IWD 2024: GRAZIA Women On Leadership, Diversity and Progress in Singapore

At GRAZIA Singapore’s Power Breakfast, guests offered their insights on women’s unique strengths and opportunities
At the International Women’s Day edition of GRAZIA Singapore’s Power Breakfast, guests offered insights on women’s strengths and opportunities

Meaningful conversations were at the heart of GRAZIA Singapore’s first Power Breakfast Series, which kicked off at The NCO Club this week in honour of International Women’s Day. There was a wealth of insights to glean from the panel discussion on Wednesday morning, which featured Sabrina Tan, founder and CEO of Skin Inc; Jenn Low, founder and managing director of Wanderlust + Co; and Velda Tan, co-founder and creative director of Our Second Nature. But just as engaging were the exchanges between our guests, who came from all walks of life and offered their varying and refreshing perspectives on what it means to be a woman today. 

We spoke to some members of the GRAZIA community to share their thoughts on topics that matter: strong leadership, the importance of diversity, how they empower women in their lives and what changes they would like to see in the world. Discover their responses below and be inspired.

On the qualities that make women strong leaders

Good people make good leaders. We don’t want to exclude men from the conversation…but I do think people who have gone through a struggle—and women being a big group of those people—have a much better understanding of empathy, compassion, kindness. It gives us the understanding on how to lead and not make other people feel marginalised. — Rebecca Eu, founder of jewellery brand Rinn and social enterprise Mei’s Own

It would be compassion. I think women are taught from very young to be attentive to the needs of others, and we were taught how to be careful and to be conscious of what other people think. So instead of looking at that as a weakness, I definitely think that that’s a strength, because it is really amplifying how we can be there for others. — Catherine Halim, co-founder of bodycare brand Blunies and coffee retail company Kisaku

At the International Women’s Day edition of GRAZIA Singapore’s Power Breakfast, guests offered insights on women’s strengths and opportunities
Catherine Halim and Savina Chow

We have intuition and emotion. Being able to lean into our intuition is a very powerful gift that women have. — Charlene Chew, fitness coach and wellness advocate

Women leaders are a lot more accommodating and generous with their time, energy and resources. They are also very nurturing; that’s something we don’t often see in men. A lot of women are also sisters, wives and mothers, and so even when they run their businesses, those aspects of who they are still shine through. That’s something that I don’t really see from male entrepreneurs. — Kimberly Gwee, entrepreneur

On areas that demand progress and gender equality in Singapore

It’s having compassion and empathy for especially mothers who are just fresh out of postpartum—or even if their kids are two, five or 10: to be compassionate and understanding that they have a family at home as well, that they have to balance everything in their lives, and that work doesn’t necessarily come first at every single moment in their lives. I think that’s the mindset that I feel the entire society needs to shift. — Nellie Lim, digital creator and founder of Puffie

A lot of my friends are mums, and it’s very apparent to me that once they go back to work after their maternity leave, they end up lagging behind their peers. Their workload and opportunities go to other people. And this is a concern I have for myself: If I were to have children, will I lag behind too? The answer is yes, but I am hoping that there are some measures to prevent women from losing out on opportunities when they make their return to the workforce. — Ang Jinyuan, founder of The Ivory Bridal and Style Lease

At the International Women’s Day edition of GRAZIA Singapore’s Power Breakfast, guests offered insights on women’s strengths and opportunities
Nellie Lim, Sabrina Tan, and Kimberly Wang

There’s still very little conversation around women’s health. And generally, in Singapore and in Southeast Asia, any topic that’s considered “taboo” is worth paying attention to. Just having conversations about these topics can spark so many ideas and communities, so that’s important. It’s definitely happening, but maybe at a slower pace than a lot of people would like. — Mili Kale, co-founder of Moom Health

I definitely want to see more women in STEM, especially in this age of artificial intelligence. As technology progresses really quickly, the problem is that a lot of people can be left behind. And I feel that women are the ones raising important questions about that—questions of ethical considerations, or how we can balance tech with a human element. — Kimberly Gwee, entrepreneur

On the importance of diversity and collaboration

 I feel that when we collaborate, we are actually able to gain different perspectives, and it also challenges you to think in a different way…and I think that’s very helpful, whether it’s personal or for business. You can definitely go far when you collaborate. — Savina Chow, digital creator and co-founder of bodycare brand Blunies

When you collaborate, you always have new ideas. For example, [one of the panellists] Jenn [Low] is the founder of Wanderlust & Co. and I am also part of a jewellery brand, called Curious Creatures, but she has never stopped being supportive as a friend. And in fact, sometimes we can talk about [the issues we face and understand each other better. So I think that’s really key: Instead of seeing everything as competition, see it as an opportunity to learn more and collaborate with others and have someone on your team, because they instantly understand your struggles when you’re in the same [field]. — Kimberly Wang, Mediacorp Radio 987 presenter and creative brand consultant at jewellery brand Curious Creatures

Quinn Chen, Kimberly Wang, and Kimberly Gwee

As a managing director of my own company, I’m always about team building. I look at the different skills that my team offers and put them together. With a team coming from different backgrounds, walks of life and experiences, we can see what we talked about earlier happening: mentorship and collaboration between generations and genders. When you see that cross-disciplinary collaboration happening, that’s where the beauty and magic happens. — Quinn Chen, managing director of skincare brand Ice’s Secret

There’s a quote called ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, once again it goes back to support. There’s so much strength that lies when women support, champion and collaborate with each other, carving a space for everyone to succeed. — Catherine Skrbic, founder of creative studio Skribe Studio

On empowering women in their lives

It’s not something I consciously think about, but it’s just the way that I want to be as a person: I want to remember to be kind and I really want that to lead me. So whenever I’m interacting with somebody, if I feel like they just want to be heard, I will listen; if they want to ask me for advice. I’ll do my best; if they have a question, I will always give my 100 percent answer. … It doesn’t have to be just women or women who are younger than me. I think what’s important is to have the same values and share them with whoever is willing to receive them. — Rebecca Eu, founder of jewellery brand Rinn and social enterprise Mei’s Own

Sahur Saleim, Fiona Fussi, and Adrina Ho

I always go out of my way to never talk bad to people or about them, especially if I don’t know them, … [I’d say to] be kinder to yourself, and also to the women around you. — Sahur Saleim, makeup artist and founder of Sahur’s Art

I really appreciate the value of my female friendships—I think there’s something very special about that. And so in my personal life, I really make time for my girlfriends. [With] friends who are not in the [fashion or modelling] industry, I try my best to be responsive and very supportive, and then even more so if there are girlfriends that are in the industry, I always want to show up for them and support them, like even with friends who are speaking at [the GRAZIA International Women’s Day Power Breakfast Series], coming here and showing up. And yeah, just trying to be there and support them so that we create that collaboration and community to uplift other people. — Fiona Fussi, model, actress and artiste