The 18 Awesome Women of SaaS in Asia10 min read
We want to think of International Women’s Day as a day to celebrate women – their power and glory – rather than their difficulties in navigating a male-dominated world. We would like you to meet a few extraordinary women who have the impressive task of driving tech in Asia, a part of the world that could be even more challenging to women.
These 18 women are powerful, relentless and are all making SaaS and tech in general a better place. They have impressive professional achievements, all the way from founding companies through to running international operations across continents all the way to funding the SaaS companies of the future. They are stars in tech in Asia.
Meet these outstanding women, some of which we will welcome at SaaStock Asia in Hong Kong in May 14-16. Grab a ticket before the end of the day on March 8th to avail of Early bird prices.
The inspiring entrepreneurial journey of Carman Chan started in her teen years with an extraordinary fondness of mathematics. Fast forward, in the late 90s, she rejected a Ph.D. scholarship in mathematics at Imperial College London. The reason? Because, as she says, building a startup is simply much more fun. Today Carman is Founder and Managing Partner of Click Ventures, the globally renowned Hong Kong venture capital firm. Before getting into the investment world, she started and sold two successful companies in edutainment, and made a prominent name in the tech field around the world. At Click Ventures, Carman uses her impressive skills to lead companies on the right path, with an unheard of failure rate of funded businesses – below 10%.
Everything about Diny Gomes screams energy. She has been around the globe, working in startups and digital agencies in Brazil, Germany, Southeast Asia, and Hong Kong. Her superpower is product management, helping teams outperform by organizing work in the right way and with the right processes. Coming from Brazil, Diny has been Product Manager at HappyFresh in Indonesia for almost three years. In 2018, she moved to Hong Kong to head product at Lalamove and now is the Product Manager at Gravity Supply Chain. Diny is dedicated to advancing women in tech to become leaders in their fields.
These days, Jessie Lam has purple hair and is a Certified Public Accountant. After five years at Ernst & Young in New York, she served as Vice President at Citigroup in the Big Apple. Jessie moved to Hong Kong in 2015, where she joined Credit Suisse as Vice President. After 11 years in finances, in 2016 she became the CFO of Brinc.io, boldly entering into the tech world. Jessie provides invaluable know-how to portfolio companies on cash flow, fundraising, and financing strategies. She is also an active tech investor in Asia, complementing the financing with business development insights.
Jessica Liu studied Business Administration in Hong Kong and within two years of working at HSBC, she became Vice President. She then transitioned to management consulting at YCP Holdings, where she provided financial advisory and strategic consulting. In 2018, Jessica made a move to the entrepreneurial side by becoming one of the founders of Planto.io – a personal financial management app. At the beginning of 2019, she became an ambassador of Moxie Future, an initiative for women investors that facilitates investment in a responsible and sustainable future.
Jenny Lee is the Head of Growth of WeLab. Founded in 2013 in Hong Kong, WeLab is reinventing traditional financial services by creating seamless mobile lending experiences. With its proprietary risk management technology, WeLab effectively analyzes unstructured mobile big data within seconds to make credit decisions for borrowers. In WeLab, Jenny has led the company’s expansion into its third market, Indonesia, and helped raise $220 million in the latest round of strategic financing. With such a feat under her belt, unsurprisingly, she made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2016. Jenny has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wellesley College and prior to joining WeLab, Jenny was an investment banker on Wall Street in New York and Hong Kong, executing M&A and capital markets transactions and advising companies on strategic options.
Hooi Ling Tan
Hooi Ling Tan is a mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur. After an MBA at Harvard Business School, she progressed at McKinsey & Company, advising global corporations. Hooi Ling then moved on to Salesforce, where she was Senior Director for Pricing Intelligence and Monetization. All the while, she was also building up her path in entrepreneurship. In 2011, she co-founded Grab (previously known as MyTeksi) together with fellow Malaysian and Harvard graduate Anthony Tan. Today Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing platform, valued at $3 billion. It’s no wonder that Hooi Ling Tan is on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 List.
Bai Xue believed in the internet – and in 2003 she did the unthinkable: she quit a secure and well-paid job at Panasonic to join the startup movement. She started working at Alibaba, which at the time was far from having glorious days. Bai took on a number of senior positions – Director of HR and Director of Marketing at Alibaba, as well as Chief Marketing Officer of Jiangsu Ju Teng Network Technology. With more than 15 years of solid experience, today she is the Chief Operations Officer at the Ping An Health Cloud, known as the most advanced AI healthcare technology. Bai is not afraid to lead in a man’s world – she says it’s just about getting the right skills to complement a woman’s natural intuitive approach.
Kathleen Ting studied at Cornell University before joining the financial service provider BlackRock in New York as Global Consulting Relations Analyst. In 2012, she moved to Hong Kong and later on served as its Vice President there. Kathleen launched and built up the Family Office and Fund-of-Funds business at BlackRock AxJ. But the founder streak was strong in her and in 2017, she started her own business: MeeOpp. It is an on-demand learning platform which is currently focusing on Mandarin. With her tech startup, Kathleen is eager to fill a gap in the education space.
Lisa Zhang studied International Management and Business Administration at the University of Sydney. In 2012, she became Assistant VP at JJL Overseas Education in Beijing, soon enough becoming its VP of Global Development. After almost four years at the education management company, she moved into tech and joined Odoo, the business open-source suite of applications. Lisa is now a Business Advisor for Asia Pacific and Inspur-Odoo JV Key Account Manager there. She is in charge of the full SaaS solution sales cycle. Her specialties are SME digitalization strategy, CRM and sales growth, and business process optimization.
Maxine Ryan is often called a ‘bitcoin queen.’ She has been featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Asia in Finance and Venture Capital for 2018. Her prominence in the Bitcoin arena comes with her co-founding and leading the operations of the Hong Kong-based Bitspark. It’s a FinTech startup that pioneers the cash-in cash-out blockchain remittances and allows users with no knowledge in the cryptocurrencies to join its decentralized network. Maxine’s passion? To provide freedom of financial services for everyone.
Sonalie Figueiras has spent the last 10 years in publishing and digital marketingas as well as organic trade and health journalism. She has learned a lot on the way which she shares on the stage of events, ecological forums in Asia and around the world, as well as in publications such as Forbes, CNN, CNBC, and The Huffington Post, among others. Sonalie is the editor-in-chief of Green Queen, which is the biggest eco-wellness media in Asia. She’s also the founder and CEO and Ekowarehouse, which is a platform for worldwide sourcing of organic food.
Yeone Fok has an impressive educational list, featuring Cambridge, Oxford, and Harvard. With a Master’s degree in Law, she delved into investment banking and equity capital, working at Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan, and Deutsche Bank. in 2015, she made a move to the other side and left banking. Yeone founded her own company, SparkRaise, which is a crowdfunding and networking platform for creators, based in Hong Kong. Yeone is a prominent tech and startup speaker, passionate about mentoring young talent.
Pocket Sun is certainly a name to remember. Born in China, she studied in the U.S. and was hoping to continue her career in the corporate world there. A streak of seemingly unlucky events which had her almost lose the right to stay in the U.S. led to an amazing twist: Pocket entered the entrepreneurial world with a bang. She became one of the youngest people to make it to Forbes magazine’s cover – only at 24. Pocket is a TEDx and industry speaker. Today she lives in Singapore and is leading SoGal Ventures, a unique female-led millennial venture capital firm which funds startups in North America and Asia Pacific. The VC finances startups headed by women, investing in their success from an early stage.
Hande Cilingir is a citizen of the world: she has lived and worked in the Middle East, UK, China, Asia Pacific, and Russia. She’s studied at London School of Economics and got a Master’s from Shanghai Normal University. But beyond the dry facts, Hande is a pure entrepreneurial powerhouse. Today she is the co-founder and CEO of the Singapore-based Insider, a growth management platform for digital marketers. The tech company has offices across the globe – from London to Taipei, and is used by a number of Fortune 500 companies.
Jaclyn Tsui studied science at Imperial College London and the University of Hong Kong. And then she studied software development at Fullstack Academy. She has been an investment manager as well as a product manager at a Techstars startup, so she knows a thing or two about venture capital and entrepreneurship. Straight after Fullstack, she became Founder and Managing Partner at Altitude Labs. It is full-service agile software development, UI/UX and data science consulting firm with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and San Francisco. And not surprisingly, Jaclyn wants to empower women who code.
With an MBA from INSEAD and a BComm from the University of British Columbia, Janet Yuen has a rich international experience under her belt. She has led marketing and communications and strategy at Samsung and PwC, among others. In 2016, she moved to Hong Kong to head Innovation at HSBC. Since 2018, Janet is the Global Head of Conversational Banking at the giant. As she notes, she’s keen on identifying new opportunities at the intersection of user needs, tech capabilities and strategy.
Kandy Yeung studied Materials Science and Engineering and got a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She has interdisciplinary research experience in electrochemistry, polymer and semiconducting. But Kandy is not only an accomplished scientist: she is also a citizen of the world and a passionate entrepreneur. In 2016, she co-founded Oxpecker Labs Limited and is also its CTO, responsible for developing its technology. The company develops next-gen wearable healthcare devices, which can seamlessly blend into people’s lifestyles.
Anita Varshney studied MBA at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. She then joined PwC India as a Process Improvement Consultant and helped customers on realizing their business strategies across industry sectors. Since 2008, she has been on the SAP team. First, she started in Singapore as Business Transformation Consultant, and since 2012 she’s been based in Hong Kong, where she is the Strategy & Transformation Lead of SAP Next-Gen. It’s SAP’s innovation university and community, focusing on the company’s commitment to sustainable development and global goals. Anita is passionate about change and innovation and is a driving force behind campaigns with a purpose, impact investing, and global sustainable projects.
Let’s celebrate these extraordinary women of SaaS in Asia. Their achievements are truly extraordinary and we are in awe of them. Join us for SaaStock Asia 2019 in Hong Kong to learn from and with them. Grab a ticket before the end of the day March 8th and save $100.
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