Among those who continue to use their influence to better the education system in Singapore, we highlight three women who have dedicated their lives to improving our young minds

There is no doubt that Singapore's education system is one of the best in the world and that it produces some of the smartest and most savvy students, year after year. 

However, it didn't just get this good on its own. Rather, it was the work of many educators, policy leaders and donors that have, over the years, shaped our education system and ensured that everyone is given a chance to succeed. 

While the local education scene is made up of many notable people, we highlight some of the incredible women who are making waves in the industry and who are featured on Tatler’s 2021 Asia’s Most Influential list

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1. Tan Kheng Lian

Dr Tan Kheng Lian, who is the daughter of the late banker and philanthropist Tan Sri (Dr) Tan Chin Tuan, the man behind one of Singapore’s largest banks, OCBC, is a force to behold.

As chairman of her family’s Tan Chin Tuan Foundation, Dr Tan oversees the non-profit organisation’s efforts in providing assistance to the less fortunate and channelling funds for the good of society.

Under her watch, The Tan Chin Tuan Foundation, which she oversees, has donated tens of millions of dollars to education, the arts and community programmes since its inception in 1976.

Dr Tan is also a private practice eye surgeon who completed her medical studies at the Royal College of Physicians in London, the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Academy of Medicine, Singapore.

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2. Cheryl Lee

Entrepreneurial, gritty and passionate, Cheryl Lee is one to watch. With a successful career in private banking behind her, Cheryl Lee established Unusual Edventures in November 2020. Unusual Edventures is an online-to-offline (O2O) ecosystem in the fields of educational technology, education and healthcare that offers digital solutions for next-generation communities as well as an innovation lab.

Lee is also the co-founder and director of a new US and Singapore start-up that empowers women in the areas of femtech (female technology) and healthcare, as well as an O2O platform of related tailored services that has been curated to address the holistic needs of today’s women in the international community.

As if that isn't enough, Lee is also currently the global head of marketing for Klay Capital, a global multi-family office group that works with families, entrepreneurs, corporates, single-family offices and institutional clients as well as the co-founder and director of 1-Rochester Group, a lifestyle and hospitality business that owns and operates a portfolio of restaurants, cafés and bars in the region.

She also sits on the Philanthropy Advisory Council for KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and has chaired the Kidz Horizon Appeal annual fundraiser in aid of the KKH Health Fund in the past.


3. Lily Kong

Social, cultural and urban geographer Lily Kong is highly regarded as a thought leader in the study of urban transformations and social and cultural change in Asian cities.

As the current president of the Singapore Management University (SMU), she has published numerous works on religion, cultural policy, creative economy, urban heritage and conservation, and national identity. She has written and co-written 10 books, edited or co-edited nine books, published about 100 refereed journal articles, and contributed over 60 book chapters.

Kong also heads a panel at SMU that makes recommendations on revisions to the undergraduate curriculum structure and advocated new inter-disciplinary majors and tracks, including politics, law and economics; smart-city management and technology; and healthcare economics and management programmes. 

Under her leadership, the SMU Academy was launched in 2017. The academy offers skills-upgrading courses for working adults.

Her efforts have since earned her five international fellowship awards including the Commonwealth Fellowship Award and the Fulbright Fellowship Award. She has also won the Robert Stoddard Award from the Association of American Geographers for her contributions to the study of religion.


Asia’s Most Influential brings together the people shaping the region today. Discover the changemakers, industry titans, and powerful individuals who are making a positive impact in Asia and beyond in this definitive list from Tatler.



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