Sarah Chen: Feisty, Fierce And Stacked With a Billion Dollar Punch
Updated: Feb 26
Sarah Chen has been a star since she was 9-years-old. By day, she was an ambitious student but by night she transformed herself into the tv host of the Golden Kids Club, an educational TV program in her home country of Malaysia. Through the experience, Sarah was given the opportunity to investigate world issues through a youth’s perspective and sharpen her interview skills. On air, she was interviewing senior managers of publicly-listed companies before she was old enough to enter her first real job interview.
Sarah’s parents were progressive relative to those of her Chinese peers and very supportive of her ambition to learn, create and build. Sarah became fully aware of her privilege at a young age and made a commitment to utilize her curiosity and personal drive for the betterment of the world around her.
“I understood the importance of my personal role in shaping the community where I lay roots,” remembers Sarah. Her vision began to manifest in her early 20’s when she was on the founding team of King’s College London Business Club, an organization designed to connect young entrepreneurs to corporations, which has grown to over 5000 members. She later compounded her leadership efforts by emboldening women to achieve their full potential with the creation of the Asia Women’s Circle (that drives Lean In Malaysia).
Upon graduation, Sarah had a lot to consider at the age of 22. Her father was battling cancer, and in his final fight, asked his young daughter to take over his franchise of the human capital company, MRINetwork. Sarah agreed and was suddenly at the center within an 800 office network and serving as the youngest director in Malaysia.
Her position broke many cultural norms, but Sarah was determined to honor her family and learn the nuances of corporate leadership. Her first two years were met by much resistance, but Sarah refused to be deterred.
“I remember how difficult it was to experience the first few resignations,” says Sarah. “I thought I was a terrible boss and I was devastated. After some time I realized people are driven by self-interest, and this is how business works.”
Sarah was conflicted. She was very young and had a limitless future to design; however, she would have to leave home and the company her father built.
In his last moments, Sarah’s father encouraged her to follow her dreams and go out and explore the world. Sarah heeded his advice and took the skills fostered during her two years at MRINetwork into the next chapter of her career.
During her first corporate career position within the large conglomerate Sime Darby, Sarah summoned the courage to focus on her dreams and followed her own advice: “Remain grounded and know that having strong ambition does come with unforeseen consequences which mostly stem from perception.”
She went to speak with an up-and-coming Vice President for advice, which ironically ended up becoming a job interview for a different sector of the firm. Sarah shifted gears and took a position with the VP’s team in Venture Capital. Before she knew it, Sarah hit her stride and was exactly where she needed to be as the youngest and only female on the team at age 25.
Even with a great position and a VP believing in her abilities, Sarah continued to run into resistance due to being an ambitious woman at a young age. Early in her new position, she struggled in negotiations with a Japanese counterpart interested in becoming a Joint Venture partner. Her counterpart was clearly uncomfortable with working with a strong woman and Sarah was advised by a VP that, “perhaps someone else should lead the deal.”
Sarah was shocked and was driven to speak out and address the situation. Sarah’s biggest lesson from the experience: “The realization of how normalizing women in leadership is so, so important.”
As Sarah’s promising future continues to build, she has taken on the responsibility and honor to champion women in leadership positions all over the world and helped them gain access to capital when needed. She created the Lean In Malaysia chapter with a partner on a $100 budget which created their first video feature on women in leadership. The Lean In Malaysia chapter is now considered one of Malaysia’s most credible resources recognized as the voice of credibility for women issues in Malaysia.
EnrichHER is honored to be graced with Sarah’s talents as she masters multi-tasking a board member position within BEACON DC, her full-time job as the Chief Strategy Officer at Bloxed.it, and as the co-founder and managing partner of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women. Sarah’s diligence and dedication has led the fund’s team to pledge over $500million in pledges for the fund in just two months. Their big picture goal is to have The Billion Dollar Fund stand as the the voice and connection between larger institutions and the ground level where private capital is being deployed. EnrichHer has no doubt that, with Sarah involved, they will get there!
“If you are not doing something you are afraid of, is it really worth doing?” Sarah reminds us. We are grateful for the motivation and inspiration of this vivacious Malaysian juggernaut.
As Sarah moved to Washington, D.C., she looked for ways to help other women and was compelled by Dr. Roshawnna’s EnrichHER debt based platform. “From my experience and in the past, the stereotypical safer bet when it comes to investing doesn’t look like you or me,” says Sarah. “Investors consider unconscious bias and go with their gut feeling as opposed to what the numbers prove. EnrichHer is a needed platform to democratize capital investments.”
As for Sarah’s partnership and support of EnrichHER, we couldn’t be more honored to have a powerhouse like her in our corner to continue our mission and provide capital resources to women founded business.
About EnrichHER We bring together a network of successful women-led businesses to accelerate business growth so that we cultivate a thriving ecosystem supported by business financing and a supportive community.
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