My Power is Courage
My Shade is 02
As the old adage goes: “Behind every successful man is a woman”, but we prefer to tell the story of Amanda Eng, Marketing & Buying Director of NAIISE, who works alongside her husband Dennis Tay, the brand’s founder. After departing her full-time job, Amanda joined NAIISE sharing the belief that design should be made accessible to everyone, along with the vision to foster an environment to support designers and creators.
Starting your own business is of course no mean feat. Enjoying the success of bringing NAIISE from an online business to having brick-and-mortar stores, and then expanding to Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Amanda recalls what it was like when she first embarked on this journey. “I think every startup has a group of special people who will run through fire with you, and we owe a lot to the people who put in 100 per cent of themselves into the job.”
Other than the people who support her, Amanda believes that starting a business for the right reasons plays a part in being able to sustain your passion. “A lot of people start a business because everyone is doing it, or they feel that entrepreneurship is cool, or they cannot find a job they like. I think you need to believe in it to succeed,” comments Amanda. “If you really believe in it, you will invest 100 per cent of your time into it. Without a stable income, there will be a pressure to make it work. That type of pressure is the best kind.”
This can-do attitude served Amanda really well, but she speaks about how her fearlessness and courage can sometimes be a double-edged sword. “I am a person who is very good at execution. Some people are more cautious and they mull over consequences, but I’ll just go ahead and do it,” says Amanda. “My colleagues describe me as a bullet train, and sometimes when I run too fast and face problems, I’d go back to Dennis. He’s definitely a lot more strategic than I am. I’m very fortunate to have a consistent partner in everything I do.”
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Dr Neo Mei Lin
My Power is Marine Biology
My Shade is 035
To her friends, Dr Neo Mei Lin is jokingly known as ‘Clam Queen’, or ‘The Mother of Clams’. The nickname is well-earned, as the marine biologist and research fellow at the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS has dedicated her career to the study and conservation of the Tridacna gigas (or giant clam) species.
Dr Neo’s love for the “massive and colourful-shelled marine animals” began in her student days, when she took on a research project on giant clams as it was the only one that didn’t require her to kill the animals she was studying. Over the years, her interest in giant clams grew and evolved. “It started out with reading about them as much as possible, and then realising they are facing the threat of extinction,” shares Dr Neo. Today, her work covers studying them at a biological level, and also championing for their conservation. “I hope my voice can represent the groups that cannot speak for themselves,” she says.
Dr Neo’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, and she has won numerous awards, including the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science National Fellowship in 2015 and Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2016. She was also the only Singaporean selected for the prestigious TED Fellows programme of global innovators in 2017, and promoted the preservation of giant clams at her own TED Talk in Vancouver, Canada.
In time, Dr Neo hopes to create a network to share information and data between scientists in the region to enhance her research. Giant clams can live for as long as a century, and can give researchers a good indication of the reef’s health, she says. In spreading awareness about this iconic species, Dr Neo hopes to shed light on the importance of reef conservation as well.
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My Power is Nature
My shade is 055
If there’s one thing you should know about Ailin Mao, it’s that she prefers roughing it up in the great outdoors to the city. However, her love for nature extends far beyond her own adventures – Ailin’s job is to set someone else up on their own journey to the African safaris.
“I deal a lot with people who are going to Africa for the first time, and I start from scratch, poring over maps and giving them an overview of the different destinations,” shares Ailin. Before taking on her job as a senior travel consultant, Ailin had never been to Africa, but her innate curiosity and love for travelling helped her score what many would consider a dream job. Never one who required city comforts like Wi-Fi or even a proper toilet, Ailin was already organising trips for small groups of travellers to the Himalayas before becoming a safari specialist. Combining her travel experience with her ethos of disconnecting from the city to reconnect with nature, the job was a perfect fit.
As all her trips are tailor-made, there are a lot of face-to-face interactions to discover her client’s needs, and how much they’re willing to sacrifice comfort. Ailin believes African safaris have a distinct way of pushing people out of their comfort zones without really appearing to. “Once you step out of the lodges, you’re in an entirely different place – completely wild, with no Internet access or restaurants you can zip out to: Just wild animals walking past you.”
Ailin notes that her clients usually end up craving for wilder adventures, in a bid to be closer to nature.“The first trip tends to be more tame, but once they see how amazing the experience is, they don’t care about city comforts like air-conditioning or Wi-Fi access in their subsequent trips,” she says. Ailin is excited to introduce more people to the joys of nature, so they can rediscover the beauty and wonder of wildlife.
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My Power is Leadership
My Shade is 010
Throughout history, many leaders and great minds had something in common – a good mentor. That’s what inspired Technology Lawyer Mavis Low to act as the mentorship director for two years at the Young Women’s Leadership Connection or YWLC.
Starting out initially as a member, Mavis’s mentor had such a profound influence on her that she decided to hold a more active role as the mentorship director, matching mentees with suitable mentors.
Most of the mentees are younger women who seek guidance in their life pertaining to their studies or career, while the mentors are women who are directors, CEOs and entrepreneurs from various industries. “The mentors hold very senior positions, but they are really humble. The invitation to be a mentor comes from Minister Grace Fu herself, and the mentors take their obligation very seriously,” shares Mavis.
Mavis also holds an active position in ‘Legal Ladies’, a committee of female lawyers within her company’s legal department. “Women today still find it hard to discuss things like pay or promotion, and the role of ‘Legal Ladies’ is to hold meaningful forums to address topics like how to conduct yourselves in interviews, raising the prospects of promotion or lighter subjects like grooming, or discovering your personal style,” comments Mavis. Her involvement in communities gives her a sense of fulfillment and purpose. “I love my team and also the committees of people. That’s part of the reason why I am happy to go to work.”
Although Mavis has ended her tenure as the mentorship director at YWLC, she remains an active member who is ready to pay it forward. She tried her hand at mentoring for the first time, and her mentee was an ITE student who was recommended by her school through an outreach programme by YWLC. “I’ve had very good mentors in my life, and I think it really helps,” comments Mavis. “You may not have family members or relatives who have relevant background in the industry, so it’s good to have someone who has gone through the same path you are trying to follow.”
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