#She27: Celebrating 27 women shaping the future of tech

In celebration of International Women’s Day, e27 shines a spotlight on 27 inspiring women in the tech industry who are breaking barriers, pushing boundaries, and making a significant impact in their respective fields while shedding light on the importance of gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

Despite the significant strides towards gender equality, women are still underrepresented in the tech industry. #She27 aims to amplify women’s voices in tech, highlight their achievements and inspire the next generation of female leaders.

From partners to contributors to pro members, these 27 allies of e27 are breaking social and economic barriers while adding immense value to the tech community and beyond. We are grateful for their contributions and excited to see how they will continue to drive innovation and change.

International Women’s Day is an essential reminder of our progress and the work that still needs to be done to achieve gender equality in the tech and startup industry. Join us in celebrating the accomplishments of women who are paving the way for future generations and commit to creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive.

(The comments are arranged in the alphabetical order of the names of the respondents).

Acacia Leroy, Head of Trends at Culture Group

As a writer, speaker, and consultant on Asian consumer trends and Innovation, Acacia Leroy has worked on insights projects that help clients — from Fortune 500 CEOs to independent filmmakers — better understand Asian consumers and launch insight-driven innovations.

Alexis Chan, CEO & Commercial Director at Hire Digital

Alexis Chan leads Client Services at Hire Digital, providing a network of the best talent in digital marketing, web development and design. She advises a portfolio of Fortune 500 companies, and she was previously a Forbes 30 Under 30 alumnus in Media, Marketing and Advertising.

“Company leaders must first acknowledge that they must proactively create new opportunities for women. Investing in DEI programmes, whether it’s modifying your recruitment strategies, or conducting training and employee empowerment programmes, can go a long way to building awareness within the organisation. Companies can also cultivate a network to provide more access for female leaders, provide mentorship, and recognise the achievements of rising female leaders.”

Amanda Murphy, Head of Commercial Banking (South & SEA) at HSBC

Amanda Murphy leads HSBC’s business across Asia to help businesses – from startups and SMEs to large international companies – grow by meeting and supporting their financial needs.

“The fact is companies with more diverse workforces are more successful. Greater team diversity drives better discussions and decisions, allowing companies like ours to strengthen the solutions and insights we deliver to our clients.

With women making up 52 per cent of HSBC’s global workforce, building a culture of inclusion and equity where everyone can reach their full potential is vital. At HSBC, this includes better policies and processes for fairer hiring and promotion and mentorship and sponsorship programmes to increase women’s representation across the pipeline. We also offer flexible ways of working where possible and extend our efforts to open up more opportunities for the customers and communities we serve.

From challenge comes change. This International Women’s Day and every day, we’re committed to taking action to shape workplaces in which we can all thrive.”

Angela Poe Noronha, Director of Growth (Asia) at SecondMuse

Angela Poe Noronha is the Director of Growth at SecondMuse. She works with funders and programme teams in Asia to scale the adoption of circular business models, inclusive economic development, and climate innovation financing.

Noronha has spent the last nine years working with impact-driven startups and has accelerated climate transitions through corporate-startup collaborations and innovation programs in partnership with MNCs, startups, and state actors for the shipping, logistics, and plastic-heavy industries.

Bee Kheng Tay, President (SEA) at Cisco Systems

Bee Kheng Tay is the President of Cisco Systems in Southeast Asia and is responsible for driving the networking products giant’s profitable growth. She also leads its go-to-market operations across the ten countries in the region. Tay is passionate about encouraging women to pursue a career in STEM.

“Women need to be given equal opportunities as their male counterparts when it comes to succeeding in male-dominated industries. More needs to be done to encourage more females to join and stay in the STEM industry. Changing the equation for diversity starts with equity and inclusion.

At Cisco, it starts with our hiring process. We adopt a skills-based approach to hiring and career progression, from expanding the diversity within our interview panels to creating frameworks for people leaders to hire and promote people into leadership roles based on their abilities. This is where skills-to-job programmes such as Cisco Networking Academy, which provides networking, cybersecurity, and digital literacy education, come in to bridge the skills gap.

The power of mentorship, sponsorship and advocacy cannot be overstated when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion. Cisco provides mentorship and networking opportunities through programmes such as ‘The Multiplier Effect’, where leaders sponsor at least one diverse person in their organisation and challenge their peers to do the same to stay proximate to people who are different from them. Our ‘Proximity initiative’ supports female leadership and talent development. To cultivate an inclusive environment, we have Employee Resource Organisations (EROs) such as Women of Cisco or Back to Business at Cisco that has become platforms where women and people from diverse backgrounds connect and support each other.

Finally, real change comes with inclusive policies that consistently reflect on the progress and renew its commitment to gender diversity. Cisco has long created policies and practices for fair, competitive, and performance-driven pay and regularly tests for pay parity based on gender and ethnicity. Hybrid work has been in our DNA long before the pandemic because we believe that the flexibility and trust engrained in that mode of work enables employees to juggle multiple responsibilities both at and outside work as a leader, parent, friend, and partner.”

Bernadetta Septarini, Content & Social Media Marketer at ArmourZero

Bernadetta Septarini is the Content and Social Media Marketer at ArmourZero, a B2B SaaS company. She loves creating creative and analytical content while gaining cybersecurity experience and always looks for new ways to grow and improve!

“As a woman in the tech industry, creating more opportunities for women to succeed is essential. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to support other women in this industry.

For example, I currently provide mentorship and networking opportunities to those interested in pursuing a career in tech. Additionally, if we’ve already experienced and skilled in our field, we can provide training and development opportunities to help other women succeed in their career journeys.

Moreover, we can encourage work-life balance, especially for working moms, to ensure everyone can thrive in their personal and professional lives. By taking these steps, we can create a more equal and inclusive workplace for all, where women can access the same opportunities and resources as their male counterparts.”

Frances Barsana, Business Manager at Kickstart Ventures

Frances Barsana drives innovation through partnerships between best-in-class tech companies and business leaders in Globe, Ayala, Singtel, multiple industries, industry associations, and communities in their digital transformation.

Geraldine Pang, Founder at Creative For More

Geraldine Pang is an entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. She is passionate about tech and digital marketing and has worked with brands like Popeyes, Maplestory SEA, Baskin Robbins, California Raisins, and TCC in Singapore. Pang’s passion also extends to mental health and well-being, which led her to combine both hobbies to co-found On Good Ground, a yoga and barre studio in the East of Singapore.

“Education is key. Through education, women can improve their way of thinking, working, living, and generating new ideas. This will enable them to operate successfully in a variety of industries.

Companies should also implement policies to create a supportive learning environment for women. The goal is to create a space where everyone can participate and their voices are heard and respected. This will help reduce the gender inequality rate and create a secure, resilient community where both men and women will have the chance to reach their fullest potential.”

Jacqueline Jayne, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4

With 20 years of experience, Jacqueline Jayne is a master communicator. She works in the cyberthreat landscape and helps engage people and technology across all verticals.

“The one thing I hope for on this year’s IWD is more open and honest conversations with everyone. Embrace equity and understand the differences between equity and equality.

Every International Women’s Day is a day for us all to reflect on what present and future we want for our girls and women (and yes, for those who identify as women). With a focus on #EmbraceEquity for 2023, we can all think differently regarding career pathways into technology. Equity in the digital age recognises that each person comes with different circumstances. It’s up to us to ensure that our education system is innovating to give all girls and women the same resources and opportunities to reach an equal outcome.”

Jessica Tan, Chief Marketing Officer at Accredify

Jessica Tan is responsible for the strategic development and management of Accredify’s Marketing and Communications departments. Her responsibilities include building product awareness, customer education and engagement, and brand management through omnichannel marketing that spans digital, social, and traditional media. Tan also leads public relations at Accredify.

“Suppose a firm operates in a way that allows gender to hinder a candidate’s ability to contribute to her fullest potential. In that case, it will systematically fail to capture the value of what a large proportion of available talent, that is, women, can offer the business.

Here are some structural, process, and communications improvements that can level the playing field for women.

Structurally, gender representation at the management level is an area where firms can spend more time developing. In addition, HR can also review maternal and paternal leave policies to ensure women are not penalised for rising to the challenge of meeting both professional and familial responsibilities.

The hiring and performance review processes should be revised to be gender-neutral, focusing only on quantitative assessments to measure an individual’s skills and qualitative interviews to understand a candidate’s work ethic. Other elements can involve hiring managers administering technical assessments in the interview or promotion process without knowing the candidate’s gender.

Internal communications also play a prominent role in workplace education on gender equality by constantly challenging preconceived notions about gender roles in the workplace and bringing to light prejudices that insidiously find their way into our minds,
However, most importantly, the first step to creating more opportunities for women to flourish in the workplace is to remove any ideas of misogyny and the outdated perspective that the tech industry is the realm of men.

This has to be instilled in the firm by upper management and HR by upholding a corporate culture that champions gender equality.
For all the women looking to enter or grow their careers in the tech industry, self-confidence and adapting your skillset to meet the requirements of your desired role are essential. Believe in yourself and leverage your strengths – the key to success in any role.”

Jolene Lum, Client Development Manager at Nurasa

Jolene Lum is the Client Development Manager at Nurasa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Temasek. She has worked enthusiastically in the sustainable food industry for most of her career.

“Opportunities for women to succeed are not granted. First, I believe women need to uplift other women and continue opening doors for each other to encourage highlighting the skillsets brought to the table by worthy, capable women coupled with the reminder to show up when these opportunities arise. While women generally are less ready to accept opportunities that seem like a stretch, showing up and stepping up is the first step to excelling.

Next, to continue working on being sensitive and aware when building up teams of men and women and to place people first. Leadership often arises from influence without authority by asking ourselves what my team needs me to do in terms of my role and what kind of person they need me to be to support a good and impactful working environment. Often, a better manager empowers and gives space to others to grow, not just someone who does their job function well.

Finally, delivering good work has been something women have been doing for centuries. There is now an opportunity to continue building a personal brand and voice to amplify learnings and reflections and to nurture fellow women to step up and be recognised for their capabilities and potential. Stepping forward is crucial to creating communities of women and men to connect on other platforms outside of work and creating the space for opportunities and exchanging ideas.”

Kathy Sheehy, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at KittyKat

Kathy Sheehy co-founded KittyKat, a tech-enabled content service for brands that deliver only beautiful, on-brand, high-performing products, services and experience visuals they need to grow their business. Sheehy is passionate about entrepreneurship and believes visuals, print or digital, help drive sales and brand equity.

“Women with access to mentors and role models are more likely to succeed. Research has shown that women can benefit from being part of a supportive community of peers, mentors, and role models. This can provide a sense of belonging, support, and encouragement, which can be especially important in male-dominated industries where women may feel isolated or unsupported.

Create flexible work arrangements. Women are more likely to have caregiving responsibilities and may benefit from flexible work arrangements such as remote work or flexible schedules.”

Kim Sommer, Co-Founder and CEO at TripZeeker

Before co-founding TripZeeker, an online marketplace that allows Filipinos and foreigners to shop for possible travel destinations, Kim Sommer worked in the corporate world for about five years as a stockbroker. Having always dreamt of being an entrepreneur, Sommer found her calling in the startup industry after quitting her corporate job to co-found a travel tech startup called TripZeeker.

Lisa Gibbons, Writer, Advisor, Blockchain Advocate

Lisa Gibbons is a passionate storyteller with over 15 years of experience. She writes for numerous publications and is co-founder of the Irish Shebeen, the first Irish Pub in the metaverse. She has a love for all things blockchain, the metaverse and sustainability.

She founded Orchardsnearme.com, a platform dedicated to wild food foraging and sustainable food distribution and is a member of The Writing Studio, a platform dedicated to improving storytelling in Web3. Bridging the world of Web2 to Web3 is where her interest lies.

“Companies that empower women, giving them the roles and flexibility needed to succeed, will see the longer-term benefits of female attributes. To do this, we need to acknowledge the current gender bias within companies and take the path towards a more inclusive culture.

Firstly, give women with varied levels of experience a seat at the decision-making table. Then listen carefully to their ideas for the organisation and their concerns when it comes to their progression. Breaking down barriers to progression will lead to more opportunities for women, and this visibility in terms of female leadership will encourage others to follow.”

Lyn Sia Rosmarin, Country Manager at Prizm Group Singapore

Lyn Sia Rosmarin leads Prizm Group Singapore, an award-winning digital marketing agency. She has received the “Great Women of the Year Award” by FEMALE in Singapore and was named “40 under 40” by PRESTIGE. She straddles some worlds, which makes her a hybrid management executive in today’s business world. As a business owner, Rosmarin is passionate about supporting other business owners in achieving cross-border sales and growing their brands.

“Having worked in investment banking for more than 10yrs, I had to be creative to be included in some “strictly men” events, like wine events, cigar nights etc. One tip I have learnt, if I don’t ask, I don’t get. So, I self- invite myself to those events, be it luxury watches, cigars, wine, whisky, or golf; I learnt enough to join those conversations.

When you want to play level playing fields, there’s no handicap to this, unfortunately. I suggest having loads of research every time we take on a job and having a support group of peers and fellowship that would better our knowledge to perform better in our scopes of work. Read smart, work smart, act smarter.”

Meg Amat, Head of NFT Curation at the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange

Meg Amat began her career as a financial engineering and risk management developer, working at Unisys and SAS to build regulatory compliance solutions for the Philippines’ top banks.

Amat recently rejoined the fintech industry as the Head of NFT Curation at the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX). She leverages the fusion of her tech-based left-brain thinking with her art/design exposure-induced right-brain aesthetics to create beautiful businesses. Like a fish in the water, she is pushing the boundaries of Web3, the metaverse, and blockchain applications in Southeast Asia.

“It all starts with a shift in mindset that unique perspectives will always make better products and services. And that these better offerings have a massive impact on the bottom line.

With this, organisations should be motivated to surface diverse thinking and nourish their sources. We need to create spaces where women are open to speaking their minds freely and where the business value generated from their opinions is attributed and incentivised accordingly. I’d even go as far as building out a sandbox program where these unorthodox ideas can be tested, and the application within the business is increased as seen as appropriate.

There’s nothing more empowering than seeing something that starts as a feeling, builds up into an idea, and then is concretised into executions that transform an entire organisation.

Creating a diversity, equity, and inclusion culture takes a lot of work; it doesn’t happen magically overnight. However, I’m confident that if male-dominated industries wish to innovate, they will do well by giving women a seat at the table.”

Michelle Ng, Head of Environmental, Social & Governance at Quest Ventures

Michelle Ng is Head of Environmental, Social & Governance at Quest Ventures, a top venture capital firm in Asia. She works closely with startups to accelerate their growth through a combination of incubation services and programmes. She is also responsible for key markets in Southeast Asia and emerging Asia.

“Women could share their perspectives on areas which could be a blind spot for counterparts of another gender. Adding diversity to the conversation would allow new opportunities and outsized returns to be discovered.”

Nancy Lai, Founder at A Mighty Venture Pte Ltd

Nancy Lai is an educator with a few local IHLs, and a proud mummy to two highly energetic kids who are her inspiration behind the launch of her two brands, Playand and A Mighty Mum. She is an Industrial Designer by training, with a keen interest in using design to solve problems close to her heart. As an undergraduate at NUS, she started her own startup, which raised seed funding of US$112,000 while working for various SMEs before joining the education sector.

“As a woman and entrepreneur, it has been challenging to navigate this entrepreneurship journey, which is still largely dominated by male entrepreneurs.

However, I realised that instead of creating opportunities externally for women to succeed, the opportunities and potential lie within every woman to overcome the internal devil’s voice: The Imposter Syndrome. On the surface, despite being a mother of two young children and an educator, I was portrayed as confident and brave for starting this entrepreneurship journey. However, deep within, I was often plagued with Imposter Syndrome, often fearful about making decisions and nervous when negotiating in a room full of males.

With encouragement from my husband and other business mentors whom I used as a sounding board for my ideas, I began to realise that all my fears are unfounded and I am equally capable of excelling in whatever I do at my own pace and time. It takes practice to shut the inner voice of “I can never do this” to hear “What’s the worst that can happen?” but I am still learning, and it all starts with allowing me to do so within myself.”

Pooja Sanan, Head Enterprise Sales, South East Asia at PayPal

Pooja Sanan is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in payments and e-commerce. She is a highly experienced leader who creates strategic alliances across the business to effectively align with and support key business initiatives.

“Diversity and inclusion have been powerful catalysts to drive financial empowerment for women globally. At PayPal, we are committed to driving innovation by building a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive culture where women have equal opportunities to excel. Only through collective and intentional steps can we become true change agents, driving equity towards a better future for all.”

Rachel Lau, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at RHL Ventures

Rachel Lau is Managing Partner at RHL Ventures. RHL Ventures is a Southeast Asian-based private investment firm focusing on growth capital investments in Southeast Asia. Lau was on the list of 50 People Redefining the Way We Live by Business Times Singapore and was selected as Milken Institute Young Leaders Circle and Asia 21 Young Leaders.d the US region.

“We need to be open-minded about women in investing, tech, and the workforce. Many issues don’t come from industry but rather from the people in it. Expectations of a woman are always more demanding- women get told they need to talk, walk, and act a certain way, and women get told that there are timelines. I say do whatever your heart desires. Break the barriers, smash the glass ceilings, and be who you want to be!”

Sara Faatz, Director of Technology Community Relations at Progress

Sara Faatz is the Director of Technology Community Relations at Progress. She has spent most of her career in the developer space, building community, producing events, creating marketing programs and more.

With over 20 years of experience leading corporate and product marketing and community building for organisations that primarily target the developer audience, Faatz has a proven track record of conceptualising and orchestrating campaigns that evolve the brand and positively impact the company’s image and revenue.

Over the years, she has run marketing departments (both large and small), built community programmes from the ground up, created partner programmes, and acted as a brand ambassador and spokesperson for various organisations.

Sharina Khan, Lead Consultant and Experience Designer at Thoughtworks

Sharina Khan is the Lead Consultant and Experience Designer at Thoughtworks, with six years of experience in this domain and over ten years in Product Design and Development as a practitioner and educator.

She is actively involved in the Design Community, conducting design, business and innovation workshops, classes and events with a focus on educating and sharing design methodologies to better engage designers and non-designers in co-creation activities. Khan continually updates her skills with industry-specific tools in a technology-driven, experience-based economy.

“I feel fortunate to work for a tech company that places a high value on diversity and provides a supportive environment for women to advance in their careers. It’s especially inspiring to see a considerable number of women holding leadership positions within the company, as this has created a valuable network of support for mentoring and guidance in a field that is largely male-dominated.

Our efforts to support each other have not only helped us develop our skills and increase our confidence, but it has also enabled us to gain greater visibility within the organization and strive for even greater achievements. Through our willingness to take on new challenges and step outside our comfort zones, we can continue to raise the bar and make significant strides in our careers. While we are our own toughest opponents, with determination and support, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way.”

Sheryl Chen, Marketing and Content Manager at Qualgro Venture Capital

As the Marketing and Content Manager, Sheryl Chen leads marketing, content strategy, partnerships, and community programmes at Qualgro Venture Capital. Previously, she was a Programme Manager at Google Cloud for Startups, covering events, programmes and partnerships across JAPAC.

Surbhi Agarwal, Senior VP and Head of Marketing at Yellow AI

Surbhi Agarwal is a seasoned technology leader with over 20 years of experience in startups and large enterprises such as McAfee, Intel and Google. She managed over US$1B of Cloud Data and an AI product portfolio at Google.

She currently heads the marketing division of Yellow.ai. She has built a high-performing global organisation to lead all critical go-to-market functions, such as product marketing, demand generation, content strategy, revenue operations, brand, SEO, website, AR, and PR.

Agarwal has an MBA from UC Berkeley and is an Electrical Engineer recognised in the Women in Tech and Women in AI communities for the business impact made in technology. She is a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) Advocate and a Girls Who Code programme sponsor.

“It is crucial to shatter the glass ceiling that women face at the workplace to create more opportunities for them to succeed in male-dominated industries like technology. This requires a multi-faceted approach.

Firstly, we must acknowledge and challenge traditional stereotypes and unconscious biases limiting women’s access to these industries. This can be achieved by raising awareness around such unconscious biases and their impact, highlighting women’s achievements in the field, promoting allyship, and providing them with mentorship and networking opportunities.

Secondly, companies should establish clear diversity and inclusion policies prioritising hiring and promoting women in leadership positions.

Thirdly, it is crucial to address the one fundamental root cause of the glass ceiling: the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields. This can be done by investing in education and training programs that specifically target girls and women. Providing them access to the latest technology and tools will also help bridge the gender gap in technology. By creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment in STEM education and workplaces, we can achieve a more equitable future for women.

Individually, my advice to women is to have a point of view and never be afraid to express it. Your point of view is important because it can make a big difference for other women and diverse communities. I encourage women in leadership positions today to make room for other women and find and coach them.

For young beginners in the industry, find time to meet with other women leaders you admire and find like-minded queen bees within and outside your organisation who can help you on your career journey. Ultimately, it all comes down to working for and with one another.”

Yap Zhi Xin, BD Professional in FX and Alternative Investments

Yap Zhi Xin is a Business Development and Investor Relations professional in alternative investments. She is helping investors of all classes build wealth through FX strategies in a global currency fund.

Yuhwen Foong, Founder at SushiVid

Fairly independent and ambitious, Yuhwen Foong runs a startup in Malaysia called SushiVid that provides influencers to brands for campaigns. SushiVid has produced over 11000 branded content for brands across Southeast Asia for over 1500 brands.

Zelia Leong, Co-Founder at PraisePal

Zelia Leong is the Co-Founder of PraisePal. With a decade of experience in the tech industry, Leong also leads the team at PraisePal to help more companies align their culture and boost employee engagement across their global teams. Her human resources and organisational design background contributes to the PraisePal solution of creating a long-term, scalable culture of recognition for organisations.

Echelon Asia Summit 2023 brings together APAC’s leading startups, corporates, policymakers, industry leaders, and investors to Singapore this June 14-15. Learn more and get tickets here. Echelon also features the TOP100 stage, where startups can pitch to 5000+ delegates, among other benefits like a chance to connect with investors, visibility through e27 platform, and other prizes. Join TOP100 here.

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