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Worldwide Hotels' Carolyn Choo featured in Forbes' Power Businesswomen list

The annual Forbes list honours 20 successful female leaders across the Asia-Pacific region.

The women who are featured in Forbes' Power Businesswomen list 2023.
Forbes Asia announced its Power Businesswomen list 2023 on Tuesday, 7 November 2023. (PHOTO: Forbes) (Forbes Asia)

SINGAPORE — Singaporean Carolyn Choo, the CEO and managing director of Worldwide Hotels, is one of 20 women in Forbes Asia's Power Businesswomen list 2023 that was unveiled on Tuesday (7 November).

The annual list honours 20 successful female leaders across the Asia-Pacific region, who operate in a broad range industries including finance and banking, property, technology and commodities.

Choo, 45, manages Worldwide Hotels, a budget hotel chain that was established in 1995 by her billionaire father Choo Chong Ngen. She had quit her job in a local bank in Singapore in 2002 to join the business.

She was appointed as CEO and managing director in 2017 and then led the group's transformation as it expanded into the mid-tier segment and across Asia Pacific. Currently, the company owns 38 hotels in Singapore, managed by its six hotel brands, and 11 hotels across Australia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand. They are managed by brands like Holiday Inn, Ibis and Travelodge.

Choo said growing Worldwide Hotels' global footprint over the next decade will be a key priority. She also said that the company isn't interested in resort or luxury hotels.

"We don't chase targets or numbers, we'e really opportunity-based," she said to Forbes Asia. "We always invest for the long term. So we don't sell any assets, we just buy."

Another honoree is Tracy Ma, the founding partner, co-president and co-chief operating officer of Hillhouse Capital Management, an investment powerhouse with more than US$100 billion in assets under management.

The 45-year-old was Hillhouse founder Zhang Lei's first hire at his private equity firm.

Hillhouse, which was founded in 2005, is well known for its gender diversity. The company said more than half of its employees are women, and almost 40 per cent are partner-level staff.

"I attribute Hillhouse's impressive growth, investment success and unique culture to the firm's large percentage of female leaders," said Ma. "Women tend to have a long-term outlook which works well within the Hillhouse context where we evaluate investments and partnerships over the long term."

All newcomers to Forbes list

All 20 women highlighted this year are newcomers, Forbes said, adding to Forbes Asia's network of outstanding businesswomen in the Asia-Pacific region.

Forbes said that they have been selected for their achievements and track records as business leaders. Some have moved up the corporate ladder to the top rung—and in many cases becoming the first woman to take on these roles. Others are leading their family businesses to new heights or building their own enterprises.

Among them are Makiko Ono, the first female CEO of Suntory Beverage & Food, the listed arm of Suntory Holdings; Trudy Dai, an early founding member of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group; and Lee Young-hee, president of global marketing office at Samsung Electronics, who is the first and only woman outside the founding family to hold the rank of president at the Samsung Group.

"The 20 outstanding women featured on this year's Forbes Asia’s Power Businesswomen list are undeterred by new economic realities. From top executives at leading business and financial institutions—who are, in many cases, the first woman to take on these roles—to those driving their family businesses to new heights or starting their own, these trailblazers are truly unstoppable," said Rana Wehbe Watson, the editor of Forbes Asia's Power Businesswomen list 2023.

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