Top 10 female CEOs leading the largest companies in Asia

At 40, Choi Soo-yeon recently became the youngest-ever CEO of South Korean tech giant Naver
From technology to banking, energy to hospitality, these ten women are guiding some of Asia’s largest companies into a sustainable and successful future

It’s no secret that female representation at executive level in Asia-Pacific is low, with women making up just 4% of CEOs in APAC companies, a 2022 report from Equileap found.

While Singapore has the highest percentage of women in the C-suite, with 14% CEOs and 26% CFOs, marking the highest in the world – China, India and Japan remain low, according to Deloitte.

Just 6.4% of CEOs in China are women, while in India and Japan, the percentage is lower still – at 4.7% and a mere 0.3%, respectively.

In line with the message, ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, Business Chief pays tribute to ten women who have not only made it to the job, but are leading some of Asia’s largest organisations.


Jessica Tan Sin Yin


Ping An Group


Singapore national Jessica Tan has served as co-CEO since 2018 / Credit: Ping An

One of five female executives, Jessica Tan Sin Yin has co-led Asia’s largest insurer since 2018. Joining Ping An in 2013 as CIO, Singapore national Jessica also served as COO before becoming co-CEO.

As co-CEO for the past five years, Tan has looked after the Shenzhen-based group’s technology, operations and innovation divisions and a portfolio of businesses including online wealth management platform, Lufax, and mobile healthcare platform, Good Doctor.

Under her leadership, Ping An has secured multiple awards for innovation in tech, including AI and blockchain, and ranked first globally from 2021 to 2022 in the number of AI, fintech and digital healthcare patent applications, while Good Doctor has become one of the world’s leading health-tech platforms, now used by 400 million people and growing 25% in profits in the second half of 2022.

Ping An recently took top spot among global insurance enterprises in Fortune’s Global 500 list.

Tan was recently named one of 15 founding members, and the only one from a Chinese company, of The World Bank’s Private Sector Investment Lab – serving alongside the CEOs of BlackRock, Macquarie, Temasek, AXA and others.

Her achievements have garnered her numerous mentions on the world’s most powerful women lists – Fortune and Forbes.

Prior to joining Ping An, Tan, 46, spent more than a decade at McKinsey in both Singapore and the US, where she first served as a consultant before becoming partner. She has a degree and master’s in engineering from MIT.


Sandy Ran Xu



Former CFO Sandy Ran Xu took the top job just three months ago / Credit:

It’s been just three months since Sandy Ran Xu took the top job at Chinese e-commerce giant, moving up from her previous role as finance chief since 2020.

As well as being a “great CFO”, according to Chairman Richard Liu, Sandy had contributed significantly to its business functions and “demonstrated profound insights about our business and strategic development”.

Listed on the Nasdaq since 2014, has expanded into retail, technology, logistics, health, insurance, property, and international business. Recently announcing its second quarter results, the company saw revenues rise 30.1% from a year earlier and reached a new quarter record in marketplace merchants.

A seasoned auditor, Xu joined the Beijing-headquartered firm in 2018, overseeing group finance, accounting and tax functions as well as serving as CFO of JD Retail.

Prior to Nasdaq-listed, she spent nearly two decades at PwC in China and the US, where, as an audit partner, she focused on the TMT industry and US capital markets.

A certified public accountant, Xu has a degree in economics and information science from Peking University.


Wang Laichun


Luxshare Precision Industry


Co-founder Wang Laichun has led the electronics manufacturer since 2004 / Credit: Luxshare

As chair of Luxshare Precision Industry for the last 20 years, Wang Laichun has led the electronics manufacturer she co-founded in 2004 with her brother to billion-dollar heights.

In just 20 years, the Dongguan-based company, a supplier of cable assemblies and connectors for consumer electronics, has grown to 100,000-strong workforce and a market value of US$32.7 billion.

From initially relying on Foxconn as a client, the company now counts several big-name clients including Apple, and saw its revenues rise 39.03% YoY in 2022.

After taking Luxshare public in 2010, Wang went on an acquisition spree, buying a prime position in the iPhone supply chain, not dissimilar to what Foxconn has achieved – acquisitions that positioned Luxshare as a key supplier for AirPods by Apple.

Now, Luxshare has its sights set on the automotive industry, having taken a 30% stake in Chery Group with plans to develop and manufacture EVs for other companies.

Among the top ten self-made women billionaires in the world, with US$7.2 billion net worth, according to Forbes, the 55-year-old previously spent a decade at iPhone assembler Foxconn. Aged just 21, Wang became one of the first 100 employees at Taiwanese giant Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory, and rose from a factory worker through the ranks.

She holds an EMBA from Tsinghua University in Beijing.


Choi Yeon-hye


Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS)

South Korea

Just six months into the top job at Korea Gas (KOGAS), and Choi Yeon-hye has already established three task forces – in organisation, personnel and business.

This comes as the corporation, which has grown to become the world's largest LNG importer, faces unprecedented headwinds, including an unstable LNG supply thanks to the recent energy crisis and a sharp increase in debt ratio.

As the 18th term president of the corporation, Choi is expected to bring about sweeping change.

A former professor at Korea National University of Transportation, Choi joined KOGAS from Korea Railroad Corporation. 

She has had a long and illustrious career in the railway industry, including as VP of KORAIL and the President of the Korea National Railroad College, and has been actively engaged in the policy development and management of Korean railways.

Choi has spent her entire career at the company, where she started out by checking the safety of LNG production bases


Nicke Widyawati


PT Pertamina Group


Nicke Widyawati has led Malaysia's national oil company PT Pertamina since 2018

Nicke Widyawati has spent her entire career working in male-dominated industries – from construction to oil and gas – and is among a handful of female leaders to work her way up to the upper echelons of Indonesia’s state-owned enterprises.

She began her career at state-owned construction company Rekin becoming VP of Corporate Strategy, and served as Director of Strategic Procurement at state electricity firm PT PLN.

As the President Director of national oil company PT Pertamina since 2018, Nicke is only the second female-director in the history of the company and the first person to hold the top post for two consecutive terms – having been re-elected for a second in 2022.

She has steered Pertamina, Asia’s largest oil company and the only company on the Fortune 500 Global list, toward the energy transition laying out a strategic roadmap, while pursuing shareholder goals to achieve a market value of US$100 billion.

Under Nicke’s tenure, revenues at Pertamina increased 39% to US$57.5 billion in 2021 while profits skyrocketed by 95%.

Honouring her success in successfully implementing sustainable business practices throughout the Group, Nicke recently secured the green leadership award from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

As a woman in charge of the national oil company of the world’s fourth most populous company, with more than 32,000 employees, Nicke has been named among the 50 most influential women in the world (Fortune) rubbing shoulders with Catherine MacGregor of Engie and Lynn Good of Duke Energy.  

Nicke previously served as Pertamina's HR director and acting director of logistics, supply chain and infrastructure.


Helen Wong




Helen Wong is the first woman to lead a Singapore bank / Credit: OCBC

The first-ever woman to lead a bank in Singapore, and the first to run Overseas Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC), Helen Wong has led Singapore’s largest bank by market value (US$55.58 billion) since April 2021.

Under her watch, the bank has witnessed record profits, rising 18% in 2022 to a record US$5.75 billion, while the first quarter of 2023 has seen quarterly record net profits of S$1.88 billion, up 39%.

Among other leadership achievements, Wong has enhanced the bank’s digital platforms introducing market-first initiatives and has made huge progress in the sustainability agenda. OCBC joined the Net Zero Banking Alliance and attained carbon neutrality in its banking operational emissions, while its sustainable financing commitments are on track to meet the target of US$50 billion by 2025 or earlier.

With a banking career spanning four decades, Wong was the first China desk manager for OCBC in Hong Kong in 1984 before moving to HSBC, where she spent the next 27 years – working her up to Greater China CEO.

She returned to OCBC in April 2021, as CEO and as Chairman of OCBC Wing Hang Bank (China), and was listed in Fortune’s most powerful women international list in 2021, as well as Forbes 50 Over 50 list the same year.


Jane Sun


Jane Sun the driving force behind one of the world’s largest online travel agencies / Credit:

Credited with turning a startup into a multinational, Chinese businesswoman Jane Sun has been the driving force behind one of the world’s largest online travel agencies.

Since joining in 2005, the market cap of has grown from US$1 billion to US$26.13 billion and today the Nasdaq and HKEX-listed multinational has more than 400 million users and 45,000 employees.

Jane, who originally worked in engineering, held chief finance and operations roles before being named CEO and successor to the firm’s founder in 2016.

A consistently powerful force in the group and travel industry worldwide, and as the only female CEO in China’s online travel industry, Sun is respected for her extensive experience in M&As and financial reporting, and innovation in pioneering products.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, she spearheaded the Travel On initiative bringing the industry together to revitalise tavel with new safety standards and flexibility guarantees.

She is also known for her advocacy of women in the workplace, and under her leadership, has implemented a raft of pioneering gender-inclusive policies, including becoming the first company in China to offer egg-freezing as a benefit.

Women now represent more than half of Group’s employee base, including more than 40% at middle management level and one-third at executive level – a gender balance achievement Sun describes as far exceeding “the average internet companies in China and Silicon Valley.

Her achievements have landed her numerous nods, including in Fortune’s top 50 most powerful women globally for four consecutive years (2017-2020).


Choi Soo-yeon


Naver Corp

South Korea

Choi Soo-yeon is the youngest and first female CEO of Naver / Credit: Naver

Stepping into the chief executive role of Naver earlier this year, Choi Soo-yeon, 40, became the youngest-ever leader and first-ever female CEO of the South Korean tech giant.

The largest search engine in South Korea for the last two decades, Naver has a network of subsidiaries, including ownership in Line, one of Asia’s largest messaging platforms.

Choi’s nearly two decade-long rise to the top of the tech world has not taken a traditional route, however.

Choi first joined Naver in 2005 as a PR and marketing intern, before returning to law school, first at Yonsei University, then Harvard Law School. After graduating, she worked as an international lawyer at leading law firm Yulchon, where she specialised in M&A, capital markets and corporate governance.

In 2019, Choi returned to Naver as head of global business support, spearheading the firm’s global expansion, and just three years later was tapped for the top job.

Since taking the reins of the US$23.906 billion company, Choi has focused on restoring the company’s corporate culture and is accelerating the company's expansion into Southeast Asia, Europe and North America.

“As CEO now, I believe my mission is to take on a much bigger challenge… to take a leap forward, our most urgent task is to recover Naver’s corporate culture based on trust and autonomy,” she said at Naver's recent AGM.


Joey Wat


Yum China


Joey Wat has been driving innovation at Yum China for nearly a decade / Credit: Yum China

Consistently ranked on the world’s most powerful women lists by Forbes and Fortune, Joey Wat has been driving innovation at Yum China for nearly a decade.

Joining China’s largest restaurant operator in 2014, Joey has held various senior leadership roles, including COO and CEO of KFC China, before taking the top job in 2018.

Yum China, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut chains in mainland China, has grown from a single restaurant in 1987 to 13,602 restaurants across six brands in 1,800 cities across the country – with a market value today of US$22.66 billion.

Not just that, but under Joey’s leadership, Yum China has rolled out pioneering digital innovations for the industry, taking the Fortune 500 company to recent record revenues, and earning the company a place among the TIME100 most influential companies.

Joey kicked off her career at McKinsey and spent seven years in management consulting in the US and Hong Kong, before moving into FMCG. She worked in strategy at Watson Health & Beauty UK, which operates two retail chains, working in increasingly senior positions, including as head of strategy for Watson in Europe and MD of the group.


Makiko Ono


Suntory Beverage & Food


Makiko Ono heads Japan's biggest soft-drinks maker / Credit: Suntory

Appointed CEO at Suntory Beverage & Food in April, Makiko Ono became the first female CEO to lead Japan’s biggest soft-drinks maker, and the first woman chief executive of a listed Japanese company with market cap of more than 1 trillion Yen (US$12.26 billion). 

She is also one of four female board directors, made up of nine members. 

Now at the helm, Makiko, 62, is determined to change the game, with plans to take Suntory’s representation of female manager, currently 13%, to 30% by 2030.

“I will create an organisation that gives birth to new innovations by combining different ideas and values,” she said on her appointment.

Shattering the glass ceiling is nothing new for Makiko, who was the first female leader at Suntory to be stationed overseas, where she was the push behind Suntory’s acquisition of major European brands (Lucozade, Schweppes and Ribena). She also led the firm’s Orangina business in France.

Makiko has spent her entire 40-year career at Suntory, and has held increasingly senior roles – from Chief Sustainability Officer to COO to Global CHRO. 


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