MotivationalMonday: Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky

7 Lessons from Corporate Leaders from the World’s Best Companies

“In this world, there is no force equal to the strength of a woman determined to rise.” – W.E.B. Dubois

As an entrepreneur, I am committed to my continual education and I love learning, what more from the world’s best. It’s phenomenal how the organiser, House of Rose Professional, managed to gather all these corporate leaders in this Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky Summit so we could learn from them and apply these lessons to our businesses.


This Summit was inspired by the book of the same name and was written by Women In Leadership expert, Founder of House of Rose Professional, Anthony Rose. He is committed to empowering women to help us break the ceiling and touch the sky.

Here are 7 lessons from these corporate leaders that really stuck with me:

Lesson #1: On Hiring

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President, South East Asia and Australasia, UNILEVER Plc

Always ask a person who they are (not what they do). A lot of people know what they do but can’t explain who they are.

It is important that they know who they are, they possess humility, are confident and have high ambitions. If they do not have humility, they will just be plain arrogant.

Lesson #2: On What Businesses Will Look Like In The Future

Amit Banati, President, Asia Pacific, the Kellogg Company

  1. Micro tasking
    1. Splitting tasks down into small tasks and handing them out to freelancers who will do these jobs for a fee.
  2. Customisation of health, wellness and nutrition
    1. There is so much information and so much confusion out there now.
    2. In the future, it will be a lot more common to have highly personalised nutrition, health and wellness products or services.
  3. Advertising and Marketing
    1. Customers will want to engage very differently with brands, on their own terms.

Lesson #3: On how to attract Millenials to work for you

Lynne Anne Davis, President, FleishmanHillard Asia Pacific

  • Millennials tend to be very high performers
  • Overachievers and learn a lot in a very short period of time
  • Companies need to work with it and feed their learning curve, and prepare for turnover every 3 years
  • Millennials want a job that is worthwhile and feel valued.

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President, South East Asia and Australasia, UNILEVER Plc

  • First, you need to be a winning organisation. No one wants to be a losing team.
  • Secondly, there must be a sense of purpose: 84% of millennials have a mission and they want to change the world. If you don’t demonstrate a sense of purpose, then it will be difficult to attract them.
  • Thirdly, we must have very high standards and send the message to them that if they are able to join the organisation, they will be part of a winning team.
  • Once they join, they are put into a very intense learning programme. Every 6 months they will need to be learning new things to ensure that they learn at an exponential rate.

Lesson #4: On How To Break The Ceiling And Touch The Sky 

Ann Mukherjee, Global Chief Marketing Officer, SC Johnson 

Ann’s sharing struck a chord within me. And I’m really grateful for her deep and raw honesty because not many people are this brave. She shared about her experiences in an abusive marriage, her eventual remarriage to her current husband, her struggles to conceive, and when she finally had her twin daughters, finding out they had cancer. To her, these are her stories and they have shaped her to who she is today. She encourages everyone to embrace their stories and use them to their advantage. This is what she says:

“If you want to be successful, you have to break your own glass ceiling and touch your own sky. It takes courage to look within yourself and truly find ways to love yourself.

Be honest about what skills you do have. Then you’ll be able to uncover the soft skills that will be reflected in your company. 

You must embrace your stories, because through those stories, become those soft skills. Use it to touch your sky, but also help the organisations that you want to join, touch the sky too.” 

Lesson #5: On How To Be Authentic 

Catherine Hall, GM Marine, Shell Chemicals 

Catherine is a woman in a man’s world and she shared that she was completely fine with that because of her own childhood experiences. She was always different from her schoolmates and so learned to embrace being different at a young age.

She advises everyone

  • to become comfortable with being different and
  • and then thrive on that to make a difference. It is important to find out what really motivates you and go from there.

It is important to find out what really motivates you and go from there.

Catherine Hall and I.

Find out more about her in her Straits Times feature.

Lesson #6: On Executing Plans

Grace Ho, Chief Commercial Officer, Singapore Post Limited 

Grace has had an extremely high flying career in tech, having worked for HP and Microsoft, amongst other companies.

Her secret to creating workable systems is crystallised into the following Acronym (Yes, so Singaporean, right?):

Communicate: Set the expectations with the bosses

Operationalise: Set the processes and systems for predictability.

Plan: Review every 90 days and forward plan to instil some sense of sanity.

Find out more about her ACE Attitude which has brought her to where she is in her Straits Time feature.

Lesson #7: On Making A Positive, Lasting Impression

Anthony Rose, Founder, House of Rose Professional and Bestselling author of Daddy’s Logic and Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky

Anthony took the time to hand write personalised messages on the name tags of all the delegates who attended.


The event was really well run and put together and I certainly learnt a lot (and ate a lot). But what struck me most deeply besides these other 6 lessons above was Anthony’s thoughtfulness and humility in this gesture.

I truly believe he really has a heart for women in leadership and I’m really glad that he’s doing what he’s doing. Thank you Anthony!

This blue tag was attached to a rose which HP was giving out to all the ladies at the Summit. As you can tell, I love it! 


MamaMission: Botanic Gardens Movie Series

Kungfu Panda 3

As a slightly mad Type A mother, I’m always on a mission, looking for interesting activities and experiences to expose my kids to and I was really excited to have found this event just hours before!

Movie: Kung Fu Panda 3

Venue: Singapore Botanic Gardens, Eco-Lake Lawn (next to Botanic Gardens MRT Station)

Cost: FREE

The great thing about having kids this small (4 and 2), is that they are easily excitable and anything can become a great adventure. And, they love Kung Fu Panda (who doesn’t!).


We walked, took the train, set up a little picnic with pizza and popcorn, the kids ran around a little and watched pandas roll around the screen under the stars.

Yeah I didn’t have my picnic mat at home, so we had to improvise with a plastic tablecloth and an old bedsheet for comfort 😀 
Munching away on homemade pizza and popcorn!


Baby Xaxa loved it too

Of course the biggest worry was getting bitten by mosquitos, but this was easily fixed by a 3 step defence: 1) mosquito patches, 2) citronella spray and 3) citronella diffuser/circulator gadget which does the same thing those citronella tiki-torches – skadoosh!

Lots of black and white, bouncy fun!

This was NPark’s first time organising a movie screening like this and they are planning to do it for a year. I thought it was really great and I plan to be back every month, if the weather permits.

What would bring it over the top though would maybe if there were snack food vendors (like at Films At The Fort) so that people can have the option of buying food, and maybe fun little keepsakes from the event (e.g. bubbles for the kids to blow, light sticks etc), so that they’ll be reminded of such events and/or Botanic Gardens. Though I realise that there are additional costs involved, I’m sure NParks will be able to find vendors and sponsors who want to reach out to an audience made up of mostly families with young kids.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to this part of the Botanic Gardens so this was interesting for me too. Loved this!


Supermamapreneur Sighting: Claire Chiang, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts Co-Founder

An original Supermamapreneur

When you meet Claire, you know right away that you’ve met a Woman of Substance.

And it’s not because of her many awards or that she is the better half of one of Singapore’s high profile power couples.

Claire possess what many people don’t: a fire-in-the-belly type of passion for what she believes in, a presence that will make you sit up and pay attention (you’ll know she has arrived when she walks into a room) and a contagious, fun energy – the kind of energy that only comes with being truly interested and wholehearted about what she is doing in and with her life.

Claire Chiang and Lise Chew


Google her and you’ll find countless articles on who she is and the things she has done.

Claire has been at the forefront of many things, like being the first woman on the Council of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry and helping AWARE set up their helpline.

She’s married. Has 3 kids. Was former Nominated Member of Parliament. Her World Magazine’s Woman Of The Year 1999. Amongst many other things. Business. She is by all counts an original Supermamapreneur.

One of her businesses is Banyan Tree Gallery, which retails art from indigenous artists and Asian botanical blends. The idea behind this business was to retail items to empower local communities and their trades. I thought this was an excellent idea, given their already established platform that is Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts.

I finally got to meet her at the Shirin Fozdar Programme Annual Lecture At The Frontlines of Change: Women Who Dared (By Dr. Noeleen Heyzer) last Friday. She invited all her mentees to this event and I must say it was thought provoking.

Claire speaks with conviction and it is clear she is an ambitious woman.

And when she pulled all 4 of her mentees in for a photograph with Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, she said to us, “You better be on stage in 15 years!” She’s even ambitious for us.

When I went up to her and introduced myself, she received me with a warmth and enthusiasm that I didn’t expect. And when I mentioned that my mother used to be her neighbour, and when she realised who it was, she started speaking to me in Hainanese like I was long lost family.

I am so very lucky to have her as my mentor and I’m looking forward to learning from her.



FabFriday: Dr Noeleen Heyzer – Women Who Dared

Social Scientist & Former UN Under Secretary-General.

I have taken many things in Singapore for granted.

And until last Friday, I wasn’t aware of the many things that were done for me by women who have gone before so that I didn’t have to fight for it.

Did you know polygamy for non-muslims was still legal in Singapore until 1961 when the Women’s Charter was passed? This meant that many women did not have fundamental rights prior to that. A lady named Shirin Fozdar was instrumental in pushing for such change in Singapore.

Before my mentor, Ms. Claire Chiang, invited me to attend the Inaugural Shirin Fozdar Programme Annual Lecture at the Singapore Management University, I had never heard of her. But now that I have, I wonder why they didn’t teach us about her in school!

Ms. Claire Chiang giving her welcome address
Q&A session moderated by SMU Provost Professor Lily Kong.
From Left to Right: Ms. Claire Chiang, Mr. Ho Kwon Ping, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Professor Lily Kong and Professor Arnoud De Meyer, President of SMU.

The topic of the Annual Lecture was At The Frontlines of Change: Women Who Dared By Dr. Noeleen Heyzer. Dr. Hayzer is a Social Scientist and Former United Nations Under Secretary-General. She was the first woman

  • to serve as the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific; and
  • from outside North America to head the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) becoming its longest serving Executive Director for 13 years.

Her lecture highlighted the contributions of well-known women leaders around the world like Hillary Clinton, who could possibly be shattering one big glass ceiling in November, and local ladies like war heroine, Elizabeth Choy, and issues of inequality that women still face in parts of the world today.

Dr Noeleen Heyzer and Lise Chew

Lise Chew and Ho Kwon Ping
Me and Mr. Ho Kwon Ping, Co-Founder of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts. He also sits on the Board of Trustees for SMU.
Lise Chew Briget Choy
Left to Right: Myself, war heroine Elizabeth Choy’s daughter, Bridget Choy, and some lovely ladies who went to St. Margaret’s too.


Claire Chiang and Lise Chew

Here are 3 points that resonated with me:

  1. “If you teach a woman to fish, she’ll not just learn how to fish, she will change the whole fishing industry.” – Dr. Noeleen Heyzer

  2. When asked what are the conditions we need to have in Singapore to have a female Prime Minister, Dr Heyzer said there need to be firstly more women on boards (only 9% in Singapore) and in Cabinet; and secondly, women will need the men to support them and push them into positions of power.
  3. For there to be any kind of sustainable change, everyone at all levels of society need to be stakeholders to push change forward. Whenever people use the word “stakeholders” I’m always a bit befuddled because why does it sound like a corporate governance lecture and nothing to do with me? But then I’ve realised that for anyone to truly care about anything, they need to have some skin in the game.

Hence. Thus. Therefore.