burdensome form: loose change.
The Bucket platform instantly digitizes physical change during retail cash transactions and sends it to customers’ cloud-based piggy banks, allowing the money to accumulate in the cloud rather than in desk drawers or countertop jars. Once the piggy bank reaches $50, Bucket users can transfer the full $50 into their bank account, donate some or all of it to charity, or redeem it for a gift card.
Ling sees the service, provided free to both retailers and consumers, as a pragmatic step in the relentless march toward a cashless society with a clear element of social service. It not only provides convenience to everyday lives, but also helps eliminate the waste generated from the production, maintenance and transportation of coins.
“What we’re seeing are end-game solutions, but no one is thinking through the transition steps,” Ling said. “We had to have the hybrid car before the electric car. Bucket serves as a stepping stone toward a cashless economy.”
When not advising Bucket, Ling coaches high-performing leaders throughout Asia who are looking for the “extra 10 percent” to push them into their next roles. Ling says his “dialectic-style” of coaching was forged in the Darden classroom.
“I work with high-performing individuals to help them see themselves without judgment. I lead them to their own answers — much like professors did with us at Darden,” said Ling. “My challenge is to formulate the right questions that lead my clients to the answers they have inside of them. We learn better when we come to the answers ourselves. So in coaching, I aim to help people unlock their own problems and potential.”
His Darden education has also been instrumental in teaching Ling how to make decisions in uncertain circumstances, a skill he has applied throughout his experiences as a coach, entrepreneur and business leader.