Amazons on Boards


Having a woman on the board of an organization often impacts positively on the growth and successes of the organization. Gender diversity goes a long way in stirring development in the society, it also serves as a milestone in bridging gender inequality.

Many countries and economies are gradually adopting gender diversity and appointing women into strategic position on their board. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited (HKEX), which owns and operates of the stock exchange joined this practice when Laura Cha was appointed as the chairman of the company as the first woman to hold such top role since the inception of the organization.

Cha was born in Shanghai, China in the year 1949, she was two years old when her parents decided to leave China for British Hong Kong.

Cha is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She also has a Juris Doctor degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law and was a member of a Chinese American political and cultural organization, known as the Committee of 100.

She is not new to the boardroom and an expert when it comes to the financial market. Her huge portfolio in the business industry is well spoken of in Asia’s business scene.

Cha has consistently represented the women society in Asia excellently, besides business, she is also one of Asia’s female philanthropists who has assisted less-privilege. She has also been recognized for her philanthropic contributions.

Cha started her career in Law and practiced with Pillsbury Madison and Sutro, one of the powerful law firms in San Francisco, California. She left California for Hong Kong around 1994, where she continued her law career at the Coudert Brothers.

Throughout the 1990’s, she worked with Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission and was finally made a Deputy chairman in 1998. She moved to Beijing in 1991 to take up the role of vice-chairwoman at China Securities Regulatory Commission, where she served from 2001 to 2004.

Cha was appointed to the vice chairwoman position by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, and she became the first person outside mainland China to join the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China at the vice-ministerial rank.

Two years later, she was named a director of HKEX for six years.

She has also served as Hong Kong’s delegate to the 11th National People’s Congress. Cha received the awards of Gold and Silver Bauhinia Stars from the Hong Kong Government for public service.

She also served as the Chairman of the University Grants Committee in Hong Kong and was a member of the Advisory Board of the Millstein Center of Corporate Governance and Performance at Yale University.

She has been in the Unilever boardroom since 2013 as a Non-Executive Director and also non-executive deputy chairwoman of HSBC.

In April 2018, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) named Laura Cha the new chairman and first woman to head the stock exchange operator since the company’s 18-year history.

She succeeded her predecessor Chow Chung Kong, who stepped down after six years in the role.

However, beyond business and career, Cha has a happy family; she is married to Victor Cha Mou Zing a business tycoon in Hong Kong and the couple has two children.

The difficult situations that the women in Philippine are faced with in pursuing their careers especially in the corporate and business sector is still evident.  Following the recorded percentage of female business leaders in top organizations and other companies in the country, when compared to that of the male counterparts, the amount has been considered as too poor.

The news headlines still read titles such as; “Filipino women remain inadequately represented in key leadership positions both in government and in different industries”, a study by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found that Gender inequality still prevails in the Philippine government and the business sector with a few women holding top positions where key policies are usually decided.

However, in the midst of all these confirmed reports on the status quo of Filipino women in business, there are a number of women who are successfully thriving in the country’s business scene than their male counterparts.

Women like Nina D Aguas, a Filipino woman of substance who has so much to offer in the corporate sector.

Nina Aguas is the current Chairman of Insular Life Assurance Co Ltd, and she controls a huge portfolio in business leadership.

When accolades are being given out for exceptional achievements, Nina should be considered as a top figure who deserves an accolade for her great impact in the business sector of Philippine.

Prior to the time when she started pursuing her career, she always had faith in herself, refusing to settle for anything less. She believed that she deserved to be in a better place when the time comes for her to pursue a career and since she launched out to start the race, a lot of achievements have been accredited to her efforts.

Thriving and excelling in business became the order of happenings as soon as Nina stepped into the scene of senior business leaders, and she is yet to alter a strong track record of an excellent career across retail and private banking spanning over 30 years. 

In terms of Management, this Amazon has been able to successfully manage businesses and operations for multinational companies in Philippine and other parts of the world across developed and emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific and the US.

Nina began her career working with SGV & Co limited Philippine as a Certified Public Accountant. However, after a few years with the firm, she followed her interest in the banking sector and shifted her career base to the banking industry.

As a dedicated and hardworking woman, she delivered maximally on every platform she was given to excel and led a diverse group of people.

Now, beyond sitting at the position of top personnel at Insular Life Assurance, she holds a lifetime achievement in business impact, following her track record in building new businesses as well as defending and growing large existing businesses in highly-competitive and challenging environments, and through difficult economic cycles ranging from the Asian crisis to the recent global financial crisis.

In 2015, Nina was welcomed into the Board of Trustees of the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. Before joining the Insular Life Assurance Company, she also worked with other top institutions served at different top levels which include serving as

 President & Chief Executive Officer of the Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCOM), from August 2012 to March 2015, where she also sat as a Member of the Board of Directors.

While working at the bank, she was responsible for defining the Bank’s vision and strategy, as well as securing resources and building capabilities to ensure the successful implementation of such.

She worked with the Private Banking, Asia-Pacific, ANZ Group as Managing Director from 2009 to 2012, with geographic responsibility for North & North East Asia (Hong Kong, Taiwan, China) and South & South East Asia (Singapore, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand).

She also spent over 25-years working at key management positions in Citigroup such as: being the Managing Director and Head of Corporate Center Compliance, New York; Country Business Manager, Global Consumer Group, Philippines; Regional Head, Audit and Risk, Asia-Pacific; and Regional Head, Quality, and Re-engineering, Asia-Pacific.

Nina has also held other professional roles across risk management, credit and audit: Senior Advisor for Quattro Risk Management, a BPO serving global FIs; Board Member of the Market Integrity Board of the Philippine Stock Exchange; and Regional credit officer of Bank of Nova Scotia, Asia-Pacific.

All over the world, it has been agreed that carving a niche and sticking to it is one way to achieving success in life. For Nina, she has chosen the career of a Certified Public Accountant and she is relentless in its pursuit.

Israel has a large number of business women who are on top of the game when it comes to doing business. Many of this women have made a name for themselves in the Israeli community and one of which is Ofra Yasmin Strauss, daughter of Michael Strauss.

Yasmin is the chairperson of the board of directors of Strauss Group, Israel’s largest Food and Beverage Company founded by her grandparents.

The group operates in five core areas which are Strauss Israel, Strauss Coffee, Sabra-Obela Fresh Dips and Spreads, Max Brenner and Strauss Water.

Yasmin was born in Nahariya in Israel into a family of business enthusiast. She started learning the family business from her childhood days and was keen on learning its systems.

She would listen to her father as he takes business calls or holds conversations about the company when she was around.

She often engaged the night delivery route, during which she used to help in carrying 20-kg containers of dairy products.

Strauss studied law in the Tel Aviv University Law School and graduated in the year 1987, but she never practiced law.

She returned to Israel to work in the family’s company where she was trained to take over her father as the chairperson of the company.

Prior to her coming back to Israel, she worked in the marketing department of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. an American cosmetics line in New York City, between 1987-1989, where she led a marketing campaign for the company in Japan.

On returning to Strauss, she was given various roles in the company to help her inculcate the nitty gritty of how the business works. As a business lover that she is, she was good at performing her roles making her a reliable heir to the position of the chairperson of Strauss group.

She started as the Group’s Marketing director of the ice cream division and was later moved to head the food division in the corporation.

Although Yasmin didn’t practice law, however, learning in law school instilled in her a mindset about life that helped her manage situations.

Being open-minded about things that happened around her, caused her to learn faster.

Yasmin was nominated director general of the Strauss salads company in 1993.This period was a strategic one for the company because there was a massive growth that was recorded at that time even under her father’s leadership.

During this time the Strauss company engaged in series of acquisitions including the acquisition of Elite in 1996.

Having acquired Elite, the company appointed Yasmin as CEO of Elite, but it didn’t end there.

In 2001, Michael Strauss announced his retirement and she was appointed the chairperson of the group.

Following her appointment, Yasmin has been on hard work to ensure that the company continues to fly as the leading food and beverage company in Israel.

Since her emergence as the chairperson the Group has continued to expand operating in over 20 countries in the world with about 14,000 employees.

One of the specific achievement was the merger of Elite into the Strauss group, which she has been managing as separate bodies before 2002-2004 when she began a gradual integration of the Elites into Strauss group.

Strauss has developed strategic partnerships with Danone, PepsiCo, Haier, São Miguel and Virgin, for the sale of dairy, coffee, water, dips, and spreads. The partnership with PepsiCo also created the US-based Sabra Dipping Company, since 2009 the largest hummus manufacturer worldwide.

Asides Strauss Group, Yasmin Chairs the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce since 2011.

She is also the President and Chairperson of the Jasmine organization, Jasmine, promoting Jewish and Arab Israeli women’s entrepreneurship. She serves as a member of the Boards (Governors and Executive) of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

She is a successful businesswoman who runs a successful company with global recognition. Yasmin has four children who are also successful in their field of specialization.

Anna Mokogokong is a medical doctor by profession, who set off in 1995 to start what has today become one of South Africa’s biggest business success stories. She is a businesswoman who has received international acclaim for her entrepreneurial ability. She has been a born entrepreneur as she has traded sandwiches for cash from a tender age in primary school. Anna Mokgokong was born in Soweto and raised in Swaziland.  She promotes women to be on boards as well as in the procurement sector. She considers herself self as an activist in this regard. She went on to complete her BSc. from the University of Botswana before going to Medunsa to complete her MBChB. It was during this time that Anna’s real entrepreneurial flair came into being.

She is presently married with two children. In 1981, whilst studying medicine, Anna started a business selling handbags and belts to her fellow students and residents at Medunsa. Through a contact in Swaziland, she was given R40 000 worth of stock. The business became a huge success and diversified to include African clothing and curios. The lecturers at medical school did not like the fact that Anna was running a lucrative business whilst studying and tried to persuade her to drop her business interest and focus on her studies even though she was one of the top performing students at Medunsa. She rose above the discouragements, and the undeterred Anna continued with her business. By the time she completed her medical degree, she was able to sell her business for R150000. Anna used this capital to establish the Hebron Medical Centre in 1992. Overcoming significant obstacles, she built the center from a zero-base into a primary health care and baby welfare clinic with over 40000 patients, serving eight villages.

As an entrepreneur, Anna is passionate about ensuring that previously disadvantaged South Africans have the opportunity to participate in the broader economy. She has made tremendous trademarks as has served on various boards. Dr. Mokgokong serves on the Boards of Novartis SA (Pty) Ltd. (Pharmaceuticals), and Fasic Investment Corporation (Pty) Ltd./Fasic Limited with significant holdings in Lion Match and Kimberly Clark. She believes that while CI Holdings strives to maximize shareholder value, it is companies who promote the wider interests of their stakeholders and of society that have the strongest chance of long-term success.

As a businesswoman she has received international acclaims for her entrepreneurial ability – co-owner of Community Investment Holdings (and South Africa’s Business Woman of the Year in 1999), her list of accolades is as long as her list of executive portfolios and directorships she holds at some of South Africa’s biggest and most esteemed organizations and corporations. Today, she is worth an estimated R107-million; Dr. Mokgokong has been identified as one of the top ten wealthiest black South African entrepreneurs. Her multibillion-rand company (Community Investment Holdings), which she jointly owns with business partner Joe Madungandaba, is one of the most successful companies of its kind in the country.

Anna Mokgokong is the Co-founder and Executive Chairperson of Community Investment Holdings. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Afrocentric, a board member of four listed companies and chair of three, including Shoprite Checkers, the largest retailer in Africa where she is the first woman director. Mokgokong notes that governance plays a critical role in enabling the sustainability of any business and can save you the pain of having to clean up.  She sits on the board of several organizations.

As CIH executive chair, Mokgokong joins a select group of black women leading successful businesses. However, her success should perhaps be rated above that of most black executives because she did not take over her position at a company with successful investment, but rather had to put together deals that have built CIH into the company that it is today, in line with her belief in hard work as a pathway to success.

She has received several awards and recognitions.

Wan Ling Martello is a Philippine woman whose success continues to stand as a reference point to many. Martello is an American citizen of Chinese and Filipino heritage she is a woman with exceptional leadership qualities which makes her stand out in every area of the economy. Martello was born in the Philippines in 1958 and belongs to a Chinese-Filipino family.

She studied at the University of the Philippines where she earned her Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and Accountancy, and proceeded to University of Minnesota where she acquired her MBA. She is aalso a licensed Certified Public Accountant.

Martello has made remarkable achievements in her career. As Nestle’s representative, as she brings a “female multi-ethnic, emerging-market/Asian face to the world.”  She was a former CFO of Nestle, the world’s largest food company. As CEO of Nestle’s sprawling AOA region, Martello oversees a $15 billion division that spans 92 countries and enlists 110,000 employees. In that role, she has helped the world’s largest food company get back on its feet after a food safety scares in India in 2015, involving its popular Maggi noodle product, plunged the business into crisis. Prior to her appointment at Nestle, she worked at Walmart Stores Incorporations since 2005 where she had the following roles; she was an Executive Vice President of Global eCommerce, she was also an executive Vice president of the Emerging Markets at Walmart, COO, Global e-commerce; and Senior Vice President, CFO and Strategy for Walmart International.

Her financial experience includes work at NCH Marketing Services, Borden Foods Corp. and Kraft Foods, Inc. Wan Ling Martello is a highly intellectual figure as she is fluent in English, Mandarin, Hokkien Chinese, and Tagalog.

Due to the extraordinary excellence exhibited by her, she was appointed by the Board of Directors of Nestlé S.A, the largest food company in the world, to succeed Jim Singh when he retired on March 31, 2012, as Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Nestlé. The appointment of Wan Ling Martello, a company outsider, took some analysts by surprise although; those who know Ms. Martello and her proven track record of accomplishments in the business world were not.  For over 20 years, Ms.Martello has been playing a leading role in some of the world’s biggest companies. Since 2005, she has been a key leader at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retail chain. She is currently Executive Vice President of Global e-Commerce; Wan Ling Martello manages one of Wal-Mart’s fastest-growing business segments Emerging Markets. From 2005-2011, Wan Ling gained in-depth knowledge of the retail and e-commerce business at Walmart where she was Senior Vice President, Chief Finance Officer & Strategy, Walmart International and then Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Global e-Commerce, Emerging Markets. In 2008, she was honored by the Asian Women in Business (AWIB) with a Corporate Leadership Award. In which multi-cultural markets is certainly a factor in her appointment as EVP/CFO of Nestle. Wan Ling is an active Board Member of the Committee of 100, a national organization of Chinese American leaders. She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum. Wan Ling has presented herself as a ladder through which other businessmen and women can climb in order to attain their long desired success. Even as she mentors others with the belief that to be a truly successful leader, you need to help others succeed; she gives this advice to women in the co-operate world: “you are the master of your own destiny and never forget it is just as important to help others to succeed as well”.



Teresita Sy-coson is a Filipina business woman, and Vice Chairperson of SM Investments Corporation (SMIC), one of the Philippines’ largest publicly traded holding companies.
Sy-coson’s father immigrated to the Philippines at the age of 12, from a rural village in Fujian Province, China after World War II. He opened a shoe shop called Shoemart (SM) in downtown Manilla, Philippines, the SM is known today as the starting point of SM Investments, one of the biggest conglomerates in South East Asia.
Coming from a humble background of business, Sy-coson ventured into her first business at the age of 8 and has been at it for five decades running. She received her undergraduate degree from Assumption College (Philippines), and sits on the board of several conglomerates.
As Vice Chairman of SM Investments Corporation (SMIC), leading one of the largest conglomerates in South East Asia, also recognized as Philippines largest publicly traded holding companies with interests in retail, banking, property and portfolio investments. Her success proves to other women; that attaining great heights do not just end as dreams or aspirations but can become a reality no matter how huge the challenges may seem.
Sy-coson’s ability to approach situations from different perspectives served as huge strength as she turned her attention to family’s retail and savings bank, Bande de Oro which at the time was 13th in the nation in terms of assets, applying strategies that she learned from years of hard work, she transformed the business, placing it on the top of the nations list. She holds important board and management positions in various subsidiaries and affiliates of BDO and the SM group, and is an integral figure as adviser to the board of SM prime holdings Inc. She is also a part of the three-member Philippine delegation to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business advisory Council (ABAC), an organization formed in 2003 by the ASEAN leaders to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’S efforts toward economic integration.
She has been a recipient of various awards over the years in recognition of her leadership in the banking and retail sectors. These recognitions include: Asian corporate director of the year award from corporate Governance Asia, Best retail banker of the year awarded in 2012 by the Asian banker; listed in fortune magazine’s 50 most powerful women in the world from 2001 to 2010, named in Forbes Asia’s list of 50 power Business women, and recipient of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) President’s award in 2014.

Bronte Adams, Director, and founder of Dandolo Partners is a Rhodes Scholar, former McKinsey & Co consultant, senior government executive, and board director. Respected for her bipartisan and independent approach, she has led and managed public sector policy development and implementation and has advised a wide range of clients in the innovation, health, technology, science & research, startup, cultural, and education sectors. She advised the Hon. Alan Stockdale and went on to lead the Victorian Government’s technology arm as CEO, reforming government through the use of technology, managing major procurements, attracting foreign investment and stimulating the uptake of technology across commercial, public and community sectors.

Bronte has chaired and sat on numerous public and private sector entities. Current appointments include membership of the Rhodes Trust in Australia, Deputy Chair of Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee and the Health Innovation and Reform Council.

She has previously served as director or board member of a number of organisations, including the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Director); Melbourne University Publishing (Deputy Chair); Chair of VICSTART ($60M Technology Commercialisation Program); Deputy Chair of $120 M Science Technology Innovation Infrastructure Grants Program; Victorian Government ICT Advisory Council (Deputy Chair); Business Spectator Advisory Group; Australia Council’s New Media and Visual Arts Boards (2004); National Selection Committee of the General Sir John Monash Foundation; Victorian Government’s Innovation Economy Advisory Boar (appointed by the Hon. John Brumby) and three-person Tertiary Education Expert Advisory Group (appointed by the Hon. Jacinta Allen). 

She was appointed by the Hon. Richard Alston to the Commonwealth Government Broadband Advisory Group and was a judge of the Victorian Export Awards and Premier’s Literary Awards.

Bronte has over 20 years experience and national profile in technology, innovation, science and government policy in management, expert advisory and consulting roles. She has expertise in procurement, regulation, and infrastructure builds.

She is a trusted advisor at the most senior levels of government and universities and successfully assists large corporates in their commercial dealings with government. Prior to her role at McKinsey & Co, Bronte was an academic at Oxford University and has lectured around the world including at Harvard, Cornell, Delhi and Oxford Universities.