Inspiring Singapore women at the Young Woman Achiever Forum 2014
Mountaineer and management consultant Jane Lee at the Young Woman Achiever Forum 2014. Image: herworldPLUS

Mountaineer Jane Lee was told to “speak from the heart” for International Women’s Day, at the Young Woman Achiever Forum 2014 on March 8. And so she did, as she shared anecdotes on training for an Mount Everest expedition even in tiny Singapore.

“We don’t really have the most ideal training ground: We have Bukit Timah Hill and HDB blocks,” laughed Lee. “So we identified the tallest 40 storey block in Ang Mo Kio and Tiong Bahru … [which] we climbed many, many times.”

Lee’s candid, empowering opening speech started this Saturday forum on a high note, that segued well into an equally inspiring discussion with her fellow panel speakers including Dr. Tanvi Gautam, the Program Director of the Women and Leadership programme at Singapore Management University.

To the young attendees at the Young Woman Achiever Forum, Dr Gautam offered sage words of counsel: to have “confidence in your competence.” “You should not let age be a barrier in your head,” says Dr. Gautam. “When you are good at what you’re doing, it’s irrelevant what age you are.”

Inspiring Singapore women at the Young Woman Achiever Forum 2014
At the Young Woman Achiever Forum discussion (L-R): Host Vernetta Lopez and panelists Jane Lee, Pat Law, Dr. Tanvi Gautam, The Butter Factory co-founder Celeste Chong and Fluff Bakery owner Syaira Suhimi. Image: herworldPLUS

The audience sent out a flurry of questions via the Pigeonhole live streaming feed, quizzing the panelists on leadership and more qualities and skills needed to make a career out of passionate interests.

“It’s always a state of mind,” said social digital strategist Pat Law, who spoke about how to overcome the fear of public speaking at the panel discussion. “If you believe you can, you will. You might not be born with courage [but] it can be earned with experience.”

These inspiring women also spoke of the importance of having a strong network of support; be it from your family, friends or colleagues.

Celeste Chong of The Butter Factory shared how she “never felt alone”, thanks to her team who were her support system. Of course, confidence is still key, said Celeste: “I remind myself what’s the worst that could happen? Then I get over [that] and it gets easier.”

Even when self-doubt creeps in and all else fails, Syaira Suhimi, owner of Fluff Bakery, believes that it’s just as important to “choose [how you] perceive failure”.

“Everyone has their own opinions,” says Suhimi, so pick out the “constructive feedback” by listening to people who really matter: “the people who are in it with you, down to the grind; [like] my team of bakers and my husband [the co-founder of the bakery].”

More inspiring stories followed, as other speakers shared the struggles they went through, be it through setting up a jewellery brand or the uphill slog of becoming a raido deejay.

Inspiring Singapore women at the Young Woman Achiever Forum 2014
(L-R): Deejay Charmaine Yee, jewellery designer Trixie Khong and Playmoolah co-founder Lee Min Xuan at the Young Woman Achiever Forum. Image: herworldPLUS

Sometimes success can be found, just in “thinking about what the world really needs”, said Lee Min Xuan, co-founder of Playmoolah. “It’s not [just] about monetising your passion,” said Lee, who recalled her learning experience at a young start-up company in the United States.

“I met people who were at Facebook, Google, Intel, and I realised that they were living it [up] and building huge businesses and [yet] they all didn’t do it for the money,” shared Lee. “They were just so interested in a very interesting problem. Like at Google: How do I put information at the tip of your fingers? Facebook: How can I make communication better?”

“And [that] single-minded focus on solving a problem, actually resulted in a lot of demand [for their solutions]. When there’s demand, the money naturally comes [in],” explained Lee. And it was that thought that inspired Lee to start up Playmoolah: Together with her team, Lee creates new ways to “de-mystify” money management for kids and teens.

These inspiring words struck a chord with many, including Ng Li Tying, one of our #daretodream campaign nominees at the forum. “It was really nice to hear heartfelt stories from these high-achieving ladies,” said Ng. “They’ve been so motivated to pursue what they’ve dreamed of and the obstacles they [had to] overcome.”

Here’s to more inspiring stories to come; stay tuned for more highlights of The Young Woman Achiever Forum, coming soon!

The Young Woman Achiever Forum 2014 took place on March 8, 2014 at Singapore Management University, Mochtar Riady Auditorium. Visit The Young Woman Achiever Forum page for more information.