When a family business has deep roots, its youngest custodians can feel bound by tradition. Winnie Chiu, however, chooses not only to honour the past but also to make decisions that will serve the company her grandfather, Deacon Chiu, founded for the challenges of the future.
After graduating from university in London, Hong Kong-born Chiu worked as a financial analyst before joining Far East Consortium International in 2005 as the director of property development. Founded in 1950, the company deals in property development, hotel management and gaming across Asia, Europe and New Zealand.
When Chiu was appointed president of Dorsett Hospitality International in 2010, it had 11 hotels in seven cities, a portfolio that has grown under her leadership to 63 hotels in 30 cities—from Wuhan to London—with a new property set to open in Australia this year. Her first project was overseeing the construction of Plaza Damas, one of the largest commercial projects in Kuala Lumpur, when she was just 23. “I do recognise the head start I was given but I consider myself to be a diligent and respected businesswoman. I choose to work for my family’s company because hospitality inspires me and I’m proud to continue my father’s legacy. But would I have this role if I wasn’t entirely competent? No,” she said in her 2014 interview with Tatler.
Today, her determination is steadfast and her focus is on building the Dorsett brand. Here, the mother-of-two beckons Tatler into her world.
The last time you were on our cover, you had just made Forbes’ list of Asia’s top 12 businesswomen. How did that feel?
It was very humbling to be recognised in such a prestigious list for the role of women in business. I am always looking to use my influence to inspire others to continue to give back and to show women all the possibilities that are out there for us in the business world.
Did you always want to become a hotelier?
My personality drew me to the hotel business. I’ve always loved to watch people and companies grow, I like to experience new things and I am constantly on the lookout for new investment opportunities. As far back as I can remember, my family has been in the cinema, media and even the amusement park business. The one thing that always stood out to me was how they were able to create experiences that brought joy to others. The hotel business has such a wide scope, which keeps me excited about what we do.