After a year-long nomination and selection process, entrepreneurs and founding chief executives Susan Chong of eco-packaging company Greenpac, and Annabelle Kwok of AI company NeuralBay, were announced today as this year’s winners of Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever awards, respectively.
The two outstanding women excelled as leaders in their fields, with Annabelle creating new and affordable technology and flying the Singapore flag, globetrotting the world to give talks on technology – and Susan who continues to make waves providing eco-friendly solutions in the packaging industry.
Both women are fiercely committed to their social causes through their work.
Speaking at today’s press conference, Jennie Chua, chairperson of the Her World Women of the Year judging committee, said: “When I was working with Susan on pro-enterprise projects, I asked all kinds of questions. But Susan and her team would just look at me in amazement. They had a different approach. Susan asked me, ‘Why not just do it first and see if it works’.” Jennie was Her World Woman of the Year 1999 recipient.
Her World’s editor Ng Yi Lian added: “One of the criteria for being selected as Her World Woman of the Year is that the winner’s achievements must have had a broad impact on society or benefited a particular industry and have brought her to the public’s notice.”
Greenpac, which was founded in 2002, has changed the way businesses view eco-packaging. Under Susan’s helm, the firm found innovative ways to reduce waste and cost savings for companies at the same time. Greenpac has grown from a two-men team to a firm with more than 50 employees today and has won over 50 enterprises awards for their work.
Susan, 49, said: “The packaging industry is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get industry. People tend to only see what is present and often think about the limitations. I like to see what there isn’t, to look at what can be done differently and to think of all the possibilities.”
“Possibilities,” she emphasised. “I love how the word has limitless power. It’s the power to achieve the impossible — and to consider what has never been done before.”
Susan credited the people around her who have contributed largely to Greenpac’s success. She cited her mother and her late mother-in-law as her greatest inspirations.
“These two women gave me the space to have a career. This award is for the both of them,” she said. “And, not forgetting my colleagues…. It has been such a privilege, getting to do this work with you, to build what we have built together, and to continue building towards a wonderful future.”
VIDEOGRAPHY & EDITING TAN WEI TE
ART DIRECTION ALEX GOH
STYLING BRYAN GOH
HAIR CHRISTVIAN GOH/CINQ SALON
MAKEUP BENEDICT CHOO
And, the future is looking brighter for Annabelle Kwok, Her World Young Woman Achiever. The spunky 26-year-old is the poster girl for AI and Singapore’s tech industry.
She told the room of journalists: “When I was around 4- or 5-years-old, my mother told me: ‘You can give but cannot take’. My mum wanted to instil a habit of giving, even before I could understand the joy of giving.”
It wasn’t until she was 13 when she finally understood what it meant. In 2005, she travelled to Phuket as part of a disaster relief group to help the victims of the 2004 tsunami. She witnessed the heart-breaking conditions of the victims, especially children, and was inspired by the way people came together during hard times.
She recalled: “I saw the importance of relationships. Because when people stand united, they can overcome anything, even the worst of situations where you lose everyone you love. I returned home with an understanding of life that was much deeper than my peers. I also understood the importance of spreading happiness.”
Thus, NeuralBay was founded in 2017, based on the premise of doing good.
Annabelle explained: “NeuralBay is and will always be a vehicle to do social good through technology. We have turned down money because the investor’s intentions were not aligned with our goal of doing social good, where our technology could possibly be used in the wrong way, because we want to build things that help people and not harm them.”
She added: “There are many ways of giving back, and I hope you’ll find one where you can do so openly and freely, even if it is as simple as spreading a little happiness to the people around you. When you give with an open heart, you’ll receive in more ways than you could ever imagine.”
VIDEOGRAPHY & EDITING ALICIA CHONG
ART DIRECTION ALEX GOH
STYLING BRYAN GOH, EVON CHNG, ASSISTED BY HIRO
HAIR JIMMY YAP/KENARIS SALON, CHRISTVIAN GOH/CINQ SALON
MAKEUP JYUE HUEY/THE MAKE UP ROOM, BENEDICT CHOO
OUTFITS (IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE) DOROTHY PERKINS, H&M STUDIO, COS