Our 25 Leading Lights
The business world is quick to celebrate leaders of profitable and productive workplaces. But how often do those celebrations recognise the part played by kindness? The answer? They don’t.
At Asia Square Tower One, we want to change the conversation around kindness in business. It’s not just something that’s nice to have. It drives success.
It’s why we’re proud to support Kindness & Leadership, 25 Leading Lights Southeast Asia. We want to shine a spotlight on the kind leaders amongst us, and recognise their contributions to business, the economy and society.
So, here’s to the leaders we celebrate today. Leaders who inspire creativity and productivity. Leaders who create an environment for others to succeed. Leaders who transform organisations and change lives.
May we all aspire to their example and recast kindness as the greatest strength in leadership.
Qin has trained over 58,000 people in self-defense. Of these, approximately 15–20% are women and children who are former victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and bullying. Under her leadership, the Kapap Academy is now collaborating with Indian social enterprises to train disadvantaged women and children from rural areas and city slums so as to empower them with self defense skills. In 2017, Qin became the only self defense expert in the world to be awarded the Queen’s Young Leadership Award for her continual effort in helping others stay safe.
“Under her leadership, the Kapap Academy has helped women and children begin their journey of recovery and regain their confidence and self-esteem through personal empowerment. Her commitment to the cause is inspirational as she chooses a life of frugality and contributes 70% of her salary to help support social initiatives. Such self-sacrifice and willingness to give to others embodies a leadership style that is rare and exemplary.”
With no experience in business, but a deep passion for protecting Cambodia’s natural environment and helping other women, Vichka founded Dai Khmer, a small company that trains and employs vulnerable women to become local artisans, making coconut soap, coconut oil and other beauty and household products from only natural ingredients. Over the past two years, the business has grown from a small home-based business, employing only one woman to a small company employing women across three locations, in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
“Vichka is the perfect example of someone who leads with kindness. She is working tirelessly to bring eco-friendly products and lifestyles to Cambodia. She also cares deeply about the women who she trains and employs: she trains them with love, teaches them new skills, and works hard to create a supportive, kind environment for them to work in each day. She does not want to just run a business; she is dedicated to creating employment opportunities that make women feel truly empowered.”
Sui Wei Law
Sui Wei has over 13 years of experience in the shared services sector. She has successfully built shared services at Dimension Data Asia–Pacific, growing headcount by over 200% within the first two years of her leadership. Sui Wei’s kindness in leadership is evident by the small 10% attrition rate, compared to an industry average in Malaysia of between 15–20%. Always putting her team’s wellbeing at the forefront of everything she does, Sui Wei makes time to mentor and foster young talent. She is an inspiration within NTT and beyond.
“Sui Wei embodies the qualities of a great and effective leader with a heart. She is assertive and firm with her decisions and executes the strategy to a tee. Sui Wei exemplifies kindness and empathy throughout her leadership by placing the wellbeing of employees at the forefront. She sets policies and programmes to foster a great and conducive workplace. In situations where Sui Wei is required to choose the benefit of the business or the wellbeing of the employee, she always chooses the employee.”
Shivkumar has 23 years of experience in the transaction banking space. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Asia–Pacific for Lloyds Banking Group. Prior to this role, he held numerous roles at Deutsche Bank, including Regional Trade Product Head for Asia–Pacific; Global Product Head for Financial Supply Chain Solutions and, in 2011, he became the Regional Head for Deutsche Bank’s trade finance business in Asia–Pacific where he managed a team of over 100 colleagues in 14 countries.
“Shiv’s leadership motivates people to have pride in their work, their team and the bank. This has led the team to deliver outstanding results and superior client service. His authenticity and kindness promotes trust and empowers the team – this makes people feel good about themselves, which translates into a general can-do attitude across the business. He understands and values the different personalities of the people he leads, which fosters a culture of acceptance and collaboration and allows for people to feel comfortable being themselves at all times.”
Richard is Chief Retail Officer for Lazada Singapore. He leads a rapid and innovative growth agenda for the grocery and retail divisions and is responsible for all insight functions. Lazada Group was founded in 2012 and is the leading eCommerce platform in Southeast Asia, now including the recently acquired RedMart. Prior to joining Lazada Group and RedMart in Singapore, Richard spent four years as Managing Director for Hope and Greenwood; over ten years in supply chain at Ocado and four years at Nestlé.
“Richard is a strong leader who is able to listen without giving judgement; he is open to different opinions while keeping a close eye on what matters in business. He is managing multicultural teams smoothly and motivates his teams to take initiatives by giving freedom but still being hands-on when needed. Richard is that person who sees you, looks out for you and gently guides you in the right direction without giving you the feeling of being pushed.”
Renita Sophia Crasta
As Group Legal Counsel for Capitaland, one of Singapore’s largest real estate players, Renita is extensively involved in advising on legal matters across her group of companies, from operations to management levels. In addition, Renita is also currently the Co-Chairperson of the Younger Lawyers Chapter of the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA) and recently assisted to launch the SCCA Pro Bono Programme to encourage in-house counsels to engage in pro bono legal work. She also sits on the committees of the Young Women’s Leadership Connection and has founded the Female & Fearless series of workshops to build leadership, confidence, and communication skills among underprivileged teenage girls. She is also involved with various non-profits including Beyond Social Services, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, and Its Raining Raincoats, an initiative spreading kindness to migrant workers in Singapore. More recently, Renita has co-founded the start-up of 2 Facebook communities, being the Kindness Initiative SG and The Chatty Caterpillar, to encourage acts of kindness and better mental health.
“Renita’s warmth and personality permeates in all she does as she constantly extends herself in and beyond her legal role. Amongst others, she has helped her company’s Foundation attain a “Company of Good” award from the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre through various initiatives that were undertaken. As an enterprising women leader, she is also extremely hardworking and a passionate self-starter, and is able to constantly rally others to support all she does with genuine warmth, to understand strategic and complex concepts, and to deliver execution. She is thoughtful, articulate, and conducts herself with the highest level of professionalism in leading her peers and managing senior stakeholders. Simply put, she is wise beyond her years. Her dedication and knowledge of law, business and public policy, coupled with kind demeanour, has made her an invaluable asset to every community that she is in, impacting many and we expect to continue to be a highly influential stakeholder as she goes on.”
Phil leads the Worldpay Global eCommerce team across Asia–Pacific, operating as General Manager from offices in Singapore, Japan, China and Australia. Under his leadership, the eCommerce APAC region has grown its revenue to more than double within four years and become well known for its OneAsia culture – a culture that Phil has been instrumental in shaping. Prior to Worldpay, Phil spent over 12 years in financial services with companies including Citi, Diners Club and American Express. Having lived in Asia for 19 years, he has held diverse management roles across Asia–Pacific and developed key strengths in customer development, strategy, financial planning, and new market entry.
“Phil strives to achieve a balance between being objective and empathetic when making decisions on most people-related matters. He truly believes that this is important in cultivating a respectful, inclusive and family-oriented culture which is key to the success of our diverse region. Despite his hectic work schedule and the high pressure in meeting business goals, Phil makes the time and effort to listen to employees who need to speak to him; and even discuss alternatives with his leaders on how we can support our colleagues who might be in different work and personal situations without compromising business operations and revenue.”
Molyka is a young, empathetic leader with a diverse background. She has enjoyed a fascinating career journey: working as an educator for children and students for more than ten years before entering the corporate world as a professional trainer. She is now the Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in Cambodia. She has brought together her many talents to build a newly established department with a strong foundation and clear vision.
“Molyka demonstrates her compassion and kindness at work. She spends time meeting her team, asking about their work and personal issues so as to provide emotional support and better understand their needs for growth. Additionally, she gives equal opportunities and delegates work to her team so that they too can participate in important programmes, build their confidence and be exposed to new ideas. Molyka’s core values have fostered a culture of caring and togetherness within her organisation.”
In 2011, Mohaiyani became the first woman to be appointed Chairman of the board of the country’s largest public listed company, Maybank. With extensive experience and an impressive career in financial services and public service, Mohaiyani has held senior roles at Amanah Chase Merchant Bank Berhad and Seagroatt & Campbell. During her active involvement in the stockbroking industry, she was appointed Deputy Chairman of Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange and Chairman of the Association of Stockbroking Companies of Malaysia. She had also been appointed as a member of several high-level national working groups such as the National Economic Action Council and the National Advisory Council for Women, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
“Datuk Mohaiyani is indeed a leader with kindness. Her leadership trait is not limited to her good decision making capabilities but also her ability to inspire others with her empathy, commitment and passion. She is a leader who expresses kindness in various areas. Her sincere desire to help the foundation from board level to employee issues, has made her an exemplary leader with kindness. Through her influence and networking, she helped the foundation build stronger relationships with other organisations and their staff.”
First Malaysian business leader to feature in the prestigious 2018 FT HERoes Top 100 Women Leaders worldwide. A three times winner of the prestigious CMO Asia’s CEO of the Year (2019/18/17) award, Mazuin Zin takes immense pride in helping transform Edelman Malaysia from a Pure-play PR Consulting company, to Malaysia’s leading Communications Marketing & Creative business solutions firm with Strategy at its core. A proven business transformation leader, Mazuin is passionate about creating a workplace culture that empowers young leaders hone their both managerial and entrepreneurial skills in the real world. As she believes that ‘Shaping Talent & Culture’ is not merely a departmental function, but a key responsibility of the CEO. In a career spanning two decades, Mazuin has led business transformation assignments at some of the country’s most respected MarCom Consulting firms like MullenLowe Group, Leo Burnett Group and Ogilvy.
“In the past two years Mazuin has clearly demonstrated her ability to combine a sense of purpose to turnaround Edelman Malaysia, with a strong resolve to grow the people under her wings into world class professionals. In a leadership role tasked to balance business with building reputation and culture, Mazuin champions a people first policy, driving a ‘family culture based on caring for each other’.”
Kum Ying Tham
Dr Tham was instrumental in setting up the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Singapore’s newest medical school in 2013. She is a Senior Consultant on professionalism training to Singapore’s Ministry of Health and leads several humanitarian missions every year to nearby Asian countries, delivering healthcare to underprivileged communities.
“Kum Ying has amazing energy and drive – but there is space in all this to be kind. She genuinely puts her patients, colleagues and trainees at the centre and goes beyond to ensure the very best for them. She dedicates personal time to overseas community projects, delivering help where it is desperately needed, providing support to medical students alongside her.”
Kris Ke-Shyang See
Kris has worked for various medical institutions both in the public and private sector and is currently serving as the Medical Director and Chief Clinical Scientist at the Osel Group of clinics. With his creative ideas and vision, Kris has driven his team to research cutting-edge medicine including genomic testing, biomarkers and regenerative medicine. He has received numerous awards for his ground-breaking work. In 2018, Kris received a scholarship for the prestigious Harvard Medical School, Leadership in Medicine, Southeast Asia programme. In the same year, he was awarded the JCI Peace Angel Award for his role and innovative work in the Nepal Earthquake Relief programme.
“Giving back to the community is an integral part of Kris’ mission and so the clinics have underwritten to provide free medical services for specific groups of people in need, including low income families. As an active board member and advisor on many committee panels, Kris helps organisations strategise and provides insight into the development of these companies that is not exclusive to medicine or healthcare but spans music, art and sport. These include an education scholarship fund, a financial literacy NGO start-up, and a music festival to bring people of different backgrounds and cultures together.”
Keemin is a high-impact leader who has built the legal team across the APAC markets for Netflix, spending considerable time onboarding teammates in each of the markets in which Netflix is rapidly growing. He forges strong relationships with both his teammates and the local business teams across APAC, with many leaders in cross functional teams looking to Keemin, not only for his expert legal advice, but also as a valued thought partner. Prior to his current role, Keemin served as an associate in the corporate department of Latham & Watkins, first in Los Angeles and then in Singapore, focused on complex, cross-border transactions.
“Keemin exemplifies what it means to be a leader. His legal expertise and contribution to the business as a lawyer is exceptional, but it’s really the manner in which he interacts with his teammates and business partners that makes his leadership stand apart. People trust Keemin and people want to hear his opinion. Keemin is a great listener, team player, and a magnetic leader, chiefly due to his core characteristic – kindness.”
Karen is Facebook’s first Singaporean female Vice President in APAC. She is an outstanding business leader, advocate for LGBTQI communities across Asia–Pacific and a regional sponsor of the One World Social Entrepreneurship award. She is committed to driving inclusion, diversity and impact through her professional and social work. Prior to working at Facebook, Karen spent years in the gaming industry, at Universal Games and at Microsoft, where she helped launch the Xbox 360.
“Karen adeptly balances the needs of our clients, our business, her team and the broader organisation. She understands how to negotiate outcomes that can balance the needs of all of these groups. Karen demonstrates empathy and a flexibility in her leadership style that drives inclusion of diverse stakeholders and ideas. Best of all, Karen recognises the need to be kind to herself. In this way, she often takes stock of her internal narrative and adjusts her actions to allow herself the space to learn, grow, innovate and fail. She is an excellent role model in this regard and is setting the pace for other leaders at Facebook and also in the greater technology community across the region.”
Jelen is the Chief Executive Officer at Mayad Post Production House (MPOST), a recognised authority in the art of editing cinematic wedding films. Jelen also heads up marketing, creative direction and serves as a business consultant to international partners. She has played an important role in MPOST’s transition from being Mayad Studios’ exclusive post production house to becoming an outsourcing company. She currently manages a team of 45 creative individuals who are behind MPOST’s successful collaborations with various wedding cinematographers from different parts of the world.
“Mentoring young leaders so that they can also one day mentor younger leaders has always been in Jelen’s advocacy. Through her mentorship many have grown and stayed to become leaders themselves within the organisation. Jelen strongly sharpens one’s potential, and it’s the secret behind MPOST’s progressive production of leaders and talent.”
Elke is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of RisikoTek, an anti-financial crime intelligence system company, dedicated to reducing the impact of financial crime and its predicate offences on society. She helps the financial sector, NGOs and law enforcement all over the world to detect criminal activity such as human and wildlife trafficking and corruption that reduces the quality of life for millions of people across the developing world. Elke has over 20 years of experience in the banking sector – she is now a global leader in risk management, regularly using her experience to address the challenges she has observed across the industry.
“Elke is a prime example of effective leadership through a kinder use of mentoring and education without the need for a more adversarial, stricter approach. She realises that great leadership comes from earning respect through knowledge, attention to quality and enabling people to unleash their creativity and make use of their diverse skill sets. Elke can see the value and ability in people – looking beyond their current circumstances and challenges that may have held them back from achieving their full potential. Her team regularly exceeds expectations in delivering high quality solutions that make a positive, real-world impact. Elke has the unique ability to merge everyone’s strengths into a cohesive set of high quality deliverables.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.
Christine is a philanthropist, adventurer, entrepreneur and author. A passionate advocate of female empowerment and environmental conservation, Christine set up Women on a Mission and HER Planet Earth, two not-for-profit organisations in 2012 and 2017 respectively. Both of these organisations take all-female teams on pioneering expeditions to off-the-beaten-track locations as a way to support worthy causes. HER Planet Earth’s primary objective is to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged women affected by climate change, while Women on a Mission aims to support and empower women who have been subjected to violence and abuse.
“Kindness and leadership are a very powerful combination in a person. Christine truly embodies both and demonstrates them every day. I have had the great privilege of joining several of Christine’s expeditions in favour of underprivileged women impacted by climate change. Christine has this incredible ability to motivate others to take action. She has inspired hundreds of women to join her expeditions to support others in need, but she also encourages us to continue to make a difference in our own way and with our own projects. Christine demonstrates a deep sense of empathy when she manages her teams and constantly puts the team and others first.”
In July 2015, Chris was appointed to the newly created role of Global Chairman, Aviva Digital. He also serves as Executive Chairman for Aviva Asia and Friends Provident International (FPI). As Global Chairman, he leads Aviva’s global drive in digital, and has transformed the 321-year-old insurer into a leading InsurTech disruptor. As Executive Chairman, Chris works closely with senior leaders on setting strategic direction and managing the operations of Aviva and FPI across Asia.
“Actions speak louder than words. While random acts of kindness are important, Chris embodies kindness through the intentional practice of kindness. Chris says: “I truly believe that people are the foundation of every successful organisation. Through the practice of kindness, our employees can be confident of who they are, do their best work, and have honest conversations. This intentional kindness has permeated our company culture and influenced employee behaviour, regardless of whether they are customer-facing or not. By practicing intentional kindness amongst employees, it creates a positive working environment which drives employee engagement, and in turn productivity and performance.”
After a career as an investment banker and hedge fund manager, Bruce joined Soneva in 2012. Soneva owns and operates some of the world’s most extraordinary ultra-luxury resorts in the Maldives and Thailand. Bruce is currently the Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer. He is considered to be a ‘rock of Soneva’, helping to create a culture that ensures goals are reached. For seven years, Bruce has been Soneva’s ‘Guardian of the Mission’, developing the business after its split from Six Senses. He has nurtured the programmes and success of the Soneva Foundation and formulated Soneva’s future growth plans, while focusing on the development of a high performance team.
“Bruce’s main focus is on developing others, whether through encouraging continual learning (such as introducing a free open online course policy in the company), or developing a culture of reading. He has extremely high standards and pushes all hosts to do their very best. He has a fierce sense of justice and uses his wit and intellect to protect those who need protecting, and push those hosts who can achieve more. He is highly professional and extremely knowledgeable.”
As Managing Director at Turner & Townsend in Singapore, Brian supports clients and leads delivery teams across the Asia–Pacific region. With a background in technical project and programme management in the real estate and technology sectors, Brian specialises in regional and global portfolio management to achieve better outcomes, assurance and benefits for Turner & Townsend clients. He has worked all over the world including Australia and Japan.
“Brian shows empathy, understanding and kindness in this very demanding industry. As consultants in the construction industry, we are trusted advisers who can influence our stakeholders to make choices in the built environment sector so as to create a better world. Brian constantly reminds us that our role is not just to serve our clients, but to also make an impact in our day-to-day activities through our humble interactions, our aspirations, and with kindness.”
Azliza Ahmad Tajuddin
In 2004, Azliza joined Blu Inc as its Chief Executive Officer. Blu Inc is the largest magazine publisher in Malaysia with over 23 titles, including Harper’s Bazaar, Her World, Female, EH!, Glam, Men’s Health and many more. Azliza believes that women’s magazines have a powerful role to play – they give us an opportunity to share empowering stories and highlight often difficult subjects, from domestic violence to maternal guilt and mental health.
“Azliza has initiated many fundraising projects, including the yearly Pink Project that is run in collaboration with local Malaysian designers to create awareness and raise funds for organisations such as the Breast Cancer Foundation. She has also set up the Her World Woman of the Year and Young Achiever of the Year awards. Since 1992, these awards have paid tribute to high-achieving women who have made breakthroughs in their industries and have made a positive impact both locally and overseas.”
“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12
“Show forgiveness, enjoin kindness; avoid ignorance.” – Quran 7:199
“Every act of kindness is charity.” – Prophet Muhammad
Throughout his 38 year-long career within the built-environment sector, Ashley has been instrumental in the successful delivery of major programmes both within Asia and around the world. Projects include major infrastructure development such as Hong Kong and Changi airports and developing further opportunities in rail, aviation and power. He is highly experienced with a deep technical knowledge in programme management, project delivery and project controls. After 16 years at Turner & Townsend, Ashley retired late last year, leaving a lasting legacy.
“Ashley has dedicated his life’s work to bringing out the best in others by unlocking their undiscovered potential. He has grown a local team in Singapore and helped develop them into the future leaders of our Asia business. Ashley is a truly inspirational leader and has impacted many lives from our (now retired) Chief Operations Officer to our Singaporean graduates who are just starting their careers.”
Ariel leads the Forum for the Future APAC team, a leading international non-profit working with business, government and society solving complex sustainability challenges. Using a range of approaches including futures, systems thinking, and human-centred design, Forum for the Future creates programmes that advance the circular economy, sustainable nutrition, sustainable value chains and livelihoods, and the de-carbonisation of our economy. Ariel has previously worked with Saatchi & Saatchi to design and deliver sustainability programmes with companies such as Walmart, NBCUniversal, Duke Energy and Procter & Gamble, and at the collaborative strategy and design firm, Helsinki Group.
“Our world needs leaders willing to choose purpose before profit; who use collaboration and inspiration as their chosen archery, not fancy titles and power; leaders that create tribes; who are kind, compassionate, and lead by actions… I believe Ariel to be such a leader. Ariel listens more than she speaks, leads from the front, with kindness and empathy, creating a safe environment for the team to thrive. Her team knows they will be supported, not only in success but also should they fail.”
Anthony moved to Asia 19 years ago. He is the current Head of Asia and an Executive Board Director at Michael Page Group, the global recruitment agency. Since he joined the company, over 120,000 candidates have been placed, changing their lives and those of their families and clients. Under his leadership, headcount has also radically increased from 40 members of staff to more than 1,400. Anthony leads from the front when it comes to Michael Page’s strong focus on corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community.
“Anthony spends a lot of time and effort in the old fashioned but vitally important practice of listening, giving counsel and helping to solve problems. He is a ‘pick up the phone’ person, and embraces the old-school qualities of sales and service: a firm handshake, good listening, and a strong level of empathy. Politics and hierarchical bad habits are not in his leadership pallet. Instead, his day-to-day style of leadership lies in consistency, calmness and motivation. The solution generally lies in teamwork, finding consensus, and maintaining a constructive, solutions-driven growth mindset in the face of challenges.”
Amélie is a seasoned human resources director in the luxury goods and jewellery sector. She puts the ‘human’ at the centre of a role that would otherwise focus largely on productivity, compliance and budgeting. In her current role as Director of Human Resources at Richemont in Singapore, Amélie has brought the shared services and brand teams together through collaborative projects and networks, developing a top-rated reputation for her humanity and results. Previously, as Human Resources Director at the prestigious watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, Amélie helped form a new international executive committee that integrated talent reviews and people management in order to better plan business objectives.
“In my 20 year career in the luxury goods sector in various roles, across multiple countries, Amélie truly stands out – for her determination and kindness; dedication to excellence and humanity. From mediation and on-the-ground talent spotting to setting up high-performing mentor pairings, there is nothing that Amélie hasn’t touched and made a success of. Her positive outlook and her can-do attitude see her rising above the challenge of corporate HR inertia, identifying opportunity and making it happen.”