Photo: The Straits Times / Ng Sor Luan
Singapore's first woman to be appointed the head honcho of a top five architecture firm here has been crowned Woman of the Year by women's magazine Her World. Ms Angelene Chan, 53, is the chief executive officer of DP Architects, which has over 1,300 employees. Filmmaker Kirsten Tan, who directed a film with an elephant that won the prestigious Sundance award, was the Her World Young Woman Achiever.
The women received their award on Wednesday night at a gala dinner at Shangri-La Hotel attended by 400 people, including Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
Ms Angelene Chan, 53, chief executive officer of DP Architects, is the first woman chief executive among the top five architecture firms in Singapore. Buildings she has worked on here include Wisma Atria and Resorts World Sentosa. She won the President's Design Award in 2009 and 2015.
Her World is a monthly women's magazine published by SPH Magazines. The magazine has been giving out the Her World Woman of the Year award since 1991. It is meant to recognise a woman whose outstanding achievements have brought her to public notice and earned her wide respect. Past recipients include Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee and Madam Halimah Yacob, who just stepped down from her political and party posts to announce her presidential bid.
Said Ms Angelene Chan, of joining the ranks of these women: "Winning this award is a total surprise. I had never expected it. You see these women as women who have done great things and I don't see that (about myself) because I'm just doing what I really love to do. And if it changes the environment and it touches people's lives, it is a double blessing."
As for Ms Tan, 36, who was named Young Woman Achiever, her debut feature film Pop Aye - about a man and his elephant - took three years to make and was released to critical acclaim. Ms Tan won a prize for screenwriting at the Sundance Film Festival and also picked up an award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Ms Tan said she wanted to inspire women not to set limitations on themselves. "If anything, I feel I was just merely single-minded and stubborn in pursuing the things that I love, in this case, film," she added.
"My personal wish is that this award can extend to every single girl and young woman out there who's trying to do her own thing."
Ms Fu, who was guest of honour at the gala, said it was important for young women to have successful role models to look up to. To promote the advancement of women, Ms Fu said, "first, we need to create a work environment that allow women to balance their career goals and family aspirations.
"Second, a company that does better in attracting talents from different backgrounds will do better in an economy that requires innovation and creativity."
This article was first published at The Straits Times, 23 August 2017.