The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year 2019: Giving up successful careers to give back to those in need

After carving out their own career successes,  Ms Angie Chew (left) and Ms Gillian Tee reached out to help others in need.
After carving out their own career successes, Ms Angie Chew (left) and Ms Gillian Tee reached out to help others in need.ST PHOTOS: MARK CHEONG, JASON QUAH

Two women in tech called it quits to set up outfits that help the vulnerable and seniors

After carving out their own career successes, two women reached out to help others in need.

Ms Angie Chew is a founder of a mindfulness centre that reaches out to the vulnerable, while Ms Gillian Tee is an entrepreneur who built an eldercare start-up.

They are the latest batch of finalists for The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award.

Now in its fifth year and supported by UBS Singapore bank, the award seeks to recognise Singaporeans whose extraordinary acts of goodwill have improved their community and the lives of others.

The award also recognises Singaporeans who have put the country on the world map or persevered to overcome immense adversity.

Former computer professional Angie Chew, 56, gave up her $20,000-a-month job after she set up Brahm Centre in 2012. It is a secular outfit that people can go to for emotional and mental support, as well as health education.

Silicon Valley technopreneur Gillian Tee, 37, returned to Singapore after 15 years of living abroad to build eldercare start-up Homage, which matches caregivers to seniors who need help.

The two other nominees unveiled so far are food delivery rider Muhammad Riau Alfian, who rescued an elderly man trapped in a lorry, and education consultant Chalmers Chin, who used his own car to stop an out-of-control taxi.

Nominees must be Singapore citizens who made the news this year, and can be nominated for the award individually or as a group until Dec 15.

  • To nominate someone or find out more about The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award, go to str.sg/soty19nominate

    Nominees must be Singapore citizens who made the news this year, and can be nominated for the award individually or as a group until Dec 15.

    Four nominees have been unveiled so far. The first two nominees are food delivery rider Muhammad Riau Alfian and education consultant Chalmers Chin.

The remaining shortlisted candidates will be unveiled between now and next month. This will be followed by two weeks of public voting, and the outcome will be used as a reference by the judges when making their final decision.

A panel of judges comprising Straits Times editors, UBS representatives and individuals who have made their mark in various fields will select and recommend deserving candidates and, finally, pick the Singaporean of the Year.

The Singaporean of the Year will receive a trophy and $20,000, presented by UBS, which has supported the award since its inauguration.

Other individuals or groups chosen as finalists by the panel of judges will receive $5,000 each.

Other top brands have also lent their support, contributing additional prizes for all finalists and the top recipient. They are Singapore Airlines, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and Osim.


Gillian Tee: Connecting seniors in need with professional caregivers

Entrepreneur Gillian Tee has a soft spot for seniors, as the main people who took care of her growing up, besides her mother, were her grandmother and an elderly nanny.

Her late nanny, a Malaysian woman in her 60s, raised her lovingly till she was 10. And in Ms Tee's teens, her maternal grandmother provided her comfort through turbulent times in the family.

"My grandmother and nanny had a big impact in my life," said Ms Tee, the youngest of three girls. "Their unconditional care and warmth shaped me to be who I am today."

READ MORE HERE

Angie Chew: Lighting a candle for those with mental health woes

Ms Angie Chew has been through the depths of sorrow, emerged stronger each time, and now helps others in distress.

Her mother died in 2011 at the age of 87 after suffering from depression, dementia and stroke. The stress of looking after her mother put a strain on Ms Chew's marriage, which eventually broke down.

By then, she had also endured years of emotional bullying at work from bosses who often shouted at her.

READ MORE HERE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2019, with the headline 'Giving up successful careers to give back to those in need'. Print Edition | Subscribe