Inspiring Female Leaders in Insurance in Asia |
Elite Women

Shaping the future

Insurance Business recognises the Elite Women of 2024, a determined group of female leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region who are shattering stereotypes and opening industry doors for more women to excel in senior leadership positions.

This year’s Elite Women have achieved extraordinary results for their organisations while driving positive and transformative change sector-wide. 

“These accomplishments are particularly noteworthy in light of the ongoing challenges women face due to entrenched gender norms, limited representation at higher levels and cultural biases,” says Roopa Malhotra, the Asia-Pacific head of customer and digital for Zurich Insurance. “There is a strong acknowledgement of the progress made, but a bird’s eye view in the region shows that female CEOs are still an exception rather than a norm.” 

All the Elite Women have pushed the boundaries of excellence and possess a unique combination of skills and attributes that Malhotra deems essential to standout performance:

  • resiliency

  • adaptability

  • leadership

  • technical expertise

“The onus should not just be on an individual; organisations should also support where possible by providing the right level of senior sponsorship within the system to help navigate professional advancement, particularly across international boundaries,” she says.

Despite facing obstacles that include balancing work and family responsibilities, traditional male-dominated networking channels and implicit bias, the following top female leaders in insurance now serve as role models for young women aspiring to make their mark in the dynamic and evolving marketplace. 


Leah Ng – Manulife Singapore
Chief bancassurance officer

After rejoining Manulife Singapore in mid-2023, Ng felt like she was returning to a family whose culture welcomed her with open arms.

“Coming back to this company and working alongside passionate people who desire to do the best for the business, our distributors and our customers has been rewarding,” she says. “The spirit of collaboration is palpable across different departments.”

Ng’s current role finds her at the helm of a significant bancassurance partnership in Singapore, where she leads a team of people who genuinely desire to make a difference in supporting the partnership channel by going above and beyond.

During her absence from Manulife, she seized opportunities to gain valuable senior-level experience and expertise in other areas of the insurance market, from business development across all distribution channels to support and acquisition.

She accelerated growth in the distribution team of another international life insurance business before rejoining Manulife as its chief bancassurance officer, steering the life insurer’s pivotal partnership with a major local bank in Singapore.

Chief among Ng’s notable achievements, demonstrating her legacy for over two decades, are:

  • building strong and autonomous teams that function impressively

  • leading the distribution transformation of a significant acquisition and merger of two life insurers in Singapore

  • driving one of the most robust recoveries across all insurance manufacturing sites, building resiliency into the business she was leading at that time

For female leaders in insurance such as Ng, the ability to pivot quickly and be agile helped them successfully tackle the challenging operating environment that hit insurers in 2023.

“The most rewarding moments at different points in my career were overcoming seemingly insurmountable challenges,” says Ng.

Career strategies that have served her well include:

  • building a vast network of mentors, peers and sponsors

  • investing in her people

  • creating a psychologically safe environment that empowers people to bring their best foot forward

Upon reflecting on the impact she hopes to have on the industry, Ng passionately articulates a vision that extends beyond insurance as a product or solution.

She says, “I want to inspire women and the next generation of young insurance leaders to reach for the stars by growing their careers and aspiring to make a positive impact.” 


Leah Ng, Manulife Singapore
“There can be so much more that one can do if you can muster the courage to bring yourself to the table and contribute confidently”
Leah NgManulife Singapore


Sandra Lee – BMS Asia (Hong Kong)
Asia chief executive officer

Upon entering the insurance industry, Lee brought a wealth of legal knowledge from her private practice experience. Widely regarded as a trailblazer in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) insurance, she has been instrumental in advancing the M&A insurance sector in Asia and played a crucial role in establishing BMS in the region as CEO.

Under her leadership, BMS Asia has expanded to a team of 25 across Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

“It’s most rewarding to be able to directly impact and influence the growth and development of my team and witness their growth in our specialised and niche area of the industry,” she says.

Lee has always ensured the work she delivers is of the highest quality, a testament to the approaches she emphasises as crucial:

  • rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever is needed

  • striving for perfection and delivering the highest quality

  • constantly re-evaluating yourself and your goals

As she progressed into senior positions, the skill of incorporating feedback and adapting her communication style transformed her into a more impactful leader. This lesson empowered her to be flexible and authentically connect with her team, maintaining their motivation at a high level. 


“The definition of what is considered correct or appropriate at a given time may change in two months or two years, depending on the circumstances,” she says. “Learning to be open to feedback keeps me grounded in knowing myself and having confidence.”

She takes pride in positively impacting her team’s well-being by ensuring employees have downtime whenever possible and engaging in team activities such as group hikes, regular team lunches and online group gatherings. 

That passion has also led to significant contributions, including:

  • enhancing the rigour of training for junior employees, focusing on developing technical expertise

  • coordinating ongoing learning and training initiatives for the entire team

  • promoting and providing employees with opportunities to assume leadership roles and positions via platforms such as conducting presentations and public speaking


Over the last year, Lee’s insurance niche has faced notable challenges, particularly in relation to their reliance on a robust M&A market for their advice and services.

“I overcome these challenges in the same manner as how I overcome everything else I face: I’m a long-distance junkie and ran marathons in my early days,” she says. “If you put your mind to something, you can achieve it. Also, I believe what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 


Sandra Lee, BMS Group
“I feel fortunate to be in this position, and it’s a challenging role irrespective of gender; always keep your eye on the goal and what you aspire to achieve”
Sandra LeeBMS Group


Evon Lim – Synergy Financial Advisers
Chief operating officer

Despite being a youthful COO and a new parent, Lim has proven through her compassionate leadership and flair for engagement that factors such as gender, experience, age and education are secondary to one’s ability to adapt and excel.

Guided by a mentor’s advice that “skills to do come from doing,” she learned how to readily maintain a positive attitude and an open mindset to take on new challenges.

“It reminds me not to be afraid to make tough decisions or even make mistakes to achieve greater growth,” she says.

Working within the dynamic and challenging financial services sector has allowed Lim to shine and showcase her ability to lead through these approaches:

  • engaging and motivating teams to be part of a push for process integration

  • adapting quickly to the speed of technological advancement

  • demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning



From her beginnings as a business development manager with Synergy Financial Advisors, her passion for excellence led her into a compliance officer role, where she excelled. Lim’s outstanding performance and dedication earned her several promotions, and in 2022, she was appointed COO.

“Evon’s ability to adapt and embrace new responsibilities has been truly remarkable,” says nominator and CEO Adrian Peh. “Beyond her professional achievements, Evon commands the respect of her colleagues and serves as a role model, especially for women in our organisation.”

Reflecting upon the impact she hopes to have on the industry’s future, Lim states that achieving gender diversity in the workplace is a priority because she believes it fosters innovation, creativity and a broader range of perspectives.

She also takes pride in engaging internal and external stakeholders to achieve business goals and process efficiency. Her ability to encourage involvement from various parties emphasises her exceptional communication style.

While Lim maintains firmness in her decisions, she approaches her role with empathy and sincerity, always striving for the team’s greater good.

She says, “Seeing everyone play their part to build success stories together makes the effort worthwhile and gives me a great sense of fulfilment.” 


Evon Lim, Synergy Financial Advisers
“Women can contribute to shaping the future with men by breaking down gender barriers, advocating for equality and serving as role models for future generations”
Evon LimSynergy Financial Advisers



Inspiring Female Leaders in Insurance in Asia |
Elite Women

  • Alexandra Wrobel
    Head of Cyber, Commercial Insurance Asia
    Zurich Insurance
  • Anusha Thavarajah
    Regional Chief Executive Officer
    Allianz Asia-Pacific
  • Astha Desai
    Director and Head of Product
  • Chantal Bond
    Chief Reserving Actuary (P&C + L&H), Asia-Pacific
  • Deanna Ong
    Chairperson, Swiss Re
    Chief People Officer, GIC
  • Evie Chong
    Head, Technology Services
  • Evon Lim
    Chief Operating Officer
    Synergy Financial Advisers
  • Felicia Er
    Chief Risk Officer
    MSIG Asia
  • HuiLeng Tan
    Senior Vice President
  • Iris Chan
    Head of Corporate Risk and Broking and Executive Director, Construction – Hong Kong and Macau
  • Lei Yu
    Chief Executive Officer, North Asia and Regional Head of Distribution
    QBE Hongkong and Shanghai Insurance
  • Niharika Yadav
    President Director
    AXA Financial Indonesia
  • Pit Wen Lee
    Vice President and Head of Claims Operations, Singapore
    Marsh McLennan
  • Selina Lau
    Chief Executive
    The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers
  • Shalini Pavithran
    Chief Executive Officer
    Singapore College of Insurance
  • Sze Keed Wong
    Chief Executive Officer
    AIA Singapore
  • Veronica Grigg


As part of our editorial process, Key Media’s researchers interviewed the subject matter expert below for an independent analysis of this report and its findings.



Insurance Business Asia invited insurance professionals from across the region to nominate exceptional female leaders for the annual Elite Women list. Nominators were asked to provide details of their nominee’s achievements and initiatives over the past 12 months, including specific examples of their professional accomplishments and contributions to the industry. The Insurance Business team reviewed all nominations, examining how each individual had made a meaningful contribution to the industry, to whittle down the list to the final 20 Elite Women.

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