A woman is a symbol of strength, power, talent, and intellect. There are many struggles in our daily lives, but facing the obstacles and achieving your goal is the way to conquer the world. Mrs. Claire Chiang – a social activist, entrepreneur and an author, is one such example who has struggled in life but has still come out stronger than ever to the world by achieving her dreams and fighting the obstacles of her life. The rest of the story shows an insight into her life.
Claire grew up in a two-room flat in Little India with her parents and five elder brothers. Her father was an accountant, and her mother did various odd jobs. It was not easy for such a big family to live in a two-bedroom shophouse on Race Course Road. However, her paternal grandmother and mother had a big influence on building her idea of feminism and womanhood.
In her childhood, Chiang would use the short pencils that her brothers discarded. She would tie them to rolled-up cardboard for them to become long enough to be held and used. She would sharpen them until only a small portion of graphite was left. In her childhood, she would reuse materials and make her possessions like dresses and baskets. It inculcated in her an awareness of scarcity, preparing her to work as the co-founder of Banyan tree holdings and the chairperson of Wildlife reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF).
To ensure Chiang had a strong bilingual education, her mother pursued her schooling from Nan Hua Primary school in the morning and Raffles Girls’ Primary School in the afternoon. Graduating from the National University of Singapore as a sociology major, she alongside did a program in translation from the Sorbonne University in Paris while working at the French Embassy. She had many struggles in her life. She lived a life mixed with adversity, didn’t have the luxury to eat chicken on a daily basis. Her family could only afford vegetarian meals for her kins. Despite the poverty, it didn’t deter the family from offering food to the needy. Sometimes her father offered free accounting services as well.
Chiang’s mother suffered various illnesses for more than a period of 20 years. Despite this, her mother was a strong woman and raised her children with grit and hard work. In the end, she died from kidney failure. All of these incidents shaped her into the strong, bold, and confident woman she is today. Chiang Ho co-founded the first Banyan tree resort in Phuket in the year 1994. The Banyan Tree group is an international hospitality brand with resorts, hotels, spas, and residences in America, Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Being the first woman to have been elected to the SCCCJ’s council, Chiang has shown the world her talent and skills. She is currently senior vice-president of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts. Not only this, but she was also a Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) from 1997 to 2001. Being an NMP, she advocated for issues including parental consent for teenage abortions, compulsory education, rights for domestic helpers, and changes in the Children’s Act. These things show that Chiang is an inspirational and powerful woman who shows that women can be influential.
Chiang has also been the chairperson of Wildlife reserves Singapore from 2008 to 2015. Additionally, she is also the chairperson of the National Book Development Council of Singapore. She also joined the Association of Women for Action and research in 1988 and was elected president in 1993. Furthermore, she also served on the Diversity Action Committee, which aims to encourage gender diversity in the boardrooms of various local organizations. Later on, in 1995, she became the president of the Society Against Family Violence in 1995. Chiang once said –
We want to be a business that stewards the resources we are given in a responsible way, and we want to create value in the communities we work with.
The Banyan Tree group serves its corporate social responsibility by working to enhance social, economic, and environmental well-being. There are various projects under the foundation as well, including Greening Communities, Seedlings, and the Earth day. According to an interview conducted by consulus.com, Claire stated that –
A good leader is someone who can give people hope, help people aspire towards possibilities and guide them towards transformational solutions that have impact and relevance in the realm of their personal and professional lives.
She also believes that a leader should be visionary who listens, maximizes the efforts from collective contribution, and make it a shared achievement. Claire prefers quiet leadership, someone who works, supports, and facilitates. She claims that she is not a ‘war person’ and will not encourage any form of military power. According to her, everything is about a balance, looking at it situationally, and applying all the skill sets.
Every woman should look up to Claire. She is truly an example of how powerful, influential, confident, bold, and talented a woman can be and use these attributes to make this world a better place to live in. She faced poverty, loss of a loved one, and many more hardships. She grew from all of these experiences into the person she is now. Hardships in life can lead to two options: one to give up hope and do nothing about your situation, or make yourself strong enough that you can face any obstacles in life that comes your way and emerge victoriously. Someone has said it right- girls run the world.