Five female Asian business leaders to watch in 2016
Business Review Australia & Asia takes a brief and – we hope – interesting look at the careers of five of the region’s shining female business stars.
In its 2015 working paper, ‘What Can Boost Female Labor Force Participation in Asia?’ The International Monetary Fund noted that, faced with an ageing and potentially shrinking population, it was in Japan’s interest to bolster the number of women in the workforce at every level. But many countries across Asia have still lower levels of participation – and more pressing needs – which is why we hope the following list inspired by the latest Forbes data is of some inspiration.
1. Nita Ambani – Chairman at Reliance Foundation, India
Reliance Industries is one of India’s top conglomerate holding companies and also accounts for around 20 percent of the country’s total exports. Recognising the chance to affect large scale change, Nita Ambani founded the Reliance Foundation in 2010 to promote sustainable business development and growth across the country.
Her work at the Foundation covers everything from improving education, health, and rural development – to urban renewal, arts, culture and heritage. She is also first Indian woman to become member of International Olympic Committee.
2. Arundhati Bhattacharya – Chairman, State Bank of India
The first woman to become Chairman of India’s largest financial institution (and an Indian Fortune 500 company to boot) Arundhati Bhattacharya has championed the cause female workers in her business while being closely involved with a number of exciting expansions. Her main policy so far has been to introduce sabbatical policies for women needing to care for children or the elderly; recent reports suggest she has also been considering free cervical cancer screening.
3. Cao Thi Ngoc Dung – Chairman and CEO, Phu Nhuan Jewellery
Following her completion of her Commercial BA in Economics at Ho Chi Minh City’s University of Economics, Cao Thi Ngoc Dung has held a number of board-level jobs in industries as diverse as credit, agriculture, energy, and real estate. Currently heading up a highly successful jewellery company – we are compelled to ask: is there anything that this woman can’t do?
4. Somruedee Chaimongkol – CEO, Banpu, Thailand
Somruedee Chaimongkol has been at Thailand’s Banpu Minerals for the past decade, rising from CFO to CEO in 2015. She was educated in Economics at Bangkok University and has also attended the world-famous Harvard Business School. Since she took over as CEO of Banpu last year she has been facing up to the challenge of delivering a massive business transformation, splitting off part of the company for a potential stock exchange listing.
5. Sabrina Sih Ming Chao – Chairman, Wah Kwong Maritime Transport Holdings, Hong Kong
After completing her Batchelor’s Degree in Mathematics and Management at Imperial College London, Sabrina Sih Ming Chao started her career at global consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and then entered the shipping industry. She joined Wah Kwong Maritime Transport Holdings in 2002 and worked her way up to the position of Executive Director in 2007. She also sits on the board the Hong Kong Ship Owners Association.
Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?
Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.
Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.
JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.
Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.
Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?
A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.
The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.
According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.
Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.
“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”
How did JungJin get there?
JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.
And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.
With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.
“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”