The Nation March 1, 2012 2:36 pm
On the inaugural list released on Thursday, Yuwadee was honoured as the woman who has guided her family’s 65-year-old firm, Central Department Store, from a single general store to megamalls that offer everything from fine dining and entertainment to jewelry, even automobiles.
She is among the 50 individuals honoured for shaping a significant part of their business environment as founder-entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders of family enterprises and professional managers who have scaled through executive ranks.
According to Forbes magazine, women on the list are chosen for their hands-on management of profit-seeking companies, and many of the honourees have overcome significant barriers to get where they are today.
The new list is a targeted survey of powerful women in Asian business. It reflects Asia’s remarkable economic rise and the diverse and dynamic ways in which women are wielding power and influence in a region that has become a hotbed for entrepreneurship, investment, corporate expansion and economic opportunity.
“Since Forbes’ debut issue in 1917, Forbes has remained dedicated to inspiring and empowering the success of women in business,” said Moira Forbes, President and Publisher of ForbesWoman. “As the first female family member to serve as a senior executive in our nearly century old family company, I am honoured to build on this tradition. This inaugural list celebrates the dynamic ways in which Asia’s businesswomen are driving some of the
region’s most exciting growth. Through their respective realms of power and influence, these honourees span diverse industries, nations and generations, yet each has changed the face of Asian business, while creating opportunities for
Women from Greater China (mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) dominate the list with 21 women on the list, or 42 per cent of the 50 listees. India accounted for eight women on the list (16 per cent), Singapore for five (10 per cent), South Korea and Indonesia each accounted for four (8 per cent). Japan saw three women on the list (6 per cent) and Australia two (4 per cent). The list also featured one woman each from the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Among the honourees from Greater China: Marjorie Yang of Hong Kong’s Esquel Group has more than doubled revenues to US$1.2 billion since her expansion of the family business which produces cotton shirts for clients like Ralph Lauren. Cher Wang, Co-founder and Chairman of HTC, is ranked No.1 on the Forbes Taiwan rich list with wealth of $8.8 billion. One of the world’s largest smartphone suppliers employs nearly 13,000 and competes with Apple and Samsung. China’s Zhang Xin, Co-founder and CEO of SOHO, Beijing’s biggest property developer, spent her teens working in garment sweatshops in Hong Kong. The Cambridge grad is on the Forbes China rich list with wealth of $3.3 billion.
Cheung Yan is Co-founder and Chairman of Nine Dragons Paper which makes packaging materials in China by recycling wastepaper imported from the US. Dong Mingzhu, President of China’s Gree Electric Appliances, transformed the domestic brand into the world’s largest maker of air conditioners. Sun Yafang advanced through the executive ranks to become Chairman of Huawei Technologies, one of the world’s leading suppliers of telecom equipment.
Honourees from India include: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is India’s richest self-made woman who founded
Biocon at the age of 25 and turned it into the country’s largest bio tech firm, making drugs for diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Under the watch of Vinita Bali, Managing Director of Britannia Industries, the Indian maker of
popular biscuits and other snack foods has more than doubled the company’s market cap to $1.1 billion. Mallika Srinivasan is Chairman of Tractors & Farm Equipment. She joined the family business in 1985 and is credited with
catapulting it from a domestic player to become the largest exporter of tractors from India with $1.3 billion in annual revenues.
Honourees from the Asean region include: Teresita Sy-Coson heads one of the biggest family-owned conglomerates in the Philippines, SM Investment Corp, with interests that include the nation’s most profitable and largest group of department stores and its number one bank, Banco de Oro Unibank. Ho Ching is Executive Director and CEO of Temasek, the Singapore state-owned investment firm. Olivia Lum is no stranger to adversity. The self-made businesswoman saw the potential in clean water and founded Hyflux, a leader in water filtration and desalination technology.
Siti Hartati Murdaya is President Director of Indonesia’s Central Cipta Murdaya, with diversified interests in IT, timber, plantations, consumer goods and engineering, as well as real estate assets that alone are valued at more than $1 billion.
Honourees from South Korea include: Lee Mi-Kyung (member of the Samsung founding clan), is Vice Chairman of CJ Entertainment & Media, which distributes top Hollywood films, runs 16 cable channels, produces big-budget Korean films and owns the largest movie theater franchise in the country. Romi Haan, founder and CEO of Haan Corp is the inventor of a steam floor cleaner that was inspired by her own dread of the chore as a housewife in Korea. Kim Sung-Joo defied gender-biased demands from her parents not to enter business and founded her own fashion company, Sunjoo Group and is also Chairman of luxury brand, MCM Holding.
Other notable listees:
Perth mining magnate, Gina Rinehart, is Australia’s richest person and may be on track to become the world’s richest woman. Fortune doubled to $20 billion after South Korean steel giant Posco took a 15 per cent stake in one of her massive iron ore projects in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Rinehart has 2 huge coal mine developments in Queensland. She inherited the debt-laden Hancock Prospecting in 1992, then battled her stepmother for 12 years over the estate. Rinehart has bought a stake in the Ten Television Network and recently became
the largest shareholder in the Fairfax newspaper group.
77-year old Yoshiko Shinohara is the oldest woman on the list and helped launch Japan’s temping industry. The President of Tempstaff oversees some 5,000 employees and generates $2.9 billion in annual sales. The youngest person on the list is Ekta Kapoor, aged 36, known as India’s queen of soap operas. She is Joint Managing Director of Balaji Telefilms, a top producer of popular TV serials and blockbuster Bollywood movies.
In addition to the list of 50 most powerful business women in Asia, Forbes announced a “Women to Watch” list of 15 up-and-coming women: Kelly Zong, President of China’s drinks giant Hangzhou Wahaha Group,
Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Executive Director and CEO, HCL Corporation and Trustee of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, Kuok Hui Kwong, CEO and Managing Director of SCMP Group, Sabrina Chao, Vice Chairman of Wah Kwong
Maritime Transport, and Veronica Chou, President of Iconix in China.
The full list will appear in Forbes’ March edition. It coincides with the inaugural Forbes Forum: Asia Power Business Women which takes place in Singapore on March 1.