Two remarkable leaders have achieved remarkable success in traditionally male-dominated fields, to not only elevate our city’s global standing, but also serve as a wellspring of inspiration for women in Singapore and across the world.
These two women, Professor Jackie Ying, founder of A*Star’s NanoBio Lab and co-founder of Cellbae, and Caecilia Chu, co-founder and CEO of mobile fintech platform YouTrip, were honoured at the Her World Women of the Year gala dinner this evening, where they received the 2023 Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever awards respectively.
The Her World Woman of the Year accolade, first presented in 1991, has been an annual tradition that celebrates inspirational women who break boundaries in their respective professions, leaving a lasting impact on society, both locally and globally. This prestigious award recognises women who have made remarkable contributions to society, achieved notable success through their own determination, and whose influence has extended far and wide, capturing the attention of the public. The recipients of this award embody the finest qualities of Singapore, serving as both inspirations and role models, whether at home or on the international stage.
Since its inception in 1999, the Young Woman Achiever award has been dedicated to recognising extraordinary young women who break new ground, transcend existing boundaries, and serve as sources of inspiration for those in their midst while also forging pathways for future generations.
To celebrate the remarkable accomplishments of both extraordinary award winners, this year’s event brought together approximately 200 distinguished guests for an awards presentation and gala dinner at the elegant JW Marriott Singapore South Beach.
Amidst the celebratory atmosphere, guests were also able to appreciate a curated selection of fine timepieces courtesy of The Hour Glass Group as well as the exquisite table centrepieces thoughtfully crafted by Clé de Peau Beauté. The event was also made possible through supporting partner Qualcomm.
The evening was graced by the presence of the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu. The gala also welcomed a distinguished assembly of accomplished business leaders, industry veterans, well-known figures from the arts, in addition to style trendsetters and influential thought leaders.
Among the notable attendees were luminaries such as Jennie Chua, the 1999 Her World Woman of the Year and chairperson of the Her World Woman of the Year judging committee, as well as past Her World Woman of the Year winners such as Ng Gim Choo, founder and chairwoman of EtonHouse International Education Group, and Susan Chong, founder and president of Greenpac.
Also in attendance were past Young Woman Achiever recipients, including poet, lawyer, and multi-hyphenate Amanda Chong, who won the award last year, as well as industrial designer Olivia Lee and Singaporean film director Kirsten Tan.
Kicking off the evening, Her World’s editor-in-chief Elizabeth Lee, extended a warm welcome to the gala’s guests in her opening address, which touched upon the selection process for the Women of the Year. She also introduced the fresh appearance of the title following our recent revamp, and an exciting new editorial direction that focuses on the content pillars of money, career and wellness.
“We are uplifting and supportive, the older sister that dispenses advice willingly. You will notice that Her World has undergone not just an aesthetic makeover, but it’s also imbued with a new sense of purpose that underlines every endeavour that we undertake,” she shares.
She then elaborated on the successful completion of the inaugural Her World Mentorship Programme, a six-month initiative that paired 11 mentees with eight accomplished women who are leaders in their respective fields. Concluding her address, she encouraged everyone to stay on the lookout for sign-up opportunities for next year’s program.
Guest of honour and Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu then took the stage for her keynote speech, in which she highlighted the importance of celebrating women.
“Let me first thank Her World for your sustained efforts in championing and celebrating women in Singapore, not least through the Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever awards. There is much cause for celebration. Singapore women, past and present, have contributed significantly to our nation’s development, whether it be in the workplace – where women were pioneers in the social domain in the early 20th century, and as time passes, in many more fields and professions – or at home, where many have sacrificed their careers, strength, and sleep to dedicate their energies and time to raise their children and take care of their household.
Over the years, we have made strides in women’s representation across all domains, be it sports, arts, media, business, finance, sustainability, politics, allowing women to pursue their aspirations and achieve great heights,” says the minister, who is also Singapore’s first female full minister to helm a ministry.
“It is important to celebrate women, to provide a tangible record of women’s representation and the successes we have achieved, to inspire other women to lean in and strive for excellence in their chosen fields; to highlight role models that girls and young women can look up to and learn from; and to challenge stereotypes and shift mindsets among the current and future generations, lighting the way to a fair and more inclusive society.” During her speech, the minister also revealed that there will soon be a garden dedicated to women opposite the Istana.
As guests fêted the occasion over a four-course menu, local songstress and Her World’s May 2023 cover star Keyana graced the occasion with a captivating performance of her latest single, Shelter from the Rain. Those in attendance also had the privilege of being among the first to experience an exclusive preview of her yet-to-be-released single, Say Ooh.
The evening then transitioned into the award presentation segment. Yvonne Mak, the chairperson of the Young Women Leadership Connection, stepped onto the stage to deliver the citation for the Young Woman Achiever.
“She has not only enhanced the convenience of modern-day travel but has also introduced transparency into the foreign exchange payments sector. She’s exemplified the true spirit of entrepreneurship by displaying unwavering determination, a fierce fighting spirit, and the ability to revolutionise and reshape our way of life with a groundbreaking idea.”
The 2023 Young Woman Achiever award was conferred upon Caecilia Chu. In her speech, she thanked everyone at YouTrip, especially the female employees and leaders, for leading the company to where it is today.
“I am truly humbled and honoured to be receiving an award tonight, but I also know that I wouldn’t be standing here today without the great support of all the strong women role models that have come up before me,” she shares. “When I started YouTrip about six years ago, it’s true that there were indeed very few women in the field of finance and technology. Today, I am honoured and excited that we have such a deep bench of very talented, passionate and dedicated women leaders within YouTrip.”
The Woman of the Year award ceremony then commenced, marked by a citation delivered by the founder and chairwoman of EtonHouse International Education Group, Ng Gim Choo, who was the 2022 Woman of the Year award recipient.
“Throughout her 32-year career as a nanobiotechnology scientist, Professor Jackie Ying has undoubtedly made a profound and enduring impact on our daily lives through her research. Her work encompasses a wide range of fields including biomaterials, safer and more efficient energy storage, agritech, and paper-based diagnostic platforms, to name just a few.”
Professor Jackie Ying then stepped on stage to accept the 2023 Woman of the Year accolade. In her speech, she recounted her formative years in Singapore, and noted that her alma mater, Raffles Girls School, has shaped who she is today. “When we are here celebrating the women leaders and what we are able to contribute, I want to recognise the fact that my alma mater was very much [shaped] my individual characteristics and amongst many things, it was a great environment, among the talented girls and the nurturing teachers.”
“Looking back at the past 20 years, I’m tremendously proud to have the opportunity and be able to contribute to the building of the biomedical research enterprise in Singapore. I’d like to thank the Singapore government for having so much faith and giving us all the resources to do this. And in particular, I’m very grateful to the men that I work with. I was one of the few women in Biopolis then. Mr. Philip Yeo, Mr. Boon Swan Foo who can’t be with us [tonight], who came in first, Mr. Kong Hwai Loong who’s also here, and Mr. Lam Kong Peng. I thank them, because I don’t know whether they remember, but when I was looking through some old stuff, I found all the memories [of us] going back and forth fighting on various different things. I was probably not the easiest person to work with. And with these gentlemen, even though we might not always agree on the approach, we all have the same mind to realise this wonderful mission for Singapore and I’m really grateful for all their support.”
She concludes: “These 20 years has been an amazing journey, so I want to dedicate this award to my staff and students, and my old friends for sharing this vision to make this social economic impact.”
The Her World Woman Of The Year 2023 gala was organised with support from our official partners. Official Beauty: Cle de Peau Beaute, Official Timepiece: The Hour Glass, Supporting Partner: Qualcomm.