SINGAPORE - Her World, Singapore's No. 1 women's magazine, published by SPH Magazines Pte Ltd (SPH Magazines), presented the prestigious Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever Awards 2014 at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore tonight. Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education, was the event's Guest of Honour.
Her World magazine, a monthly title read by the stylish achiever, prides itself in being the voice of the Singapore woman. Every month, it engages its readers with exciting reads about dynamic women pursuing exceptional work and sharing inspiring experiences.
Every year, Her World presents two prestigious awards - Her World Woman of the Year and Her World Young Woman Achiever to outstanding Singapore women who are inspirational role models to other women.
The Her World Woman of the Year award, presented annually since 1991, recognises a woman whose outstanding achievements have brought her to public notice and earned her wide respect. She projects the best of Singapore at home and abroad, and her accomplishments will leave a lasting impression. She is an inspiration and role model to other women. Past winners include Professor Chan Heng Chee (1991), Ms Jennie Chua (1999), Dr Noeleen Heyzer (2007), Dr Cheong Koon Hean (2010) and Professor Ivy Ng (2011/12).
The Her World Woman of the Year 2014 winner is Rachel Eng, 46, joint managing partner of WongPartnership LLP.
An outstanding corporate lawyer, Rachel is at the helm of one of the largest law firms in Singapore with close to 300 lawyers. Since joining the firm in 1995, she has been a key driver of its growth, helping to develop its China practice and growing the firm's corporate department four-fold from 20 lawyers in 2000 to almost 80 in 2005. Under her watch, WongPartnership LLP won Best National Firm (Overall) and Best Firm In Singapore three times in a row (2011, 2012 and 2013) at the Euromoney Legal Media Group Asia Women in Business Law Awards.
In 2010, she made history by becoming the first woman to helm a 'Big Four' law firm in Singapore. She was also the first woman to be named "Managing Partner of the Year" at the prestigious Thomson Reuters Asian Legal Business South East Asia Law Awards in 2011. She won the award again in 2013, making her the first person to have won it twice.
As a mother of three children, Rachel champions family-friendly practices such as flexi-work options that allow working mothers and fathers in the firm to balance their work and family commitments. Rachel is also a mentor at the Young Women's Leadership Connection and is one of the champions of BoardAgender, a non-profit organisation that promotes gender diversity in the boardroom. Under her leadership, the ratio of female to male partners at WongPartnership LLP is 55:43.
Rachel said: "I would like to thank Her World for this recognition - I could not have done this on my own. That's why I would like to thank my partners and colleagues at WongPartnership, as well as my mentors, Wong Meng Meng, Alvin Yeo and Dilhan Pillay Sandrasegara who have given me guidance, support and encouragement. And most importantly, I thank my husband Dennis and my children from the bottom of my heart. Through the years, when I was down or felt defeated, they've always been there to support me with their love and care."
"There have been debates on whether women can have it all. For those of us who choose to build a career, we will need to bear with some trade-offs as it is challenging to be perfect all around. Ultimately, each woman must define what 'having it all' means to her and, to quote a recent song by John Legend, 'love your perfect imperfections.'"
The Her World Young Woman Achiever award was launched in 1999. The annual award recognises a young woman who aims higher and reaches further to achieve more. Her achievements have surpassed existing boundaries, inspiring those around her and paving the way for others in the future. She has also demonstrated the potential for attaining a higher level of success in her chosen field.
The Her World Young Woman Achiever 2014 goes to Sim Chi Yin, 35, an award-winning freelance photojournalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, TIME and Le Monde.
After graduating with a Masters in History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2001, Chi Yin began working at The Straits Times where she covered political and social issues, with a special interest in migration and labour topics. In 2007, she became the paper's China correspondent, based in Beijing. In 2011, she decided to leave her foreign correspondent position to pursue photojournalism full time.
In the same year, Chi Yin was selected to be part of the prestigious international photo agency VII's Mentor Program where she was mentored for three years by renowned British photojournalist, Marcus Bleasdale. Earlier this year, she took on a new honour, when she was voted to become a member of VII and one of just twenty photographers around the world represented by the agency.
A strong believer in social justice, Chi Yin's work has focused on championing the underdog and she continues to use her photographs as a medium to tell the stories of the marginalised. Some of her notable work includes photographing China's 'Rat Tribe' (the scores of migrant workers who live in cramped underground basements in Beijing) and documenting the journeys taken by Indonesian domestic workers as they prepare to leave their homes to work in Singapore. In 2011, her photos and essays about the struggles and triumphs of female Indonesian domestic workers were published by the United Nations' International Labour Organisation into a book titled, The Long Road Home.
For her achievements, she won both the Discernment Award and the Eternal Discovery Award (also known as the People's Choice Award), at the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu Awards 2013, Singapore's richest photography awards. She was also placed on the award-winning photography magazine, Photo District News' list of 30 emerging photographers for 2013 and the British Journal of Photography's list of 30 'Ones to Watch' for 2014.
Chi Yin said: "I'm honoured to be given this award. It is always tough to take the path untrodden and not that of least resistance. Support from one's community and recognition for other forms of 'success' are very much welcome and appreciated. For younger women (and men) out there, if you have a dream, pursue it with guts and faith. Ideals and a sense of social purpose are very important to anyone - and to a society."
Pearlyn Tham, editor of Her World, said: "Every year, the Her World Woman of the Year award recognises local women who have not only excelled in their fields but whose success has had a great impact on society here and overseas. And as the leading women's magazine in Singapore, we are proud to be inspiring our readers with such success stories and hopefully spurring them on to create their own success stories, too."
Mr Loh Yew Seng, CEO of SPH Magazines, said: "We have come a long way since the Her World Woman of the Year awards was launched 23 years ago. As the most popular and widely read women's magazine in Singapore, Her World will continue to inspire our readers by celebrating women who are highly accomplished and well-respected."
The event was presented by Mercedes-Benz and sponsored by DBS, Ebel and SK-II.