Published on 15 Mar 2024

Women of strength

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we catch up with three talented alumnae who have shown tenacity in their respective fields while wearing multiple hats.

By Nur Isyana Isaman

Helping others speak up

NTU alumna Lin YouyiLet us amplify our voices, break gender barriers, and create a world where every woman's story is heard and celebrated.”

Iriana Halim (NBS/2003), better known as Lin Youyi, is a familiar face on Mediacorp TV's Channel 8. There she is a presenter for the evening news – a career she started a few years after graduating from NTU with a Bachelor of Accountancy. 

“I went for an audition at a radio station when I graduated, which eventually led me to the role of producer cum presenter for Mediacorp TV News in 2008. My early days involved producing current affairs stories, presenting live news, and interviewing influential newsmakers,” said Youyi, named the Best Current Affairs Presenter at Star Awards 2012.

Work brought her to Bhola Island in Bangladesh, where she interviewed a child bride for a travelogue TV show. The child’s plight made her realise the importance of empowering people with the skills to speak up for themselves. 

Youyi decided to become a freelance public speaking coach in 2019 on top of her regular newscaster job. A few years later, she mustered the courage to start her own company, now known as R.E.A.L Life, to train executives and individuals on effective presentation skills. Her clientele includes Asia Pacific leaders from Philips, and Estee Lauder, as well as speakers for the Million Dollar Round Table.

Despite years of experience in front of TV cameras and hosting large-scale public events, she initially had doubts about expanding her repertoire. 

“When I started making social media videos on presentation tips, the results were encouraging, but I started imposing expectations on my work, wanting everything to be ‘perfect’. I tucked away drafts of recorded videos because they were not ‘perfect’.”

The realisation hit her when she spoke with a client who had perfection paralysis. She told her client that the only way for her to become a better presenter is to stop rehearsing only in the head but to get out there, speak to people, and get feedback. 

“I realised then I was also talking to myself. It was the reminder I needed: always choose progression over perfection,” she said. “As a coach, I empower others to not just present but also present with confidence and create meaningful impact. As women, let us amplify our voices, break gender barriers, and create a world where every woman's story is heard and celebrated.”

Navigating through uncharted waters

NTU alumna Elsie LiowPersistence has been the driving force behind my success.”

When Elsie Liow (NBS/2001) was a student growing up, she and her siblings had to squeeze into a small flat, and finances were tight. She was determined to turn her fate around by working hard. 

When she was just 26, she founded her first company in Singapore which specialises in relocation services for businesses and families, helping them with legal procedures and settling in a new country. 

“My proudest moment was when my first company was acquired by a renowned American private equity firm in 2013,” she said. At that time, her company had 14 Asia-Pacific offices with 270 employees serving clients from 15 countries. 

In July 2023, Elsie founded another immigration and relocation firm, Adepture Consulting, to cater to high-net-worth individuals and leads the firm as its Managing Director. 

Her entrepreneurial journey is not without speed bumps. Elsie experienced what she describes as “the darkest times” in her career when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It disrupted her business expansion plans, and she had to ensure that the company was aware of the latest immigration policies and requirements, which were constantly changing during that period. 

“Persistence has been the driving force behind my success, especially since entrepreneurship can sometimes be a lonely journey. With a ‘never give up’ attitude and an optimistic outlook, coupled with the support of my capable team, we managed to adapt and thrive during the pandemic. I hope to be an exemplary figure to my four children, for them to learn to be resilient and optimistic solution-seekers in their endeavours,” said Elsie.

For her strong business acumen, she has received multiple awards over the years, the most recent being the Phoenix Award at Women Entrepreneurs Award (WEA) 2023, which recognises outstanding female leaders who persevered through the pandemic and emerged stronger.

Uncovering sustainable solutions through science

NTU alumna Dr Leow Wan Ru“I hope that more young people, especially young women, can be inspired to pursue an education and career in science and technology.”

Dr Leow Wan Ru (CCEB/2012), a female scientist with the A*STAR Institute of Sustainability for Chemicals, Energy & Environment (ISCE2), does not back down when she cannot solve a problem. 

As a pioneer researcher in using renewable energy instead of conventional high heat to power chemical processes, Dr Leow aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to create a significant positive impact on the environment. Her ultimate goal is to achieve a clean and sustainable environment for mankind.

On her research journey, her current key challenge is to understand an observed phenomenon that occurs unexpectedly. 

She said, “For example, we observed that aluminium oxide can enable photocatalytic transformations, which goes against our understanding due to its nature as an insulator. To solve and explain the phenomenon, we worked with many research collaborators and looked for clues in existing science literature, even those dating from the 1980s.” 

Recently, Dr Leow was honoured at the L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Singapore 2023 ceremony for her contribution to an important research field. 

“It motivates me to work harder to develop more technological solutions that can help our environment, as well as to train future generations of scientists to be equipped for the next sustainability challenges. I hope that more young people, especially young women, can be inspired to pursue an education and career in science and technology,” she said. 

Looking back on her journey, Dr Leow is grateful to her NTU PhD mentor, Prof Chen Xiaodong.

“During my studies at NTU, there were many programmes, including the Undergraduate Research Experience on Campus (URECA), where I could access the professors’ laboratories and have early exposure to research work. Through these experiences, I discovered the joy of solving challenges and discovering new scientific knowledge, which motivated me to pursue a career in science,” said Dr Leow, who has been working on breaking new boundaries in research while balancing motherhood and family duties. 

“Raising children and the pursuit of scientific breakthroughs are similar in that both require perseverance, observation, and trial and error. Thankfully, my co-workers are very kind and understanding. Many strong female leaders understand my struggles and have provided me with a lot of advice and support.”

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