Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

Kudos to Asia’s power businesswomen in Forbes list

Nov 13, 2021, 3:49 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

LAST November 9, my attention was caught in the story about Maria Grace Y. Uy, married to Dennis Anthony H. Uy (not the crony of President Duterte but the respectable and hardworking businessman from Pampanga) who was in the Forbes list of power businesswomen.

Maria Grace, who holds many titles--- co-founder, president, chief resource officer and executive director—at Converge ICT Solutions (which fortunately is what I use at home since three years ago) is among the indefatigable stellar women in business in 2021 despite the “curveballs thrown at them by the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Chaitra Anand in her story.

At a time when survival of businesses has been a great challenge since the onset of the pandemic, Asia's most adaptive and zealous businesswomen have emerged unbeaten.

Forbes ranked the best female forces in business across ages and across sectors – spanning manufacturing, health care and technology, banking and private equity, and retail – and arrived at 20 prominent leaders who command startups valued at more than $100 million or are running businesses with outstanding revenues.

The list is dominated by businesswomen from Japan, Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries. But one notable name from Philippines stands tall on the Forbes 2021 Asia’s Power Businesswomen list.

What makes this year's list special is that all of them are new entrants amid cutthroat competition.

Maria Grace and husband Dennis founded Converge ICT Solutions in 2007 and currently serves as President, Chief Resources Officer and Executive Director of the company.

The company is committed to providing pure end-to-end fiber internet connection from their network facilities to Filipino homes ensuring that there is no loss in data transmission or slowdown in internet connectivity.

As a certified accountant, prior to founding Converge, Maria Grace has served in several senior executive roles including IBM and Savers Mall Group of Companies in the Philippines.

She has been instrumental in helping grow Converge ICT into one of the largest fixed broadband operators in the Philippines. Under her leadership the company sealed a $250 million investment from Warburg Pincus and used it to expand its fiber network to cover 25 per cent of Filipino households.

In 2020, Philippines witnessed one of the largest IPOs, when Converge ICT Solutions went public raising $522 million. Shares of the company have since risen over 70 per cent, pushing Converge’s market cap to P233 billion ($4.6 billion).

The pandemic-driven demand led to 84 per cent rise in the company's revenues and it has doubled its subscriber base to over 1 million since last year. Maria Grace has been the driving force behind this augmented growth.

With only 20 spots on this esteemed list, it's noteworthy that three women from Japan and three from Singapore have been named Asia's most powerful.

Keiko Erikawa, 72, is the executive chairman of Koei Tecmo, a Japanese video game and anime company created in 2009. Erikawa debuts on this list for having reported 11 straight years of record net profits and for managing Koei Tecmo’s $1.1 billion ($1.48 billion) in assets across Japan, Hong Kong and the US.

Eiko Hashiba, 43, from Japan, is the founder and CEO of VisasQ, a leading global expert network service. Hashiba reportedly owns more than $240 million ($324 million) in shares of VisasQ, which has a $471 million ($634 million) market capitalization.

Takayo Kotani, 44 from Japan, is the president of robot manufacturer Yushin Precision Equipment. Ever since having taken over the reins of the firm from her mother, Takayo has grown the company successfully and posted about $170 million ($229) in revenue and an operating profit margin of nearly 14 per cent in the recent fiscal year despite the pandemic.

Judy HSU, a 58-year old Veteran banker, is the CEO for consumer, private and business banking at Standard Chartered Bank and is a prominent name from Singapore making an appearance on the list.

NG Gim Choo, 69, is the founder of Singapore-based International Education Group EtonHouse. Under her watch and leadership EtonHouse has grown to house 20,000 students across 130 campuses in 11 Asian countries.

Helen Wong, 60, is the Group CEO of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) headquartered in Singapore, and the first woman to hold this position at the second-largest bank by market value.

Other prominent Asian women

Indian businesswomen aren't too far behind on this list, with two entrants.

Meena Ganesh, 58, is the co-founder and chairperson of Portea Medical, India. It is the largest home healthcare company by revenue. She said the pandemic highlighted the dire need for home health care.

Farah Malik Bhanji, 45, is the managing director of Metro Brands, India’s fourth-largest footwear retailer by revenues. As the pandemic brought about many challenges, a prudent Bhanji was quick to ramp up online presence and sales.

From Hongkong are Teresa Ko-China, 61, chairman of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the largest and most prestigious international law firms in the world and Janice Lee, 51, CEO of the video streaming platform Viu. Under Lee's leadership, Viu has overtaken Netflix to become the second-largest streaming service by subscription in Asia.

South Korea's two entrants this year are Kim Seon-Hee, CEO of Maeil Dairies and Lee In-Kyung of MBK Partners.

From Indonesia are Marina Budiman, co-founder and president commissioner of DCI and Tessa Wijaya, COO of Xendit.

The lone entrant from China is Cao Xiaochun, 52, president of professional clinical research firm Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting.

From Taiwan are Winnie Lee, co-founder and COO of Appier, Wallapa Traisorat, president and CEO of Asset World Corp, Thailand and Nadiah Wan, group CEO and executive director of TMC Life Sciences, also earned themselves a mention among Asia's most powerful women for this year.

To be in the Forbes list is something people aspire for—so much like the Nobel Prize and those given to movie and music industries.

Forbes is known for listing the super- rich (billionaires) and the super-successful people.

But I certainly wish that Forbes would also feature billionaires that have given humanitarian assistance consistently so that their wealth would have some relevance to our world


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