The Her World Woman of the Year is our annual prestigious award that we bestow on one woman - a successful achiever of remarkable talent, strength and someone who inspires others continiously. Running since 1991, this award honours women who give back to others and have gained, on a personal level, oustanding acheivements off their own merit. The Woman of the Year is the embodiment of strength, empowerment and inspires others. But it's not just established women we here at Her World want to celebrate, it's those who want to achieve more, do more and become more, even from an early age.
That's why back in 1999 the Young Woman Achiever of the Year award was introduced. The young woman achiever is someone who paves the way for younger generations, finding her own feet whilst encouraging others to find theirs. She is a role model to society at a tender age (35 years or below) and has already achieved so much herself.
So with the above in mind, these two winners are chosen every year with no light hand. After nominations are received, there is an internal panel from key SPH Magazines management, who view the selection and shortlist nominees for each category. Then, an Independant panel which includes past winners and the venerable Ms Jennie Chua as the chairperson of the judging committee, comb through the shortlist with a thorough and heavily researched eye. Ms Chua said at the press conference this morning, that she always wants to find something that 'pops up' and catches her eye. She's looking for that gem who shines brighter than the rest. Here are this year's two gems, and boy, do they shine brightly.
It's time to meet your two winners.
Woman of the Year: Ms Angelene Chan
Having been recently appointed as the CEO of DP Architects, Ms Angelene Chan is the only female CEO out of the top five architecture firms in Singapore. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture (Honours) from the University of Adelaide and first worked at the Canberra office of Woods Bagot for three years before moving to Singapore to join DP Architects.
She jointly headed the retail team that was working in Suntec City and ten years on, she became the director of DP Architects. Following, she won the pitch to design The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall covering 34ha and the 6.5 billion integrated resort, Resorts World Sentosa. She firmly believes that driving inspirational and world-class design as the first and most important value is key, especially important when it comes to making a mark globally. For that to happen, she aims to enhance and empower DP Architects greatest asset, the team. Only with that, can they scale new heights. A two-time winner of the prestigious President’s Design Award - first in 2009 for the Republic Polytechnic campus designed in partnership with Japan’s Fumihiko Mari, and in 2015 for the Sunray Woodcraft Construction headquarters in Sungei Kadut, Angelene Chan is also the honorary secretary of Dover Park Hospice.
Named one of 20 leading Singapore architects under the age of 45 in 2010 by Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), her next dream would be to design a winery. 2013 was an emotional year for her as she finally became a Singapore citizen and also got promoted to being the deputy CEO of DP Architects. Three years on and she ascended to the CEO seat.
Angelene never expected to be chosen as the Woman of the Year, and told us all at the press conference this morning that she was so surprised when she got the call in April to say that she had won. She said: "I love architecture and being able to do what I love is already a blessing in itself". Talking about her architecture firm, she actually wishes to share this award with all the females in the office - those who are wives, mothers, daughters and career women all rolled into one. "They motivate, support and inspire each other to pursue their passion for architecture and realise their individual dreams". Angelene herself is a CEO, wife, mother and daughter, and she finds the time to dedicate herself to both her work life and her home life, a life-balance many struggle with to get right. She said, so poignantly, that for her "the most meaningful thing I can do with my time on Earth is to nurture, to give and to reciprocate love". What a beautiful sentiment to live by.
Young Woman Acheiver of the Year: Kirsten Tan
An award-winning filmmaker who completed her Master’s in Film Production in New York City, the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts Fellowship (scholarship). Prior to that, she co-founded nuSTUDIOS, a Film and TV studio based in Singapore that continues to provide a platform for budding filmmakers to showcase their works.
She travelled and lived in South Korea where she made Come (2007), then Sink (2009) in Thailand before finally settling down in New York City where she is currently based. Her shorts were showcased in a host of international film festivals and has won over 10 awards and grants. In 2014, she co-directed a fashion film, Ella, for Giorgio Armani and it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Since then, it has been included into the archives of the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Her first full-length feature film, Pop Aye (by Giraffe Pictures), was the first-ever Singaporean film that entered and won an award at the Sundance Film Festival, receiving positive reviews from The Hollywood, Reporter, Roger Ebert, Variety and Screen International. It was invited by the Cannes Film Festival as one of 15 projects presented under L’Atelier, a tightly-curated selection of feature films in pre-production.
Featured in the press heavily, she was also on CNN International’s flagship program, Ones To Watch.
Kirsten Tan said during her acceptance speech that, actually, she never set out to be an achiever. "I never knew I could be one - I grew up being the odd ball, and I was even voted "most weird" in secondary school. So this award is a welcome validation and thank you for allowing me to see myself in a new light," she said. She said that she has acheived what she has achieved through her own stubborn attitude towards doing what she loves, and film was (and is!) her main love.
Appearing mature beyond her years, Kirsten beautifully conveyed why she is this year's winner with her selfless and giving attitude, by saying "I want this to extend to every young girl and woman out there who is trying to do her own thing. The girl may be limited by circumstances, society or herself (self-doubt is common amongst girls), and I want to tell her to step up and not hold herself back. If I could make a wish with this award, it would be that we come together and start shifting perception and mindsets that limit the opportunity of any such girl, no matter where from she comes in."
We couldn't have put this any better.
Congratulations to both worthy winners!
Left to right: Her World Features and Lifestyle Editor Kimberly Spykerman, Filmmaker Kirsten Tan, Architect Angelene Chan and Her World Executive Editor Penelope Chan