Why I Started This Blog
This blog was born from my passion for Asia, and with the hope of inspiring you to visit it or become involved in some of the exciting initiatives that are unfolding on this continent—home to centuries of rich cultural heritage.
I love Asia for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it is the land from which my parents immigrated to the United States. But more importantly, I believe that Asia with its diverse peoples, cultures and challenges is an incredible incubator for the creation and exchange of a wide range of ideas and entrepreneurial undertakings.
Over the next decade, the economic and demographic structure of many Asian countries will open the door to individual creativity, empowering millions of people to enter into entrepreneurial endeavors. My hope is that opportunities for women, another topic close to my heart, will increase as well. Statistics are mixed today for women in Asia. On one had, Singapore ranked fifth among the top five cities in the world for female entrepreneurs according to a Dell survey published in June 2016. Among the 15 respondents to an EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Asia-Pacific survey, sponsored by Standard Chartered and Ernst & Young, it was revealed that they alone added $5.5 billion to the Asia-Pacific economy in 2015. With its strong emphasis on education, Asian millennials, women and men, have the opportunity to become change agents in their country’s drive for full participation in a global marketplace. These are the positives. On the other hand, we know that women in many Asian countries are still prohibited from attaining a complete education and Melinda Gates recently noted a huge technical divide - that more than a billion women in the developing world (more than half in India) do not having access to cell phones, despite cell phones being the "building block" for financial inclusion and progress.
My Love Affair with Asia
Although I was born and raised in America, and grounded in the US educational system, I had the opportunity to spend many summers with my extended family in Bangalore. Asian culture was never far from my consciousness or my heart. I was very happy to be offered the position of CEO at SingTel Digital Media in Singapore in 2008. I later went on to become Senior Vice President of International for Social Living, a role which led me to travel throughout Asia, to countries that include Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.
I was the Head of Global Operations at Airbnb from 2013 until 2016. During my tenure, I logged hundreds of thousands of miles across the Asian continent, where we were experiencing the most dynamic growth in the travel industry. All of our statistics proved that Asia is emerging as the next big frontier for the alternative accommodation market, with more hosts and more travelers. Asians are enthusiastically embracing the shared economy principles, especially in countries such as India and China. The number of Airbnb hosts has grown exponentially, further proof of the fertile ground that exists in Asia for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Centuries-old traditions can still be seen and experienced across Asia through its architecture, culinary offerings and local customs. Alongside these, Asia has a digitally sophisticated landscape that connects it to the world, emerging entrepreneurship, the most developed and dynamic theater and arts scene, and some of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world. All of these are the reasons I love Asia. I hope this blog changes or adds to your impression of the Asian continent and inspires you to learn more, to visit, and to soak up the culture yourself.