It Changed My Life: How Shawn Lee overcame a broken childhood to be a mover and shaker in the beauty industry

Depressed after finding out about his parents’ impending divorce, Shawn Lee tried to take his own life by overdosing on pills. Today, he is the general manager of the cosmetics and personal care division at Shiseido Singapore.
Mr Lee was an Asia-Pacific representative at the 2011 Global Youth Summit on HIV/Aids in Mali. Once taunted for being overweight, Mr Lee now champions empowerment and inclusiveness through his campaigns. Mr Shawn Lee, a fishmonger's son, overcame dep
Mr Shawn Lee, a fishmonger's son, overcame depression to become a general manager in Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido, and a campaigner for inclusivity in the workplace.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Mr Lee was an Asia-Pacific representative at the 2011 Global Youth Summit on HIV/Aids in Mali. Once taunted for being overweight, Mr Lee now champions empowerment and inclusiveness through his campaigns. Mr Shawn Lee, a fishmonger's son, overcame dep
Mr Lee was an Asia-Pacific representative at the 2011 Global Youth Summit on HIV/Aids in Mali. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHAWN LEE
Mr Lee was an Asia-Pacific representative at the 2011 Global Youth Summit on HIV/Aids in Mali. Once taunted for being overweight, Mr Lee now champions empowerment and inclusiveness through his campaigns. Mr Shawn Lee, a fishmonger's son, overcame dep
Once taunted for being overweight, Mr Lee now champions empowerment and inclusiveness through his campaigns. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHAWN LEE

Shawn Lee, who was once depressed and insecure, now gives the marginalised a voice to tell their stories

He was then only six, but the episode is seared into Shawn Lee's mind.

His mother had left their HDB flat in Geylang East after another bitter quarrel with her husband. She took Mr Lee - the younger of her two sons - to the seventh floor, and put him on the parapet before clambering up there herself.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 20, 2019, with the headline 'Giving others a voice by drawing on his past'. Print Edition | Subscribe