When it comes to erudite business families, the couple behind Banyan Tree Holdings is about as good as it gets. Ho Kwon Ping, the executive chairman of this hospitality group, is also the founding chairman of the Singapore Management University. Named the first Fellow of the SR Nathan Lecture Series at the Institute of Policy Studies in 2014, he published Asking Why, a collection of his writing, last year.
Claire Chiang, Banyan Tree’s senior vice president, chairs the company’s China Business Development division and the Banyan Tree Global Foundation. An advocate for gender equality and education, she was a nominated member of parliament from 1997 to 2001, and inducted into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018.
These two are obviously adept at giving cerebral answers to interview questions. So it’s quite funny to hear Ho slip into a more colloquial register at one point during this conversation—when daughter Ren Yung (the second of their three children) mentions the word “multi-hyphenate”. “Huh? Multi-what?” Ho asks, with some amusement.
“Actually, both of you are multi-hyphenates,” Ren Yung explains, enumerating all the different hats her parents wear. “I would say that I probably aspire to that as well.” A graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), where she wrote her thesis on social entrepreneurship, Ren Yung has co-founded a number of businesses, most notably clothing label Matter, which focuses on collaboration with artisans and sustainable practices. She’s been exposed to the workings of the family business since she was a child, and today heads the group’s integral spa and retail units.