International Women’s Day is around the corner, and we’re celebrating some of the most successful women in Singapore. The ones who beat the odds in largely male dominated industries to rise to the top of their professions, steering empires worth millions of dollars and impacting thousands of lives, both within and outside their firms. These 5 businesswomen in Singapore made it to the lead positions at their organisations and inspire us to lead from the front.
1. Madam Ho Ching, CEO, Temasek Holdings
Madam Ho Ching is perhaps one of the best-known businesswomen not just in Singapore but also around the world, controlling one the most powerful business empires globally. The 63-year old is a regular on the Forbes list of most powerful women and seems to show no signs of letting go of the title any time soon. Under her tutelage, Temasek has grown to a topline of over S$250 billion with its eyes now firmly set on expansion in Europe.
Finance and accounting careers
Want to follow in Mdm Ho’s footsteps? You can absolutely do so. With Singapore being the financial hub of Southeast Asia, there are immense opportunities for you to succeed in that sector. There are various institutes that offer excellent courses in finance and accounting.
Check out courses offered by the likes of the James Cook University Singapore and Singapore Management University. We also recommend checking out the events and mentorship programs of the Financial Women’s Association Singapore. This could help you to speak to other women in the sector, and understand opportunities.
2. Jenny Lee, managing partner, GGV Capital
The former jet engineer wouldn’t have thought of attaining a powerful position in the world of business, had it not been for an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, which she says opened her eyes to a much larger world of opportunities. Lee is widely credited with having set up GGV’s China operations, leading large-ticket deals such as the one in technology firm Xiaomi.
According to Lee, being a female professional doesn’t set her back in any way, but rather helps her with additional perspective. What matters more in the world of business, she says, is “having the right passion, the right team, and the right background.”
Careers in Engineering
World over, women are being encouraged to pursue careers in Engineering. The UK celebrates the National Women in Engineering day on 23rd June, encouraging women to scout for career opportunities in the sector. Singapore is also making similar efforts. The number of engineers in the country have been steadily rising since 2008 and is likely to continue seeing an upward trend.
Engineering sub-disciplines, such as biomedical engineering and life sciences, offer good salaries and opportunities as well, and has seen women engineers grow their careers here. If you have a keen interest in technology and are constantly intrigued by its wonders, you could consider pursuing an engineering course from one of the many institutes including the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.
3. Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO, Singtel
The 60-year has taken Singtel from strength to strength in the past few years, transforming the Singapore-based telecom firm into a global behemoth. The head of Singapore’s largest listed company, who is now overseeing its emergence as an integrated communications firm, joined Singtel as a treasurer. Ms Chua is a CFA charterholder. She is also a Fellow Member of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants. Her advice to all the women striving to make it big professionally is to decide for themselves how they will strike a work-life balance and juggle family and work rather than worry about what they are expected to do by society.
Careers in Telecom
The telecom sector in South East Asia is likely to see huge investments in the coming years. And this will throw up more job opportunities. The coming together of digital services for telecom players will also present interesting careers for women to look at. Another area which is seeing women participate more than ever before is telecom consulting.
If you aspire to make it big in the telecom industry, you could sign up for a Higher Diploma in Telecommunications and Network Engineering offered by Auston Institute of Management. For telecom consulting an MBA from a recognized university with experience in the sector may be a preferred route to take.
4. Cynthia Chua, Founder and MD, Spa Esprit Group
The lifestyle baroness started her first spa outlet in 1996. In 21 years, the company has built a formidable portfolio of over 18 brands and more than 100 food, beverage, and lifestyle outlets, among them a speciality coffee brand, a cafe chain, and a pizza chain.
The ‘queen of lifestyle’ now oversees a business worth over S$90 million, with 800 plus staff and operations in several countries around the world, including in cities such as London, New York, and Hong Kong. Chua says she owes her success to hard work but also to the fact that for her “work is play” and that she is able to go on doing it because she enjoys every minute of it.
5. Jennie Chua, Co-founder, Beeworks
No discussion about women’s contribution to Singapore’s hospitality sector would be complete without the mention of Jennie Chua. This ace hotelier’s story has a lot to be inspired from. Chua is the oldest of her 12 siblings and had to give up a scholarship course at the University of Singapore just after a year due to her family’s unfavourable financial condition.
From being a tutor and typist to having worked with renowned brands such as Westin Hotels and Raffles Holdings, Chua’s journey is motivating for anyone planning to make a career in the hospitality sector. She retired from the position of CEO and president of the Ascott Group and the Chief Corporate Officer of CapitaLand in 2012. Thereafter, she co-founded Beeworks.
Careers in hospitality
With the tourism industry booming in Singapore, the demand for well-trained hospitality professionals is on the rise. Singapore has many hospitality courses that follow modules that perfectly combine theory and practical knowledge to ensure that you are completely trained for your hospitality job beforehand. Some of these include MDIS School of Tourism and Hospitality and SDH Institute which offer both degree and diploma courses.
These women have shown that with the right drive and spirit, anyone can rise to the top. So what’s stopping you?
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