Women of Our Times conference examines how power women are building a more sustainable future

March 9, 2021
SCMP Updates

The world calls for diverse, courageous and innovative minds to solve its most pressing problems in order to adapt, survive and thrive. The historic confirmation of Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States — becoming the first woman, Black American and South Asian American to do so — marked a momentous signal to the world that women’s voices and influence are set to expand even further in redefining politics, business and community engagement in the face of an ever-changing new normal.

The South China Morning Post’s Women of Our Time conference puts the spotlight on the myriad achievements of female trailblazers and pioneers in Asia who have been influential in tackling the many challenges posed by an ongoing pandemic and a depressed economy, against a backdrop of ever-changing global diplomacy. As efforts toward diversity and inclusion become less of a novel concept, and rather an ingrained facet of global business and politics, the conference will look beyond ideas of empowerment and equality to examine how today’s women in power and tomorrow’s emerging female leaders are sparking new ideas that spur generations of followers and collaborators in building a new world for a more sustainable future.

Featuring influential keynote speakers, interviews spotlighting inspiring stories of female industry champions, and panel discussions highlighting how today’s emerging trailblazers are redefining their industries, the conference will magnify how women in Asia have been and will continue to be crucial in piloting substantial change and spawning opportunities for a new generation in the face of mounting challenges and relentless uncertainties.

The president of the Republic of Singapore, Halimah Yacob shares the strategies for building an inclusive society in a Covid-19 era

  • The President of the Republic of Singapore, Halimah Yacob, shared three key strategies in building an inclusive society in a Covid-19 era — government bodies must be actively supportive, launching data-driven inclusivity KPIs by businesses and to balance these efforts with injections of positivity

  • A common theme brought up during Day 1 of the conference was overcoming unconscious gender biases. In discussing this, Yum China CEO Joey Wat said women job candidates are often judged by concrete results, whereas men are judged by their potential. “One way to deal with it is to have two very clear lists for each candidate. Are we talking about potential or are we talking about results? Once you have two clear lists, I believe the conclusion will be a lot more objective and obvious. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing a woman’s result vs. man’s potential,” she said.

  • Trip.com Group CEO Jane Sun shared how her organisation is one of the most progressive in the world when it comes to taking care of its female workforce, offering to pay for women to freeze their eggs who want to focus on their career, providing taxi service to and from the office for pregnant employees and offering flexible working hours for new mothers. “If you help female employees during these years, the loyalty is tremendous...In the long run it’s good for the employee, good for the baby, good for the family and good for the company,” she said.

  • Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling discussed an important vaccine initiative they are running in partnership with Indonesia’s health ministry.  “Overall, we believe we’re in a lucky position — a unique position — where because of the scale of our operations and our technology platform, we can actually really help on both the access and education fronts and we really do strongly believe that with the rollout of these vaccines, will help drive Southeast Asia into recovery mode faster, and we really want to make this reality live,” she said.


[From left to right] SCMP's Asia Editor Lynn Lee and Chief Executive Officer of Yum China Joey Wat discuss women and leadership


Inspiring quotes:

  • “Pass the baton. The chance that other people give us, we also need to give to others.” - Christine Ip, CEO — Greater China, UOB

  • “People say it’s all about stepping outside of your comfort zone, but I’m a believer of building your own comfort zone so you are always comfortable. So I think be brave enough to look for what you truly believe in and be confident. But at the same time look after yourself.” - Lucy Liu, Co-founder & President, Airwallex

  • “Women should be courageous...Many times you might hear this said ‘When a man is 80% prepared, he will put up his hand and say I can do the job. But when a woman is 120% prepared, they will reluctantly put up their hand and say I’m prepared’. What is needed is actually courage. Not more preparation.” - Gillian Ng, Senior Director, Corporate Governance, Iclif Executive Education Center, Asia School of Business

  • “Three values that I always hold onto. You need to have a purpose in life. You need to be passionate. You need to have perseverance. Nothing comes on a silver platter...you will fail so many times; it’s fine. The path to success is failure, Without failure you cannot be successful.” - Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, CEO, Sintesa Group

  • “Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey...At the end of the day, it’s your decision as a founder; your journey is all your own. What helps is actually finding good mentors...You must find a good board of advisors who will be with you through thick and thin. As your business changes, they will believe in you, they will vouch for you. Finding those people who will stand with you is so important.” - Esther Nguyen, Founder & CEO, POPS Worldwide

  • “You should never be afraid to say you don’t know something. Knowing that you don’t know something and you’re willing to learn about it is one of the biggest and humbling gifts that you can give to yourself. And you will grow even better and faster because of that. And I think clients, advertisers, investors and stakeholders will always appreciate you for that.” - Christel Quek, Co-founder & CTO, BOLT

Tan Hooi Ling, co-founder of Grab shares her experience with Covid-19 and Grab's vaccine initiative with Indonesia's health ministry

  • Amb. Delia Domingo-Albert, Former Secretary (Minister) of Foreign Affairs for Asia with Republic of the Philippines, began the day with a keynote speech during which she touched upon the crucial role that women can play when given important diplomatic positions around the world
  • Emily Lam-Ho, Founder & CEO of Empact 28 and 8Shades, as well as the Co-founder & CEO of EcoDrive, informed us about her triple-threat of sustainability ventures, all with an eye to get Hong Kong and closer to sustainable living, while at the same time empowering women founders and entrepreneurs

Emily Lam-Ho, founder & CEO of Empact 28 and 8Shades as well as the co-founder & CEO of EcoDrive shares her experience in sustainability ventures and sustainable living

  • Ankiti Bose, the Co-founder & CEO of Zilingo told us about how her organisations has changed its strategies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, while highlighting how organisations can take steps toward gender equality

Ankiti Bose, the co-founder & CEO of Zilingo shares her organisational strategies to combat the pandemic and her view about how organisations can take steps toward gender equality

  • Christine Ip, the CEO for Greater China at UOB provided insights as to how the financial industry has evolved in the last few decades in the spectrum of women empowerment, and provided advice to young women seeking leadership roles in finance
  • Jeanne Lim, the former CEO of Hanson Robotics and current CEO of beingAI Limited, shared the gender identity decisions that went into the development of Hanson Robotics’ world famous Sophia robot, as well as the role artificial intelligence has in combating gender stereotypes

[From left to right] SCMP's reporter Simone McCarthy and Jeanne Lim, co-founder & CEO OF beingAI Limited and former CEO & CMO of Hanson Robotics discuss the development of the famous Sophia robot and how AI helps to combat gender stereotypes 

  • Mohammed Naciri, the Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific with UN Women finished the day with a keynote speech about the work and advocacy he and UN Women are doing to bring to forefront the legal, political and economic issues that continue to pose challenges to the equality of women and girls

The regional director for Asia and the Pacific with UN Women, Mohammed Maciri speaks about UN Women's advocacy to the equality of women


Inspiring quotes:

  • “Pass the baton. The chance that other people give us, we also need to give to others.” - Christine Ip, CEO — Greater China, UOB
  • “People say it’s all about stepping outside of your comfort zone, but I’m a believer of building your own comfort zone so you are always comfortable. So I think be brave enough to look for what you truly believe in and be confident. But at the same time look after yourself.” - Lucy Liu, Co-founder & President, Airwallex
  • “Women should be courageous...Many times you might hear this said ‘When a man is 80% prepared, he will put up his hand and say I can do the job. But when a woman is 120% prepared, they will reluctantly put up their hand and say I’m prepared’. What is needed is actually courage. Not more preparation.” - Gillian Ng, Senior Director, Corporate Governance, Iclif Executive Education Center, Asia School of Business
  • “Three values that I always hold onto. You need to have a purpose in life. You need to be passionate. You need to have perseverance. Nothing comes on a silver platter...you will fail so many times; it’s fine. The path to success is failure, Without failure you cannot be successful.” - Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, CEO, Sintesa Group
  • “Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey...At the end of the day, it’s your decision as a founder; your journey is all your own. What helps is actually finding good mentors...You must find a good board of advisors who will be with you through thick and thin. As your business changes, they will believe in you, they will vouch for you. Finding those people who will stand with you is so important.” - Esther Nguyen, Founder & CEO, POPS Worldwide
  • “You should never be afraid to say you don’t know something. Knowing that you don’t know something and you’re willing to learn about it is one of the biggest and humbling gifts that you can give to yourself. And you will grow even better and faster because of that. And I think clients, advertisers, investors and stakeholders will always appreciate you for that.” - Christel Quek, Co-founder & CTO, BOLT
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South China Morning Post is a leading global news company that has reported on China and Asia for more than a century. Founded in 1903, SCMP is headquartered in Hong Kong, where it is the city’s newspaper of record, with a growing correspondent staff across Asia and the United States. SCMP's vision is to “Elevate Thought” and our mission is to “Lead the global conversation about China”. Additionally, SCMP publishes a portfolio of premium lifestyle and fashion titles in Hong Kong including ​Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Esquire and, Harper’s BAZAAR.​ SCMP is also home to Abacus, a digital news brand focused on China's tech industry; Inkstone, a daily news brief for those curious about China's growing impact around the world; and Goldthread, a culture publication exploring Chinese stories across video and feature articles.