Conference for Women as Board Directors

An invitation-only event


29 September 2015, Tuesday
8.30am – 12.30pm

Programme Highlights

  • Guest of Honour Address by Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament and Adviser to DAC
  • Keynote Address by Mrs Lee Suet Fern, Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC and board member of global insurance giant AXA, global healthcare company Sanofi and Macquarie International Infrastructure Fund Ltd
  • Concurrent breakout workshops led by INSEAD and Singapore Management University:
    1. Professor Jean-François Manzoni (INSEAD)
      FINDING YOUR VOICE IN THE BOARDROOM: What can you do to improve your chances of getting heard?
    2. Professor Gerry George (SMU)
      MANAGING GROWTH: A Venture Perspective on Board Roles
    3. Professor Annie Koh (SMU) and Professor Marleen Dielemann (NUS)
  • Lunch and networking

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DAC’s latest initiative to accelerate the gender diversity on boards of companies listed on the Singapore Exchange was a great success! 100 senior women executives and professionals, all recommended by corporate leaders and governance experts as suitable for board directorships, attended the invitation-only event. The pipeline of 100 women participants will add to the existing pool of 400+ women board directors currently in SGX-listed companies, making the search for women board directors easier, especially for some Board Chairmen who perceived that there were not enough qualified women to serve on boards or they did not know where to find them.

Participants were inspired by personal anecdotes and advice from Guest-of-Honour Madam Halimah Yacob and Keynote Speaker Mrs Lee Suet Fern, as well as their call to companies and women to act. The breakout workshops led by Professors Jean-François Manzoni (INSEAD), Gerry George (SMU), Annie Koh (SMU) and Marleen Dielemann (NUS) were also highly engaging and stimulating, with many participants calling for longer sessions and the opportunity to attend other workshops.

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Guest-of-Honour Madam Halimah Yacob’s shared about women in Singapore politics, and what companies and women should do:

  1. The approximately 0.5% yearly growth of women in W03 - 103directors in Singapore is low. It would take too long for Singapore companies to reap the benefits of women’s participation at the top decision making levels of companies.
  2. The Government had put in conscious effort to look out for capable women to bring them into politics, to have diverse perspectives on issues ranging from the economy, education, social development to national development and security. The number of elected women Members of Parliament grew from 3 in year 2001 to more than 20 now.
  3. She urged companies that have not had women directors to seriously consider how diversity in their board composition would benefit their business.
  4. She encouraged participants to (i) prepare themselves for board roles by broadening their skills to include skillsets valued by boards and (ii) increase their visibility as boards expressed their preference for candidates referred by trusted sources.
  5. Women in positions of influence were encouraged to help keep the pipeline of women executives, who could become board directors in the future.

Mrs Lee Suet Fern generously shared her personal reflections of being a board director during her 45 minute keynote speech. She provided meaningful and enlightening insights into her views on: W04 - 150

  1. What potential directors should look out for before joining the first board
  2. What boards are looking for when recruiting directors
  3. The importance of having the right level of chemistry with the board
  4. Some challenges of being on a board for the first time and tips on how to be an effective board director.



Please click here to view the press release for the event.

Guest of Honour

Madam Halimah Yacob
Speaker of Parliament, Republic of Singapore

Madam Halimah Yacob was elected Member of Parliament for Jurong Group Representation Constituency (GRC) since 2001. She had previously served as the Minister of State in the Ministry of Social and Family Development. She was elected as Speaker of Parliament in January 2013.

Mdm Halimah graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours). She was called to the Singapore Bar in 1981. In 2001, she attained a Master of Laws from NUS.

In 1978, Madam Halimah started her career with the National Trades Union Congress and held various positions, such as Director of the Women’s Development Secretariat, Director of the Legal Services Department, Executive Secretary of the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries, and Deputy Secretary General.

She also sat on various Boards including the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation, Tripartite Alliance on Fair Employment Practices, Young Women’s Muslim Association, Malay Teachers’ Co-operative, Comcare Supervisory Committee and Mendaki Sense.

In recognition of her effort in promoting better opportunities for women in the workforce, Madam Halimah was conferred the Berita Harian/McDonalds “Achiever of the Year” in 2001 and the Her World Magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2004.

Madam Halimah is married with five children.

Keynote Speaker

Mrs Lee Suet Fern
Managing Partner, Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC

Lee Suet-Fern advises clients on mergers and acquisitions, equity and debt capital markets, and corporate finance. Her work also includes counseling companies and board of directors. She is the managing partner of Morgan Lewis Stamford, is part of Morgan Lewis’ International Leadership team and a member of the board of Morgan Lewis, a global law firm which is also the largest law firm in the United States.

The international business community and international media recognize Suet-Fern as a business leader and pioneer. Legal publications and directories have consistently praised her work and acknowledged her as a leading lawyer in the practice areas of banking, capital markets, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Asian Legal Business awarded Suet-Fern its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Euromoney honored her with its Asia Women Business Law Awards for mergers and acquisitions and private equity in 2012 and 2013 and Best Lawyers Mergers & Acquisitions named her Lawyer of the Year in those years.

Over the past 20 years, she has served on the boards of public listed companies with listings in Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and elsewhere, and on various board committees. Currently amongst others, she sit on the board of global insurance giant, AXA, global healthcare company, Sanofi, and Macquarie International Infrastructure Fund Ltd. She is also a director of the World Justice Project, an independent multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law. She is the Chairman of the Asian Civilisations Museum Board, a member of the Executive Committee of the Senate of the Singapore Academy of Law where she also chairs the Committee on Legal Education and Studies, Convergence of Transnational Commercial Laws Committee and the Legal Education Cluster, a member of the Diversity Action Committee of SGX and the Advisory Board to the Law School at SMU, where she also chairs the Expert Panel of Centre of Cross-Border Commercial Law in Asia and a trustee for NTU. She is a former President of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association, an international association of business lawyers interested in the Asia- Pacific.

Suet Fern graduated with a double first in law from Cambridge University in 1980, winning various academic prizes.

Breakout Workshops – FINDING YOUR VOICE IN THE BOARDROOM: What can you do to improve your chances of getting heard?

Professor Jean-François Manzoni
INSEAD Professor of Management Practice. The Shell Chaired Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development

Jean-François Manzoni is the Shell Chaired Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development and a Professor of Management Practice at INSEAD, where he directed for three years the Global Leadership Centre supporting INSEAD’s leadership-related coaching, teaching and research activities throughout the world.

Prior to moving to Singapore and joining INSEAD’s Asian campus in 2011, Professor Manzoni spent six years at IMD (Lausanne) and twelve years at INSEAD (Fontainebleau), where he founded and directed the PwC Research Initiative on High Performance Organisations. Prior to that he had studied and worked for 15 years in Canada and the United States.

Professor Manzoni’s research, teaching and consulting activities are focused on leadership, the development of high performance organisations and corporate governance. On the corporate governance side, he focuses on interpersonal dynamics – within the Boardroom, and between management and the Board – and on the challenge for Management and the Board of ensuring the development of high performance, ethical corporate cultures
An award-winning teacher, Professor Manzoni has also received numerous awards for his research (most recently the 2011 Research Award on Leadership & Corporate Governance from the Association of Executive Search Consultants for his work on the impact of interpersonal dynamics on increasingly diverse Boards of Directors). He co-directs INSEAD’s International Directors Programme and has been collaborating on a number of programmes proposed by the Temasek-supported Stewardship and Corporate Governance Centre.

In addition to his academic work, Professor Manzoni performs consulting, training and coaching work for several large international organisations, which has led him to work in more than thirty countries over the years. He is a member of the Human Capital Leadership Institute’s International Advisory Panel, a Fellow of the Singapore Civil Service College and was invited to speak at the 2014 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

A citizen of Canada and France, Professor Manzoni received his Doctorate in Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Breakout Workshops – MANAGING GROWTH: A Venture Perspective on Board Roles

Professor Gerry George
Dean, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

Professor Gerry George is Dean and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at LKCSB. He is Editor of the Academy of Management Journal, the flagship empirical journal in the field of management. He also serves as the International Dean of BML Munjal University, an innovative new university mentored by Imperial and located near New Delhi. Previously, he was Deputy Dean of the Business School at Imperial College London, Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre, and Academic Director of the Elite Programme, which supports ambitious private companies through their next stage of growth and is sponsored by the London Stock Exchange and delivered with partners including leading banks, investors, and advisers.

An award-winning researcher and teacher, Professor George has published several articles in leading scholarly journals (list). He was awarded a prestigious Professorial Fellowship (2011-2014) from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council to work on resource-constrained or inclusive innovation. His work investigates business models, organisational design, and its implications for innovation and entrepreneurship. He is co-investigator in a five-year Energy for Development collaborative project with Southampton University that studies the effects of rural electrification, community development and social enterprise. His latest book (with Adam Bock) introduces a narrative approach on how entrepreneurs conceive and change business models to make an implausible idea into a viable growth opportunity, Models of Opportunity: How Entrepreneurs Design Firms to Achieve the Unexpected, (Cambridge University Press, 2012). His previous book Inventing Entrepreneurs: Technology Innovators and their Entrepreneurial Journey (Prentice Hall, 2008) addresses the human side of innovation and technology transfer.

Until November 2014, he served as a non-executive director and chaired the Risk Management Committee of India Infrastructure Finance Company (UK) Limited, a Government of India enterprise subsidiary in the UK. IIFC(UK) provides dollar denominated financing for capital equipment in large Indian infrastructure projects such as power generation, urban mass transit, and ports among others. Before joining Imperial, he held tenured positions at the London Business School, where he served as Faculty Director of the Institute of Technology, and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he directed the Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship Program.


Professor Annie Koh
Vice President, Office of Business Development, SMU

Dr Annie Koh is Vice President for Office of Business Development & External Relations, and had previously served as Associate Dean of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business, and then as Dean, Office of Executive & Professional Education. A Fulbright scholar, Annie earned her PhD in International Finance from Stern School of Business, New York University in 1988.

Dr Koh is a notable conference speaker, panel moderator and commentator who serve on various advisory boards, governing councils and steering committees in the financial and government sectors.

She chairs the Asian Bond Fund 2 Supervisory Committee of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, is an Independent Director on the board of k1 Ventures Limited, on the investment committee of i-Globe, and is Advisor to a number of family businesses. She is member of the Research and Publications Committee of Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, a board member for IPMI International Business School (Jakarta), and the Advisory Council for the School of Economics and Management at Wuhan University, a Chief Judge for TAFEP fair employment awards 2014, and Chairs the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Southeast Asia. She was recently appointed as a member of the HR Advisory Board for Global HR at Georgetown University, and a board member for the Central Provident Fund Singapore. She is a recipient of the prestigious Public Administration Medal (Bronze) in 2010.

Dr Koh’s research interests are in Family Office and Family Business, Investor Behaviour, Alternative Investments, and Enterprise Risk Management. She co-authored Financial Management: Theory and Practice, An Asia Edition (2014) and Financing Internationalisation – Growth Strategies for Successful Companies (2004).


Professor Marleen Dieleman
Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO), NUS Business School

Marleen Dieleman is associate professor and associate director of the Centre for Governance, Institutions and Organisations (CGIO) at NUS Business School in Singapore. She holds a Ph.D. (Leiden University) and an M.Sc. (Rotterdam School of Management).

Marleen teaches corporate strategy and family business. Her research interests are in Asian family business groups, particularly in Indonesia. She published widely on these topics, including academic articles, books, chapters, cases and reports. Her work is regularly quoted in international media and she is a frequent keynote speaker and workshop leader.

Marleen also teaches in various executive education programs and leads the popular Asian Family Business program at NUS Business School. She won both the NUS Business School Outstanding Educator Award and the NUS Annual Teaching Excellence Award for the past two years.

Marleen serves as independent director of Mercator Lines (Singapore) Ltd – a maritime company listed on the Singapore Exchange. She also has extensive consulting experience.


Diversity Action Committee

The Diversity Action Committee (DAC) was formed in August 2014 with the objective of building up the representation of women directors on boards of companies in Singapore.  The Committee comprises 15 leaders and professionals from the private, people and public sectors.  The Committee is chaired by Mr Magnus Bocker, the former Chief Executive Officer Singapore Exchange Ltd, and its Adviser is Madam Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament of Singapore.  For more information about DAC, please refer to


As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings together people, cultures and ideas to change lives and to transform organisations. A global perspective and cultural diversity are reflected in all aspects of our research and teaching. With campuses in Europe (France), Asia (Singapore) and Abu Dhabi, INSEAD’s business education and research spans three continents. Our 150 renowned Faculty members from 34 countries inspire more than 1,300 degree participants annually in our MBA, Executive MBA, specialised master’s degrees and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 11,000 executives participate in INSEAD’s executive education programmes each year. More information about INSEAD can be found at

Singapore Management University

Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. Established in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate leading-edge research with global impact and produce broad-based, creative and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy. SMU education is known for its highly interactive, collaborative and project-based approach to learning, and for its technologically enabled pedagogy of seminar-style teaching in small class sizes. Comprised of six schools specialising in Accountancy, Business, Economics, Information Systems, Law and Social Sciences, it offers a wide range of bachelors’, masters’ and PhD degree programmes and is home to 8,800 students. With an emphasis on generating relevant multi-disciplinary research that addresses Asian issues, and being Singapore’s only university in the city, SMU enjoys strategic linkages with business, government and the wider community through its research institutes, centres and labs. Please visit for more information.

Diversity Action Committee reserves the right to cancel the conference or amend the date, schedule, venue and speaker(s) due to circumstances beyond our control.