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Close Up Asia's Power Women: How These 10 Female Bosses Are Shaping Malaysia

Asia's Power Women: How These 10 Female Bosses Are Shaping Malaysia

Asia's Power Women: How These 10 Female Bosses Are Shaping Malaysia
By Tania Jayatilaka
By Tania Jayatilaka
March 25, 2018
From finance CEOs and tech start-up founders to fashion icons and advocates for a better future, these are the women known to forge their own paths to greatness both locally and internationally.

1/10 Datin Vivy Yusof

Photo: Courtesy of Datin Vivy Yusof
Photo: Courtesy of Datin Vivy Yusof

Armed with killer fashion instincts and a roll-up-your-sleeves attitude, Datin Vivy is a force to be reckoned with in Malaysia’s fashion industry. The FashionValet Group co-founder and chief creative officer brought more than 60 of Malaysia’s top celebrities together under the hugely successful #IAMHOMEGROWN campaign for KL Fashion Week 2017, culminating in a full-fledged streetwear label on FashionValet.

Datin Vivy’s biggest challenge is also her greatest motivation: to boost the visibility of local fashion brands to an international level. From giving her all on the sold-out collections on FashionValet to her unprecedented status as Louis Vuitton’s first hijab-wearing friend of the brand, there’s nothing standing between this industrious influencer and her dreams.   

2/10 Tengku Datin Paduka Setia Zatashah

Photo: Courtesy of Tengku Datin Paduka Setia Zatashah
Photo: Courtesy of Tengku Datin Paduka Setia Zatashah

It’s easy to imagine that Tengku Zatashah was born with brilliant business acumen and drive. Yet, a closer look at the Selangor princess’s background reveals a resolve to prove her corporate chops in her own right. A formative career in Paris as the L’Oreal Group’s Head of International Corporate Communications gave her the edge she has today as she expertly juggles her roles as president of Alliance Francaise de Kuala Lumpur, non-executive director on the board of the publicly-listed Kim Teck Cheong Consolidated Berhad and chairwoman of lighting consultancy Light Cibles Malaysia, among other business interests.

Tengku Zatashah spares no effort on various philanthropic projects, earning the prestigious Chevalier de le Legion d’Honneur award in 2017 for her achievements.

3/10 Datin Winnie Loo

Photo: Courtesy of Datin Winnie Loo
Photo: Courtesy of Datin Winnie Loo

After 39 years in business, Datin Winnie isn’t ready to rest on her laurels. Adding to her role as founder and creative director of the prestigious A Cut Above Group, Datin Winnie also serves as co-founder of the Brand Yourself Agency and WeStyleAsia, an online platform for beauty and grooming professionals.

As a young hairstylist trained by the legendary Vidal Sassoon, Datin Winnie opened her first hair salon when hairdressing wasn’t yet considered a legit profession. Today, she can point to the transformative effect her entrepreneurial journey has made on Malaysia’s hair industry both locally and internationally with numerous business awards and upcoming projects under her belt.  

4/10 Dato’ Seri Farah Khan

Photo: Courtesy of Dato' Seri Farah Khan
Photo: Courtesy of Dato' Seri Farah Khan

Women are natural leaders – it's a maxim imbedded in Dato’ Seri Farah’s psyche and one she’s epitomised in her own illustrious fashion career. She is creative director of her 10-year old eponymous label as well as founder and president of The Melium Group, a business that's brought more than 100 international fashion brands to Malaysia. The ‘Farah Khan’ label celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, rolling out hugely successful fashion shows in Jakarta, Marseilles, Versailles and London. All this in the same year that Dato' Seri Farah’s multi-brand store ‘M’ in Pavilion KL expanded to offer exclusive brands like Jonathan Simkhai, Maticevski and Victoria Beckham.

As The Melium Group will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2019, Dato’ Seri Farah shows no signs of slowing the pace as she intends to see through the digitalisation of core processes in this thriving luxury fashion enterprise.  

5/10 Ung Yiu Lin

Photo by Shawn Lor
Photo by Shawn Lor

At an age when most little girls start making friends around the playground, Yiu Lin was already carrying around her 3 ply receipt book, issuing receipts for her sales of the day and tallying up the totals in her accounting journal. At the age of 26, the founder of the fashion brand ShoesShoesShoes and handbag label KLutched left a prominent position at the Boston Consulting Group to become an entrepreneur.

She’s now expanded the ShoesShoesShoes brand to invest in local fashion designers, launching a Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) SS18 collection with Malaysian designer Afiq Mohamed: the first KLFW collection to be snapped up by fashion retail platform Zalora.    

6/10 Lee Jim Leng

Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler
Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler

When Hong Leong Investment Bank’s group managing director and CEO Jim Leng isn’t working hard to implement long term business growth strategies, she enjoys travelling, window-shopping or catching up with friends. With Jim Leng at the helm, Hong Leong Investment Bank led a RM5billion medium-term note programme for IGB Real Estate Investment Trust in 2017, among other multi-billion ringgit projects.   

Her prolific investment portfolio aside, Jim Leng adopts a stance of humility and is quick to acknowledge the support of her bosses and co-workers when speaking about her hard-earned success. Fun fact: as a child, she was enamoured by the idea of becoming an air-stewardess paid to travel around the world.    

7/10 Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz

Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler
Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler

Don’t ever be late to a meeting with Raja Teh; she manages her time with military-like precision in order to fit everything in. Between her post as AmInvestment Bank CEO and managing director of the AmBank Group’s Wholesale Bank, her time is generously spent volunteering at the PERTIWI soup kitchen. Gifted with the ability to listen and empathise, she’s also chairwoman of the Rumah Kasih PERTIWI home for HIV-positive orphans and an advisor for Charity Right and the Picha Project.

In honour of her achievements in the finance sector, Raja Teh was named Women Icon Malaysia 2017 at the Women Icons Summit & Awards by the Singapore-based Business Excellence Group. Her fearless eye for adventure keeps her eager to learn and try new things.  

8/10 Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir

Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler
Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler

Renowned social activist and author Datin Paduka Marina is the founder of Zafigo.com: a platform offering travel guides and hacks specifically for women travellers to Asia. Last year saw the highly successful debut of ZafigoX, the first travel empowerment event in Asia exclusively for women.

This three-day event brought together attendees from around the world in a series of workshops, bazaars and talks by 12 international and Malaysian speakers, held in Penang in conjunction with the George Town Festival 2017. ZafigoX 2018 is now the current focal point in Datin Marina’s ongoing mission to empower more women to see the world safely and successfully.

9/10 Cheryl Yeoh

Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler
Photo by Shaffiq Farhan/Malaysia Tatler

It takes a lot to knock Cheryl Yeoh off her game. On International Women’s Day 2018, this tenacious tech entrepreneur and former founding CEO of the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) launched the #MovingForward initiative, an open-source initiative in which top-tier US venture capitalist firms in Silicon Valley and the East Coast establish and list their new external anti-harassment and discrimination policies towards non-employees: often times start-up founders who pitch them. 

Having personally experienced sexual harassment by a renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Cheryl recognised the need for VC firms to publicly commit to executing consequences for bad behavior, especially as it relates to the high degree of power imbalance between founder and investor. #MovingForward currently lists more than 80 established US venture capitalist firms and offers a formal reporting line for entrepreneurs to ask questions and report issues they may face. One of Cheryl's many exciting side projects is Leigh & Taylor: a series of stylish women's handbags designed for both work and play.    

10/10 Raja Jesrina Arshad

Photo: Courtesy of PurelyB
Photo: Courtesy of PurelyB

A hands-on entrepreneur with an enviable ability to resonate with her consumers, Jesrina is the famed co-founder and CEO of PurelyB, an online health and wellness platform inspired by her own search for health information for her allergy problems.

Jesrina was faced with the painful decision to shut down the marketplace component of PurelyB in 2017. In the wake of this decision, Jesrina and her all-female team ran an overwhelmingly successful Ata Plus equity crowdfunding campaign that same year which in turn launched their new content platform and services. In as short as 2 months, the team raised RM2million, becoming the second most funded start-up via equity crowdfunding in Southeast Asia.      

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Close Up Malaysia Tatler Women in Business female empowerment Girl Boss

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