Wonder Women in Asian Tech
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
In light of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2020, we celebrate 8 ladies who have made their mark in the tech industry, be it by founding companies or rising to be leaders in their field.
1. Akiko Naka, Wantedly
The youngest female founder to take a company public in Japan, Akiko Naka has an impressive resume. Graduating from Japan’s Kyoto University and moving onto Goldman Sachs and Facebook before starting her own company, Wantedly, this female boss has created a social-networking service for professionals in Japan.
LinkedIn is still the platform most of us will be familiar with, but Wantedly is about on par with it in Japan according to Forbes, with a market value of 29 billion yen as of 2019.
2. Maggie Wu Wei, Alibaba
Most people would have heard of Alibaba and Jack Ma, but how about Maggie Wu Wei? The Chief Financial Officer for Alibaba Group, she joined the company just in time for their first initial public offering (IPO) in 2007.
She co-led the privatization of Alibaba.com in 2012, before going public again in a $25 billion IPO in 2014 which remained the largest in the world before being overtaken in 2019. Impressively, she also led the third IPO for the group, with their IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange being the largest in 2019 at $8.1 billion.
3. Hooi Ling Tan, Grab
Did we ever think Grab would be Southeast Asia’s first decacorn? Singaporean Co-founder Hooi Ling Tan might have, when she first thought of this idea with her classmate Anthony Tan.
As Chief Operating Officer, she focuses on growing market share in the eight cities that Grab operates in. With Grab raising an additional $856 million in funding from two Japanese investors, and rumours swirling of a potential merger between Grab and SEA’s second decacorn, Go-Jek, the company seems poised to expand even further.
4. Zhou Qunfei, Lens Technology
Credit: Lens Technology
The richest woman in China, Zhou Qunfei is quite the businesswoman. From humble beginnings dropping out of high school to work at a watch lens factory, she eventually started her own company producing watch lenses.
From there, she bagged contracts with TCL Corporation and Motorola before setting up her own company, Lens Technology, that would eventually develop into producing screens for brands such as Apple, Samsung and more. What’s more, she holds the position of the richest self-made woman in the world with Forbes estimating her net worth at US$9.8 billion.
5. Jane Jie Sun, Trip.com Group
The CEO of Trip.com Group (previously known as Ctrip), the largest online travel agency in China, Jane Jie Sun worked in Silicon Valley before returning to China to join Alibaba as their first Chief Technology Officer.
In 2005, she joined Ctrip as their Chief Financial Officer before working her way through the ranks to take over from founder, James Liang, as CEO.
6. Jean Liu, Didi Chuxing
Credit: MIT Technology Review
The President of Didi Chuxing, Jean Liu, had big shoes to fill with her father being the founder of Lenovo, but she did it. After getting her Master’s degree in Computer Science from Harvard University, she joined Goldman Sachs and became a managing director in 2012 before leaving to join Didi Dache in 2014.
She successfully oversaw the merger of Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, resulting in the company now known as Didi Chuxing.
7. Han Seong-Sook, Naver Corporation
Credit: Nikkei Asian Review
Naver is huge in South Korea; they not only run the Korean search engine, but also manage the messaging app Line, video messenger Snow and more. And at the head of all that is CEO Han Seong-Sook.
Taking over the helm of Naver in 2017, she’s the first-ever female CEO that Naver has had. Previously a tech journalist and internet entrepreneur, under Han Seong-Sook’s leadership, Naver has committed hundreds of millions to develop AI and blockchain technologies, as well as launched a mobile payment system and music live-streaming service that has gained popularity across Southeast Asia.
8. Lam Wai Ying, Biel Crystal
Last but not least, we have Lam Wai Ying, who also made her fortune (US$3.9 billion at time of publication) selling smartphone screens to brands like Apple. Lam Wai Ying is the co-founder of Biel Crystal Manufactory alongside her husband, Yeung Kin-man.
Similar to Zhou Qunfei, Lam Wai Ying’s company also supplies glass screens to Apple, Samsung and Huawei.
The tech industry might still mostly be dominated by men, but there are definitely some truly inspirational stories of females climbing the ladder to make it to the top.