Commissioner, Workers Compensation Fund Control Board, Dr Elizabeth Nkumbula receiving her award of Excellence and also for her hard work and service to the nation from Copper belt Province Minister Hon. Mwakalombe during the International Women’s Day Celebrations on March 8th, in Ndola, Zambia.
Asia is adorned successful women in different fields of leadership, from business to politics, and education, these women have smashed through stereotypes and are today, an inspiration to the upcoming generation of women leaders across the globe.
Chen Lihua makes the list amongst many successful Asian Amazons in Asia, heading one of Beijing’s largest commercial property developers Fu Wah International Group, she stands out among Asian Amazons in business.
A self-made woman billionaire, Chen started her entrepreneurial journey to riches with nothing, through thick and thin, she kept at it and today, she ranks among the amazing success stories in Asian business. Rising from rags and then rags to riches.
Chen was born into a royal family, but Chen lost the advantages to royalty during her childhood and had to build her own fortune. Born in 1941 in the Summer Palace of Beijing, China, Chen is a descendant of a noble Manchu family of the Yellow Banner which collapsed at the time of her birth, and her family was thrown into poverty due to the fall.
The collapse of Manchu Qing dynasty was as a result of the spread of Japan’s armies across China. Prior to Japan’s armies’ advancement across China, the Qing dynasty had witnessed a major fall 3 decades before. Growing up as a child in the then collapsed Qing dynasty, Chen dropped out school to start up a furniture repair business so that she could beat life at its game.
On the course of this sole decision, she moved to Hong Kong in the early 1980s and started purchasing and reselling furniture. There, in Hong Kong, Chen grew her business into an empire and she was able to gather great wealth which she used to purchase 12 villas.
This move was a phenomenal success in the British colony of that time, and a rare achievement for a mainland migrant.
After settling for a while in Hong Kong, in the 1980, she returned to her home country China, and continued her activities in the Chinese real estate market, and in the early 1990s, Chan founded the Fu Wah International Group.
She however, did not pitch her tent in real estate, but began to spread her tentacles into other various fields like hospitality, tourism, production, electronics, and production of red sandalwood.
Chen has over the years, worked her way back into the place of wealth and royalty by her efforts. Today, she sits as one of China’s top commercial real estate owners, and one of the richest self-made women billionaires across the globe.
Businesses owned by Chen include: the Fu Wah International Group, Beijing, which owns some of the most popular properties, including Jinbao Tower, Regent Beijing, Chang’An Club, Beijing Hong Kong Jockey Club etc.
The China Red Sandalwood Museum, one of the biggest privately-owned museums in the country of China, founded in 1999, on an investment of 20 billion yuan, it covers 25,000 sqm. of the area.
Chen is also popular for her philanthropy and social responsibility works, in 2004, she donated 265 million yuan, and 130 million yuan in 2005 for disaster relief.
She is a mother three, a son and two daughters, Chen is happily married to the Chinese actor Chi Zhongrui and she now resides in her Chinese Red Sandalwood Museum.
Although she has a rich husband, she has not mixed his wealth with hers and has attained her wealth all on herself.
In recent years, Chen Lihua has handed over her business management ventures to her son and prefers to concentrate instead on her museum.
As the popular quote goes – Falling down is a part of life. Getting back up is living.
Chen Lihua leads a perfect example of getting back up and living.
Nezha Hayat, is the founder and deputy chair of the Association des femmes’ chefs d’ enterprises du Marocis pacesetter in leadership. She believes that leadership cannot be fully explained without it being expressed by a woman, therefore, she relentlessly pushes for more women to play decision-making roles in the Moroccan economy. This desire for leadership was propelled by her background, growing up in an environment that supports financial independence at an early stage, regardless of the gender.
Association des femmes’ chefs d’ enterprises du Maroc; is the first women’s professional association to obtain the certificate of ISO 9001 in 2008 for its activities. The Association was founded on 28 September 2000 and operates with determination and selflessness in promoting female entrepreneurship in the country.
Her desire to showcase the outstanding leadership traits in women led to the creation of “Le Club des femmes administrateurs au Maroc” in 2012, which helps to promote women in corporate boards. She was brought to the spotlight as a trailblazer in a competitive patriarchal system when she became the first woman on board of a major bank in Morocco; Morocco’s Capital Market Authority.
Hayat graduated from ESSEC Paris (An international higher education institution located in France). In1984, after her graduation from ESSEC Hayat started her career in Spain where she functioned in a few management positions before returning to her home country Morocco, in 1993. She also held a leadership position as a deputy director of Banque Nationale de Paris offshore unit in Tangier 1993. She is a founding member and Vice-Chair of AFEM (the Moroccan Association of Female Company Senior Executives). In Spain, she served at the international division of Banco Atlantico, responsible for international risks and restructured debt portfolio. She served in this capacity from 1985 -1988.
In 1999, she was elected President of the Association of stockbrokers in Morocco during two mandates. She was also nominated as a global leader for tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2001.
Hayat being a woman with a consistent passion for service was appointed as president of the AMMC back in February 2016 by King Mohammed VI. Until her nomination, she worked at Société Générale Morocco group and in 2007, she became the first woman on a management board of a bank in the country.
Hayat also serves on the executive board of the Banque SocieteGenerale in Morocco. She is the founder of Morocco’s club of women corporate directors. She is the chairperson and CEO of the Moroccan Capital Market Authority. As the chairperson, she led her company to launch guidelines on corporate social responsibility and Environmental, Social Governance which was aimed at helping and encouraging companies to pursue sustainable development; thereby fulfilling the passion she has always had to give back to the society.
Hayat was also elected vice-president of the Regional Committee for Africa and the Middle East (AMERC) of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). From 1988 to 1990, she was in charge of the department of corporate finance in two brokerage houses in Madrid (Inverfinanzas and then Bravo y Garayalde), while she moved to private banking activities in 1990 as the branch manager of Banco inversion in Marbella. She was chairperson and CEO of Sogelease (Société Générale Morocco group
Her desire to spearhead a global change in female leadership inspired the force towards every step of leadership she took as she continues to remain an epitome of excellence in female leadership.
Nezha Hayat is a true Amazon, Mirroring Excellence in Female Leadership on corporate boards.
CEO of Chao Phraya Express Boat
This EMBA Sasin graduate is the CEO of Chaophraya Express Boat. Founded by her mother Khunying Supatra Singholaka in 1971, the company continues to work to provide a high standard of river transportation. Business has grown exponentially throughout the years, although she says government policies pay little attention to the local marine industry. For her, becoming a successful businesswoman and leader entails constant hard work, perseverance, consistency, honesty, the ability to stick to one’s words, passion and a good set of values that one is able to instill in the employees.
Having attended school in Switzerland, Supapan’s dream job as a child was to become an interpreter for international conferences and seminars. Looking ahead she says, “I foresee futuristically designed boats with better safety facilities, enhanced comfort, more convenience and environmentally friendly.” Work aside, Supapan enjoys playing the piano and supporting a variety of charities although she admits that as president of the company and the Profession Women Association of Thailand and the Thai Boat Association, she is kept busy. Currently the company is working on replacing wooden boats with a fleet of high speed and more modern ones.
Dr Nalinee Paiboon
President and managing director of Giffarine Skyline Unity
About Dr Nalinee
President and managing director of Thailand’s leading manufacturer and exporter of beauty and health supplement products, Giffarine Skyline Unity, Dr Nalinee Paiboon founded the company in 1996. The medicine graduate from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University was left with 100 million baht after her divorce. She decided to combine her financial assets with her knowledge to build a direct-marketing company that enables Thais to work on their own. “In retrospect, investing all my savings into Giffarine was the best decision I have ever made,” she says. “The company becoming successful has also led to an income source for hundred of thousands of people.”
Since then Giffarine, with product lines running over 2,000 items spanning cosmetics and food supplements, has grown exponentially and expanded overseas. In 2017, the company accomplished full adaptation of the digital world, with revenue exceeding 68,000 million baht and a global revenue of 5,650 million baht. The key to success, she says, is a deep understanding of the minds and souls of those you are working with. One of her biggest inspirations in life is His Majesty the late King Bhumibol and the way in which he dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate. With that in mind, Nalinee is involved in numerous charities such as an orphanage support fund for college scholarships. A lover of animals, she is also a keen supporter of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. Her mantra: “Happiness will not come from money, but rather, it comes from how you use money as opportunities for the less fortunate people to become successful and happy.”
Khunying Natthika Angubolkul
CEO of Eastern Sugar Group
One of Thailand’s top retail development entrepreneurs, Chadatip Chutrakul leads the management and operations of Siam Piwat, the developer of the group of innovative luxury malls in central Bangkok including Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Siam Discovery. She is also the visionary behind IconSiam, the US$1.7 billion landmark on the Chao Phraya River set to be completed in late 2018. Under her leadership, the company has grown rapidly, establishing 35 subsidiaries ranging from retail developments to department stores, specialty retailing, facility management, multi-purpose venue management, high-end restaurant ventures and marketing agency. A graduate of Chulalongkorn University with a degree in banking and finance, Chadatip worked abroad before returning to Thailand and joined Siam Piwat in 1986. She was appointed as managing director of the company in 1996, and CEO of the group in 2005.
Daughter of General Chalermchai Charuvastra, the founder of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Siam Piwat, Chadatip is married to Apichart Chutrakul, founder and chief executive officer of Sansiri Public Company Limited and has one daughter, Chayapa Chutrakul. In 2017, Siam Discovery, one of Siam Piwat’s properties, was awarded the Store Design of the Year 2017, the World Retail award by the World Retail Congress and the Gold Award for Marketing Positioning & Brand Awareness from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) as the project with the best marketing, positioning and brand awareness in Asia Pacific.
President and CEO of Muang Thai Insurance
Daughter of Photipong and Yupa, Nualphan graduated with a degree in marketing from the Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Chulalongkorn University before going on to pursue a master’s degree in educational management at Boston University. One of Thailand’s leading ladies in both the business and sports sector, Nualphan was among the early importers of designer labels and still owns Hermes distributor Saint Honore (Bangkok). The CEO of Muang Thai Insurance also plays a leading role in the country’s sports sector and is the chairwoman of Port football club as well as the manager of Thailand’s women’s national football team. The wife of the Correction Department’s director-general Pol Col Dr Naras Savetanan is also a partner of Meister Technik, importer of Audi cars. She also holds the position of honorary consul for the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Lithuania.
Executive Director of Central Retail
Influential businesswoman Yuwadee Chirathivat has dedicated almost four decades to the success of the Central Department Store Group under the family business of the Central Group. One of the eight children of Samrit Chirathivat, she is the mother of Chodok, Barom and Voralaksanai Bhicharnchitr. Now holding the position of executive director of Central Retail, she is known, however, as the driving force behind the international expansion of Central Department Store and the success behind the group’s global recognition, Yuwadee was on Forbes’ list of Asia’s 50 Most Influential Businesswomen two years in a row. The group’s latest international success is the opening of the flagship store, La Rinascente, in 2017 situated right in the heart of Rome. Having celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017, Central Department Store was first founded in 1947 and became the first department store to have branches throughout Thailand.
Looking at the future, Yuwadee reflects on the changing landscape of the retail business and the importance of omni-channel retail. “With the industry shifting towards digital channels rapidly, it is important to keep innovating and embrace these new developments, leading the way to ensure that we can continue with our long-term sustainable growth model. We aim to extend our current retail platforms with pioneering use of new technology to offer a seamless shopping experience for our customers, with a synergy of the physical bricks and mortar retail and the creative opportunities of the digital channels for a new generation. At the end of the day, our customers’ shopping experience, regardless of the platform, is the most important thing for us.”
CEO of Siam Piwat Group
CEO of Kamol Sukosol and The Sukosol Hotels Group
A mother of four and grandmother of eight, Kamala is the CEO of Kamol Sukosol. Founded in 1939, the renowned holding company opened its first hotel 45 years ago when her father bought land in Pattaya and tasked her with building a hotel on it. Since then, it has grown to become one of the most high-profile hotel groups in the country, with its newest development, The Siam, ranking top on TripAdvisor for the majority of last year and turning into an icon in Bangkok’s luxury hotel scene. Well-informed, decisive and open-minded, she believes the secret to her success as an entrepreneur and female leader is her inner entertainer. CEO by day and a passionate singer in her spare time, her charity concerts and ability to entertain have helped her build invaluable relationships throughout the years of her career, and she firmly believes in maintaining honest trusting relationships with both her teams and business partners. Although she moves in high society and the diplomatic circle, she continues to remember the importance of being humble, and strongly believes that life is too short and that it is important to know your priorities in order to achieve a good work-life balance. Looking ahead, she likes where her company stands now and has high hopes for the future, wishing to focus on quality rather than solely on expansion.
Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul
Chief CSR and director of GS Steel
About Khunying Patama
The chief CSR and director of G Steel, Thailand’s leading steel manufacturer which distributes locally and internationally, Khunying Patama is a keen supporter of sports and music who currently holds the position of president of the Badminton Association of Thailand and chairman of the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra of Mahidol University. A philanthropist at hearth, she dedicates much of her time in charitable endeavours. Understanding the importance of education Khuyung Patama overseas G Steel CRS projects, many of which seek to contribute to country’s sustainable education development. As the first Thai woman to be elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
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.